Inspired by Nabakov
Gentlemen of the jury, landed too long, you sea-searching men,
this evidence for your approval. We damned of an afflicted ship stand
now before you, twice cursed: by man and by sea. From the lines of the
sea, from the siren-song of the wind in the masts, we have been cast
away; spewed as Jonah from our whale's belly onto the wooden walkway to
our fate. You can always count on a mutineer for a fancy prose style.
Archie Kennedy. Kennedy: my savior, my despair. Fierce Kennedy
battle, plain Lieutenant to his betters, Lieutenant Kennedy in public.
To me, he was always Archie. A sacrificial oceanite offered up to
Poseidon several times over.
Did he have a precursor? He did, indeed he did. There might
been an Archie at all if a Bird hadn't swooped me up in a cataleptic
soggy state, if a brash Hunter hadn't fired and saved me to sail
(foolishly, foolishly!) deep into the coy fingers of a fog. I was his
redemption, his malady.
Was H. H. deserving of all this attention? Maybe he was. After
gazed at him like he was Prometheus descending triumphant with the fire
of the gods; after the Marie Galete, after his soul-breaking, putrid
stint in the hole, after the empty belly of a gun spat harmlessly at
his chest. Sometimes you looked at poor Horatio-not-in-battle, but
simple, logical Hornblower who held your friendship, your confidence.
Our friendship was far-flung from perfection. We argued, we
fought, we sulked, we made up. But we needed each other. In the
competitive, desperate, and rarified atmosphere of the Renown (oh, it
was! and how eager we schoolboys were for it, groping for some
quicksilver slice of glory), we had no choice but to cling together in
the feverish hope we could survive.
Because, you see, we had absolutely no where else to go.
Oh, those unbearable, dark, and treacherous weeks (how long
ago, now? A
lifetime to me; I have aged irreparably). They flutter around my
thoughts like green-gold flies around a fallen, broken body. I knew,
once I breathed those thunderous words into receptive ears, that we
were drifting away from our asylum (it wouldn't be like that; it would
be *just* like that), from sluggish, sucking waves to pounding,
tempestuous waters. We sailed away, and as I braced myself to shatter
into the rocks, to splinter into a thousand minute pieces, he stood up,
unsteadily, and strapped himself to our mast.
And now I? I will succeed him by many years. So, dry men of
write down your judgment; mark him guilty and let his sunset extinguish
early and ignobly. Let me walk from the room with my black mark in
hand, carved into a dry piece of paper and into the hollow and echoing
annals of history: Commodore.
This is the only immortality you and I will achieve, my Archie Kennedy.