Jaws Fanfiction: Captain Quint Shark Hunter - 2. Chapter 2 Leaving Home
Chapter Two: Leaving Home
Abel woke early Monday morning. Outside it was still dark. He lay in his bed, his hands clasped behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. He had made his decision even before the meeting in the council chambers had broken up. Some men had formed a line to sign up, putting their names down on a makeshift list. Abel joined the end of the line and shuffled forward. When he picked up the pen to make his mark, a voice he remembered from high school spoke his name.
Abel looked up into the eyes of Principal Adams. Throughout his high school career Abel had been the bane of this man’s life, cutting classes, talking back to teachers,scratching obscene words into the desk tops.
‘Son, you’re too young. You’re barely seventeen.’ The principal’s flinty eyes softened. ‘We all want to do our bit. I understand that, but the forces need men, not boys. You stay here on the island, look after the women. This thing’ll all be over in a year.’
Abel gritted his teeth. The man behind him asked what was holding up the line. Abel tossed the pen onto the open book and pushed his way outside, his face stinging with shame.
At home he found his parents subdued. His father sat cursing the Japanese under his breath, punctuating his speech with bombastic avowals of revenge. His mother sat with a Bible on her lap, whispering scripture. They ate an evening meal together, but hardly spoke. Abel went to his room and started to pack a canvas tote bag. Then he stood for a long while at the half-open window, breathing in the sea air and listening to the sound of the ocean. He lay down on the bed, not bothering to get undressed and fell into a troubled sleep.
As the light finally began to filter into the room, he sat up. He took one last look at the cockpit of his childhood: the baseball pennants stuck to the wall, the model ships, the meagre shelf of books that included Melville and London, a photograph of his grandfather in uniform. Well, that part of his life was now over. Downstairs in the kitchen he could hear his mother moving about, preparing breakfast, and the smell of eggs and bacon wafted up the stairs.
Abel had thought about sneaking out before his parents were awake, but he felt he owed them at least a final goodbye. He lifted his tote bag – surprisingly light – and went downstairs. His father was hunkered down by the radio in the living room. He looked at his son and lowered his head.
‘The President is going to speak,’ he said. ‘We’re going to war, Abel.’
‘I know, Pop.’
Abel had not spoken to his father in such a tone for a long time. Both were embarrassed by the intimacy of the moment, but then Abel’s mother came into the room, and when she saw the tote bag, her face collapsed and she began to cry.
At the same moment the radio came to life and a voice spoke out.
‘Yesterday, December 7th 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.’
Mother, father and son all stood in a tableau and stared at the glowing dial of the radio set. The voice, deep and purposeful, spoke on.
‘The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu. As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.’
Abel lifted his tote bag onto his shoulder. His mother stepped forward and put a hand out to him.
‘You’ll have some breakfast before you go?’
Abel took the hand in his.
‘Sure. Scrambled eggs, bacon, smells good.’
They sat down together at the kitchen table and ate their last family meal as the voice of the President intoned from the other room. Abel wiped his plate clean with a heel of bread, drained a glass of milk and pushed back his chair. It scraped on the linoleum floor with a jarring sound.
As Abel walked to the front door the President’s speech came to an end and the voice of Licia Albanese launched into a rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. The high pure voice of the soprano seemed to follow Abel as he crossed the porch, went down the steps and strode across the yard.
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Abel knew that his parents were standing there in the doorway watching him leave, but he did not turn back. He hoisted the tote bag onto his shoulder and marched purposefully down to the sea.