None of this he has mentioned to Mary, the current cause of his racing heart, because at this point Mary is a stranger. Mary is a stranger lying face down on the deck of John's boat, at this point. John had only talked briefly with Mary when they had first set out into the clear blue day.
“Usually when we get these charters it's a group going out, y'know”
“I can imagine”
“A lot of parties too, y'know, with bosses who insist on wearing my hat and spinning the wheel. Plus the nouveau-riche big noters with their gold watches and cases of Bollinger I have to sack barrow on board”.
“But it's just you today?”
“Today, it's just me; that's not a problem is it?”
“No problem at all, ma'am”. They liked him to call the women ma'am on the boat, just like they liked him to wear the hat.
And so Mary is the cause of John's racing heart, and makes this true through the position occupied on the ship's deck, lying face down in only bikini only inches from the slim shadow the overhead sun/sail combination creates. As the sun wanes in the sky she will be engulfed by the shadow, John thinks. It is not the overt display of toned and bronzed skin on this upper deck of this yacht under John's charge that is behind the slamming ribs. Post-pubescent blues, he thinks, he got over that sort of reaction to half naked and beautiful women – oh Plato! Reason must rule! and all that. Instead it is the (nominal) gift of predictability and foresight which has John's heart skipping double dutch.
John is never embarrased to call himself a seaman. He has noticed recently that some of his younger colleagues seem almost afraid of the title. Shy away from it. John is a proud seaman, and likes to think of himself as the type that's not afraid of anything, except:
a) fear itself, and
b) never sleeping again.
John the seaman of beating heart and blessed foresight still sits looking out to sea, trying to trace the horizon's slight bend with his finger. This is something else they like him to do, even though it serves absolutely no purpose. Mary the passenger of perfumed hair and overpriced undergarments lies still. John considers briefly telling her some crock of shit story about the 'healing properties' of the fresh sea air surrounding. This is usually reserved for tourists.
It is strange, thinks John, how many women there are in the world just like this one. But there are no others, he thinks, on the boat right now. John has resigned himself, “blessed foresight”, to the fact that he shall be defeated by this woman. She will initiate, and dick led, mentally a 14 yr old again, he will oblige.
And how she will celebrate! Overjoyed with her catch, readily mentally composing the brunch-story for her circle of friends. “He was a real man! A gentleman! Sea strong arms and a dark tan! Weathered face! Yes honey, just like Robert Redford!”. At this point she is Hemingway's Santiago, John thinks, and he a big fucking marlin. Except without the struggle.
But, thinks John, he is also the spoiler of the catch. He is the circling sharks. Mary's brunch fishermen friends will celebrate the catch, but will not appreciate the trials of the return. And Mary will be left with the skeletal remains of her once proud catch, but will put on a brave face about a situation! Oh yes, she will say, it was wonderful!Because, after the inevitable happens, Mary is no longer a stranger to John.
John the seaman of pumping heart, blessed foresight, a week of sleepless nights and undiagnosed OCD, is ready to even the scales by halving himself. It will be, he thinks, as if the old man's marlin was taken out not by sharks, but eaten from the inside out.
She will have regrets. “Yes honey, I swear he was just like Brad Pitt!” She will tell her friends. She will not tell them that by this she means just like Brad Pitt in fucking Fight Club, that bizarre damaged ranting sea captain son of a bitch, 3 hours of banalities he subjected me to, damaged damaged damaged.
She will be, thinks John, one of that particular breed of fishermen in it more for the stories and the competition than for the experience. John's heart stays pump pump pumping.
“Oh, you wouldn't mind putting some sunscreen on my back, would you?”
“Of course not, ma'am”