The Capsized

Charlie Locksley has wanted nothing more than to be a Nature Photographer for Zoography Times. To travel the world and capture nature's small moments on camera is her greatest dream. As an opportunity arises for her to travel, she realizes her dream may be harder to reach than she expected. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself stranded and afraid in the jungles of Madagascar.

Dallas Holt lived a pretty simple life. Tanzania had treated him and his best friend, Ralph, partially well. He had not a care in the world; running from the police and living in the trees seemed like the life he had always wanted. But, when a new adventure comes his way, he is forced to become the responsible adult. With four lives resting in his hands, he must choose between living for the adventure or striving for the journey.

When Charlie and Dallas' lives collide, they learn their will is not always God's will, but God's will is always better than their will, and love will always triumph over tragedy.

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4. Chapter Three

-May 13th, 2019-

Charlie awoke when someone knocked on her door. “Ms. Locksley, it is time to wake up. We will be leaving for the docks in ten minutes.” Jesse’ voice spoke from behind the door. Charlie groaned and rubbed her forehead.

“Alright, I’ll be out in a few minutes.” She tried to speak as if she’d hadn’t just woken up. She didn’t want Jesse feeling bad.

She sat up and stretched, then stepped out of the bed. She hurried and changed then applied her light makeup, threw her hair into a pony tail, then brushed her teeth. She grabbed her belongings and stuffed them into her suitcase. Before heading out the door, she grabbed her camera bag and said a quick prayer.

“Alright, let’s do this.” She walked out into the hallway and met up with Jesse in the lobby. “Ready,” she smiled.

“Let’s be on our way then.” Jesse gestured to the door.

As Daniel drove, Jesse was briefing Charlie on the plan for when they arrived at the docks. “I will help you board, but I am sad to say I will not be joining you. I have a family back home to take care of, but I assure you, I will keep you in my prayers.” In just a day, Charlie had grown to be very fond of Jesse. He was a good man and although she would miss him, she was happy he would be staying here where it was safer, even if it meant she would be travelling with strangers.

They arrived sooner than they had planned, and they were just in time. The boat would be leaving soon. “This is it, Charlie. Please, come back and visit when you can. You will always have a place to stay here in Tanzania.”

Charlie smiled sweetly and gave Jesse a quick hug. “You have been so sweet. If I ever come to Tanzania again, I’ll be sure to stop by.”

“You be careful now. Madagascar is much less dangerous than Africa, but the dangers are still there. Be sure to never go into the jungle alone, without a proper escort. When you arrive, Mr. Wilson said a man named Joseph Dawn will be your guide. He should be boarding the ship this morning as well. You will be in my prayers, Charlie.”

“Thank you, Jesse. I’ll be praying for you, too.”

Charlie walked up the docks and climbed onto the large ship. A man grabbed her hand to help steady her. “Thank you, she grinned up at him.”

“Of course, miss. Please enjoy your travels on board my ship.” He smiled back at her.

“Oh, you’re the captain? Hi,” she held out her hand, “My name is Charlie Locksley.”

“It’s nice to meet you Charlie, I have heard good things about you. Perhaps I should have you take photos of my ship some time. I am Captain Nikos.” He took her hand and shook it with pleasure. “Danner here,” here gestured to a boy behind him, “my son, will show you to your quarters.”

Charlie followed the young man who seemed to be too young to be working on board a ship. Danner lead her down a few steps and through a small hallway. “Here is your room, Ms. Locksley. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” His accent was thick and hard to understand.

“Thank you, Danner.” The boy left, and Charlie was alone in the room. “Well, it will be a few days. I might as well make myself comfortable.”

She started with her suitcase and placed it underneath the small bed. Her camera was in its bag and she placed it on her night stand. Her purse was to be kept on her always, not that she didn’t trust anyone, but she didn’t want to risk her things getting stolen. She sat down and took a deep breath in and let it out slowly through her nose. “You’ve got this, Char. Just relax and enjoy yourself.”

 

~~~~~~~

 

Dallas stood on the docks and eyed the crew that walked around the deck. There was maybe a total of ten men on the deck and who knew how many would be on the lower floors. He could always pose as a poor man who just needed a ride . . . but where would the adventure be in that? Although there was some truth to it, he had too much pride to admit it.

Something landed on his shoulder. “You’re late my friend. I almost left without you.” The monkey stuck his tongue out.

“I ran,” he sighed to Dallas.

“Well, you made it just in time.” Dallas looked around and saw a large barrel near the other things to be boarded. “It’s a terrible idea, but we’ve done worse, right?” The monkey covered his face with his hands and shook his little head. “Come on, it’s our only chance. Just stay quiet.” Dallas pressed a finger to his lips as he made his way to the large barrel. It full of fish, but it was his only way to get on board without paying money he didn’t have. He climbed inside and covered himself with fish. “You go sneak on board, they won’t see you as easily.” He spoke through the fish to his little friend. Ralph looked around and saw a rope hanging from the ship, just above the barrel Dallas was in. He jumped and grabbed it, climbing up and jumping on board.

Dallas tried not to vomit at the dead fish smell. For as much fish he’s had on his life, he hated it. The cliché ‘fish and chips’ were never his thing. He held his breath as the barrel rocked back and then lifted. Two men carried the barrel on board and Dallas felt as if he’d been carried a good ten minutes. Where were they taking him? The storage floors? The men set the barrel down and Dallas breathed in deeply. He’d wait until he heard Ralph, then he’d climb out of the barrel.

Ralph watched the men take his friend away. He wondered why they were taking him on board a different ship. Being a smart monkey, he simply climbed off the ship and followed after the men who carried Dallas. They boarded the ship next to the one traveling to India and Ralph was confused more than ever, but if this was where Dallas was, then he would go wherever he went.

When the coast was clear, Ralph jumped onto the barrel of fish and picked up the one above Dallas’ face. “Hey pal, coast clear?” Ralph nodded. “Great,” Dallas stood, sending fish falling to the floor from left and right, “Let’s find a good place to hide.”

Together they roamed the ship and when others asked who they were Dallas simply told them they were explorers who had been planning to take this ship for a while now. It wasn’t a lie, they had been planning to take a ride on the ship and they were exploring new territory. Dallas just hoped they wouldn’t further their questioning.

They made their way into a small room that was empty for the most part. A few barrels surrounded a corner, but that would make for a great place to sleep. “Home sweet home, Pal.” Dallas grinned and sat down on one of the lidded barrels. “This will be a long trip, Ralph, you better make yourself comfortable. Once we set sail, there is no turning back.”

 

~~~~~~~

 

Charlie was sleeping when the ship started on its way. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but she was exhausted, and the bed was much more comfortable than the one at the Inn. As the ship hit a wave she woke up with a gasp. Glancing around at the unknown room her memories came back to her and she sighed with relief. She’d forgotten she was on a boat. The room rocked back and forth as the ship moved through the waters. Although she wasn’t used to the rocking room, it was almost calming, like a baby in a cradle.

She stretched and checked her phone. “Noon?” She gasped. She’d been asleep for five hours.

“Ms. Locksley?” Danner’s voice came from the hallway.

“Yes?” She sat up and rubbed her eyes and yawned, now feeling well rested.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I have lunch for you if you are hungry. Charlie stood up from her bed and had to steady herself as another wave rocked the boat. She walked to the door and opened it with a smile. Danner stood there with a tray or fruits and vegetables. “I know it isn’t a hotdog or a cheeseburger, but it is the best food we have on board.”

“Oh, it looks delicious, Danner. Thank you.” She took the tray from him and then set it on her night stand. She turned glanced back at Danner. “Anything else?” She asked him, wondering why he was still standing in her doorway.

“What is that?” He pointed to the large camera bag on her nightstand.

“It’s the bag for my camera. It’s waterproof.” She moved her eyebrows up and down.

“It is a camera?” He asked in amazement. His eyes were wide and full of curiosity.

“Yes, it is.” Charlie smiled at him. She pushed away any fears of him stealing it.

“I’ve never seen a camera before. Can you take my picture?” Excitement raced through his words.

Charlie’s heart fell. This young boy had never seen a camera before, which means he’s probably never had his picture taken. “I’d love to take your picture.” Charlie smiled and motioned for Danner to come in her room. He did as he was told and paid close attention as Charlie carefully took out her camera.

“It’s beautiful, may I touch it?”

“Uhm, you know what? I have a better idea.” Charlie turned it on and sat on the bed next to him. She held the camera in front of them and then took Danner’s hand in hers, positioning his hand on the button. “Just press down on this button.” She told him. He did so and the flash went off.

“Wow! That is so cool!” He exclaimed, nearly bouncing off the bed.

Charlie turned her camera around and pulled the picture up on the screen. Danner’s eyes were larger than the moon as he took in every detail of the screen.

“That is me!” He laughed. “I am on a camera!”

“Yes, you are! You are very photogenic.”

“What is photo-gen-ic?” He asked, spreading out the word.

“It means you have a wonderful smile and you look great in a picture.” Charlie’s tone was soft.

“I am going to get a camera someday! I can take pictures of me and my dad!” The young boy’s words were a balm to her soul but a knife to her heart. This boy’s father owned a ship but they were still so poor. Would Danner ever be able to afford a camera? Charlie had an idea.

“Hey, I have something cool to show you.” She smiled and grabbed her purse. She searched through the large bag and pulled out her polaroid camera. “How would you like to have your very own picture to keep?” The boy looked at her confused.

“I would love that but how do I get the picture out of the camera?”

“Just watch,” Charlie grinned. She turned on the polaroid and held the camera up to her eye, centering Danner in the lens. She clicked the button and the flash went off. “Now watch this.”

Danner watched closely waiting for something to happen. His jaw dropped as the slip of film cascaded through the slit on the bottom of the camera. When it was ready, Charlie grabbed the film sheet and gave it to Danner to hold.

His face fell as he stared at the white back ground. “It didn’t work . . .” his voice was sad.

“Just wait,” Charlie grinned and pointed to the film sheet. “Look right there.”

“I don’t see anything . . . oh, oh look! Something is appearing!” He held the photo closer to his face. “It is working! I can see me! Oh, this is so cool, Ms. Locksley!”

“Call me Charlie.” She touched his shoulder. “And the picture is yours.”

“Charlie, oh man, I’ve got to show my dad! He is going to be so excited! Thank you! Thank you!” He leaned over and wrapped his arms around her neck, squeezing tightly. “Thank you so much, Charlie.” She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a squeeze.

“You are so welcome,” her voice choked as tear came to her eyes. The young boy let her go and quickly ran out her door and down the hall. Who would have thought that something as simple as a picture could bring so much joy to one’s heart? She covered her mouth and swallowed her tears back. God, how have I overlooked so many small things in life. I’ve had a camera for as long as I can remember, and this little boy has never seen one in his life. Please, help me to see things as you do. Help me to enjoy the small things in life. Please, don’t ever let me take anything for granted again.

Charlie ate her food in silence as she spoke to God through her thoughts. This trip was going to be much harder on her than she expected. She needed to have faith that her heart would make it through. “You can do this, Char. Just breath and have faith. It may be hard to watch now, but when you are back home, you will do all you can to help those in need.” She spoke to herself. “Help me, Lord. Give me strength.

 

~~~~~~~

 

Dallas stomach growled for the hundredth time since he arrived on the ship. He hadn’t eaten lunch and he knew Ralph would start whining soon if he didn’t find something for them to eat. Maybe it was time to make an appearance. They couldn’t stay hidden forever and besides, what would they do if they found him, throw him over board? He shuddered at the thought. There was no way they could be seen.

“Hungry,” Ralph signed to him.

“I know, Pal. Me too. I should have packed some food for us, but I was too stupid to think of it.” Dallas chastised himself.

“Stupid,” Ralph signed.

“Yes, yes, I know, that’s why I said it.” Rolling his eyes, he thought.

“Steal?” Ralph signed grinning from ear to ear.

“No, Ralph, no stealing. We will have to ask for the food. Maybe the chef is a nice one. I’d take the scraps if he’d only let us. I could eat anything right now.”

“Fish and chips?” Ralph signed.

“Shut up.” Dallas glared. Ralph let out a squeaky laugh and jumped onto Dallas’ shoulder. “Ha-ha, very funny. You know, when we get to India, you would make a good circus monkey.” Dallas smirked. Ralph slapped him on the head. “What? You can tease me, but I can’t tease you?” Ralph shrugged. “Whatever, let’s just find the kitchen.”

They walked quietly through the hall looking behind them every so often to be sure they were still in the clear. They reached the steps and walked up them carefully, trying not to make the wood creak too much.

“Quiet,” Ralph signed.

“I’m trying. I’d like to see you carry me up the stairs without making a noise.” They continued and once they reached the top they let out a sigh of breath. The second floor was empty. Sneaking along the next hallway they came to an abrupt stop as they turned a corner and saw a small boy standing outside a door holding a tray of food. Apples, bananas, oranges, and avocados littered the tray, along with some carrots and celery. It looked delicious.

Dallas hid behind the corner and the door opened, and a familiar voice sounded as the young boy handed someone a tray. “Anything else?” Dallas heard. The boy pointed inside the room and spoke. “What is that?”

“It’s the bag for my camera, it’s waterproof.” That voice sounded so familiar but who would he know on board this ship?

The boy entered the room and Dallas took this time to sneak back upstairs. It had been too close. Not that he wouldn’t have been able to handle a child, but he didn’t want to risk being seen.

He stopped when he heard footsteps running towards him. “Hide!” He whispered to Ralph, who immediately climbed inside Dallas’ shirt.

The footsteps grew louder and soon the boy from the hall was running towards him holding something in his hand. He stopped when he saw Dallas who was trying his best to seem nonchalant. “Hey, want to see something cool?” The boy’s enthusiasm was sweet and genuine.

“Uh, sure . . .” Dallas mumble cautiously. The boy handed him a photo of himself smiling widely.

“Isn’t it great? It’s my first one!” The boy gleamed.

“It’s a . . . really great picture!” Dallas smiled. “Who took it for you?”

“Charlie! That’s my new friend!” The boy’s eyes looked down at Dallas’ stomach which was bulging in one spot.

“Uh . . . it’s a condition . . .” Dallas muttered. “Yeah, I’ve got the monkey infestation.

The boy took a few steps back, not wanting any part of some infestation. “Are you hungry?” He asked, concerned.

Dallas looked down at his moving stomach. Ralph was wiggled around. “Uhm, yes. I’m starving. That would explain why my stomach has been acting weird lately and not sitting still.” Ralph froze, and the boy looked up at Dallas curiously.

“Does the monkey infestation turn you into a monkey?” The child asked, his eyes were wide with a hint of fear.

“What? Of course, not . . . well,” Dallas paused, raising an eyebrow, “. . . why do you ask?”

“Because your stomach has a tail.” The boy pointed to Ralphs tail and Dallas rolled his eyes as the tail disappeared inside his shirt.

“Ralph, we’ve been caught.” Ralph stuck his head out the collar of Dallas’ shirt and climbed up onto Dallas’ shoulder.

“I knew it!” The boy exclaimed, grinning, then his smile faded. “Wait, why do you have a monkey on this ship? There are no animals allowed.”

“Well, if I’m being honest with you . . . he’s more human that monkey. He speaks sign language.” Dallas raised his eyes brows.

“He does? What can he say?”

Ralph looked at the boy and stuck his tongue out as he signed the word, “Baby.”

“What did he say?” The boy asked in amazement. He looked at Ralph as if he was flying.

“Uh,” Dallas hesitated, “he must be trying to sign ‘friend’. He is a friendly monkey, he just needs a little reminder every once in a while.” Dallas glared at Ralph. “He gets confused sometimes. After all, he still an animal.”

Ralph looked at Dallas and slapped him on the back of his head, then signed, “Fish and chips.”

“Does he understand what you are saying?” The boy asked.

“Well, sometimes he chooses to ignore the meanings of the words, but yes he can understand English and Spanish. He used to live with a Hispanic family long ago. Their daughter was deaf and that’s how he learned sign language.” It had taken Dallas a good two years to find out where Ralph had lived before living with him. It wasn’t until one day in the village that Ralph found an older man and started signing to him. The man explained to Dallas Ralph’s story through bits and pieces of Ralph’s signs.

“Where is his family now?” The boy asked.

“I’m not sure if they are still around. There was a bad earthquake and Ralph had heard it coming. My guess is Ralph didn’t know how to warn his family.”

Ralph covered his eyes and leaned his tiny head on Dallas’. The little monkey had been through so much in his life.

“Does he miss them?”

“I’m sure he misses them more than ever.” Although they were speaking about Ralph, Dallas couldn’t help but to speak of his own feelings toward his own family. He missed his parents more than anything, and knew that even though Ralph was a monkey, he missed his family, too.

Ralph pulled his hands away from his face and signed, “Dallas, family.”

“That’s right, friend. We are family.” The monkey patted Dallas on the head and kissed his ear. “Okay, okay, enough of that.” Dallas glanced back at the kid in front of him. “What’s you name, pal?”

“I am Danner. My father owns the ship and is the captain.” He lifted his head, clearing proud to have been able to say that about his father.

“Well, Danner,” Dallas spoke nervously, “I hate to ask this of you, but me and Ralph are in need of a favor.” Danner’s eyes brightened, obviously intrigued in what Dallas had to say. “We are explorers on a secret adventure. Our cover can’t be blown, or we will miss our opportunity to explore the unknown. Do you think you can keep us a secret?”

Danner nodded. “I can keep your secret.” His voice held excitement.

“Oh, great,” Dallas grinned and looked around as if people were watching. “Can you do me one more favor?”

“Yes.”

“We haven’t eaten in a while. Do you think it’s possible for you to find something for me and Ralph here to eat?” The boy was smart. He titled his head and pondered. “Think of it as a secret mission.” Dallas added.

Danner grinned and glanced around like Dallas had done moments before. “I will do it.”

“Great!” Dallas nearly yelled. He then gave the boy a surprised look and covered his mouth, telling the boy to remain quiet. “I will be in the storage room down stairs.” Dallas added.

Danner nodded then waved goodbye to Ralph as he dashed up the rest of the stairs and turned the corner, forgetting the excitement of the photograph.

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