Samara and the Captain

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Sample Chapter

Samara Lacouer is a young woman who longs to leave her home in Sioux Falls to find a place where she can live and be free. Drawn by the free-wheeling lifestyle of Key West, and encouraged by a man she met online, she sets out to begin a new life in the tropics.

After a headlong trip south, Samara discovers that the funny thing about vivid dreams is that they are often very different from stark reality, and things aren’t always what they seem. On the border between these two worlds, her past and her imagined future, Samara meets Captain Alamar Cooke.

Alamar is both fascinating and strange to Samara with his old fashioned notion of shipside discipline, of his having an obedient crew of one. The captain also has a dream that soon becomes Samara’s as well. Although it is difficult for her to let go of her past fears, she eventually learns to ride the waves, to put her faith and trust in her captain, as the two of them sail the Caribbean. After some rough sailing – adventures, misadventures and lessons learned – Samara realizes that the true nature of dreams is the unfurling of the unknown and the peace of a safe harbor.
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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The car, an old green Chevy that was billowing thick black smoke out of a rattling muffler, went over Seven Mile Bridge with its lights out. Serge, the boy in the driver’s seat, his mane of blond hair blowing in the wind, was yelling, whooping, while the car swerved toward the guard rail and threw off sparks as the bumper chafed against the metal. Kyle, a boy with red blotches on his face?a bout of acne he couldn’t shake?was in the passenger’s seat, hanging his head out the window. He was watching the gravel kicked up by the car. In front of him, somewhere in the dark, there were the red pinpricks of taillights. Kyle pulled his head back in the window and took a long swig from of a bottle of wine, putting it back between his legs.

He bumped the driver on the leg, “Hey man,” he said, “it’s all dark out there. Like where is everything?”

Serge looked at him for a long moment, long enough that the car swerved back to the center and crossed into the other lane. “We’re on a bridge, man. There ain’t nothing out there. It’s just water.”

A voice from the back seat called out, “Excuse me?”

Kyle said, “A bridge? Really? How long’s this thing, anyway? So that’s why it looks all black? hey man, look, there’s the moon.”

“Excuse me,” the voice was louder, more shrill this time. “We’re on the wrong side of the road. I don’t? I don’t want to die.”

Serge turned his head to look at the girl in the back seat. “She lives,” he deadpanned. “Almost forgot you were here.”

The car touched the guardrail on the other side, and threw off another stream of sparks. Kyle leaned over and jacked the radio up. While the Chevy was still churning up gravel in the shoulder of the wrong side of the road, the headlights of a car came out of the dark and sailed by, going the other way.

“Wow,” Kyle commented, without any emotion or surprise, “bet we freaked that guy out.”

The girl in the back yelled as loud as she could, “You’re freaking me out. Let me out of this thing. I’ll walk.”

Serge flicked the headlights back on, illuminating the road up ahead. He jerked the wheel, swerved to the center and then back into his lane, the wheels skirting the edge of the road until he could get the car under control. He shouted above the din, “All right, all right Samara, your highness, don’t have a cow. We’re just having some fun. You know?fun, the stuff you’re supposed to have when you’re freaking on a beach in Key West. You know?”

Samara didn’t answer. She leaned against the window and peered into the darkness. They were finally off the bridge, back in their lane. There were taillights in front of them, coming up fast.

Serge looked over at Kyle, a big grin on his face. “Watch this,” he said, reaching for the bottle of wine, pulling it out of his friend’s lap and taking a swig. He jerked the wheel and the car cut into the other lane, hugging the center line. The Chevy wasn’t more than inches from the other car, a long black sedan. Kyle leaned out of the window.

Samara yelled from the back, “Are you guys crazy? I mean seriously crazy. Let me outta this thing. Right here. I’d rather walk than be in a car with you idiots.”

The boys didn’t pay any attention to the girl in the back. She had been yelling at them ever since they left Miami. She started slapping her palm against the window. And then she was screaming, crying. “I can’t take this. Stop the damn car.”

In the front seat, Kyle leaned far out of the window. He slapped the hood of the car they were passing. It made thumping sounds. The driver of the other car blared his horn. The radio was blasting, searing guitars, screaming vocals. Serge was laughing maniacally, hitting the wine bottle, liquid dribbling down his chin. In the back seat, Samara had locked her fingers behind her head. She was bent over, screaming.

Serge turned the wheel, and the car shuddered, the back wheels drifting in the loose gravel. He corrected the drift, and the car swung back into the right lane, the other car disappearing behind them. He looked back at the sniveling girl. “Will you shut up? Dang if you ain’t the noisiest girl I’ve ever seen. If you don’t shut up your face, maybe me and Kyle will take you up on that dumping-off thing. We’ll put you on the road, an’ you can go scream at someone else.”

Samara slumped against the window, not listening to Serge, his yelling at her. They were crossing another bridge. She could see her faint reflection in the glass, and beyond it the moon was hanging low in the sky, shimmering off the dark waves. It was a short bridge, just a small hump and they were on another key. One island closer, she thought, as Kyle chucked the empty wine bottle out the window, and busied himself with opening another. He passed the bottle back to her and Samara looked at it, shaking her head. But the boy kept holding it there like he wouldn’t take no for an answer. She wiped her nose on the fold of her dress, and took the bottle, tipping it gently to her lips, and then she turned it upright and took three good swallows.

Samara went back to looking at herself in the window, the outlines of her dark hair, chestnut brown with blonde highlights in the bangs, a tangle of blondes and reds on the sides and back. Her eyes were a deep blue. People noticed them, her eyes; they set off her pale skin, giving her a piercing look, nicely accented by a liberal use of eyeliner. She was well padded, with tempting curves, perhaps more of a temptation if she wasn’t terrified in the back of a car. She also had fairly large breasts, which she sometimes saw as a blessing, but mostly as a curse she blamed on her Italian heritage.

Serge turned his head and the car wobbled again, “Hey princess, we’re stopping for gas up here. If you really want to bail on us, this is your big chance,” he paused, “but it’s only ten miles to Key West, your wonderful Francoise.”

Kyle laughed, “Maybe he’s the prince of Duval Street, y’know, waiting for his princess. Kiss, kiss, oh puke.”

Samara didn’t say anything. She was crying softly. Just ten more miles. She’d close her eyes and hang on. She tried to think of Francoise, what he looked like, the picture he had sent. He was tall with rich black hair, a little stubble on his chin that gave him a devilish look. In the picture, he was wearing a tailored leather jacket, black, emblazoned with a red logo. His arms were crossed in front, and he had two rings on his fingers. He said it was the only picture he had, but she could take all she wanted when she came to him. He said he was in shipping, living right on the water.

Kyle was giggling in the passenger seat, wine leaking out of the corners of his mouth.

“Anyway,” Serge went on, “if you still want to ride along we’ll put up with your whiney ass till we get there, and then you’ll be Frenchy’s problem. Don’t know about you, but we came down here to party.”

“I’ll stay,” Samara said quietly from the back of the car that was now stopped at the gas pumps, on Big Coppitt Key.

Serge said, “Well good. You mind pumping that gas? I’m kind of wasted and I think Kyle’s about ready to pass out.”

Samara unlatched the car door and got out. She decided to grit her teeth, pump the gas, anything they wanted. In ten more miles she’d be in Key West. It had been only a week since she had left Sioux Falls, a town, a city, a world Samara was sure didn’t understand her, or at least wasn’t meant for a girl like her. There were a few colleges in Sioux Falls, a couple of coffee shops?they even had an opera house?and it looked to Samara like the people in Sioux Falls thought they lived in the Paris of South Dakota. But what really bothered her was that the town was so regimented, so straight-laced. It just wasn’t the place for a girl like her, a girl with big dreams, plans, a girl who had no desire to live on a farm, or to be a farmer’s wife. The biggest attractions in the town were a waterfall and a mall. Samara didn’t want to live in a place like that. She wanted something more real, more exciting. And then she met Francoise.

From the very first letter that arrived in her inbox, she dreamed of joining Francoise in his place on the beach, in far away Key West. She had friends who had made the long-distance trek down there for Spring Break. They always came back with pictures, and tattoos, and braided hair, and dozens of exotic stories about the sugary beeches, the boys, and the Key West lifestyle, how it’s a place where you can do what you want to do, you can live the life you want to live. When Samara looked in the mirror, she saw a woman who was wild and free, but when she put on her uniform and went to work at the mall?supposed to be the biggest mall between Minnesota and Colorado, a tourist attraction, even?she felt about as far away from that girl in the mirror as she could possibly imagine.

Serge prodded Kyle awake, and the two boys sat in the car, nodding their heads to the loud music on the stereo. Samara leaned against the car, with the pump in her hand, feeling dingy in her crumpled yellow dress?what she thought would be a sunny look for the beginning of a new life?its tight bodice suddenly felt like it was putting her cleavage on display, like she had just now realized she was showing entirely too much skin. It’s funny how things could change so much since Miami.

* * *

Samara was in such a hurry to get out of Sioux Falls, to get to Florida and her meeting with Francoise, that she cobbled together her trip by signing onto any vehicle that was going east, going south. She took the bus to Omaha, where she met a man she knew through a couple of emails on Craigslist. He had business in Atlanta, was looking for a rider. The guy was a little older than she had thought, with a crown of white hair. He spent most of the trip asking about her boyfriends, and staring at her. In Atlanta, she met some girls in a club?Starla and Suzy?who said they were going down to Miami to do some modeling, that maybe Samara could do some shoots there, too. Modeling didn’t sound bad, especially since it hadn’t even been a week since she had left the Sioux Falls lifestyle behind, the hanging-out at the mall, the tractor races.

South Beach was expensive. Samara learned that. A sandwich that would cost her a couple bucks back home went for twelve-fifty on Ocean Avenue. But she still marveled at the glitzy modeling agencies, their neon signs?hot pink and soft blues?lit up like beacons in the night. Wherever she went, there were pretty girls writhing in the sand at the command of frenetic cameramen. South Beach was expensive, but Samara loved the idea of a glamorous world that was dripping with money. It was a long way from Sioux Falls and Samara was happy; but it turned out Starla and Suzy didn’t seem to know any more about how to get in the doors of the art deco modeling agencies than she did. Her new friends took her to a nightclub, where Starla said she knew the manager, said that they could get jobs there, dancing, stripping for well-heeled men who couldn’t quite afford to decorate their arms with out-of-their-league models.

“Don’t worry,” Suzy had said, “everybody comes in here?rap stars, sports guys?oodles of money.”

Starla one-upped her friend. “I heard Madonna came in with one of her boyfriends, and it was like bills were raining money from the rafters.”

“Yeah, I heard that,” Suzy said with a thin voice, that sounded distracted.

Samara said, “So you’re not models? You’re just? you’re just?”

Starla put her hand on Samara’s shoulder and looked her right in the eye. “Oh we’re models, honey.? We just haven’t been discovered yet? But we will be. You know you got beautiful eyes, girl. You should dance with us. Somebody’s bound to find you.”

“Already have someone,” Samara murmured. She thought of Francoise, how she was so close to him, just a few islands away. If it’s in the stars, she thought, modeling, being discovered, hanging out with pretty people on the beach, that’ll all come later. But first she needed to find Francoise, start a new life.

Samara left Starla and Suzy at the nightclub, and crossed the street to a boutique. That’s where she bought the yellow dress. It was more than she had ever spent on a dress. When she looked at it in the mirror, she thought that it might be more than she had ever spent on anything. She twisted and turned, watching her reflection, trying different poses. Everyone Samara had seen in South Beach looked so eloquent and now she was one of them. She still had a little money left, a stash for travel expenses, but she was almost there, she’d soon be with Francoise. He always said money wasn’t a big deal, that she should just come on down, and it’d take care of itself.

Samara stuffed her clothes in a bag and wore the dress out of the store. She walked a block along Ocean Avenue, past a row of sidewalk cafes. She fell in behind a group of young shirtless men, tanned, buff, healthy, youthful vibrancy leaking out of their pores. She liked to listen to them talk, going back and forth excitedly: photo shoots, music, parties, an endless, beautiful world. She watched the boys walk, their muscled legs graceful in their shorts. And she couldn’t help but think of Francoise, of picturing herself sitting on the veranda, the two of them hailing passing ships, the captains waving to them and blaring their horns.

When the young men, with their bronzed bodies, crossed the street, headed toward the beach, Samara went the other way, going down a side street and pushing through the glass doors of a deli. She sat in a booth and ordered a chicken sandwich and an egg cream, which the waitress said had no egg and no cream. They didn’t have those in Sioux Falls. She was hungry, hadn’t eaten since Atlanta. She ate her sandwich slowly, trying to think of what she would do next, how she would get to Key West, to Francoise.

Two boys were sitting in a booth kitty-corner from her. The blond was talking fast and the kid with the splotchy face was listening. They were both wolfing down hamburgers and guzzling beers. After awhile, the blond stopped talking, and was staring at Samara.

“Hey,” he said, “I’m Serge. That’s Kyle. You a model? ’Cause if you ain’t, you ought to be.”

Samara instinctively smoothed her dress with one hand, her hair with the other. She looked down at the table, at her sandwich. The boys in Sioux Falls weren’t that forward with her, and no one had ever mistaken her for a model. She eyed the boy who spoke to her. He was still staring at her from under his blond hair.

“I’m not a model. Just passing thru on my way to Key West.”

Serge’s face lit up. “Get out,” he said, pounding the table, “no one just passes thru South Beach.” He stopped talking, his face going slack. “Well? that’s what we done, I guess? but anyway, that’s where we’re going, the Keys. And well? you got yourself a ride if you want one. I mean we can take you.” He flashed his smile and looked down, his eyes still on Samara, “Oh, what am I saying? you probably already got one of them fancy sports cars parked out there, and here I am asking if you want a ride in the Green Monster.”

“The Green Monster?” she said, forcing a pretty smile.

“That’s what I call my car on account of it’s big and it’s green.”

What happened next was kind of a blur, but Samara was on her way to Key West. She was hustled out of the booth by Serge, who took her hand and then brought her up short, so he could appraise her in the yellow sundress. “You sure you’re not a model?” he had said.

By the time they were crossing Key Largo, Kyle and Serge had each finished a bottle of wine and Samara had melted into the darkness, pushing her head back into the vinyl of the back seat. She had refused their offers to drink with them, had told Serge that he shouldn’t drink while she was in the car. After that, she was just a passenger, cargo in the back of a green Chevy, driving through the night, on the Overseas Highway.

* * *

The gas pump shut off with a chunk and it gave Samara a start. The night was inky black, with the bright lights from the gas station flickering through the palm fronds, waving in the breeze. There was a man at the pump across from hers, who was leaning against a sleek yellow sports car that had a red and black racing stripe. He was wearing light linen pants, and a cotton print shirt that was open, and flapping in the breeze. And he was watching Samara’s every move. The girl had seen the man looking at her out of the corner of her eye. She felt like the yellow dress?so attractive, so beautiful, in the store in Miami?was barely covering her now. It was like her backside, her breasts, her hips were all exposed to the man at the pump, confidently raking her over with his eyes.

He finally spoke. “Gas duty?” He nodded at the Chevy. “I gotta tell you, honey, if you were mine, if you were my passenger, and we were out driving, I’d be the one pumping the gas for you. And I’d do it every single day of my life. You’d never run out.” Just when Samara was sure he was going to make the offer, was ready to make his play?she’d seen the way it was done on TV?the man said, “I’m just saying, honey, don’t sell yourself short. There’s no reason for it.” With those words he slid into his car, and was gone with a squeal of tires, the skittering of gravel on the pavement.

Back in the car, Samara and the two boys took A1A all the way down until it turned into Truman Street, and then they went up Duvall, toward Mallory Square. Samara was sitting up now, looking out the window. The street was crowded with shirtless men, women in tank tops, bicycle cabs, attractive braless women in loose shirts that no one seemed to notice or pay attention to. There was a guy playing guitar and gyrating his hips. His face and hair were done up like Elvis, but he was wearing a pink suit and had a blue feather boa draped around his neck. There was music floating out of the bars. She was thrilled by the vibrant crowd that seemed to beckon her, the sights that erased the last vestiges of memories left over from Sioux Falls, of Starla and Suzy and their model ambitions, of a harrowing car ride in the Green Monster. Even the oldster tourists?baseball cap wearing men, in long wool pants, the women in baggy, Bermuda shorts?seemed to blend in. Samara knew this was going to be the place to start her life. All she needed now was Francoise.

Serge nosed his car along the marina as they searched for the address Samara had written down. She was thrilled to see the big yachts tied up: the three-master ships, the polished steel and the gleaming fiberglass. Some of the big boats had men and women lounging in chairs on the deck, looking down at the water that was lazily lapping at the boat slips. There were a couple low-rise buildings that had gated entrances?beachfront condos?Samara looked at the address she had scribbled on a scrap of paper, and shook her head. They crawled past another dock where some smaller boats bobbed like tiny corks next to the bigger vessels. A makeshift sign had addresses of the little boats and one of them was a match, but as she surveyed the row of boats, Samara thought there must be a mistake.

She got out of the car, and Kyle retrieved her bag from the trunk, tossing it on the curb. She was going to ask them to wait, wanted to make sure she was at the right place, but when she turned around, the Chevy had already moved down the street. She picked up her bag and walked along the dock. Every few steps, there was a streamer of yellow caution tape, strung up to mark pieces of the wooden walkway that had rotted away. The hand-painted sign by the next-to-last boat said duMonde. She stood there in her yellow dress, her heels, and looked at it.

The boat, made of wood and steel, was barely covered by peeling paint. It wasn’t more than twenty feet long. There was a shanty in the middle of it that reminded Samara of the shacks on the outskirts of Sioux Falls, the ones her classmates made fun of in high school, places that were inhabited by squatters and the homeless. On one end of the boat was a mound of trash. At the other end, on a wooden bench, there sat a middle-aged man with tufts of white hair peeking out from under his backwards ball cap. He was tapping on a computer. When the man looked up, he was confronted by a girl in a yellow dress, who was looking back at him. And the girl was crying.

“Can I help you?” he said.

“Francoise?” she replied, hoping upon hope that the man would not answer to this name, would point to one of the big ships behind her.

“Some call me that,” he said. “The rest call me Frank. And who might you be?”

“Samara.”

“I know that name. Oh yes, Samara, from Idaho? No? that’s not it. Well, from somewhere. I didn’t really think you’d come. I mean we were just? we were? well never mind? you’re here. Why don’t you come aboard?” He gave her a tight smile, showing his teeth.

Samara’s knees sagged, but she stood tall on the dock, looking down at him, “You said you were in shipping, that you?”

“Well I do some eBay? you know? shipping. Sell what tourists don’t want. It’s?”

Samara was backing away while Frank was talking. She didn’t hear the rest of his speech, didn’t care about his exploits. Before he had finished, she had already turned and was running back up the dock. She had come all this way to be free, to break away from the grip of a slow death in South Dakota, and now all she wanted was to be back in her bed in Sioux Falls, to be carefree again, and most of all, to have back the dreams she had believed one day might actually come true. A funny thing, dreams, she thought, they seem so to look so much better when they’re still unreal, still safely so far away.

4 reviews for Samara and the Captain

  1. Windsong

    Samara and Alamar
    This a story of a young woman from the Midwest who escaped what she felt was a mundane existence and ended up in Key West. The man she thought she was running to was anything but what she thought he was, and she was stranded. The real adventure begins when she’s being coerced into taking her dress off to show her attributes in exchange for money. Capt. Cooke offered her a place to stay and then an option to sign on as his crew of one. But before she makes that decision he spanks her rather harshly for her recklessness with her dignity. She signs on ultimately, and the adventure begins. The use of words and the delving into the psyche of predominantly Samara was well done unfortunately it was overdone and repeated often making the story drag and kept Samara in a constant state of mental torment. The development of the characters was complete and woven into the story well. I had a hard time even envisioning Alamar and I felt him cold. Both characters musings was difficult to follow at times. And for me the punishments were extreme and unrealistic as when the skin never was broken and her encouragement of repeated punishment near the end of the story over the top of fresh punishment is not realistic.

  2. Windsong

    Samara and Alamar
    This a story of a young woman from the Midwest who escaped what she felt was a mundane existence and ended up in Key West. The man she thought she was running to was anything but what she thought he was, and she was stranded. The real adventure begins when she??s being coerced into taking her dress off to show her attributes in exchange for money. Capt. Cooke offered her a place to stay and then an option to sign on as his crew of one. But before she makes that decision he spanks her rather harshly for her recklessness with her dignity. She signs on ultimately, and the adventure begins. The use of words and the delving into the psyche of predominantly Samara was well done unfortunately it was overdone and repeated often making the story drag and kept Samara in a constant state of mental torment. The development of the characters was complete and woven into the story well. I had a hard time even envisioning Alamar and I felt him cold. Both characters musings was difficult to follow at times. And for me the punishments were extreme and unrealistic as when the skin never was broken and her encouragement of repeated punishment near the end of the story over the top of fresh punishment is not realistic.

  3. Karen (verified owner)

    Samara leaves her safe, boring life behind in search of adventure and love in Key West. I enjoyed going along on Samara\’s adventures, seeking freedom in the permissive nature of Key West and finding it in the discipline of the captain. If you\’re wanting to escape from the day to day sameness of your life, read Samara and the Captain.

  4. Karen (verified owner)

    Samara leaves her safe, boring life behind in search of adventure and love in Key West. I enjoyed going along on Samara’s adventures, seeking freedom in the permissive nature of Key West and finding it in the discipline of the captain. If you’re wanting to escape from the day to day sameness of your life, read Samara and the Captain.

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