Our first 24 hours on the boat was surreal.
The first night, with our bed safely packed away in storage, I slept terribly. Around 2 am I awoke from the oppressive heat. I threw off all of the covers, but I couldn’t get naked enough. My skin was on fire. Finally I remembered I had a fan above my head and this changed things so dramatically that by morning I was clutching the duvet.
I woke at 6 am with a crick in my neck and back pains when I tried to lift things, but I took some ibuprofen and went inside to get the day underway. I had to drive 40 minutes down to West Palm and back in order to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Greg continued cleaning and packing and, about halfway through the day, as I was returning from my grocery run, I discovered several cop cars had closed off the street near our apartment. I couldn’t get home without making a 15-minute detour. Traffic was blocked up and re-routed for miles. We gradually got news that a pedestrian was hit and life-flighted to the trauma center in Fort Pierce. We heard details throughout the day. Rack, the local toothless character who does odd jobs with Pepé, our apartment manager, told us that a policeman had placed a towel over the victim’s face as he lay on the pavement.
Just after sunset, as we were getting ready to eat dinner, we learned that it was Pepé who was the victim. The hospital had contacted our landlord, DeFarge. They told him only a few details as he was not family – but Pepé was last seen alive, with tubes, being rushed through the unit.
“Are you still leaving?” our old neighbor Portia asked when I told her. I said I thought so; I couldn’t imagine why this would change our departure time. DeFarge asked Greg the same question.
No doubt it haunted our departure. We both thought about it constantly the rest of the night, and we are thinking about it still. But here’s how we reasoned: life is short. “You have to grab it by the balls,” as Greg told his boss over the phone that night; his boss had heard about the accident from a neighbor.
High tide was at 9:30 the next morning. There was not a minute to lose.