But the fisherman was no ship captain, and frankly didn’t want to be. All he wanted was to take everything that belonged to the man who drowned him. And so he did, except for the captain’s knowledge of navigation, team leadership, distress signals, armament, tacking, jibing, furling, or really anything necessary to keep the Golden Bee afloat.
Which is why, later that week, the schooner got tangled up in el cenagal: a peaceful, shallow stretch of water where, years earlier, a ship had mysteriously sunk, then snagged a second ship, and then a third and fourth and tenth and twentieth until the whole area was nothing but a rickety deathtrap of shattered masts and rotting sails.
El cenagal had thus become a popular hangout spot for buccaneers, who would wait nearby for a hapless vessel to get caught in the web, and then swoop in for some easy plunder. Within a day of the Bee’s entrapment, they had leisurely murdered the entire crew, pilfering its goods and bullion and weaponry, and then sailed back to land, feeling oddly unsatisfied.
The fisherman came to in the middle of the ocean, sunburned, surrounded by the bodies of his erstwhile shipmates, their bloated bellies nudging up against him. He swam the miles back to shore like they were nothing, moving with an eerie kind of grace.
He found himself on a desolate stretch of sand at the tip of a curved peninsula which formed a little bay. He made his way inland to a dense forest and found the very scalawags who’d ended the Golden Bee, drinking the local juniper and arguing over their newfound booty with good-hearted shoving and knuckledusting.
The fisherman approached the camp and informed everyone that they were fucking miscreants and effeminate cowards and substandard rapists and that they were to return everything they’d stolen.
Once the laughter subsided, an exceptionally hairy sea tough strolled over, flourished a small blade, held the fisherman by the back of his neck and cut his stomach open. He returned to his pungent brethren who slapped their scarred palms against his, a gesture of triumph and goodwill.
The fisherman stood there holding in his guts. He said this is my land now, and there came a vast roar from the west, and at first the buccaneers thought a storm was coming in, but then a great wave burst through the trees, instantly flooding the camp, dousing the fires, sending barrels and cannonballs and muskets skyward. Most of the men died by having their heads crushed against tree trunks, and the rest drowned.
The sea subsided, waterlogged bodies hung from twisted trees, coastal fish flopped and gasped. The fisherman picked up a crab, tore off a claw, and tasted its meat. He felt fantastic.