The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
fictional character Gahlen, who first appears in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a stand-alone tale - partly true, partly fiction.
By Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums - https://www.flickr.com/photos/twm_news/16104487498/,
No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53196609
Corned Beef and Cabbage - Galley Duty
Genre: Novice Sea Experience
We spotted the cargo ship’s bright blue lettering: AMOR*DE*FAMILIA. Chesko waved from the deck, acknowledging his offer of a free ride from France to Ireland in exchange for galley duty. He introduced us to his father, Captain Dominique.
“Welcome aboard,” the captain said. “My son vouches for you and that's good enough for me.”
Chesko led us below to our cabin, small with submarine-style bunks along one wall. Once we stored our duffels, he clapped and said, “Okay, to work.”
He assigned me to scrubbing pots left soaking in greasy water. Pointing to a mound of red potatoes, he told my sisters, “You peel the spuds, a step my Spanish mother insists is un requisito absoluto. There's four deck hands, two boiler mechanics, seven cargo stackers, Dad, you three plus me. Average two per.”
“Thirty-six spuds, by my count,” I said. Chesko’s scowl had me scrubbing harder.
From the refrigerator, he removed a thick corned beef brisket marinating in a pot of water and spices. He let that simmer on the stove while we went about our duties. Then he transferred the meat to a roasting pan. “We have fair seas,” he said, sliding the pan into the oven. “Go enjoy the fresh air. You might spot a pod of bottlenose dolphins, if not a fin whale.”
After only a distant sighting of one whale, we returned to the galley. Chesko was tucking peeled spuds and sliced carrots around the meat. For the final fifteen minutes of baking, he added layers of green cabbage.
Five hours out, he rang the dinner bell. We were invited to dine at the captain’s table. After Captain Dominique said grace, he asked, “What is your purpose in traveling?”
“To visit our ancestral homelands.”
“Keeping alive memories of your past is important,” he said. “Nationality does not dictate who you become, but heritage does guide your decisions.”
We cleaned dishes and mopped the galley floor one last time. Chesko again sent us topside, this time to announce land sighting.
“Do we yell, ‘land ho’ or something?” I joked.
“As your final order, that is exactly what you do.”
A pod of a dozen dolphins escorted the ship and at the first sign of cliffs, we fulfilled our duty, boisterously.