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Angels - Your WRITES

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Fifty-six men in all stood on the deck. Guillermo Mendez had managed to remain below, out of sight of the others. Admiral Perez and the first mate stood in before the plank with Padre Domingo at their side. The first mate held onto the binds that held together the wrists of Pablo dos Santos.
The men were in varying standards of dress. The hour was late. It was still dark, but the dawn would appear very shortly. Some of the men had appeared on deck in nothing more than their sleeping gowns while others had managed to put on their trousers before appearing on deck under the gracious stars of the waning night. Admiral Perez was fully dressed, as was the padre, for the dignified status of the two men relied upon how they stepped out before the masses.
Pablo was wearing nothing more than tattered tan trousers. The fifteen-year-old lad had not been given the liberty of putting on shoes before he had been dragged mercilessly up here. His coarse, black hair was unkempt, and he had a deep gash on his right cheek, where the blood was just now beginning to dry. His young, brown eyes were filed with something that went beyond terror for he knew that there was blood on his hands.
Juan Jimenez, the swarthy rogue of the crew whom everybody had adored until this fateful hour, stood on the plank. His hands were tied behind his back in a very uncomfortable bind. The rope gnawed at the flesh of his wrists, but as he looked into the dark water that surrounded the ship, he knew that a fate worse than that awaited him shortly.
Juan had been an experienced sailor. This had been his seventh voyage on one of Her Majesty’s vessels, and he had earned himself a reputation as a masterful sailor as well as a risk taker. He could have put himself in front of any sword or walked on any fire for no reason other than the fact that he could do it. He had been admired by any man whose path he had crossed.
Now, he looked at the rocking waves below him. That would be his grave. The sea air would be his last rites, and the fish and sharks would be his pall bearers. Who would mourn him? Certainly no inhabitant of all the Pacific islands he had explored until now and nobody on Her Majesty’s shores. Perhaps there might be one who would mourn him, and he thought of poor Pablo, but that period of mourning would not be long-lasting.
“Jimenez,” the admiral called out.
Juan nodded his head. He spat a hair from his thick beard out of his mouth, turned his final thoughts to nothing but Pablo, bent his knees, and sprang into the water.
All that was heard was a splash. The fifty-six men on deck just stood and looked at the plank, where that great sailor of theirs had just stood. He had jumped to his death, a sentence brought upon him by the laws of God and the edicts of Her Majesty. Now, he would be followed.
The first mate gave Pablo a shove. Pablo stumbled but remained standing and approached the plank. He hobbled as he did so for they had given him a good beating before dragging him on deck, and his shins were in the most egregious pain.
The padre put a hand to the cross that he bore around his neck. “You are hereby sentenced to death,” he said, “for crimes of perversion and treason aboard Her Majesty’s ship.”
Pablo looked down at the wooden deck. He had stubbed his big toe, and it was bleeding. He took a step, and his foot went down on a drop of blood, smeared it. He would now be reunited with Juan. He would look into Juan’s dark eyes once more, hear his rugged voice, stand close to his broad shoulders and mountainous pectorals, touch his untrimmed finger nails.
Pablo raised his head and looked solemnly back at the admiral.
“The plank,” the admiral said firmly with a callous nod of the head.
Pablo looked at the plank ahead of him, the plank on which Juan had just stood, the plank from which Juan had jumped into the cold, murderous waters. Admiral Perez, Padre Domingo, and all the other men on the ship believed that this plank would mark Pablo’s end, but he knew that it would serve as his beginning, and he just had to overcome his hesitance and take the leap, and he would be free.
Somewhere in the heavens, the first noticeable light of day broke upon the mighty waters of the ocean. The faintest light began to shimmer on the starboard side of Her Majesty’s ship as its crew awaited the inevitable end of the young Pablo.
Pablo wanted to take one last look at his admiral. Perhaps he had had a change of heart; perhaps the sentence had been commuted. It was not so, he thought. He would not be allowed to return to the ship.
A newly born ray of light shone on Pablo’s back, illuminating the ghastly, bloody welts on his young, tender flesh. Somewhere still hidden under the dark cloak of the night, Padre Domingo grasped at his crucifix. The light that now shone on this boy was the devil’s doing.
Come to me now, joven, Juan called out to Pablo, and Pablo did not know if he was beckoning him from the depths of the waters below him or from the great heavens above him, but he closed his eyes, made the sign of the cross on his chest, bloodying the tip of his finger as he did so, and stepped over the edge of the plank.
Day broke. The sun appeared above the horizon. Pablo felt nothing for a moment but the embrace of serenity. He was surrounded by love and peace. This was where he longed to be. He looked at his toes, and they were not surrounded by the deathly salty waters of the ocean. They were, rather, suspended in midair. He looked around him and saw a host of beings of fire, all of which had no form save six wings of light, and they were carrying him, lifting him up over the waters, over Her Majesty’s ship, over the heads of the remaining fifty-five men on board the ship, over the great flag of their country that waved meaninglessly in the acrid wind.
The heavenly hosts lifted Pablo into the sky, and he felt love. He did not know of any ship or country or mortal sin or even of Juan. He knew only that peace had found him, and the angels that lifted him away would comfort him and guide him.
Higher the angels took Pablo. His fate was invisible to the men on the ship, but Padre Domingo felt the touch of the hand of Satan and looked into the heavens for a sign of mercy but saw none.
The men on board the ship, now that the sentence had been passed, were eager to return to bed for the little that still remained of the night. Xavier Castillo looked around the ship for Guillermo. He was nowhere to be seen. He feared that were Guillermo’s absence to be noticed, their fate could be the same as that of Juan Jimenez and Pablo dos Santos. Guillermo was a crafty one, though, and they might escape the cruel hand of the saintly padre yet. Xavier smoothed out the hair on his head, took a deep breath, and went below deck, hoping that he might catch sight of the dark-skinned Guillermo for a brief, unnoticed moment.


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Tristram_Goncalves
Posted

Very cool.


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Posted

Thanks, Tristam. My first official review on this story. How's the snow out there?


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