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God I Hate Him, He's So Annoying!

by Toby Johnston

Chapter 2

Red Sky in the Morning, Sailors Take Warning!

I stewed all weekend, dreading the coming week—in the same boat with Ben every day. I guess I was pretty obvious about it 'cause Mom asked me at Saturday morning breakfast what was wrong. I explained what the coach wanted us to do and how that meant having to take orders from him when he was skipper—the only bright side to that was that we'd switch off and I would be skipper.

Of course, they were both still snowed by "Perfect Ben" from the dinner, Dad chiming in about how I should be proud that the coach wanted his two best sailors to team on the regatta to represent the club (I rolled my eyes). Mom of course hit on the "psychology" angle of working out our differences and how that would be a good life lesson for me. So clearly, I wasn't going to get any support from my parents to fix this outrage! Who else suffers from academic "learning parents? Ugh!

I couldn't even mention the whole other problem—a Laser II is not a large boat. It's tight. You can't avoid touching—bare legs right next to each other, bumping everything else when you're coming about, not to mention having those abs right in your face, especially when we're hiking out—at least I had a budding eight pack to his six…haha. The odds of my popping a boner in the boat were high—and you know what teasing that would trigger!

I spent the weekend pondering my options—running away and disappearing, changing sailing clubs, taking up golf—none of which were viable. And so Monday came, and I dragged myself out of bed, showered and got through the morning—all the while hoping for the cavalry to ride in and rescue me—they didn't. So mid-afternoon I biked over for Day One with my Nemesis.

Getting our boat prepped, Ben was all smiles—no doubt because he was thinking through the thousands of ways he was going to torture me over the coming weeks. He was probably having so much trouble deciding what to do first—so many options! I was jumpy just waiting for him to pull the first one. But he didn't do anything. He was acting all 'serious sailor' like; even friendly—which of course made me more suspicious. Making me wait for the hammer to drop—obviously that was his first 'torture'…the guy is devious!

Okay. Day one, not so bad—other than my being jumpy all afternoon. Ben even acquiesced to my skippering first. I expected him to be questioning my every move—but he didn't. He actually was a seriously good crewman. He did make one suggestion on altering our course on the second leg of the triangle—ranging further off to the right as we'd be fighting the tide less and we'd pick up stronger winds once we passed the point.

At first I wasn't buying it—was this the first round of screwing with me? I could just see us getting back to shore and him debriefing with the coach telling 'I told Xavier not to…' —but then I realized he might be right, so I nodded and took his advice. At first it looked a mistake as other other crews initially gained ground on us. But once we edged past the point and came about, we caught the full force of the wind coming up the bay and the boat leapt ahead like we'd stomped on the gas!

We whooped it up as we handily reached the second buoy well ahead of the others, rounded it, and sheeted the sails in tight for the last leg of the course. Did I mention that the salt water was splashing up on Ben's abs that whole second leg? As crewman, he sits just ahead of me and handles the jib, so he's a bit of a shield for me—I couldn't help licking my lips as I saw the sun glinting off those little water droplets.

The coach was all smiles from his committee boat as well as we crossed the finish line, "I knew you two would make me proud!"

We rounded his boat out of the way of the finish line, luffed our sails and debriefed the race with him as we waited for the rest of the boats to finish. Once we were all across, the coach had us bring all the boats in close and we did a quick debrief with the whole team. Then it was time to peel off and get ready for race two. This time, Ben was skippering, and okay, I have to say he nailed the start!

Like any other race, you want to be first out of the chute, right? The trick in sailing though is that you have to do it in a moving boat, taking into account, the direction and speed of the water, the direction and force of the wind, distance and angle to the start line, and then you have the little issue of where all the other boats are—that whole 'right of way', Starboard/Port thing.

You want to hit the start line at full speed, just as the coach has sounded his airhorn for the start of the race. Too slow and you're wasting precious seconds, too fast and you have to circle back around and recross the line—even more precious seconds! I'm usually on the cautious side—figuring better to cross a few seconds after than have to waste time circling. I was sure he was being too aggressive when he had me sheeting in the jib and hiking out—but he was skipper, so his call. I figured he had totally mistimed it, cringing as I waited for us to either cross the line too soon or having to luff the sails and totally lose our forward momentum.

Never happened. My eyes were closed when I heard the airhorn, "Come about?" I whispered. Figuring Ben was just too stunned to say it.

"Hell no, why would we do that?" he laughed, "We've left those wonks in our dust, no way we're giving them a chance to catch up!"

I cracked an eye and looked back toward the fleet. The closest boat was a solid two lengths back, others just crossing the line. The coach was looking at us with a big-ass grin.

"You didn't trust me did ya?"

I grinned at him, "Every confidence in the world skipper!"

"No faith, no faith", he shook his head. Probably not the best line to use with me, as I was still pretty distrustful. I shrugged my shoulders and concentrated on trimming the jib to maximize our speed.

The rest of the day went pretty well. We got in a few more races before the coach called it a day and we headed back to the boathouse. I was worried Ben would start acting up again when he got back with all his buds—but surprisingly he was good. We got the boats out of the water, rinsed them down and them spread the sails out in the boat house to dry overnight.

I was knackered by the time we finished, and I still had a bike ride home, so I got out of there pretty quickly. Mom was all smiles when I relayed how the day went—no doubt thinking she'd been right about the 'life lesson'. I let her know that all it meant was that Ben hadn't triggered his master 'Screw with Xavier' plan.

That earned me a smack on the butt, which lead to an overly dramatic sniffling, which led to my being sent up for a shower before dinner as she muttered something about puberty, me being ripe, and something about deodorant.

The next few days went much the same. I have to admit we really were a good crew together. Ben was better at the timing, strategy, angles and all that. I seemed to be better at the boat handling, trimming the sails, getting us to maximize our angles up wind. Between the two of us, we were eking out precious seconds. I was starting to agree that coach was right about us having complementary abilities, and Ben was still being on his best behavior--prolly someone told him to not screw up the club's chances.

Then, disappointment. Ben has a girlfriend. That came as a rude awakening—putting a major dent in my fantasy. Not that I ever figured something would happen between us, truce or ceasefire maybe, friends? No sign that was ever going to happen.

I was downtown buying a new bathing suit, an amazingly sexy one actually. I'd seen it in the store when Mom and I were out, and snuck back to buy one. It was called a 'square cut'—kind of shorty-short version of board shorts, but not anywhere near Speedo-short or anything.

After trying them on and a vigorous debate—with myself, I'd settled on a white pair with thick black stripes down the sides—figuring they complemented my black hair. Not that I expected anyone to see me in them. These were strictly for our backyard pool wear, not sure I had the balls to wear them in public. And if the dressing room was any indicator, I'd have a massive hard-on every time I wore them anyway—haha.

I came out of the store and practically ran over Ben and Grace Jameson. Shit—no way to avoid them. They were laughing and chatting about something—probably how Ben was going to drop the hammer on me. They stopped short when they saw me. I kind of hemmed and hawed, hoping to get away without incident—no such luck. Ben snagged the bag from me before I realized it and pulled out the suit.

"Ohhh, looking sexy!" he smirked. "Do these actually fit you, they look really small!"

I turned forty shades of red and tried to grab it back.

Grace intervened and told him to stop it and give it back to me. She grabbed the bag from him and put them away, "I think they look nice. Maybe someone else ought to get himself a new suit instead of the ragged old shorts he wears."

I beat feet and left them on the street.

I awoke Friday to leaden skies. Mom and Dad were scurrying about the kitchen when I wandered in still wiping the sleep out of my eyes. "You should have seen the skies this morning," Dad said ominously, "Red sky in the morning, Sailors take warning!"

I groaned, "Do the midshipmen really take you seriously at the Academy, Dad, if your teaching words of wisdom are all old wives' tales?"

"Tried and true words of wisdom my boy," Accu-Father intoned, "Plus the barometer's falling, she's a fixin' to blow!"

Well, he was right about the clouds anyway. I tried to get in some sun time in my new bathing suit. But no break in the overcast. I did get more of my summer reading done. I was diligently making progress on that at least. Finally, I gave up, made myself some lunch and got ready to head over to the boat house. The skies did not look any better as I cycled through town to the bay. In fact, if anything, the clouds seemed to be thicker.

I came out into the open area leading to the boathouse and looked out over the bay. Far out over the water, the clouds were scudding up the bay. It did look a little ominous, but still the weather seemed to be holding. Maybe it will just blow over us and hit somewhere north of Baltimore.

Coach called us all in and laid out the training plan for the afternoon, warning us to pay attention to the flags and the airhorn that would call us in if the weather deteriorated. Everyone had to wear their personal floatation devices—PFD—normally we just kept them in the little cubby at the base of the sail 'cause they're kind of annoying. They're way better than those old, bulky, orange life jackets of shame, at least these were 'racing sailor cool'.

The winds were seriously strong as we launched out into the bay for our first race. Ben and I, not to mention all the others, were having a bit of a struggle just to keep the boat on an even keel. At thirteen, we just didn't have the body weight to hold the boat down in the strong winds. We kept having to ease off on the sails to keep from capsizing. Still, we were flying, so no worries. We were ripping through the waves even though the weather was worsening.

It didn't get any better as the afternoon wore on. We were actually getting a bit tired and feeling the effects of having to hold onto the sheets so tightly—I figured we'd be sore tomorrow. That said, we were still having fun! Like Dad says, "Everyone's a fair-weather sailor; it takes adverse conditions to figure out if you're a real sailor!"

It was late afternoon when we set out on the final race of the day. I was skippering—by now we had a pretty smooth rhythm going between the two of us. Ben had honed my timing/skill at the starting line, so once again we shot out ahead of the crowd. This time, we were determined to leave everyone far in our wake, so we once again took the outer side of the course that would send us wide to the right where we would pick up the winds rounding the point for our run up the Bay!

Well, we did that for sure. So hell bent were we on our plan that we missed the warning flags, and apparently the airhorns. Our backs were to the south as we hit the point, but as we came about, we could see straight down the bay.

We were fucked! "Oh shit!" we both yelled. All you could see down the bay was a wall of rain sweeping its way up the bay. We watched as it enveloped one freighter riding at anchor as it awaited its turn to head up into Baltimore harbor to offload.

We looked back towards the boat house and could barely make out the launch towing a gaggle of the fleet behind it, hightailing it into safety. We immediately jibed to head back toward the boathouse and land. But we were way too far out.

"No way we're going to make it," Ben warned.

I looked at him and nodded, "This is going to be seriously hairy."

"Good thing we're the two best sailors in the club," he said with a little bit of confidence.

I agreed without a whole lot more confidence, watching as another freighter down-bay was swallowed up by the rain. We checked the straps on our PFDs. I dove into the cubby and hauled out the emergency kit and I strapped to my leg. I also found a roll of duct tape and shoved that into the side of my vest.

"We need to drop the main!" Ben warned, "This is gonna hit us hard."

I handed him the jib sheet and scurried up the mast, unfastening the halyard and dropping the main as fast as I could. But not fast enough. The wind started catching it and threatening to flip us over. I whipped out my sailing knife and touched it to the billowing sail—between that one small cut and the force of the wind, it ripped from clew to tack in seconds—one last cut and it flew off into the bay—first crisis averted.

Now we just had the jib to give us steerage. I took back over the jib sheet while Ben used two hands on the tiller. But there was no heading for shore, we were just going to have to ride it out. At first we were doing okay. Not moving in the direction we needed to, but we were afloat and not being driven too far offshore. Then the wind changed. We could barely hear each other shouting over the wind.

Then it went from bad to worse! First I heard a weird 'ping', and I felt a sting across my forehead. I wasn't sure what had happened at first, and now I could barely see from the rain in my eyes. Only it wasn't rain.

Ben was looking at me wide eyed, shouting "You're bleeding!"

I put my hand to my forehead and it came away covered in blood. Our metal forestay had split and whipped through the air across my face. For a second, I was relieved it hadn't been worse—but that was short-lived.

Next was more of a 'clung-sound' than a 'ping', sort of like the sound an aluminum bat makes when you hit the ball out of the park (not that I've ever hit a ball out of the park!). Without the forestay, the main mast buckled and came crashing down towards my head!

Just before it clocked me, I saw Ben lift his arm and deflect it. I heard the crack even over the wind. And knew it was bad. His face went white, and he crumpled to the bottom of the boat. I knew his arm was broken without even having to check. I shoved the mast off of him and turned him over—his face had totally gone white.

I grabbed the duct tape out and wrapped his arm up against his PFD as best I could—kind of a sling of sorts. He was groggy but awake, so I helped him sit up. At this point we were totally fucked—no main mast; the shrouds and sheets fouling the rudder; the tangle of the jib at the bow now a threat as it caught the wind. And now the wall of rain was enveloping us. We breached as the wind literally punched down and flipped the boat, throwing us both into the water.

With only one good arm, Ben was struggling. I managed to grab hold of his lifejacket with one hand, some lines with the other and pulled us in close to the overturned hull. I managed to get him close enough so he could get his good hand holding on somewhere. At least the Laser had good flotation—we weren't in danger, I hoped, of sinking. We just hunkered down and held on for dear life for who knows how long.

The wind and rain kept pummeling us, eventually the winds eased a little bit, but not the rain. Ben was still kind of hanging on, but his one good hand kept slipping off and I could see his lips turning blue. I needed to get us out of the water quickly. I gathered up as much of the rope swirling around us in the water and cut it loose. I was able to flip it up around the centerboard that thank God was still locked in place and then tie it off—making some good enough loops for handholds in the process.

Then I pulled myself in close behind Ben—yelling into his ear, "We have to get up on the boat! Out of the water."

He nodded, but didn't move.

I yelled at him again, "We have to do it NOW! I grabbed his good hand and reached it up the one of the handholds. "Grab hold and don't let go!"

Kicking around, I could feel the bent main mast underneath us. I yelled again, "I'm going to push you up. You need to pull yourself up onto the hull."

I counted to three. He actually pulled! I put my feet on the bent main mast and thrust my legs out. The mast held out long enough to get him up on the hull of the boat before it gave way and dropped me back into the water. By then though he was sprawled up on the hull and could pull on the rope round the centerboard to get himself all the way up and straddling the board.

I then grabbed the same line and hoisted myself up behind him. Pulling myself in as tight as I could. He grunted and mumbled something about my trying to cut his balls off. I shook my head. We're going to die and he's making jokes! I shifted in behind him and reached around both sides to hold us on tight.

We tried to figure out where we were but it was pretty dark. We could make out the shoreline. Emergency lights were blinking all up and down the bay. We could hear the wailing of sirens and see searchlights from helicopters sweeping back and forth. I kept trying to talk to Ben, but he just kept mumbling—which of course just made me more scared even from the back. I could tell he was totally pale, like vampire pale.

I knew enough about first aid and the sea to tell he was getting hypothermia. Then I remembered skin on skin from Scouts. Figuring I had no time to debate what to do, I cut away the straps at the back of his PFD flipping the panel to the side. I then opened up the front of mine and pressed my bare chest into his back. I tried rubbing one of his arms at the same time.

It took a little while, but eventually I could feel the warmth between the two of us. Okay, totally inappropriate and bad timing, but that made me get hard—Hey I'm sorry. I'm thirteen and I have a crush on this boy. His back is rubbing against my nipples and well, my nipples they are hard wired to my dick.

At least Ben was totally out of it, hopefully he wouldn't notice. Then I remembered the emergency pack and dug into it, finding a mylar blanket. I taped that around us too, hoping it would hold in more warmth. Now the two of us were kind of taped together.

Turned out that Ben wasn't as 'totally out of it' as I thought. We were hunkered in together, both of us hugging the centerboard and I heard him giggle, "You like me!"

I'm thinking WTF, "I don't like you. You're annoying and you tease me all the time."

He kind of wiggled his butt between my legs, "Oh no, you like me!"

I couldn't figure out where he was going with this, was this another of his set-ups? "Why do you say that?"

"Because I can feel your boner pressed against my butt!" Then he took my hand and pulled it into his crotch. He was rock hard. "It's cool," he mumbled, "I like you, too."

"Then why do you tease me all the time?"

"Trying to get your attention. But it didn't really work did it. Then I couldn't figure out how to turn it around. Grace kept telling me I was being stupid and I should just tell you I like you. I'm really sorry Xavier. I'd fix it if I could, but now we're not going to make it."

That scared me, and made me mad. My mind raced—what more could I do? In desperation, I dug back into the emergency pack, tossing away bandages, wet wipes, and other things we didn't need. Finally, there it was, packet of flares!

I pulled it out, "Ben we have flares," I read the box, "Only use in case of emergency."

"Well hang onto those, you know, just in case we're ever in an emergency."

I almost argued with him, and then realized it was just Ben's sense of humor. I fumbled with the case, terrified that I'd screw up and drop the whole thing into the water.

Finally, I got a flare loaded into the little plastic gun and held it over my head—whoosh! The bright red ball launches up into the sky, streaking up, up and up until it arced over and slowly drifted to the water.

Hopefully, I watched. Seconds ticked by, but no one seemed to have seen it. I launched another, and another. My heart sinking. We're too far out. But on the fifth flare I saw one of the helicopters swing in our direction, its search light reaching out like a long finger.

I launch another flare. Now I could see the helicopter was definitely heading straight for us!

I kept launching flares as the helicopter came towards us, hoping that wasn't against official Coast Guard regulations. Then I was down to the last flare, this one a hand-held that I fired-up and held over my head as the helicopter came in. I had to tuck my head into Ben as the down wash kind of pummeled us—he smelled nice.

I was never so happy to see a real frog man plunge into the water and swim over towards us. I started crying I was so relieved. Holding onto our boat, he signaled to me to throw the flare over the other side. I pointed at Ben's arm. He nodded. Next thing I know he was basically manhandling the two of us, still taped together, into one of those metal basket things and then we were whisked up into the sky.

There, another guy in a flight suit and helmet hauled us inside. Warmth, that's the first thing I noticed. Even with the door open it was so thankfully warm inside. And no rain. Pretty soon, the frogman was inside with us too, and they closed the door.

They didn't even bother untaping us. I guess they figured it would help keep us warm. I vaguely remember them poking and prodding us, asking our names, taking vitals. I was fading in and out. I'm pretty sure I remember having to hold on tight to Ben so he wouldn't fall out of the helicopter. I was so scared he wouldn't make it.

I don't really remember getting to hospital, but I did kind of wake up in a bed. There were lots of doctors and nurses around me. Things were beeping and someone was putting a needle in my arm—I hate needles. I sort of remember someone asking me questions. Not sure if I really answered them or not. I tried to ask how Ben was. After that I think I fell asleep. It was nice and warm.


This is part of a multiple chapter tale, created for a Writing Challenge. To vote, please read to the end, where you will find the survey

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