Making a Withdrawal from the Memory Bank:
Two things triggered a memory in the man walking on the beach. The first being the ragged boulders of the jetty that seemed to float on the water. The second was the appointment with his financial advisor scheduled for the next day. To his consciousness, the memory came and went in a fraction of a second. In his brain, where the electrically charged chemical response took place, the memory played out like a wide screen slow motion epic.
Night Crossing From Key West to Cay Sal:
In the memory he was a young man and he was on a dive trip. He’d spent the fist few hours of the trip on the bow, drinking beer with some of the other passengers. Some of the other people decided to go below-decks and get some sleep. The young man figured it was a good idea. He went below.
When he opened the hatch the stench of vomit hit him in the face like a shovel. When his right foot stepped off the last plank he felt something wet under his bare foot. A partially digested spaghetti dinner oozed between his toes. The woman sprawled out on the nearby bunk said, “I’m sorry,” when she saw what happened.
The young man used a bucket of sea water from a live bait well to clean off his foot. He returned to the bow. He fell into a sound sleep as the boat undulated across the waves.
Discovery in the Blue Hole:
The next morning, the captain anchored at the the underwater caverns dotting the crystal clear shallow waters of the Cay Sal bank. When the dive master paired up dive buddies, he matched the young man up with the sea sick woman. The dive master though this was funny. The captain, the fist mate, and the cook got a big kick out of it. The young man took it in stride.
All the dive teams agreed not to go deeper than 30 feet, the edge of the drop-off, on the first dive of the day.
The young man had every intention of following the rules that morning. But he saw something wedged into a limestone crevice at the edge of the wall that looked out of place. When he picked it up, he saw it was a brand new Hawaiian sling. He didn’t know that the dive master had brought it along and placed it there for safe keeping. The young man figured someone left it there and forget about it. Maybe he’d score some needed points with the captain and and crew if he brought it back.
As the young man turned to head back, the three-pronged tip caught on the bottom and got pulled from his grasp. The sling plummeted into the dark depths. He went after it, not knowing his dive partner had returned to the boat when she saw him swimming into the hole. The young man was just about to grab the sinking sling as it struck an outcropping on the wall.
Something he saw—something having the look of being built by human hands and not formed by nature—caught his attention and made him forget about the sling. As he pulled himself over the ledge he was face to face with a propeller. He backed off. In the dim blue light filtering into the cavern under the ledge, he saw the fuselage of a single engine aircraft falling off into the shadows.
The young man checked his depth gauge: 75 feet. A glance at the bezel on his diver’s watch told him he had about 27 minutes of bottom time left. He pulled himself in closer and let his eyes get adjusted to the light. The young man pressed his face mask against the wind shield and peered into the cabin. He saw movement. As his sight improved he saw the movement was hundreds of crabs feeding on a corpse.
The pilot clenched his fist, as if he died while holding on tight to something. The young man assessed the situation: he needed to bring back an artifact from this wreck. He decided to go with what ever the dead pilot held in his hand.
Time was running short. He pulled his dive knife from its sheath. The Sea Wolf was a single piece forged from stainless steel. It only took a few minutes to pry the edges of the windshield away from the fuselage. The young man was glad he was wearing gloves. He only felt the movement of the crabs scurrying away and not the actual legs scraping across bare flesh.
The young man pried a metal canister from the hand, placed it in a pocket of his buoyancy compensator, then headed back to the boat.
Back on deck, the crew and all the passengers were standing back and staring at him. The captain stepped forward. The young man tried to keep a straight face. The captain’s actions defined the phrase “hopping mad”. He screamed at the top of his lungs, accusing the young man of disobeying a direct order. If there was a plank he’d be walking it.
When the captain finished it was the dive master’s turn: “Your dive buddy said you lost my sling in the hole.”
“That was yours … sorry man.”
“You know that thing cost 20 bucks.”
“I’ll tighten you up when we get back to Key West.”
“I’ll be counting on it.”
One good thing came out of all this. The young man’s dive buddy chose to stick with him. He wouldn’t have to stay on the boat while everyone else was in the water.
Over the next two days. The young man and Olga, his dive buddy, became close. They even slept next to each other on the bow.
The Fight on the Dock:
When they returned to Key West, the young man took out his wallet to pay off the dive master. He figured once he handed over the twenty dollar bill that would be the end of it. It didn’t look like it was over though. “I think you’re lettin this guy off easy, Jed,” the captain said. The rest of the crew piped in.
The young man could see where this was going. In his peripheral vision, he saw the first mate and the cook move to take up positions behind him.
Jed, the dive master, had a weight and height advantage. He was no fighter, though. He threw a headlock on the young man and proceeded to pound on the top of his head. The young man’s wallet slipped out of hand as he fell to his knees. With both hands, he grabbed Jed’s ankles and lifted the big man off his feet. He fell over like a tree. The young man crawled his way up. As he was about to deliver a right cross to the nose—a sure way to get blood flowing—he felt a solid kick to his ribs.
The rest of the crew pounded him into submission.
The cook picked up the young man’s wallet, removed the rest of the cash, then threw it on his chest.
Olga came over. “Do you want me to call the police?
The young man thought about the canister in his pocket. “No. I’ll be fine.”
“Those bastards robbed you.”
“I’ve got some cash in the car. Enough to gas up for the trip back.”
By now, the young man got to his feet. The soreness was starting to creep in. He picked up his wallet and walked to his car.
“Wait, I’m staying over another night at the inn. Why don’t you come on up to the room and get some rest.”
A Stone Cutter’s Life:
The young man didn’t open the canister until he was back in his apartment. He recognized it in an instant: it was an uncut diamond. Over the years, he studied cutting techniques and purchased equipment. When he owned his own home, he set up a work bench in his garage. Every year, the young man would cut a piece off the big stone and carve the facets then polish the face.
He invested the money made from sales of the diamonds wisely.
Tomorrow was the day he’d be meeting with his financial advisor to discuss his asset allocation strategy for the next year.