We were drowning before the boat even sank.
Gonzo, having helmed the vessel into the choppy waters, grabbed a lifejacket and swam for the shore. His comrades were waiting on the beach, safe and dry, to welcome him with open arms. He was delighted.
I’d seen the danger in time of course, and escaped before the others knew what was happening, but Clyde had not been so lucky. I knew he couldn’t swim, but there was nothing I could do to save him, not without sacrificing myself.
I made it out alive. My lungs were full of filthy water, but I knew I’d feel the euphoria of relief, as soon as I was done coughing. My certainty had turned to ambivalence by the time I crawled onto the foreshore, as the unmistakable hollering of Gonzo’s motley crew echoed in the dark.
Sopping hair clung to my face, forming a veil, obscuring all but a faint orange glow. “Looks like you’re with us now” came a voice from the blackness. It was Gonzo. A lit cigarette hung from his lips, dimly illuminating his psychotic face. I took one look at him and his clan of gawping thugs, and wondered if survival was worth it.
Leave me here, I protested, still hacking up the brackish sludge. My plea was ignored, as Gonzo helped me to my feet. “I’m glad you made it” he whispered. The ramshackle punks looked on in cofusion. It was clear they were unused to seeing Gonzo act compassionately.
Given the circumstances, I admit to feeling relieved, but it was not the euphoria I had imagined.