Ocean spray leaps up and stings Gonzalos’s large, radiant eyes. He barely offers to blink anymore at such a common indignation aboard a small dingy on open waters. Instead Gonzalos averts his stare and sinks his head into his neck, like an Englishman in face of a steeped breeze.
Incessant keyboard tapping Gonzalos rated the second most irritating sound in the world. Improvisation, he found far more annoying – the craftsman and crusty old seafaring concept of idle whistling or humming without beginning or end.
Rosita lies prostrate and spread out at the stern of the boat. The Argentinean heifer is the sole other passenger. Her senses were blunt, but emotions sharp and plentiful as a summer rainbow. Rosita chews loudly on enormous flat bottle green and russet strings of kelp leaves and hums happily her homeland’s ‘Canción de la Libertad.’
Rosita survived solely on seaweed. She leaned out over the dinghy and dragged her skinny hoof through the sea like a hook, snagging long stems of soaking fetid kelp whenever the boat glided above the vast aquatic forests. It soured her milk after the first day and made her shit stink.
Gonzalos closes his eyes to regret. Every time he does the sound of the calm water bursting and popping that roused him the first morning with a dislocating hang over replays in his head.
Gonzalos and booze were old friends of persuasion and convenience. He didn’t regret the rum punch the night before and quit apologising for ribald indiscretions long ago. He got so wasted he remembered nothing after the forth glass. But like an old friend alcohol didn’t care for the predicament Gonzalos found himself in the morning after.
Unknown to Gonzalos when he woke the thin smoke stretched slick created by the wreckage perversely mocked the tragedy sinking silently below. He witnessed broken timber and plastics, flotsam, wardrobes and chests and other furniture, corpses, toothbrushes, hats and toiletries, empty lifeboats, jetsam steel and rubbish erupt randomly to the surface all day like memories Gonzalos wished he could remember. They bobbed up and down and danced ludicrously in the light swell.
Gonzalos’s self imposed martyrdom succoured his ego and vanity. His somnolent mind contemplated him joining the dark limbo, floating over the sunken graveyard at the bottom of the underwater universe with all the other passengers. Whenever the lifeboat drifted close to any debris the invisible current underneath quickly gripped the small distance and pushed them further apart. It was as if the ocean had a design towards loneliness. He watched all day the trail of death stretch slowly towards the horizon, and then disappear with ocean moods and currents along with the setting sun. The vanquished chattal emphasised the blatancy of his minuteness on the rippling barren landscape. And it immeasurably compounded his growing queasiness with the obvious reality.
Gonzalos and Rosita were alone.
In the gloaming Gonzalos confronted the gravity of his situation – trapped on a floating platform, without shore or dock on an empty world of water that bends slightly at the edges like a colossal floating disk. Gonzalos calmed himself in sight of the immensity of disconnection by recalling all the other scrapes he’d woken up in; when he found himself on board a Somali pirate ship, in a Mediterranean cruise liner cabin during a crime scene investigation, a drug deal gone sour on the docks of Barranquilla, and a terrorist cell rendezvous off the coast of Sumatra.
In Gonzalos’s homeland his exceptionally long and hardened proboscis pierced the leathery red achachairú, soft, fleshy sweet green bellied chirimoya, purple striped Peruvian melon rinds and hard shelled maracuya. He gorged all day on mocha cupuazú, strangler nanahs, star shaped carambola, intoxicating guayaba, decadent papaya, elephant melons, and blood oranges. He was three times the size of his vulpine vampiric fraternity, with a lustrous coat of short black coconut fur that stood on end and shimmered in the sunlight. Gonzalos stood tall on long spider-stick legs and hair-knot knees – a sight of ridiculous disproportion and common focus for resident swarms needling abuse and daily insults that rose with dusk and fell with dawn.
Rosita belches the pungent, brown effluence of seaweed and water to signal a halt to her slow, unmeasured robotic consumption. Any exalted sensation of luck or divine gratitude for being the rare morsels to escape the severity of an ocean’s appetite never piqued Rosita. She always misplaced her emotions with her thoughts like dirty laundry. Gonzalos’s relief at realising he’d been spared the fatal tragedy rippled then subsided along with the cargo and destruction that initially surrounded him. And it was replaced instead with a unique terror of his situation. He still had no idea what force of events had landed him in this predicament. Not that drunken blackouts were an unusual sensation for Gonzalos. But if fuelled his confusion and added to the horror.
God, he missed Santa Cruz. Waking up at midday – and the air is thick out of the shade. Humidity sways through Mercado Florida like pollenised molasses, binding together invisible beaded string aromas of an orchard perspiring – honey syrup, blushing grapefruit, stubborn pineapples, flat kiwifruit and fruit salads bursting from the whirring angry battalion of blenders. Gonzolos can feel himself swimming punch drunk through the undercover honeycomb of fruit stalls.
Gonzalos lands deep in the musty, petrified rump of Rosita – in a jungle of her hair. A fleshy sting of air, thrown off a baby clam wave struck him off his six legs and perch unawares. He had given away so much over the years, he left nothing for the inescapable and inevitable. The gamely, barbeque smell of Rosita burns the length of his proboscis. Gonzalos imagines whining furiously through glades of green in an incandescent blur. With his game-fish nose weighed by gravity making his sight falter from the horizon his battered fly-wire wings scream through the salt and the wind. They strain an octave higher than ordinary mosquitoes – buzzing twice the volume, resonating and penetrating an unimaginable pitch of irritation as he retreats hopelessly to his rostrum at the front of the boat.
Stay tuned for Part II…. Follow or Subscribe so you don’t miss what happens to Gonzalos – The Vegetarian Mosquito