The Cruise


Idryth & Anais


I will admit to having more than a little trepidation about this. I mean, I won this cruise in a contest I don't even remember entering. A singles cruise, for God's sakes. I don't need this right now.

I try to turn around; finally giving in to the instinct to flee from the situation, but find myself stopped by the number of people pushing their way onto the deck from the gangway. I sigh, and let myself be moved towards the purser's desk.

A Love Boat Reunion--- the banner hanging above the desk reminded me why I had thought this would be a good idea. This was going to be the final cruise for this old boat, and the cast from the old television show was going to do a reunion show aboard her as her final voyage. It had been my favorite show as a kid, and the chance to be an extra was too good an opportunity for me to pass up. I smiled nostalgically. Maybe I could stand it for a few days.

I gave the purser my name, and he gave me my room assignment and key. I turned and caught a billboard displaying the entertainment aboard for the cruise. My eyes narrowed. Why did I have the distinct feeling I had been set up?

Anyone who knows me understands I'm not a big April Lopez fan. When I was a kid, I used to go around trying to be like her. I had the little "cuchie, cuchie" jiggle down pat. But that one time I cuchied a little too hard and ended up in the emergency room did away with my fascination. It was like a smoker giving up a life-long habit after their twenty-eighth consecutive cigarette. I am the living personification of the aversion technique. I haven't even wanted to see her shake since then. Now here she was; the entertainment on my cruise.

I know what you're thinking. This isn't all about me; there is no way that this could be a set up. But you don't know my friend Theresa. She knows about my ...uh...problem. She and I have had plenty of talks about how I don't want to see the living legend April Lopez in print, movies, or most of all, real life. I guess most people call April Lopez her other name, Charo, but not me. I think that Charo is the character but April is the true person, I just know it. Anyway, Theresa is really big on the horse analogy. You know the one, if you fall off a horse; you have to get back on right away. Theresa would have paid for April to be here if she thought it would help me get over breaking out in hives every time I saw a re-run of the Love Boat with April in it.

I just don't want to. I don't want to see her again, even after all these years . I just don't think I can handle it, so I started back down the gangplank. Is that what it's called or is that only in pirate stories? Well what ever it is, I tried to back down it but the crowd of people carried me aboard and the next thing I know I see little Vicki all grown up and putting in my hands my special limited edition Love Boat Windbreaker, Tote Bag & Cap commemorating this cruise.

I see that guy who was on the show every now and then as the photographer going around with his camera and getting pictures of the passengers with Isaac. Isaac still looks the same; I think all the liquor he's handled has preserved him, not unlike embalming fluid.

I start to feel a little woozy. The ship isn't even moving yet. I pull out my seasickness band I got at one of those earth-mother nature stores. I figured it couldn't hurt. I slip it on my wrist and I still feel a little weird but the nausea starts to subside.

I look up and all of a sudden I feel like one of those acid trips I took when I was much younger was coming back to haunt me. You know those cheap movie special effects where the room moves at a faster speed than you do? Everything started to speed by me. My focus came back and I clearly saw the source of the flashback. Although I first thought it was the sea band, it wasn't. It was the most incredibly gorgeous woman I've ever seen. She looked like an angel. Well kinda like one anyway.

She was wearing what I know now is her work uniform but then it just looked like some sizzling hot Navy's dress whites. I nearly fainted dead right on the spot. Instead I had a wet spot I couldn't control. Now, get your mind out of the gutter; the wet spot was on my blouse. It came from the drool that emanated from my mouth. I'm sure I looked like someone who probably would have arrived on the short bus. I decided right then and there that gay men are smart to be into that uniform thing because I suddenly and totally got where they were coming from.

Anyway, I'm rambling. She was probably about 5 foot 9 or 10 with straight dark hair. I could tell by just looking at her that her hair was the only straight thing about her. Her bangs were just a little crooked...or it was the way I was standing favoring one leg over the other since my left leg gave out on me the second she was in my view.

She had a crowd of people around her. She was barking some instructions at them when she looked up. Just like in one of those porn magazine stories they pay twenty bucks to submit, she looked at me, our eyes locked and I just knew she wanted me. I know I wanted her.

She said something to Doc but still didn't take her eyes away from mine. Maybe she wanted him to check on me since I was still standing with my mouth wide open and spit coming out. My wet spot was now more like a puddle. Slowly, she sauntered over toward me. She had the most amazing crooked grin. It looked adorable and downright sexy. She was almost within striking distance to me when Captain Stubing came over to her.

"Lanie," he said in that almost sickening nice voice of his, "I have some people I need you to meet with. They're from corporate. If you are going to have a career here, you're going to have to learn to schmooze."

I wanted to punch his pearly white teeth out of his mouth. I have to admit; 'Lanie' looked as disappointed as I felt. Maybe this trip will be memorable after all.

Chapter 2

Captain's Log 180403

That damned toady of an owner's son, Clark. "Oh you'll love the new ship; it's the pride of the fleet!" Oh yeah, the pride that happens to have a dozen TV show reunions in the next six months. And, it HAD to start with the Love Boat, didn't it?

He did it on purpose, probably because I turned the no-neck, three foot tall, pelican nosed jerk down fifty times.

I mean, come on. It must have taken three weeks to get rid of that cheap leather smell from that Happy Days cruise I had the misfortune of commanding before I came here. Not to mention how close I came to breaking more than a few thumbs on the damned thing.

And here we are. All these people paying lots of money to see people from a show that preached about how everything turns out wonderfully in the end and probably hoping that they'll find their own true love on a ship. Well, we all know that's not gonna happen, don't we? I've been on ships most of my life and I'm certainly no closer to that lofty goal.

Then there are these actors, suddenly turned ship experts. You have no idea! The fake Doc wants to see our real medical facilities and don't you just know that passengers are going to see him there and want him to check them out and then I'll be sued and oh man. Then there's that Isaac guy, actually asking if we watered down our drinks! Did I ask "Why me?" yet?

I should slap myself really. At thirty-seven, I'm one of the youngest Captains the line's ever had and here I am whining like a spoiled child. I guess I should tell myself to suck it up more often and stop complaining. It just used to be a lot more fun, but at least I'll hopefully have some friendly company soon.

In fact, there's part of that friendly company right now. In the form of Krista, a woman who knows what in the hell she's doing on a ship and is the best cruise director in the business, not to mention a damned good friend.

I hate to toot my own horn. Okay, perhaps that's not the best analogy I can come up with. Anyway, I frequently pat myself on the back for getting Krista to follow me when I moved to this ship. That her husband is my chief purser has nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

Time to let her know how glad I am to see her and try to ignore that guy over there who is almost certainly going to ask me something like, "Where's the poop deck?" and laugh like crazy as if it's a cute joke I haven't heard three thousand times.

I have to sigh, honestly. I was that close to escaping with Krista when I was sidelined by "Captain Stubing."

You'd think that after almost twenty-one years of learning everything there was to know about a fleet of ships and clawing my way to the top of the command structure I'd know how to schmooze. Wouldn't you?

But here this fake Captain was dragging my real Captain's ass over to some corporate idiots who wouldn't know a bow from a stern. Never mind call me by my correct name.

I really want to say, it's Elana, E L A N A. Lainie Kazan is on some other TV show. Then again, maybe I can show him my special version of a slipknot later. Oh yeah, I have to like that idea. No moon and they'd never find him if I wait until ...

What in the hell is that woman doing? Drooling? At me?

No, no, no!

Just what I need, yet another uniform loving nutcase. I'm not even sure they've released the last one from the "house" after she almost hung herself trying to impress me by recreating that stupid Titanic scene.

Still, for a nutcase, this one's got great eyes. Always did love emeralds.

Captain Out

Chapter 3

Captain's Log 200403

Let's see, the last coherent thought I had seems like three days ago or so.

However long it's been since that nutcase of a woman threw herself at my back, knocked me into "Captain Stubing" and him into those people I had "schmoozed" with all damned afternoon and evening. God, what a mess.

Okay, she says it wasn't her fault that Gopher rushed in front of her to talk to the head chef about creating a cake in the shape of Iowa and she tripped over him. Yeah, right!

Of course, I personally think they've probably decided to make cruise ships US territory and he was probably trying to stump for votes for governor. But, anyway... Krista's the one who made up the list for the Captain's table and why my so-called friend invited her I have NO idea.

It started out easy enough to fix. There we were, me in my dress uniform for dinner and nine others. Green Eyes was sitting next to me, thank you Krista, and she spilled, of course, red wine all down my sleeve as she'd started to sit down. I smiled that one off, not like it hasn't happened before, right?

Teach me to be gallant and pull out her chair for her. That she had on this dress that hit every curve better than a Mercedes Sport Coupe didn't impact me at all.

No way. That dazzling smile of mine, as Krista teasingly calls it, was there for everyone. Of course. Even for that ditz of a fake Captain that I hadn't managed to show my special knots to yet.

We even managed to get through dinner without too many other problems. I had actually started to think that Green Eyes wasn't as bad as I thought. She had a great smile and was actually kinda funny. It was dessert that did it. Oh boy.

Did they REALLY have to have Charo carry the cake out of the kitchen? Was it really necessary to have her wear a dress that was obviously made by "Second Skins R Us?" Did they HAVE to make the cake fiery and her wig so long? I can still see it second by second as it happened.

There we were, standing and clapping as they brought out the flaming dessert. Unfortunately, Green Eyes was looking at me the entire time and it wasn't until the dessert got to the table that she looked around and that was it.

Who would've thought that her gorg.. tiny body would have such a scream in it! Wow! My ears ring just thinking about it

I have this terrible movie about the next minute that plays in my head, totally without my permission, over and over again sometimes. I even woke up last night with the smell of singed hair wafting through my dreams.

There was the scream and Charo seemed to cuchie cuchie herself right to the ceiling, bounce off and end up in the dessert. Well, part of the dessert. The other part sort of went straight up in the air and then did this amazing seek and destroy mission to make the most mess it could. Never seen anything like it. Not sure if they'll make me pay for the huge dry cleaning bills or not yet.

It might have been okay if "Julie" had used the part of her brain that she hadn't fried with certain interesting recreational activities and not thrown her brandy on the flames that were starting to lick Charo's back.

I almost - almost got the water pitcher dumped over Charo, when Tina Louise decided to try and grab the pitcher to help and the water flew all right. Yep, right into Dirk Benedict's shocked face. Luckily, his face is so tight that the ice cubes just bounced right off like tennis balls. And let me tell you, that was really interesting!

Too caught up in watching the tennis match, I, of course, immediately slipped on something and landed boob to face on Stubing. I didn't even have time to wonder when the last time that happened for him when there was a schmooze domino effect, and we ended in a pile of bodies.

Then Green Eyes came into it again. It probably would've been fine if she hadn't started laughing like a crazed clown on Nitrous Oxide. Oh yes, and that traitor Krista! Laughing right alongside her as one of the waiters, thank god for well-trained crews, put out the wig.

But that doesn't explain the time after that does it? Or why it's three days later and Green Eyes is now in my bed. And, why I'm looking at her sleeping like a love struck teenager.

We haven't even done anything yet. You know what I mean! That's right, I haven't touched her, well, I mean, not THAT way. Okay fine, yes, we've kissed and oh boy does she know how to do that but that's it.

I suppose I should explain about the dots and the quarantine?

Captain Out

Chapter 4

After Captain Stubing took my Lanie away from me to do whatever she needed to do with those corporate dorks, I decided to go find my room. Somehow my resolve in absolutely not being on the same ship as April Lopez was weakening, just like my knees would when I would take a glance and see that brunette bombshell barking orders at the hired help.

My room was okay. It certainly didn't look like those huge rooms on the television show but it had a double bed and some almost fresh flowers in a vase on the table. I shrugged. I was hoping that I would see more of the Captain's quarters than my own anyway.

I decided to get dressed in the one formal outfit I brought with me and if I flaunted around enough, perhaps I would be invited to the Captain's table for dinner. By the look she gave me earlier, I'm sure she wants me there. She just needs to find out my name and I can make sure she does. Have I mentioned she wants me?

I leave my room after a couple of hours of waxing, powdering, pressing and pinching and if I say so myself, I looked hot. I had even put some of this sparkly gel stuff highlighting in my hair and in assorted places on my body so when the light hit, it looked cool. As I closed the room door behind me, I ran my hands over my dress straightening it but I had forgotten I had that sparkly stuff still on them. Oh well, I'm sure it will look like part of the outfit. Did I mention I looked hot?

I was walking around trying to find my captain, turning heads everywhere I went. I'm not quite sure why people were whispering behind their hands to whomever they were walking with. I'm sure it was because I was hot looking.

I couldn't find the captain anywhere so I went to the Lido deck. I just wanted to be able to say that I'd been to one. It sounds cool. Lido deck. Leee-doh. Lido. Did you know that Lido means beach in Italian? I didn't either but Isaac told me when he was showing the other bartender the ropes. Literally. There were ropes behind the bar to keep the bottles stable. Who knew?

I was sitting alone at the bar on the Lido Deck, looking hot, when one of those ship people who carry clipboards all the time, like Julie used to, came to sit at the bar too. She was talking to Isaac and that other guy and mentioned she was in charge of inviting 'esteemed' passengers to the captain's table for dinner. Bingo! I thought of a plan to get my name on that list. Isn't it funny how fast you can get people to move when you cry out, "man overboard?"

As per my plan, she left the clipboard behind and now I'm having dinner with my captain tonight. Just wait till she sees me, I look hot; she won't be able to help herself.

After everything calmed down on the Lido Deck, I took my leave. Well technically, it was just one leaf but it's called a four-leaf clover, so shouldn't it really be singularly plural?

As it was close to dinnertime, I started toward the formal dining room. Ok it was still 90 minutes away and I was anxious, so sue me. I was starting to feel that seasickness thing again when I saw her. She was going over some paperwork with some of the suits. I saw a chance to get to know her better and I went for it. Unfortunately, this was about the same time that Gopher ran toward the head chef to ask about a cake in the shape of Iowa.

While they were running toward each other like something out of a feminine hygiene commercial, they didn't even see me right in the middle. Gopher has huge feet. I hear that means something to straight women, but I forgot what. So, I trip over his freakishly large feet and end up knocking my captain down as she had turned away showing the suits something. I fell right into her back as Captain Stubing went by and she knocked him into them and everyone fell like a stack of dominoes.

She didn't listen to my apologies. I think she was a little embarrassed because her pants ripped. I didn't mind that at all, but who would have thought her the type to wear Sponge Bob Squarepants boxers?

I guess she went back to her cabin to change because the next time I saw her she was in her dress uniform and boy howdy, she looked good enough to eat.

She was smiling at everyone but I think she had a special one just for me. Boy, when she pulled out my chair for me to sit down I felt like a three-year-old finding his old melted candy bar under the couch cushions. I kind of acted like one too because the red wine I had in my hand somehow spilled on her sleeve as I started to sit down. Thank goodness for club soda!

We had a good dinner. I was totally 'on' and I know I impressed her. I gave her my best smile. I could tell she wanted me. Everything was fine until my little problem reared its ugly head. I heard a lot of clapping and carrying on but I didn't pay attention. I was telling yet another funny story and I had my captain's full attention. I noticed everyone looking at something so after I finished the punch line; I looked up at a huge cake with some sort of flame coming out of the top.

I was impressed. I was impressed at least until I saw the person who was carrying it. Of all the formal dining rooms in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. I couldn't control myself. Of all people, April Lopez was carrying the cake and before I knew it an ear-piercing scream filled the air. That was until I had to take a breath. I didn't mean to scream.

Apparently, I was told later, the startled yell caused April to throw the cake into the air. When she did that, the polyester fibers on her dress caught fire which quickly spread to her wig. You know, it's funny how fast someone can 'cuchie cuchie' when they are on fire.

The only thing I really remember was Julie saying something about trying to throw liquid. The only thing left at the table that was handy was the brandy we had been drinking out of. I'd forgotten that liquor was so ignitable. Someone started shouting "stop, drop, and roll" and yet another someone jumped on April and started to do that very thing to her but they were bucked off because of the undulating hips.

I understand she is doing better and recovering quickly.

Now, after that fiasco several of us who were sitting at the captain's table started to have some red spots appear all over them. Evidently we had all been exposed to...something. We didn't know what it was at the time. Doc, having just returned from a gig in Toronto, was convinced everyone had a form of SARS and ordered us in quarantine. I guess we all forgot he's not really a doctor and we all obeyed without a peep. Well I did let a peep, or maybe it was a moan, coming out when I found out that my captain was stuck with me as her quarantine partner in her room.

I really am sorry people had to get hurt but hey, I got what I wanted! So here we are stuck in her room, which is about three times the size of mine, fully equipped with all the modern electronic gadgets. Oh and the best part, it has only one king sized bed.

Doc ordered all 10 of us who had the dots in our rooms until they started to disappear or we died. I have to admit that last part kinda freaked me out. Later that night I must have relived part of the evening because I woke up in a cold sweat, crying.

Instinctively, my captain reached out to comfort me even though she was asleep as well. Next thing I know we began to kiss. Wow. Does she ever know how to light my fire. Oops, that's a bad analogy to use right now. Poor April. Anyhow, my captain was kissing me, I was kissing her and it was heaven. Then something really stupid happens. She asks my name. Somehow it broke the mood.

Then she says something about not doing anything in case we are really sick. Heck, I think that is the best reason to do something. If I have to die, I want to do it with a smile on my face. Or her, I'm not picky.

I guess she is, though. She wants to find out about me, what I do, where I come from, about my family. Whatever.

So we've been in this room for three days now and we've not yet had a repeat performance of that kiss. Fortunately, one of the pursers went into my cabin and got clothes and my make-up for me because it seems that my captain and I are the only ones still suffering from the spots. We've had some people come in wearing those space suit things taking gallons of blood and nothing shows up.

So we continue to play 20 questions but frankly, I've had it. Tonight's gotta be it. She knows my name, my social security number by heart and everything about me including the time Mary Jane Gillespie caught me looking up her dress when she was on the monkey bars.

I've ordered a romantic candlelit dinner from room service. I can't help but smile every time I think of that old Rod Stewart song, Tonight's the night. Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

Chapter 5

Captain's Log 230403

Well, this is a new experience and I'm quite sure I don't like it one bit.

How did this happen?

Well, I know how it happened and boy do I remember every single second and want to recreate it as soon as possible but this isn't the way it's supposed to go. I've always been the one who turns and walks away without looking back at the port of call.

But there goes Green Eyes, her hair and butt swaying in opposing sync and if she doesn't look back, does that mean we're finished? Over? Done?

Wonder if she knew I was drooling if she'd look back? I mean, I've been there, done that, with that body several times and as good as she looks in those oh-so-tight jeans and ribbed t-shirt, she looks sooo much better out of them. Oh yeah.

How can things change so quickly? It was just hours ago that I had been exploring those curves and she'd just made that cute little snort of hers when the ceiling caved in.

Wait! Don't go there! You might be tempted to think the ceiling really did cave in after this trip, but it didn't. In retrospect, we may have knocked off some of the popcorn on the ceiling below my cabin with our er... explorations but well ... never mind about that.

Thing is, between cute little snorts, she asked me when I was coming to visit her. What was I supposed to do, just pack up and leave with her? Did she want me to lie and tell her that I wasn't completely booked for the next six months? Then she acted like I'd done everything on purpose!

It's not like it was my fault that they took tiny bits of "Glamorously Golden" glitter and used it in ways that Mother Nature never dreamed of. Nor was it my fault that several of us who came in contact with the stuff were wildly allergic to it. I'm just glad they finally figured it out before we got carted off to Atlanta in a CDC truck.

Of course, I'm equally glad that they took so long and that Green Eyes took matters, and me, into her own hands. Oh yeah, am I glad about that. You have NO idea how glad ... yeah, yeah, too much information, I know.

Just let me tell you one thing. When those stupid romance books say that one person played the other like a finely tuned musical instrument, well, Green Eyes absolutely graduated Magna Cum Laude in this cello's department.

Yes, Green Eyes has a name. It's Corey. Really cute one, huh? But, I kinda like Green Eyes, you know? I suppose I could call her GE and tell her how she brings really good things to life but that'd be way too corny. What am I gonna do? She hasn't turned back yet.

Something inside doesn't feel so good and it's not helping that every time I look around, Charo or one of the others is hanging around looking like they just lost their pet snapping turtle. Plus, I really didn't need Charo telling me that if she turrrrrns arrrrround then it means she loves me.

If they don't back off, I'm gonna show them this new trick we have - how to bungee jump off the ship without the bungee.

She's almost out of sight. Turn around, Green Eyes.

Jesus, I sound like one of those revival musicals. Next thing I know, Donna Summer's gonna pop up singing "I need some hot stuff, baby, this evening!" in one of those sparkly dresses she used to love.

She sure has some pipes and curves. Not curves like the ones I'm looking at, of course, but still, she always looked hot. Not as hot as Green Eyes but I can't believe I'm sighing as I'm leaning over this railing. What a mess.

Oh great, Vicki and Julie are on watch now. Maybe they think I'm gonna take a dive. What a laugh that'd be. Betcha she’d look then!

You know, it's not good for Captains to mope but it's not good for Captains to fall in love either. Something has to give.

Captain Out

Chapter 6

Boy howdy, nothing did stop us. Time after time. Front, back, and sideways. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. I'm not usually so aggressive. Oh I’ll come out and say it now, I was a ho. But have you seen my captain? Damn and she's finer than getting your hands on a triple tall Starbucks latte after only 3 hours of sleep. That's saying a lot.

So after I'd made up my mind that I was gonna shake her all night long like that AC/DC song, I just needed to wait till room service arrived with our food and drinks. Fortunately, she was in the shower when the order was brought to the room. For the first time in my life, I actually wanted to set up something nice, make a good impression, think of someone else for a change. I think it worked because when she opened the door from the bathroom, she nearly dropped the towel she had covering herself. Ok, she dropped it a little and I stole a look like a catholic schoolboy unable to resist the shine of patent leather.

I nearly blew it when I opened my mouth. I have no idea where it came from but instead of some smooth line I'm well known for, I was possessed by some guy who thinks Polyester is a natural fiber and when I spoke, it was his words that came out. "You look so good in that towel, if you've lost your virginity, can I have the box it came in? " Jesus, I'm a dork.

"What?" she smiled and then pulled out the earplugs out. I now know that she is prone to swimmer's ear and wears plugs when she showers. Yes, someone is looking out for me.

I stood speechless. Not because I didn't have anything to say, but the worst lines that had ever been uttered were trying to escape my mouth. I mean who would ever think that saying; "Do you wash your pants in Windex, ‘cause I can see my face in them" would work? I figured it was better to act like I was having a seizure than to speak.

She looked around and saw my efforts. Those fancy silver covered domes over our dinner, a nice bottle of champagne chilling in ice, a small but gorgeous bouquet of flowers and about 15 candles supplying most of the light in the room. My intentions were obvious, and for one of the only times in my life, honorable. Well as honorable as I could be while wanting to break at least 27 laws with her body.

She looked at me. It was a searing look. The kind of look that made Teflon stick to the frying pan. No words were said, no words were necessary. She walked over to me and took me in her arms. I thought I was on fire. Really. I could smell smoke and everything. It was then I realized I'd put a candle a little too close to one of the curtains. Boy, that's sure a mood wrecker! After we got that fire out being as we were now experienced since the April incident, we got back to where we were and the sparks rekindled back into a three-alarm fire.

Before I knew it, we were squirming on the bed like two weasels in heat. It probably lasted about that long too. Ok, so it had been a while for me. Fortunately, we had a second, third and fourth time that night to get better. A few times the next morning too. And Mid-morning. In fact, we'd probably still be there if I hadn't asked a simple question.

The cruise was coming to an end. In a few hours, we'd be docking and I just wanted to know if this was just a twelve-time thing or if we were going to see each other again. So I asked.

Wow, did she ever get defensive. It's not like I'm ready to proclaim my undying love. Lust maybe, but it's too soon to say love. I just wanted to know if we could see each other again. I wasn't being picky, I'd be willing for a quickie in a dark alley if need be.

She went on and on about how she was booked solid for the next six months and how she wouldn't have any time and blah blah blah. Ok, so I know how to take a hint. I figured she didn't want me there anymore and the mood was ruined anyway. So I bolted. It was right at the time Doc was heading for our...uh...*her* room. I thought he was going to try to make me stay so I turned and ran.

I guess that really he was heading back around the corner. They had April doing some therapeutic walking to help get her 'cuchie, cuchie' back in shape. Had I known, I might have not reacted the way I did. Did you ever see the movie, "E. T."? When that cutie pie grown up to be hot woman Drew Barrymore sees ET for the first time. She screams, ET screams, everyone screams? Well let's just say that everyone had the same look as that kinda weird kid in "Home Alone."

I finally found my feet and made them move me to my room. Since I hadn't been in there since that ill-fated night of the dinner, I had to throw my stuff in a suitcase and get ready. I had this gnawing in the pit of my stomach and it wasn't because I was hungry. How could someone get under my skin so quick? Sure it's never been a problem someone getting on top of my skin, if you know what I mean.

I've never let anyone get to me. Especially not so fast. A weeklong cruise and my life was changed. So was my heart. Oh well, I shrugged, it's nothing to dwell on. She doesn't want the same thing that I do out of this. What do I want? I don't really know, and I just don't have the time or energy to figure it out.

I finished packing and it was good timing too because the boat was pulling in to shore. I threw my bag over my shoulder. Literally. It's a weird little tradition I have. Some people do salt when they spill it, I throw my luggage after a trip. When I finished my ritual, I gathered my things together. I stood at the door for I don't know how long before I opened it. Boy, this is a toughie. The gnawing was getting more pronounced and the further I tried to get out of the room, the more it was fed.

I finally gathered myself and opened the door. When I left here, I would leave a changed woman. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse, but I'd get through it, I always do.

I squared my shoulders and faced my next challenge. Getting past my captain.

Chapter 7

The gnawing had calmed down to a small rumble by the time I got to the main deck. Then I saw her. She didn't see me and I didn't want her to. I just wanted to walk away with my dignity still intact. I scooted in the middle of a group of very tall Scandinavian tourists hoping I'd blend in....or that they would at least hide me. If she was like me though, she'd be able to spot me a mile away.

So far so good. I got past her and I kept my eyes down so I would be able to make it. I just knew if I looked up and saw her eyes looking at me, I'd melt like a puddle and ask if she needed a personal purser. I'd probably even pay for another cruise just to spend more time with her. Hell, I'd probably stay for another go round even if I had to share a room with April Lopez!

It was better this way though. Why did my heart feel like it was sinking? As soon as I got past her I had this overwhelming urge to turn around. It was bad. You know that old Bonnie Tyler song, it started playing in my head.


Every now and then

I get a little bit lonely

and you're never coming round.


Every now and then

I get a little bit tired

of listening to the sound of my tears.


Which is kind of freaky because I hate the damn song. I shake my head to get the song to stop, but the urge to turn around feels too great.

Turn Around

I feel like a weird tingling and the urge is stronger and stronger.

Turn around

I get to the top of the ramp to leave the boat...and my captain...forever. I stop. My feet betray me and won't move. Ok, just one look, one quick glance. It won't hurt...or change anything. Just then time slows down like it's in slow motion. My head turns so very slow.

I found what I expected to find I guess. She's standing there. A melancholy look on her face. As my eyes focus on her, hers turn to me. She mouths something. She turned, is what I think she says. Seems like she said it more to herself than anyone else.

What do I do now?

Chapter 8

Captain's Log 240403


I jumped as I turned to face the chorus that had just ordered me to move. How in the hell that many people had managed to sneak up behind me was a complete loss to me. I mean, they were all there! Stubing, Doc, Isaac, Gopher, Julie and Vicki! Even that stupid damned fake photographer, Ace, kept popping up in the back trying to get pictures.

Someone needs to tell him that he needs to actually look through the camera and point before he clicks, instead of trying to blind us all with his pearly whites. Of course, if he understood that cameras were for taking pictures of other people rather than himself, it may help.

It occurs to me that it’s like the end of one of those episodes where they're all smiling and nodding like those silly dogs you put in cars that nod their heads anytime you move. Where they think everything turns out perfectly and they're…

Oh My God! I'm in a Love Boat episode!

Wait, wait! Is it Candid Camera? They better get out of the way and let me look for the freaking hidden camera, maybe I'll just knock 'em all down like bowling pins and see if their heads nod then!

This can't be the Twilight Zone, right? No, hold on, that was another story. Whew.

She did turn around, right? Let me look again to be sure she's there.

Yep! God, she's gorgeous and has the cutest dimple on her knee and who would've guessed that her ticklish spot was ... Is it getting hot out here?

Oh no. I had to say it. Please don't tell me that Charo's heading towards her. Please let that be someone else. Please?

Do you ever think that sometimes whoever controls our fates just sometimes likes puts on a puppet show for their own pleasure? The shows star us, of course. But, these fates throw these little, okay huge, stumbling blocks in our path and then see how we do and then try to make us think we dreamed it all or something.

You guessed it, it’s Charo. Green Eyes is gonna freak out, I know she is. She's gonna run so fast that I'll never catch her. I gotta get there. NOW!

Thank god for handy ropes that tie the ship to the dock. Problem is, I'm not a tightrope walker and that's a long way to go hand over hand.

How am, is Vicki really undressing before my eyes? After she grew up, I always wondered if she was family but I didn't expect such a public display to confirm it. What would Captain Stubing think?

Crap, I had to look. I really didn't need to see him slobbering. This is his fake daughter for God's sake!

Hey, cool, Gopher's passed out. Guess that confirms what they say about people from Iowa, huh?

Um, Vicki's handing me her bra. Do you think I should tell her that I'm kinda busy and Holy Moley! This bra is like a SUPER WONDER BRA! Good grief, is it make of rubber or what? No wonder she always looked so stacked, not that I was looking, of course. Wait, she's pointing at the rope.

Ooh. I always knew she had the brains in the Stubing family. I hope Green Eyes is gonna catch me when I fly down this rope like Evil Knievel on drugs. Wait, is that an oxymoron? The hell with it, you know what I mean.

Oooooh God, I'm doing this and Green Eyes is walking away. Don't you freaking dare! I'm gonna break my neck and you're gonna miss it!

Oops, didn't mean to scream, "Ay, ay, ay!" but wow is it echoing nicely around here. I can hear it as the wind whistles past my ears.


Sounds really cool, doesn't it? I may need to do that again some day. Preferably not when I'm sliding down a rope at two hundred miles an hour, attached to a rubber bra. Stupid thing to try and catch attention with, I know, but at least I didn't yell, "Cuchie, cuchie!"

She heard it too and ooh, those green eyes are big now. Of course, might have something to do with the fact that I'm heading right towards her like a guided missile.

I hate to bring this up, but I swear I smell burning rubber. Like the jerk next-door neighbor guy just sped off leaving half his tire on the road and you sitting there like a dork. Well, who's getting the girl this time, fathead!

All right, enough of my teenage angst issues. Mostly because Vicki's bra is on fire and I need to figure out what in the heck I'm gonna do. Slamming into the love of my life at two hundred miles an hour doesn't ... Oh boy, did I just say that?

What was it that I told Olivia Jacobs the night after we found out what sex was all about, and we were discovering it all over again? Something about me never finding the love of my life, that I'd just put notches on my bedpost? I never did understand why Olivia threw that bottle of beer at me. Geez! I mean, we'd had a good time, right? Women!

But, boy would she be laughing at me now. Well, she'd probably be laughing at me for lots of reasons now I think about it. Especially since I'm just sailing through the air right now and ...

Chapter 9

You know, you'd think that crashing into a twenty-foot tall blow up dinosaur at great speeds would hurt. Well, it does. Hurts like hell, actually. I guess I have to count myself lucky that the next cruise was going to be a Land Of The Lost Reunion and they lost control of the T-Rex just as I was flying along, without the trapeze.

It wasn't actually the dinosaur that broke my leg. It wasn't even the guy in the funky fake gold lizard costume who tried to catch me. Took me an hour to figure out he was saying he was a Sleestak or something like that, did he really think I cared?

Anyway, no, it wasn't the box of fake crossbows that split open or the case of Land Of The Lost DVD's that slithered across the dock.


Who knew I'd go sliding on these damned crystal things that I have no idea what they were used for and that Will-whatever-the-hell-his-real-name-is would laugh his ass off, which I'm going to kick when I have a chance, as I was sliding by.

But, not even those things did it. I'd actually just started to regain my balance when it happened. When I ran straight into my childhood nightmare. I mean, the thing that scared the crap out of me every time I saw it.

HR freaking Pufnstuf.

What gives those Krofft people the right to add their other stuff to the Land Of The Lost Cruise? Was it a HR Pufnstuf Cruise? Nooooooo, it wasn't! Dammit! I wouldn't have allowed that freaky thing on my ship!

Oh, I proved their stupid song wrong when I was a kid. I could get enough all right and here it was again. Right out of my nightmares. Right in front of me. I stepped back, just in time to find Freddie the Freaking Flute under my feet. This squishy rubber damned thing that made this funky noise when I stood on him and down I went. Right over a container of who knows what, probably bananas for the monkey boy that was hopping around in his fake damned monkey suit.

It's a miracle I didn't break 'em both, actually. But, they told me that grabbing onto the chain that was hanging in the way probably slowed me down enough to save the other one.

Still, I fell, anyway. Right into a pit. Ended up flat on my back, arms spread, as if I was auditioning for a crucifixion.

You might want to feel sorry for me. But, you should know that I was feeling no pain because Green Eyes was there. Fussing over me. Kissing me. Yeah, I needed more of that let me tell you.

The weird thing was when Isaac was trying to get our attention and was trying to use plates, don't say it, as Frisbees. One was headed our way and I just stuck my hand up and caught it. Really cool. Better yet, Green Eyes was so appreciative that I'd saved her head that I got more kisses. She even came with me to the hospital.

The "crew" showed up later too and I had to promise Vicki I'd buy her another bra, which I spent an hour explaining to Green Eyes. I'm still not sure she believes me.

Krista came by too and told me she'd miss me. What that meant at the time, I didn't realize until Green Eyes was going to leave and I realized the truth. I realized what I'd known all along.

Captain Out

Chapter 10

As I sit and write this I still have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. It's been six months to the day since I left the ship. My life totally changed on that day. You see I've finally faced my fears. Not unlike that Fear Factor show. I looked the eyes that day and I'm no longer affected. I can look at her in person, see her in re-runs, and even watch a movie. No reaction. Nothing. Not even that giddiness I got originally when I was a girl. But I'm not a girl anymore. I'm a woman. A red-blooded approaching my sexual peak woman. Boy, I sure love my 30s.

That kinda takes me to my other life-changing event. I probably have a dreamy-eyed look on my face. I 'm sitting on the front porch swing. The gentle breeze carries the faint smell of magnolia blossoms. I take a deep breath as I pull my leg under me, using my other foot to slowly move the swing. My heart is so full it feels like it swells when I think of her. O Captain, My Captain.... and she truly is...mine. And I don't share well with others. Look at my kindergarten report card. I chew on the end of my pen while I ponder the events that brought us to this place — this time in our lives.

When I turned around on the boat and saw my captain fall, I didn't even think. I ran to her and I had to let her know how I felt. By the time the ambulance was at the hospital I had, without thinking, promised to wait for her. The honesty and fear in her eyes when she confessed her feelings...well let me say, I would have done anything at that moment to make her believe what I said, to believe in us. Yup, I'm in this for the long haul now. I think she is too.

I look up and just like in a movie I see her coming up the walk. It's like an Old Spice commercial without the stubble and cheap smell. A slow smile comes to my face as our eyes meet. This is the end of her six-month commitment to the cruise line. We've had some time together and I sure can't complain about the surroundings. We were in Greece and Paris in the spring, Cancun and Alaska in the summer and just last week we met up in the Bahamas. We called it our pre-honeymoon.

You know, this is the very first time I've ever been serious about anyone before. She's coming home now so we can start our life. Our life. I like the sound of that. I'm not sure where it's going to take us, or what we are going to do, but whatever it is, we're going to be doing it...together.

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