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Color Me Shipwrecked

Chapter Two:

Larry paid the taxi driver and watched as the tiny car zoomed out of sight.  He popped another motion sickness pill into his mouth before picking up his bags.  He turned to his cousin who was watching a pelican glide through the clear blue sky.  Larry couldn't hold back a disgusted grimace at Balki's attire. He sported purple suspenders over a Hawaiian shirt that looked as if a box of crayons exploded in a florist shop, his blue Levis were cut off just below the knee and frayed at the edges, a pair of brown sandals were held in place by leather laces, dark sunglasses sat on his oversized nose and a large brimmed, grass weaved hat completed the ensemble. "I can not believe you bought that outfit."

"I don't want to look like a tourist."

"You look like a refugee from Gilligan's Island." 

Balki's eyebrows dipped below the sunglasses in what Larry guessed was a contemplative frown.  He looked down at his apparel and then back at Larry.  "I don't think so.  You see Gilligan always wore a red shirt with bellbottoms and a white hat, and the Skipper wore a blue..."

"Never mind!"  Larry interrupted before Balki got into a detailed description of every castaway's clothing.  "Forget I said anything."

"You know one thing I've always wondered?"  Balki said as he helped Larry with his luggage and they started down the long pier  "How come Gilligan, the Skipper and the Professor wear the same thing every day and the Howells have a new outfit every episode?"

"It's a mystery that must be accepted by faith."  Larry grumbled, not wanting to go any further with such a pointless discussion.

Balki turned to him with a slight cock of his head.  "I didn't know you were Catholic."

Larry groaned and rolled his eyes heavenward.

"There it is!"  Balki said as they approached the large white cruise ship.  "Oh, Cousin.  Look at it.  Isn't it beautiful?"

Larry paused for a moment to adjust the strap on one of his bags.  He looked up at the ship, shuddering slightly at the memory of what was, in his opinion, the worst vacation in Appleton history. 

He had been sixteen that fateful summer when his father decided it was time to subject his nine children to the horrors of ocean fishing.  So the entire Appleton family squeezed into their ridiculously inadequate station wagon, along with eleven suitcases and Dad's entire arsenal of fishing equipment. Larry sat, as always, in the center of the back seat.  The fishing poles jutted from the back to arc over his head, creating bars to the moving prison.  Being sandwiched between Danny and Elaine there was no end to the torture.  His youngest sister quickly bored of the car ride and all that youthful energy had to go somewhere so she was moving constantly, kicking the seat in front of her, playing with her seat belt, playing with his seatbelt, playing with the windows and worst of all, pulling his curly hair.  Elaine, being the little girl she was, was simply hyper.  Danny, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy pestering Larry.  When he wasn't kicking him he was deliberately elbowing him in the ribs or pushing him into Elaine when they turned a corner.  It felt like he was either defending himself or scolding Elaine the entire trip.

"Elaine, leave you seatbelt on."  "Danny, knock it off!"  "No.  Don't stick your head out the window."  "Ow!  Mom, Danny won't quit kicking me!"  "Elaine, that's my hair.  Give it back."  "DANNY!"

About that time Dad would yell something like:  "Don't make me come back there!"

Then, of course, Billy would turn around to face him.  "Quit makin' such a fuss, Larry.  You know, some of us would like to enjoy the ride without you whining back there the whole time."

The car trip had been bad in itself but the real nightmare didn't start until they reached the coast.  The next morning after they had settled into the hotel Dad woke them all up before dawn.  "That's when the fish are biting."  He had insisted.  Mom got to stay at the hotel and have some precious alone time while Dad dragged nine children, all weighed down with rods and tackle, to a dimly lit pier that reeked of rotten fish.  He hired a small fishing boat and a captain that spoke very little English.  The very second Larry set foot on the deck of the gently rocking boat he knew he was in trouble.  He ignored the queasy feeling in his stomach as they untied the tiny ship and set out toward the horizon.  He was determined to catch a fish that his Dad would be proud of, then, just maybe, he could earn a 'well done son'.  But as they navigated into deeper waters the waves became larger, rolling like giant hills and his stomach couldn't take it any longer.  He dropped his pole onto the deck, ran to the railing and threw up. 

"Are you sick?"  He leaned heavily on the rail and looked down to see little Elaine's wide eyes staring worriedly up at him.  He wiped the corner of his mouth and shook his head. 

"I'm fine.  I just..."  Another wave hit the ship and the deck bucked along with his stomach. 

"You're face is a funny color.  I'm gonna get Daddy."

"No wait!"  But it was too late she was already out of reach.  Larry groaned and laid his head on his arms.  Why does everything always happen to me? 

"Can't handle a little boat ride, eh, little brother?"

Larry turned to glare icily at Billy's smug face.  If his stomach hadn't felt like a washing machine and his head wasn't spinning like a top he would have replied to his brother's verbal jab with a physical one and knocked him right in his all-to-perfect teeth.  Not that it would have done any good.  If there was a fight Billy would have won.  Billy always won.  So he settled with a hostile: "Shut up, Billy."

"I always wondered why Mom never held you in the rocking chair."  He tussled Larry's hair then gave his head a slight shove.  "Now I know why."  He walked away laughing.


Larry winced at his father's voice.  Dad strode toward him with little Elaine pulling him forward by the hand.  Danny and Erica were following behind.  Great.  Just what I need, more humiliation.

His Father approached and put a hand on Larry's back.  "Elaine tells me you're not feeling well."

Larry looked up and gave his Dad the sincerest smile he could muster.  "I'm fine, really."  He forced himself to stand up straight, but kept one hand on the rail for support.  "Just a little nauseous."  He gave a small shrug.  "That's all."  Just then the deck heaved beneath his feet and his stomach reversed gears.  He turned quickly and bent over the banister again. 

"Looks like you got a touch of seasickness, Son."  Walter Appleton said with more amusement than sympathy.

"I guess so."  Larry hung his head and not just because he felt sick.  "I'm sorry, Dad."

"Nothing to be ashamed of, Lawrence."  His Dad said, off handedly.  "You just take after your mother's side of the family."

Elaine looked up at her father.  "Maybe we should take Noogie home."

"What!?"  Danny spoke up from behind.  "And have to go all the way back to the hotel?  Daaad, he's gonna ruin the whole trip!"

"I think we should go back."  Erica said in her Valley Girl squeak.  "I mean look at him.  He'"

Danny gave his sister a hard shove.  "You just want to go back so you don't have to touch any slimy fish."

"That has nothing to do with it!"  She insisted vehemently.  "Can't a girl be concerned about her brother?"  After a long pause she said;  "Besides, they’re wet and slimy and they’re, like ... yeech!"

"That's okay."  Larry said weakly, trying to sound brave.  "I'll be alright.  You guys have fun."  He prayed that Dad would insist they go back but was sorely disappointed.

"That's the spirit, Lawrence!"  Walter gave his son a hearty slap on the back.  "Motion sickness is nothing serious.  Tribulation builds character.  Besides, I paid good money for this fishing trip and I have a feeling the Captain won't give us a refund."

"Daaad!"  Davy's piercing eight-year-old voice tore through the air like a siren.  "I can't tie this!"

Walter gave Larry one more gentle pat before turning and heading to the aid of his younger son.  "David, that's the wrong lure.  You've got to use..."

Larry wasn't sure how long he had stood there, staring straight down into the murky water, feeling his stomach heave with every movement, before a gentle hand rested on his shoulder.  He looked up weakly to stare into the dark eyes of their captain.  The man wore a grubby baseball cap over his coal black hair and a thin moustache sat on his upper lip.  His dark skin was weathered and wrinkled.  The man gave Larry a sympathetic smile.  The corner of Larry's mouth twitched but he couldn't muster a smile in return.

The man spoke softly to him in a language Larry didn't understand.  He ventured to guess it might have been Spanish but he couldn't be sure.  Larry shrugged and shook his head indicating he didn't understand.  The Captain sighed as if he should have known.  Then he pointed out to sea.  Larry glanced in the direction he was pointing but didn't see anything but water.  He turned back to the Captain and shrugged.  The Captain then took his fore and middle fingers, pointed at his own eyes then to the same place he had indicated before.  Then he pointed to Larry's eyes then out to sea.  Larry looked again but still didn't see anything of significance and this little game was beginning to get tiresome.  He didn't feel like sightseeing anyway.  So he slouched back into his former position and once again stared down at the ripples around the boat, hoping that if he ignored the Captain long enough the man would go away and let him suffer in solitude.  With a small grunt of frustration the Captain grabbed Larry by the chin, startling him out of his wits, and held his head up so he was staring straight ahead.  He pointed emphatically.  Larry's eyes finally fell on the horizon, and instantly his mind locked on that stationary line, the only stable thing in this rolling world.  His stomach eased slightly.  He wasn't cured but it certainly helped.  Larry looked up at the Captain and gave him a weak smile.  "Thanks."  The older man offered Larry a big toothy grin and patted him on the head before returning to the bridge.

Larry spent nearly the whole three hours on the boat hanging over the rail and throwing up.  Watching the horizon helped but it didn't make the misery go away.  So he just stood there watching his brothers and sisters have the time of their lives.  Everybody caught at least one fish.  All except Larry, of course.  He watched as little Elaine caught the biggest fish he had ever seen, and of course Billy caught the most.

That was definitely the worst vacation of his life.  And as he looked up at the cruise ship he couldn't help but shudder.  Sure the large, clean, white cruise ship looked nothing like the tiny rust bucket he had been on so many years ago but it was still a boat and they were still headed out to sea.

"Cousin?  Are you coming?"

Larry started slightly at the sound of Balki's voice.  His cousin was standing on the ramp leading up into the ship.  "Yeah.  I'm coming."  As he started up the ramp he prayed the motion sickness pills worked and he wouldn't have to relive that trip.

Continue to Chapter Three . . .