When I am able, I slip from the hammock. Reklama remains asleep where she is, clinging to a mildewed couch cushion, a pile of disheveled books on the floor beneath her. Only the gentlest of snores escapes.
My splinted ankle doesn't work so well. I crawl aft, pushing aside rust-stained peels of paint, greedy with need, making for the milk crate filled with antique stoppered bottles.
The first sip is nectar. The second is hops.
Leaning against the sink, I look up. A wooden platform sways overhead, suspended from the ceiling by chains. I step up on a box and climb the sink, putting myself on eye-level with an ugly suitcase record player. The needle trails a seaweed tangle of industrial dust.
Gingerly clambering back down, I realize that the box is a custom-made case filled with LPs. A quick flip-through turns up a Columbia recording of Marlene Dietrich singing, of all things, 'Time On My Hands'. 'Dark Magus' turns out to be the Japanese pressing. The only other Miles in the collection is 'Jack Johnson'. David Bowie, of course; 'Hunky Dory' and 'Diamond Dogs'. Some obscure radio station interview albums, the kind where the tracks are all separate and you have to manually transfer the needle. The interviewee seems to be John Lennon, though I don't see any affection for the Beatles anywhere else. The last item is a children's record: 'Br'er Rabbit'.
Most of the sleeves are split or deformed by moisture, but that doesn't stop her from enjoying them. Not exactly collector mentality.
My ankle whines. The constant lament: If only you had more time.
I feel the ship shifts beneath me, settling in the sediment; the whole structure groans. Reklama turns in her hammock, inquisitive but eyes still closed. Her hair pitches through the openings in slow-moving streams.
I take a fifth, reluctant sip of the homebrew. The fermentation tastes as though it's gone into reverse. I put the stopper back in, and set the bottle down.
I wave my hand in front of my face. The image breaks into discrete frames. A spray of slides, names and dates in the margins. I feel my waveform collapsing, the numbers that give me meaning succumbing.
I know my purpose, but can't conceive of it in terms myopic enough to exclude everything surplus to that purpose. I have to eat, to excrete, to wake and to sleep, because I have to imitate local patterns in order to perceive them.
The hell of it is, I see a beautiful woman, and all I can think about is dying.