Monday, April 17, 2006

Turbulent Journey - Ch. 11

The rain finally stopped early on Thanksgiving morning. When Jamaal awakened that morning it was to sunlight and to breakfast in bed.

Besides opening the curtain to let in the blessed light, Angel had prepared fish cakes fried in a touch of olive oil and hominy grits that she’d been saving for a special occasion. The silver tray she carried even had a red wildflower on it for extra oomph. A nearly fully recovered Jamaal was more than pleasantly surprised to see her standing over him with this delightful treat.

She must have been up pretty early to do this, he mused, thrilled to no end.

Without asking, Jamaal knew that Angel had gotten the fresh fish from the trap that he’d concocted from various ropes and placed at the end of the boat that was still emerged in water. In hindsight he realized that the idea to make such a trap had been yet another form of God’s provision. The trap caught more fish than the homemade palm tree fishing poles they usually used. Plus it freed up more time for them to focus on other things.

But the most important thing that Jamaal liked about the fish trap and the other contraptions he felt led to make (and had shown his shipmate how to use) was the fact that they brought a level of security with them. Even in his weakest moment, Jamaal felt secure that he’d left Angel with the means to survive no matter what happened to him.

That must be why people take out life insurance policies, he mused, momentarily thinking of his family back home. By now Marla Norris was probably rolling in dough. But knowing his mother she’d simply add Jamaal’s insurance settlement to the money that she uses for her philanthropic ventures. And that’s if she decided to collect on the policy at all. Without a body to bury, Marla would most likely refuse to receive any funds until at least after a year had past.

As Jamaal made room for Angel and the tray on the bed, the green covers he was under slid down to his waist. Soon a muscular mahogany chest with pecks made for loving were revealed. At a glimpse of that wonderful sight Angel almost dropped the tray in her hands. Fortunately, a quick-acting Jamaal kept it steady and guided it safely down to his lap.

This man is always so calm, Angel mused. She could only recall Jamaal losing his composure once. And that was understandably during the worst of the storm. No human being could have stayed calm during all that tumult.

Inwardly, Angel wondered what Jamaal would be like at his rawest given a different situation. A most pleasurable situation where he could be at his rawest while delectably entwined with her.

But Angel didn’t know just how tormented Jamaal was right now sitting beside her, wanting to touch her, wanting to feel every part of the woman who’d nursed him back to health. Yet he refrained from any appearance of passion, quietly keeping his hands and his desires in check.

Yet if she’d only checked his eyes, Angel would have found love and desire holding hands and exchanging kisses the way Jamaal wanted to do with her. Except she was suddenly too nervous to do anything but accept his thanks and hasten out the door to the emotional safety of her room. Angel didn’t even look back at him for fear of what her own eyes would reveal.

***

From that day forward, Jamaal and Angel continued to work together to survive the trial that they’d been placed in. They needed each other. But their relationship had definitely incurred a few significant changes. That much was clear to the both of them and yet neither of them knew what to do about it.

The most obvious change occurred in their dialogue. It became limited to necessary conversation only. The only time Jamaal or Angel expounded upon anything was during Bible study. That was their safety zone. But after awhile, the mounting unuttered feelings between them were even starting to put a strain on that time, too.

On the first bright sunny morning of December, Angel went walking along the seashore with Martinez. Jamaal was busy repairing some of their fish nets at the water’s edge.

As Angel continued to stroll at a leisurely pace, she picked up a few smooth pebbles along the way and began to skip them across the water. A few of them skipped several times before sinking to the depths below. The longest skip touched down on the water six times.

Proud of her accomplishment, Angel clapped her hands with delight. Thinking she was beckoning him, Martinez came closer to her side, leaping excitedly upon her shins.

“I didn’t want you, silly puppy,” Angel said, laughing as she bent down to pat his head.

“Perhaps you wanted me then,” Jamaal suddenly injected from the large rock he sat on nearby. A small smile played at the corners of his mouth.

You bet I want you, Angel mused, looking his way and hoping that her thoughts didn’t register on her face. No such break. Angel’s thoughts were displayed all over her face as if written in neon ink, prompting Jamaal to stop what he was doing and come to her. She could feel her heartbeat thumping excitedly in her throat with each step he took towards her.

Standing before her, Jamaal looked down into Angel’s green eyes and repeated his statement. “I said, perhaps you wanted me then. Do you, Angel? Do you want me?” His voice was soft and husky. His nut-brown eyes were full of love.

Before Angel could answer, a sound from above caught both of their attentions. It was a plane. Quickly reaching for the flares that he always carried in his pants pocket, Jamaal promptly lit them. He hoped and prayed that someone up there would see the signal and rescue them.

Unfortunately, the plane was too high up to see them. And the time of day was such that the flares could not be easily seen due to the glare of the sun.

Unbeknown to Jamaal and Angel, there was another obstacle to their rescue. Even if the plane was lower it would have still been difficult to spot the white boat due to the fact that it was now almost completely hidden by several rows of low hanging trees and thick undergrowth.

Disheartened, the two adults went back to their separate rooms. They forgot for the moment all about their little romantic encounter, the fish net, and the skipping of any pebbles. Even the puppy was quiet, drooping his ears and his tail all the way back to the boat.

***

After landing his plane at a small Floridian airport, Walt Sims took out his phone and dialed Melvin Truxton’s number. After a month of close contact, he now knew the number by heart. Walt was not looking forward to delivering another round of bad news. After weeks of searching, he was starting to feel guilty taking the grieving man’s money, building up what might very well be false hope of ever finding Melvin’s missing daughter.

Walt sighed and waited for someone to answer, knowing that in just a few seconds he’d be advising his client that it was time to give up the search.

***

After hearing the depressing news, Melvin put the phone down. Then he went into his private bathroom and leaned against the wall, crying deep silent tears of grief.

No matter what they say, Angel, you’re not dead to me! You will never be dead to me! Mr. Truxton’s heart lamented from a place of deep anguish.


Angel’s Scripture:
“For thou will light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” Psalm 18:28

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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