Rover of the Sands
O’Toole saw it first, but nobody believed him because he was, as a rule, dead drunk.
“Nobody ever believes a word I say,” he complains to you later that day, where else but in the ship’s cantina.
“That’s because you’re a drunk, Slugger. You know that.”
“Do you suppose Old Dog feels the same way about me?” he asks you, pointing generally at the table under which the Captain’s old dog, Old Dog, is resting in his habitual spot.
“I wouldn’t know, Slugger.”
“Do you suppose he was called Young Dog when he was a young dog?”
Whenever the philosophy starts pouring from his shabby old mouth, that’s when it’s time to call it a night with Slugger O’Toole.
“Slugger, I’d best be going. You know Viola doesn’t like me to be late.”
“You’re on a shorter leash than Old Dog! But aren’t we all just proud of you and the little missus? But me old Da always used to say, and don’t take this the wrong way because you’re my best of friends, Tyrone Hogan, because I’ll only say this once, but it’s bad luck having a woman onboard. It can only mean trouble.” His jaw sets resolutely as he makes his pronouncement.
“O’Toole, as much as I’d love to sit here and sing some ancient sea shanties with you or whatever it is that’s going through your twisted head, I have a pregnant wife waiting for me at home and I’ll be going now. Take care of yourself, Slugger. Don’t fall overboard. Remember it’s not water you’d be falling into.”
Slugger waves you off dismissively as you leave the cantina, opening the thin wooden door into howling thick winds. It’s only once you’ve begun to make your way astern towards the small cabin you share with your wife that you realize you never actually asked Slugger what it was he saw. Or thought he saw.
You pause for a moment, wrapping yourself in your protective jacket as the stinging hot air buffets you from all sides. The next moment, however, your mind is made up.