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The Encounter (standard:drama, 4396 words)
Author: TJCAdded: Mar 25 2011Views/Reads: 2387/2269Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A down on his luck man considers suicide but then meets a mysterious young woman.... (This story could fit into several different categories, but I went with drama so as not to give it away)

The Encounter 

The breeze smelled of salt as Tony Cielo stood on the deserted deck,
looking at the passing sea.  In the distance across the night water he 
saw another cruise ship, lights illuminated like a beacon, probably 
filled with happy, partying souls, exactly like the ones that permeated 
the vessel he currently was aboard.  He, however, wasn't one of those 
care-free people.  For the past thirty years he'd toiled as a baseball 
scout, beating the bushes for young players with major league 
potential, and in his spare time he was a freelance writer, penning 
short stories, articles and a couple of unpublished novels. 

Approaching his mid-fifties, and with two failed marriages and three
grown daughters he felt alienated from, it seemed life was well past 
its best days.  He couldn't make anybody happy, especially his harshest 
critic; himself. 

“How are you doing?” Said a young blond woman, holding hands with her
husband without a care in the world. 

Tony tipped his Panama hat and smiled, saying nothing, returning his
gaze to the night water.  He wore the hat often when outside, mostly to 
protect his bald scalp from the sun, but even at night he felt naked 
without it.  His red polo and khaki shorts were also quite the norm for 
him, though he changed up occasionally on the color of his polo.  He 
hated being cold, and was happy he'd spent most of his life in the 
southwest.  It seemed fitting he'd end it in the temperate climate of 
the Pacific. 

For Tony Cielo hadn't come on the cruise to vacation, he came on the
ship to kill himself. 

Even this plan wasn't going well, though, as the days of just jumping
off a ship were over.  The modern cruise ships made getting to an edge 
from which a passenger could jump or fall a near impossibility.   
Leaning over the railing, it was quite obvious that unless he jumped 
with an Olympic athlete's power, he'd likely land on the lower deck and 
instead of dying he'd have some broken bones. 

“I'll find another way, or maybe another part of the damn ship,” Tony
said aloud to himself.  He then saw the bow of the ship bathed in a 
bright light, and wondered if they were going to do some lido deck 
show, but then it vanished in a second or two. 

People could be heard murmuring throughout the ship and Tony turned
around to see some people rushing from one side of the ship to the 

“What's happening, Kid?” Tony asked a young teenage boy rushing past. 

“Some weird light in the sky and then it vanished.  So cool.” 

Tony nodded.  He had no interest.   After watching the kid scamper off
in excited anticipation, he began to contemplate another area of the 
ship and with people all distracted by the light show, maybe he could 
get close enough to the edge of the ship.  No doubt he'd have to go 
through some ‘crew-only' doors, but it's not like they would arrest him 
if they found him.  He wasn't committing a crime, after all. 

Inside his chest, his heart was pounding, the nerves pulsating his skin.
It was his night.  This would be his best chance. 

“Wouldn't it be better to have a drink and talk?”  A voice said from the
shadows behind him.  He said nothing and waited.  Emerging from a dark 
stairwell was a young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties.  She was 
beautiful, her slender frame accentuated by a simple black gown and a 
silver necklace accenting the plunging neckline.  The skin was pale, 
but looked fresh and soft and her dark eyes were matched by the long 
mane flowing down past her shoulders. “You can always jump ship 
afterwards if you still want to.” Her smile was bright and warm. 

“I don't know what you're talking about, young lady,” Tony said, leaning
back up against the railing.   Had he spoken out loud about everything? 
It was a habit of his being that he spent so much time alone. 

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