~ A short story ~
Bound to Javahiru Rah, Malediven Express left Male’ at exactly nine on a Saturday morning of November. A thin silver line hemmed the cloudless neon-blue sky and the lazy deep blue. Frothy waves ebbed and flowed as the speedboat slammed the perfectly idle sea. Nature-trimmed palm and banyan trees on islands waved at the high-speed ocean toy. The three passengers of the speedboat were bound to Javahiru Rah which means Jewel Island, all with different reasons.
Two hours after leaving the capital and exchanging names and pleasantries, Bogdan sat on the crew seat, in between Kristoff, the boat captain, and Areef, the crew who seemed sixteen years old but was actually twenty one.
‘Why do you want to visit Javahiru Rah? It’s an uninhabited island. Any new guest house there?’ Kristoff asked his lone passenger. It was unusual for him to ask his passengers about their trips for that wasn’t his business. Tourists hired his boat and he brings them to their destination and takes the payment. That was usually it. But this specific trip piqued his interest.
‘I need to see the island.’ Bogdan desperately needed to see the island although, it didn’t show in his heavy accent and voice, cold like a hollow cave covered with ice. He needed validation for himself as well as the rest of the world – that he could fulfill his dreams of being a real-life pirate. Like, not the pirate that harms people and hijacks ships but the type of pirate who just hunts for treasures. A pirate that has a heart. He wished to keep his plans to himself but his unruly mouth denounced him, once again, as always, and blew the whistle.
‘So, you’re a pirate? Is that right son?’ The forty-five-year-old puzzled Kristoff looked at Bogdan’s sky-blue pupils while his hands steadily rested on the steering wheel. He found out earlier that Bogdan came from Poland. In Germany, they had a joke about Polish people. That they’d steal just anything they can for any reason. He didn’t want to generalize but he always wondered if there was some truth to that.
‘Son, you don’t plan on hijacking my speedboat by yourself, don’t you?’ Kristoff didn’t sound worried regardless if the passenger really planned or not. The question sounded more like a joke although Kristoff’s hay brown eyebrows never looked like it knew how to be naughty. Surely, the young tourist wouldn’t have any firearms else he wouldn’t be able to pass through immigration. It was also unlikely for him to illegally cross the borders and bring in guns. He also had Areef, the trusty crew who will help in case of attack. And even without Areef, he knew that he can defend himself against this young man who looked not more than a hundred pounds. Kristoff has pulled out from the sea and butchered tons of sailfish and wahoo that were a lot heavier than this boy. He wasn’t called by the locals Bodu Meeha or big man for nothing.
Bogdan didn’t realize that a suspicion like that would come up. To avoid any further malice, he fully laid out his plans.
‘Son, you mean to say, someone in Male’ duped you into believing that Javahiru Rah houses long lost treasures left by Ibn Battuta when he traveled to the Maldives?’ Was Ibn Battuta that rich? Kristoff thought. He never heard about this story and never could have known.
Bogdan nodded. Areef stared at his boat captain
‘And you’re going there to get the treasure to fulfill your dreams of becoming a pirate that is not really like Jack Sparrow but a real pirate. And once you get the treasure, then only you will be able to pay the speedboat rental, and then you can buy your own vessel and be a pirate captain cause you can’t be a captain if you don’t have a ship?’
Bogdan nodded again. Areef still stared, that’s what he was really good at, for he is a man of very few words. Like, really few.
Kristoff thought the idea was ridiculous but he had to get the job done, get paid for the speedboat rental and maybe, get a little share from this naïve little boy should he really find some treasure. But more than the hijacking and the speedboat rental, Kristoff had a more urgent concern. He’s been a boat captain for more than twenty years, the first and only foreigner who got a boat driving license from Maldives Maritime because of his skills and dedication, and he was pretty sure he knew what was going on.
‘Kandumathi Elhan.’ Finally, Areef said something for the first time that day as he looked at his captain. He wasn’t only good at staying silent and staring at people, he was also good at reading his captain’s mind. That’s why his Bodu Meeha liked him.
At two in the afternoon, they should have reached Javahiru Rah already but they were still in the middle of the open sea. Kristoff noticed that they have passed by the same island with that one protruding palm tree on the far right side for the fifth time and Areef seemed to notice too as he kept looking at his captain every time they passed by the island. They lost GPS and phone signals. Areef kept looking at his captain every other minute or so, alert as if waiting for orders. Bogdan stared straight ahead, seemingly bored, oblivious to the supernatural occurrence.
The captain, the crew, and the pirate captain wannabe sailed for another hour until finally, the GPS worked, and somehow they have passed the witching hours. Javahiru Rah was within sight and Bogdan leaped from his seat. He took his binoculars from his backpack, like a real pirate captain eying a treasure island.
Kristoff really had a bad feeling about the trip. Kandumathi Elhan was already a bad omen. Bad spirits of the sea must have played with them. But he couldn’t back out anymore as Javahiru Rah was just a stone’s throw away.
He docked the speedboat and Areef tied the rope on the jetty’s rotting wood. Bogdan hopped on to the jetty and told the captain and crew that he’d be back soon. The island was pretty small and he could walk around it in less than ten minutes or so.
Areef relaxed on his seat and started playing a game on his phone. Kristoff crossed his arms and looked at Bogdan until he disappeared beneath the lush island that looked like giant broccoli.
It didn’t really take Bogdan that long to come back to the jetty. But he didn’t come back alone. And no, you are wrong if you think he came back with treasures.
He came back with armed and masked men behind him, his hands were tied with a seaweed-contaminated rope. One of the armed men hopped on the speedboat, pointed his gun to Kristoff, and said something in Dhivehi, the local language. Areef translated it. For the second time that day, he said something.
‘Bodu Meeha, they want our boat. You, me get out.’ Areef tried his best to translate with his broken English.
The armed man shouted something again in Dhivehi and Areef raised both his arms in surrender and looked at Kristoff. Areef didn’t need to explain what the armed man said, but instead of raising his arms as Areef did, Kristoff opened the small cabinet under his seat and took a gun. Well, he illegally got that but he knew it will come in handy during unprecedented times such as that. He was fast and his gun was silent. The shot took all the other armed men by surprise. One of them fell off from the jetty. Bogdan kicked one of the armed men off the jetty, ran towards the speedboat, and jumped as Areef quickly unlatched the rope from the rotting jetty. Kristoff kept firing as he started the speedboat and sped their way off to the sea. Bullets followed them for some time but Malediven Express was fast enough to leave the Javahiru Rah and its armed men behind.
Bogdan’s face was red and hot as lava and sweat dripped from all over the place.
They all quietly went back to Male’ and luckily they didn’t experience Kandumathi Ehlan again for that would be really, a little bit too much for a day.
Malediven Express docked at Male’ Jetty 5 at around half past eight in the evening, arriving with three empty-handed men: one pirate wannabe who didn’t find his treasures, one seemingly real-life badass pirate hiding his identity who won’t get paid for the speedboat rental, and his assistant who didn’t have any comments as usual.
‘Come out son.’ Kristoff tapped the traumatized Bogdan on the shoulder and they all headed to Seahouse Restaurant. The ten minutes’ walk was quite a good stretch after sitting in the boat for almost a day.
They sat outdoors at the corner of the patio. The ocean breeze kissed the tense away from their hot faces, dhonis and speedboats created ripples on the calm sea as they passed by. Customers chatter and silverwares clanked against porcelain plates. Songs of Zero Degree Atoll chimed in.
Areef spoke in Dhivehi to the waiter and after a while, Tuna Curry arrived at their table along with fresh from the pan Roshi, its dark edges were a bit burned but a good kind of burn, the aroma wafted through the air.
‘Son, have something.’ Kristoff motioned his right hand for Bogdan to take food as the other took a Roshi from the plate.
‘I wanna work with you,’ said Bogdan as he tore off almost half of the round Roshi and dipped it into the curry sauce. ‘I wanna learn the ways of the sea and really be a pirate one day.’
‘Enough with the piracy son,’ said Kristoff. He wasn’t called Bodu Meeha for no reason. He knew better. Being in the sea for more than twenty years, he definitely knew better.
If you are still here, thank you for reading my short story. Javahiruh Rah is non-existing, I harassed my colleagues to give me a dummy name for an island. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing this. I find the story and the characters very funny and hope you did so too.
Written for the prompt: Write about a pirate captain obsessed with finding a mythical treasure.
Features image by Saffu