Excerpt from “Hole in My Life” by Jack Gantos

July 15: Today I took a photograph of Hamilton sitting at the wheel with the sun setting1 behind him. He frowned. “Now take a picture of me,” I said, and handed him the camera.

He flipped the camera over, unsnapped the back, pulled out the film, and tossed it over his shoulder into the ocean. “If I find any more film on board it will join that roll,” he said.

“It’s just a photo,” I replied.

“It’s evidence,” he snapped back. This is the first evidence I have had that he even thinks we could be caught.

“Let me see your wallet,” he said.

I gave it to him.

He threw away all my identification except for my fake Florida license. “Might come in handy,” he said.

 

July 16: Dead clam today. Hot.2  The sails hanging limply3  from the gaffs like sleeping bats. At one point I dove overboard and swam around the boat as if it were at anchor. Hamilton threw an empty bottle overboard and we bobbed along next to it for hours. By the end of the day we may have covered a mile. No more. Feel like a sitting duck. Said so to Hamilton. He drifted into a story about his biggest concern on the ocean being pirates, not police. Told me about friends in the business4 who were boarded by pirates who tied them to the masts, and then took their stash. Somehow I find this absurd and can’t stop thinking of Captain Hook and his crew of pirates in Peter Pan. Wish Hamilton would swallow a clock so5  I could hear him creeping.6  He stalks me like a mumbling crocodile.

The Living by Matt de la Pena

Shy went to knock on Supervisor Franco’s open door but froze when he saw someone was already in there – the older black dude with the funky gray hair who was always writing in his leather notebook. 7

Franco looked up at Shy, said: “May I help you?” 2

“It’s okay,” Shy said. I’ll just come back later.”

“Please. 3

You can wait outside. We will be done here momentarily.”

Shy stepped away from the door, leaned against the wall and let his warm eyelids slowly drop. As he listened to Franco’s heavy accent, he tried to imagine his nephew stuck inside the same quarantine room as his grandma. But he couldn’t. Miguel was too tough. Never even caught a cold. He remembered throwing around a football with the kid just a few hours before he left for his first voyage. In the alley behind their building. One of Shy’s longer tosses slipped right through Miguel’s little-kid hands, and the football smacked him in the face, split his lip. But Miguel didn’t go down. Just looked up at Shy as blood trickled down his chin, got all over his T-shirt. He forced himself to smile at Shy, laugh even – though his eyes were filling with tears, too.4

Shy felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes.

The man he’d just seen in Franco’s office was staring at him, holding his shoeshine kit. “How do you sleep standing up like that, young fella?”

“I was just closing my eyes,” Shy said, wiping a tiny bit of drool from the corner of his mouth.

The man grinned. “Franco’s on the phone now. Says he’ll have to check back with you later.”

Shy nodded.

Still no answers about the suit guy or their trashed room. Nothing to tell Rodney.

The man looked toward the window down the hall. “They’re worried about this storm rolling in. Supposed to hit sometime tonight.”5

“It’s an actual storm now?” Shy had yet to experience even a drop of rain in the time he’d spent out with the cruise ship. But he’d learned in training how badly storms affected the way passengers spent money.6

Which meant fewer tips. Less money to bring back home to his mom and sis.