You know you live in Key West when it’s 11am on a weekday and you’re invited boating. I scarcely ever step outdoors before twilight, when my eyes can better adjust. I replied to the Captain by text Yes!, and sped about gathering gear.
Off to one side like a slash of green from a paintbrush stroke was the landmass of Boca Chica, a mangrove tangled shore with pockets of beaches, peopled from inland.
So we stayed at sea, seemingly protected by space. All around was brightness with its play on the blue and green tiled sea, the pattern wittering in wavy baroque diamond shapes. I was hypnotized.
“Didja see that one?”
“I heard the splash!” This went on all afternoon. I missed every fish.
We jumped into the water, tumbling and rolling. To swim hard in one direction and then shoot down to the coral bumpy ocean floor, heaven. Sometimes, underwater I opened my eyes, always a little concerned I might see something I don’t want to, something with a fin.
Back on board we relaxed, drip-drying. Luxuriating.
Inexplicably, from the the landmass came a blast so enormous I was stunned. Booming intermittent surges of noise I felt in my limbs, through the reverberating deck of the sleek boat. Next came a smell of diesel. “Nothing ‘civilian’ sounds like that,” said the Captain, and he started up the boat, “which reminds me…”. As we puttered back to the marina he told a story of a tiny cloud he once saw just sitting on the water. “I had to check it out!” This left him blind for a week. If you read Carl Hiaasen, and I’ve read every word, he regularly warns of Florida’s contradictions.
Half way back and we had to wait on a convoy of tourists on jet-skis.
“Every boater’s bane!” Said the Captain, indicating the jet-skis. “Legend has it someone who lived on a sailboat took a shot at one of them, and killed him. The man became a local hero.”
The Captain returned me to my home, and feeling a little wobbly I took a shower which is when I discovered my skin crumbling off me like coconut flakes. Turns out I was microwaved crispy. I lay down in the cool a/c and passed the hell out. Solitaire in Paradise.