This is my start to a “Round Robin” writing exercise. I wrote this first part, then another member of our writing group will do part 2, while I go on to do part 2 of someone else’s story. Sounds like fun, yes? 🙂
Dark Sea Adventure – Part 1
Paul was pacing the floor, fists clenched, trying to convince Edward to join him in this one foray into crime. He said, “Edward, you must surely see the necessity of this. We are entirely out of funds. We have no way to return to England, and we can no longer continue our lives of debauchery with no funds. We can hardly afford a bottle of wine to share!” Paul’s entire appearance was that of an unmade bed. His hair was uncombed, his waistcoat was not buttoned, and he strode back and forth in stocking feet. His eyes were red-rimmed, and a shave would certainly be in order. Paul was only five feet tall, but his strong personality made him seem somewhat larger than life. His curly red hair made him seem pugnacious.
Edward hemmed and hawed, trying to squirm away from the duty Paul was trying to place before him. He knew full well that they were out of money, but still demurred. “Paul, you can’t be serious! Have you not heard any of the tales about the conditions in the prison here in Cherbourg? And, since we are not even French, they’ll likely be quite harsh with us. We’ll be incarcerated for the rest of our lives, surely!” He sat in the only chair they owned, elbows on knees, head in hands. He massaged his temples, hoping to erase the headache he had been given by his roommate. Edward was taller, blessed with a handsome face, a beautiful mane of lustrous dark hair, and a mellifluous voice, but his chin was weak, which perfectly mirrored his indecision at this moment. He stood, doing his own pacing, said, “And why must we waylay this bank courier? Couldn’t we just get regular jobs? It’s 1912, there are factories, and surely there is work to be had for industrious fellows.”
Paul shouted now, “Edward, Edward, use your head! We’ll have to work twelve hour days for a pittance. Is that how you wish to spend your life? I don’t think so. The fellow in the bar said that the courier is not armed, he is not escorted, and he even told us where to lie in wait. The work of a few moments and we’ll be set for the rest of the year, at least. Come, be reasonable. Just do this one thing for me, yes?”
Edward said, “Alright, we’ll do it. But, no killing, I insist. We knock him in the head, grab his satchel and be on our way. Agreed?”
Paul was overjoyed, and was literally dancing around the room. “Yes, tomorrow is the big day, and we’ll have our fortunes renewed. Shake on it, my friend!” He extended his hand.
Edward took his hand, hesitantly. “I hope it goes as you say.”
* * *
Now, three days later, Paul was hiding among the shipping crates alongside the dock. Edward was dead and there was nothing to show for it. The courier had been unarmed and unescorted, as they were told, but the gendarmes appeared from nowhere, swinging their batons. Paul saw Edward go down, bleeding profusely from the side of his head. Paul ran and ran, never looking back.
From his hiding place he saw a table set up nearer the water where they were hiring on seamen to ship out. That might be just the thing. Work for a few months aboard ship, then jump ship when they arrived in a friendly port.
He approached the table, then was relieved to find that the hiring man was speaking English. “Sir, are you still taking on men for this voyage?” Paul held his breath, waiting for the answer.
“Aye, laddie. Sign here, and you can board right away. We’re short several men and will hope to fill ship’s complement at the next port, in Ireland.”
Paul quickly signed the paper, glancing furtively around but seeing no one who might be after him. He strode toward the gangplank, but then stopped for a moment and asked, “By the way, what’s the name of my new ship?”
“Why, it’s the Titanic, laddie, the Unsinkable!” the man shouted at him.