Off the Trail

Book Excerpt: Chapter 5 (Angela)

He explained the name, an alias, and his pursuers—various coast guards, police bureaus, and intelligence agencies.

“I do battle with whaling ships,” he said.

“Like Greenpeace?” Angela asked.

“They fight with words and water guns,” he said. “We fight with the hulls of our ships. We ram them. We mangle their props.”

“You sink them?”

“On occasion.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

“No.”

Angela left it at that. She didn’t want to know more, to find out anything worse.

“Are you married?” he asked.

“Do I look like I have time for a marriage? Out here attending to wayward men?”

A sneeze broke the silence that followed.

“What was that?” he asked.

“A penguin.”

“Penguins catch colds?”

“They sneeze to exhale the salt from their beaks.”

“I could probably do the same,” he said, rubbing his nose. “I was married once.”

“You?”

“She was a volunteer. Earnest. A scientist, like you. Told me I was full of shit one day, and I was hooked. We made it official in Ushuaia. Had the ceremony on the ship in middle of the Drake Passage. It’s not easy saying I do with forty-foot waves lapping at your feet. That time of year, the sun never sets, the body never gets tired. There’s a sense of collective euphoria. It’s as if you’ve stepped outside of the world and none of the old rules apply. Eventually, however, you have to head north again…

(From The Tourist Trail, Chapter 5: Angela)