Hey kids, I'm cranking along for National Novel Writing Month. I'm not completely done with Book 1, but jumped into Book 2, and wrote a couple scenes. I was a little stuck on Book 1 and needed to refresh the creative juices by writing the opening chapters of Book 2.
See my raw, unedited, and incomplete chapters below.
Totals to date (November 13th): after 13 days, 26,914 words / 2070 per day
The Pacific Ocean is thousands of miles from Ohio. It was here I’d meet my first pirate. Not a real pirate with eye patch and wooden leg. More the stealing and conniving kind. These sailors who harass unsuspecting boats and take their things.
Only these pirates weren’t interested in stealing money, fancy electronic devices, or jewelry. The had a different agenda. That’s what we found on a family vacation to Mexico.
You see the Rayburn’s are not your typical family. Visiting Mexico on a summer vacation is not strange for most. But we often have different reasons for visiting exotic locales. Like last summer when we visited the desert to take down an evil corporation stealing water form innocent people. Not to mention rescuing my dad, Jim, from a rogue police officer.
Most families take time away to connect and have fun. We have plenty of that. But usually dad has a work project that we all find ourselves involved. Rosie is my sister and she’s annoying. Her goal in life is to make mine miserable. And to steal all the love from my parents away from me and put it on her. Probably not true but that is what I think. What do I know I’m in sixth grade and soon to be seventh. My life is full of adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Dad is the coolest man if you ever meet him. Knows just about everything.
Our summer quest began at the docks in Long Beach California. Dad grew up nearby and met my mom in the midwest in graduate school. He’s a professor at The Ohio State University and studies old relics, religion, and history. He’s like Indiana Jones. We were preparing to board The Misty River (name) one of the largest cruise lines traveling to Mexico.
I don’t know if they call the bucket lists or which lists or some kind of lists. But dad wanted to check this one off from some list. Mom and dad spent their honeymoon on a nearby island but this part of Mexico was new and supposedly beautiful. I knew the beauty of the place was not there only reason dad was taking us on a cruise. Work was always involved, always.
Rosie pulled her luggage on wheels to the base of a long ramp which led up to the massive cruiser. Water poured out of holes in the side of the boat and seas of people shuffled up the ramp to enter the shipowner. I was not excited about taking a slow boat to Mexico. I got seasick on the Bumper Boats at Happy Land and couldn’t imagine what swaying on the Pacific Ocean would do to my stomach. Mom gave me some medicine. And Rosie told me to stop being a girl. Typical.
Dad flipped up some nerdy sunglasses which covered his prescription lenses. He gave a giant grin more wide than needed for what was about to happen to my stomach on the ocean, “Isn’t this cool kids? Dad grew up right down the street. Miss the salty ocean air,” he said, taking a deep whiff of the cool morning air.
“We know dad… you’ve mentioned it every five minutes since we left Ohio,” I said, rubbing my stomach.
Mom played with a giant floppy hat that made her look the biggest tourist on the boat. Rosie gave her a look like she was losing her mind and wanted to be on a different part of the boat. “Mom… really? You can’t wear that hat when I’m around. I have a reputation to keep.”
She snickered, “You obviously don’t know fashion. These are all the rage.”
“In the forties crowd?”
She placed her hands on her hips and rolled her yes. “Let’s keep the sarcasm to a minimum missy. We’re going to have a fun trip. Your attitude is not helping.”
Typical Rosie. Always had an opinion about everyone and everything. A horn blasted in the distance and the crowds of people glanced to the ship which was ready to leave the dock. My stomach did a flip as I examined the large ramp leading up to my doom.
I felt a push from behind and turned quickly thinking it was Rosie messing with me. “Excuse me, Ros—“ I turned to see a heavyset man wearing a Hawaiian shirt with a woman apparently his wife wearing a hat like mom’s. I tried to hold in a laugh.
“Sorry, little man. I didn’t mean to bump into you like that,” he said, reaching out a hand, “Felipe Juarez. My wife Juanita. Can’t wait to se Mexico again. You ever been?” he asked, with a pleasant smile and tone.
“Nope. And will probably be my last.”
“You gave issues with Mexico?”
“Not at all. My stomach does. Worst seasickness knowing to man. I’m sure this will be the longest week of my life.”
He wrestled something out of his pocket. It was covered with lint and his hands were sweaty. I backed up and didn't want to look. “What is that?”
He combed out the lint and handed me a pill. “Take one of these. Seasickness has no chance.”
“It’s okay,” I said holding up my hands, “My mom gave me something. I’ll find you if I get desperate.”
“No harm, no foul. Nice meeting you kid. Hope your stomach does okay. Remember to not sit inside when you feel crummy. Take a breath of fresh air and keep eyes pointed the ocean. It works for me.”
I nodded. The heavyset man and his wife waddled up the ramp to the ship and disappeared in the masses of people. He glanced back and gave a wave which I thought was odd. Never trusted anyone who were overly friendly.
Dad came up and wondered who the friendly dude was, “Everything oaky son. That man handed you something.”
“I didn’t take it. He tried to give me seasickness pills.”
“Never take anything from someone you don’t know. You know the rules.”
“Especially when they have sweaty palms. Gross!”
Dad laughed, and turned to the rest of the family. “Here we go family. Time to have another Rayburn adventure. Ready?”
Before the words could hit my ears. I waddled up the ramp with the other people and my family. The sweat and heat began to rise up the back of my spine. I knew it was coming and nothing would stop it.
I leaned against the railing and let my breakfast float down toward the water below. I puked.
I guess the ramp rocked pretty good. This was going to be a long week at sea.
The puking didn’t help with relations between Rosie and I. She couldn’t believe how much of a girl I was. Not my problem. She was more afraid of puking herself. At the sight of puke she’d lose her cookies at the drop of a hat. I digress.
We found our rooms. I thought our accommodations in the boat would be similar to a hotel room. Not even close. Imagine a small hotel room and then make it even smaller. That is what a ship room is like. Folded out bunk beds and a tiny bathroom and not much else. This was going to be a long week. Not good for the belly either.
Rosie and I shared a room and mom and dad had their won next door. I was happy about the arrangements because dad snores like a freight train with a bad engine. He might wake up the entire ship on one of his bad days. Mom wore ear plugs at the beginning of their marriage. She now wears noise canceling headphones with music playing so she can get some sleep.
I tossed my duffel bag on the top bunk. “Mine,” I said, giving Rosie a tongue.
“Loser… you’re going to leave your sister on the bottom bunk so killers can come in and steal me. “Yep. That would be nice. I wouldn’t have to hear you complain anymore.”
“Come on. I want the top bunk. You know I hate the bottom. I’m going to be scared.”
“I thought you were the tough adventurer. Dad seems to think so.”
“I am. But not when it comes to sleeping in strange places.”
“Like when we were in the desert and you had to sleep with mom on the far end of the motel room. You couldn’t have your own bed.”
“I don’t care.”
“If I sleep on the bottom you know I fart a lot. That’s the risk you take.”
“I’ll do anything. Please…”
“When we get home you do my chores for two weeks. And you give me ten bucks.”
Rosie took a moment to think about the negotiation. “Yep, no problem. Easy…”
We switched bunks and I was excited to not have any chores for a couple weeks. Not to mention I just was added toilet duty and now Rosie could enjoy the nastiness.
I opened my bag and organized some of my stuff in a small drawer across from the beds. Rosie did the same.
“Dad mention anything about the mission?” I asked.
“A little. Something about pirates at sea.”
“I heard the same thing. Sounds like some bad guys are doing research on sea animals. But doing it illegally and hurting the wildlife. What did you hear?”
“Something like that. After last summer I thought dad would never let me on a mother mission.”
“I thought he’d stop doing them altogether. When he got kidnapped I knew his adventurer careers was over.”
“Dad’s tough. The adventurer is in our blood. In the DNA. Nothing can take it out.”
“True. I don’t know how useful I will be on the ocean. I already puked before we even got on the boat. This is going to be rough.”
“More adventure for me.”
Rosie was left out last summer in the desert because of a severe sunburn. I’d never seen such a bad burn and she could barely leave her bed. Did I mention things with Billy Britton never worked out. He said it was because he found another girlfriend. I think it was because of the sunburn. Who knows?
“If I get desperate I’ll find the sweaty fat man. He has some seasickness pills,” I said, with a chuckle.
“Gross. You would do that you sick kid. I remember when you at that churro laying on the ground at Fun World.”
“Come on. It was barely eaten. You can’t let a good churro go to waste.”
Rosie ignored the comment and continued to load her piles of clothes into the drawers. “You know we are only on vacation for a week. Mostly wearing swim gear.”
“Never know. I did some research and the weather can change in a hurry. You always have to be prepared.”
“For a tough adventurer. You sure are a girly girl. How many pairs of shoes does one person need?”
“Don’t get me started. How many video games does one sixth grader need?”
“Good point. But video games at least don’t wear out and hurt your feet. It seems you shoes never are the right size because you’re always complaining how they hurt your toes. Why don’t you buy the right size?”
She rolled her eyes, “Men will never understand fashion.”
Dad burst into our room with a big smile. “They are serving lunch. Why don’t you meet us in the dinning room in five minutes. We can check out the rest of the boat after we eat.”
After losing my breakfast over the side the boat lunch was what I needed. I heard cruises are known for their food and hoped the rumor was true. I also heard many people eat too much. Maybe that’s why the guy with the pills was fairly large. Too many trips to the buffet line.
Rosie finished unpacking her massive piles of clothes and I had been done ten minutes ago. Before we left our room I took a glance at a folder in my backpack. It was a standard debriefing dad would give us beef every mission. This was only the second mission he’d let me participate in and I didn’t want to screw it up. I wanted all the facts and to see what we were facing.
Rosie saw me examining the mission notes. She sat down next to me on the bed. “Good work Rick. Taking this stuff seriously. I’m proud of you. You might be a loser but you’re still my brother.”
I gave a half smile. “I just want to make dad proud.”
“Listen bro. I used to be like you. Always thinking dad was only proud of me when I was doing a good job on a mission. I’ve messed up things so many times on an adventure. He doesn’t care. He’s just happy to have us be part of the family business.”
“You sure? Het takes his jobs very seriously.”
“Of course he does. He’s a professional. But he loves us no matter what. Don’t forget it, okay?” she said, messing up my hat as it fell to the ground.
“Now you’ve done it. No one touches my Ohio State hat,” I said, chasing Rosie out into the hallway.
We started to run toward the dining hall as he taunted me with the hat in her hand. I must’ve of not been paying attention but I slammed into a man walking down the hallway in our direction. His pudgy body bounced off the wall and he almost fell on his face. He caught himself and braced before things got worse.
I reached out a hand of support. “I’m so sorry, sir. My sister is being a jerk.”
It was the man who offered me pills. We locked eyes and his frown turned into a smile. “Hey, good to see you kid. How’s the stomach?”
I place day hands in my pockets. Rosie saw us chatting and she came walking back down the hallway. “Puked on the ramp entering the boat. So, not so good. We’re heading to the dining hall for a refill.”
“Offer still stands. You need those pills let me know. Really good seeing you.”
Rosie and I left him standing in the hallway. I had a weird feeling about this guy. Why did we keeping running into one another? Why was he so happy? Probably nothing and my stomach needed food.