CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BY COMMITTEE (5)

To the fore of the open-air deck is a small enclosed cabin up above the larger cabin where the passengers are currently gathered. The entrance is between the two ladders leading down to the bow. There is a small plaque on the tempered glass that reads Captain’s Lounge and the door (or—maybe—hatch) swings open when you press against it. Gavin stands where he is for a beat and then follows you. You pretend to be okay with this. You can hear whispering sounds from the two teenagers sitting against the bulwark until the door swings shut behind you.

Immediately inside the glass door is a tiny alcove with an ordinary interior flush door of lightly stained wood. The alcove contains what looks like an end table adorned with a single silver vase and a silk flower nested in gelatin. There is a large framed photograph on one wall that depicts the Islander Express racing across the ocean, bright white foam splashing off the hull. You turn the knob on the door in front of you and pull it open to reveal a small room half taken up with a big medium-blue padded restaurant booth surrounding a glass coffee table.

‘Where are you going?’ Gavin says behind you.

There are windows on either side of the lounge, a tiny teevee nestled up in one corner, a microwave, a sink and dishwasher, a fire extinguisher, and a few drawers and cabinets, one of which is marked with a bright red sign reading First Aid Station. In front of you is another flush door with a plaque reading Do Not Enter: Boat Crew Only.

This door is locked. You can feel Gavin standing in the lounge behind you, waiting for you to turn around. You stand in front of the locked Boat Crew Only door and rattle the knob.

‘Look,’ Gavin says, ‘Do you want my help or not?’

You turn around and glare at him and negotiate around him in the small space. You head back out to the open-air deck.

If your understanding of the layout of the boat is correct, the bridge must be behind that locked door. You imagine the captain, a great barrel of a man wearing epaulets, laughing with his whole body and pressing up against the opposite side of the door as you rattled the knob. You can’t decide whether or not to give him an eye patch, in your imagination. It’s probably too much.

The two teenagers are still on the open-air deck and there is another high school boy who has come up here and is standing a distance off from them and you can see from his body language that he is attempting to pretend that it’s just a coincidence, his being up here. He wears a black teeshirt and a blank expression as he pointedly stares out at the ocean. It is obvious that he’s come looking for the two of them, or one of them, but is now attempting to pass it off. Gavin is marching right behind you and saying something which you ignore. You exit the alcove and swing around to the ladder on one side down to the open area of the bow and head down. Your cheap flip-flops make a pocking sound against the soles of your feet and a dull metal thudding noise against the steps of the ladder. You can hear Gavin coming down right behind you.

On the bow there are a number of passengers standing and staring off to the horizon and hardly anyone seems to be speaking to anyone else. Several people look at you as you rush down the ladder. There is a large man in a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up sloppily who forms a visor with the flat of his hand to look at you as if you were a view of the Grand Canyon, or something significant a long ways off. There is a wiry little woman in a white uniform with yellowish-white hair and big dark sunglasses. A gaggle of high school kids each more sullen than the last.

You turn and go inside the passenger cabin with its rows of airplane seats. Mrs. Shorter’s body is still on the floor, a dark puddle soaking into the thin red carpeting around her. One of the two crewmen is still sitting on the floor next to her but is not looking at her—he’s looking out the still-open entry door at the ocean beyond. Mrs. Shorter’s daughter is sitting in a seat above her mother’s body and has her hands pressed to her temples. The boyfriend is nowhere to be seen.

You stand in the doorway and scan the room. You spot the second crewman sitting in the last row of seats at the back of the cabin and you walk down the central aisle to him. Gavin is right behind you.

‘Excuse me,’ you say to the crewman.

He looks up at you as if startled.

‘I need to talk to the captain.’

The man looks past you at Gavin and then back at you and his expression changes. ‘She’s out front,’ he says. He makes a tiny gesture with his chin.

You turn around and Gavin is right there. ‘I’m glad you came,’ he says with a smile.

You brush past him again and head back out to the bow. It has only been a moment. Everyone is just as you left them. You find the woman in the white uniform and approach her. Seagulls swirl in the salt air.

‘Captain?’ you say. The word sounds slightly ridiculous, comic-booky, and you don’t like saying it.

The woman smiles. She is short and you can see her wide eyes deep brown behind the lenses of her sunglasses. ’Joan,’ she says.

Gavin comes alongside you and forms a circle consisting of the three of you—yourself, him, and Joan, the captain. You look at him.

‘You need representation,’ Gavin says.

Joan looks at Gavin and then turns fully to you. She is not smiling any longer. You are aware of the closeness of the several passengers here around you. You clear your throat slightly.

DO YOU:

A. Tell Joan that Gavin is harassing you.
B. Ask what is being done about Mrs. Shorter.
C. Tell Joan what Gavin said about your being suspected of murder.
D. Ask when the boat will get moving again.
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