Into the Sea

The frenchmen were arguing as they crashed through the cabin door.
“Twhat arr tu doing?” said Frederick.
“I tink… I am… drunk…” replied Romain, ed “I really tink I am drunk, buy cialis don’t you tink?”
“I tink… Zou are drunk.”
“Are zou certain?”
“I see.”
“But zit t’is not bad.”
“No, I don’t regret. Now, I must have my bag.”
Romain turned left the room, stumbling out to address empty corridor.
“Whear is my bag!?” He demanded, looking first left then right, down the hall of the ship. He waited for a response before forgetting his cause and returning to the cabin.
“It reheally zmells like feet.” He continued.
“What doez?”
“Tis cabin.”
“Noh noh, t’is only you.”
“Me? Noh!”
“Yes, well, your shoes. Zhere are mush-rooms coming out of your shoes.”
Romain sat down at the foot of my bed and began unlacing his shoe.
“I tell zou, t’is knot my feet!” He said.
“I tell zou, zit is, let us snivff the shoe, and then, we will cee.” Replied Frederick.
“Ahh!” gasped Romain as he raised the shoe to his nose. “Take it away!” he said, flinging the show across the cabin.
“I can smell zit from ‘ere. T’is zyou Romain!”
“Wahat can we do?”
“There is nothing to be done.”
“Hang on!”
“Swhere is Iceland’s feish?”
“You mean Finnurs?”
“Yess yess you buffoon! Swhere is it? We can drown out zhe feeet with zhe fish!”
“This, it is not a good idea.” Says Frederick as Romain lies down on the cabin floor and reaches under one of the bunks.
“Voila!” he cries, raising himself from the ground with a clear plastic bag filled with white dried fish.
“Don’t open it Romain! Don’t open it!”
“I must!”
“Must you?”
“I must! Wait… You do zit!”
“You! I smell already, let us shhare zhe burden!”
“I refuse!”
“Frederick, you cannot!”
“I can.”
“Please, I will bring you some wine…”
“Wine! Just do it quick! I cannot stand this stench anymore! I will zink zhese shoes in this Baltic Sea if you do not open it! I will have to cut my feet from my legz!”
“Give me it.”

“What have we done Frederick?”
“The smell, it is awful.”
“Like Hells toilet.”
“Like gone off frogs legs.”
“Like a squids insides.”
“We must leave this place.”
“Let’s go.”
“And never return.”

Waking up is horrifying. Dry mouth. Wobbling bed. Stench of fish, stench of feet, stench of wine. No window to open. No air to breath. I have to think hard for a second to remember where I am and where the sounds of breaths not mine are coming from. The terror passes and I remember. In a cabin, two floors below deck, with two french lunatics and Finnur from Iceland who packed with him all of the following: the composite contents of a sheeps skull, a hunting knife, and a A4 sized bag of dried fish. I fall out of the room and up the stairs to sleep for an extra half hour in the fresh air harbour of Latvia’s capital city. We have arrived in Riga.

We travelled that day through the streets of angels, across roads with bumps, watching alive looking statues scowl gargoyle scowls from building tops that stood centuries old guarding no car quiet streets where men box shaped with massive shoulders laughed loud at jokes like shouting orders, and old woman hunchbacks paused for breath and tightened the scarves round their heads and necks. Amongst us were Swedes, Chinese, Icelandic, French and Hungarian. All breathing the eastern air as if we’d done it all our lives. It’s the furthest I’ve ever been east and it felt like it. It was different to Ireland, different to Stockholm. A kind of quiet floating world, somewhere else, or maybe unconcerned.

Back on board the sea sick strike hard for their beds and the sleep that will save them from their toilet bowl deaths until we arrive back to dry land heaven Stockholm. The rest of us take up the challenge of passing the journey in romantic moments under the cloudless sky watching moonlight reflections upon the sea with shaking cigarettes smoking around us, or dancing disco on the floating middle of nowhere and always moving dance floor whilst russians gambled to the end on nearby spinning roulette tables before marching off with their wives or mistresses to their one bed rooms where whisky and wonder waited.

Amongst it all I felt in place. Crazy sounds and people making them all around hugging life tight before it might strike ice and sink to the bottom of this black baltic sea. Sitting in our stinking cabin listening to it all. The crazy french reading and acting out Beckett in the corner. Iceland flogging rotten fish to a cigar smoking Chinese Mao.

A whirlwind-where-do-you-find-these-kind-of-things trip, done no justice here.