Chapter 7

Written by: Sumanda Maritz

With his head pounding and his hands trembling, Max thought back to the last time he had seen Mia. His shore leave had just been cancelled and Mia desperately wanted to see the sights.  So his previous good buddy Sean offered to take her. She had still been friendly with Sean, even though he had a different girl in each of the ports they stopped. The two of them walking away from the ship was the last image he had of her.

Max realised that Sean, with his perpetual get-rich schemes, had jumped ship when he never returned. He was on shift when Mia collected her stuff from her cabin leaving only a love letter and her contact details. When he last heard she was going on her next feature writing assignment and they agreed to keep in touch. That was until her number was disconnected a week later.

Not only that, but the silver key that he had kept in his duffel bag also disappeared. Sean’s assurance that this time they were going to make a huge amount of money vanished in a puff of smoke. The key was his insurance to getting his share. Sean’s idea because he knew that Max wouldn’t work with him otherwise. He had pushed all his savings into this venture. And all he knew was that Sean had asked him to put a package in a safety deposit box without looking at what was inside.

The first time he drank himself into oblivion - over the loss of his girl and his supposed fortune - made him forget the betrayal of the two people he was closest to. With time, this became the only thing that helped. In the beginning he would only crack the bottle once his shift was done. Then he started needing that pick-me up drink before going on shift. When it got to the point where he carried a small flask inside his overall, he’d had several warnings for being drunk on the job.  But he couldn’t let the bottle go. So he was pleasantly requested to remain on shore at the next port which really translated into get off and stay off.

Now if he could only figure out what Sean was up to. Obviously the key was the answer. Except he had no idea how or why this would be so important now. It had been so many years, he couldn’t imagine that Sean’s last scheme might have paid off.

Running the thoughts through his head over and over intensified his headache, and Mia’s low level keening since she woke up again didn’t improve the matter.

Just as he was starting to get the shakes that demanded he get a drink right now, the door banged open. It was caught on the backswing by a burly hand that let the light stream into the basement they were in.