Politics

The nightmare cruise before Christmas

CHRISTMAS CRUISE GONE WRONG

Written by:

Shannon Proudfoot

In collaboration with:

Documents filed in the

Southern District of Florida

U.S. Federal Court

* This fictionalized account is based on a lawsuit filed by Sharilyne Anderson and Vera Melnyk. None of the claims have been tested in court.

INTERIOR COZY COTTAGE-LIKE ROOM – NIGHT

FOUR DOE-EYED CHILDREN WEARING PAJAMAS ARE GATHERED AT THE FEET OF A BEARDED ELDERLY MAN CLAD IN RED VELOUR PANTS, A WHITE THERMAL LONG-SLEEVED SHIRT AND SUSPENDERS. A FIREPLACE CRACKLES FESTIVELY IN THE BACKGROUND. THE MAN TURNS TO A BOOKSHELF BESIDE HIS CHAIR AND RETRIEVES A LARGE, LEATHER-BOUND VOLUME WITH GILT-EDGED PAGES. WITH GREAT CARE, HE OPENS ITS COVER AND TURNS BACK TO HIS RAPT AUDIENCE, BECKONING THEM CLOSER.

MAN

Children, tonight I have for you a story about a very special Christmas voyage that did not go at all as planned. This little adventure was supposed to take place in waters as warm and gentle as a hug from Mrs. Claus (he chuckles), but instead it unfolded on the unforgiving blizzard of the high seas. It all began one year ago, in a place that is at once very distant and ever so near to us now: PandemicLand.

SCENE DISSOLVES TO:

INTERIOR LUXURIOUS CONDO – NIGHT

THROUGH THE WINDOWS, A LARGE CITY DUSTED WITH SNOW IS VISIBLE. IN ONE CORNER OF THE ROOM STANDS A TOWERING CHRISTMAS TREE BEDECKED IN RED, GOLD AND BLACK DECORATIONS; AT THE APEX OF THE TREE IS AN ENORMOUS GOLD CENTURION HELMET. A MAN AND WOMAN, EUGENE AND SHARILYNE, RECLINE ON ADJACENT SOFAS. HE IDLY FLIPS TV CHANNELS WHILE SHE THUMBS THROUGH HER PHONE. THERE IS A PALPABLE AIR OF RESTLESSNESS AND ENNUI.

SHARILYNE

I’m sick of being cooped up like this, Eugene. Who knows when this pandemic will end? Can’t we find some way to escape our Canadian isolated existence over the holidays?

EUGENE

(suddenly brightening)

You know, that’s a great idea. We should go somewhere warm, and take our family and friends with us. Hey, what about a Christmas cruise on that yacht charter in the Bahamas that we previously enjoyed?

SHARILYNE

Oh, I love that idea.

EUGENE

I’ll get in touch with the charter broker we dealt with last time.

BRIEF MONTAGE:

EUGENE TAPS RAPIDLY ON HIS PHONE. AT THE RECEIVING END OF THAT MESSAGE, A PHONE PINGS NEXT TO A MAN SITTING IN A TROPICAL ENVIRONMENT, WITH PALM TREES AND OPEN WATER VISIBLE BEHIND HIM. HE READS THE MESSAGE, CLICKS AROUND RAPIDLY FOR SEVERAL MINUTES, THEN SENDS A REPLY. BACK INSIDE THE CONDO IN THE SNOW-BOUND CITY, EUGENE’S PHONE SIGNALS AN INCOMING MESSAGE WITH THE SOUND OF LYNDON SLEWIDGE SINGING THE FINAL NOTES OF O CANADA.

EUGENE

Hey, the broker got back to me, Sharilyne. Looks like there are two yachts available for Christmas week. I’m sending you the details now.

EACH THUMB THROUGH THEIR PHONES FOR SEVERAL MINUTES. THE MOOD IN THE ROOM HAS NOTICEABLY LIGHTENED. EVEN THE LIGHTS ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE SEEM TO GLOW WARMER.

SHARILYNE

Did you look at the one called Reverie? It sounds pretty amazing.

(She reads from a website.)

“The luxury of her opulent interior and her unique on-board lifestyle offerings accommodate the needs of the most discerning guest.” That’s us!

EUGENE

It’s a 60-metre luxury motor yacht. That sounds perfect! It says here that “the experienced and highly professional crew will meet your every need and desire to ensure a magnificent voyage.” Should we go for it?

SHARILYNE

Absolutely. You call your mom and tell her the plan and I’ll invite some other friends and family, then start packing.

BRIEF MONTAGE:

EUGENE AND SHARILYNE CALL THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY, THEN PACK FOR A TROPICAL DESTINATION. FINALLY, THEY BOARD A FLIGHT, SINK INTO THEIR LEATHER-UPHOLSTERED SEATS WITH A SIGH OF RELIEF, AND A FLIGHT ATTENDANT MATERIALIZES TO HAND EACH A DRINK IN A HOLLOWED-OUT COCONUT TOPPED BY A TROPICAL BLOOM AND A LITTLE PAPER UMBRELLA. A MUSICAL MEDLEY THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BEACH BOYS BUT IS NOT FOR REASONS OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND PRODUCTION COSTS PLAYS OVER THE FOOTAGE.

EXTERIOR EXPANSIVE YACHT DECK – DAYTIME

SHARILYNE AND EUGENE BOARD THE YACHT, THE TEAL WATERS AND PALM TREE SPIKES OF NASSAU VISIBLE BEYOND THE DECK’S GLEAMING GLASS RAILINGS. THE CREW LINES UP TO GREET THEM, AND CAPTAIN BRUCE EDMONDSON STEPS FORWARD TO INTRODUCE HIMSELF BRUSQUELY.

CAPTAIN EDMONDSON

Welcome to Reverie. I’m Captain Edmondson and I’ll be handling the boat for the next week or so. We should be leaving the harbour shortly. We can meet tomorrow once you get your sea legs to discuss our route.

EUGENE AND SHARILYNE OPEN THEIR MOUTHS TO REPLY, BUT THE CAPTAIN STRIDES AWAY ABRUPTLY.

SHARILYNE

(sotto voce)

Eugene, was it just me or did you find the captain a bit rude?

EUGENE

Yeah, he was not friendly. And it looks like he’s never been on this boat before.

SHARILYNE

Also, wasn’t he a bit…odorous?

EUGENE

I noticed that, yeah. Disgusting. Let’s see how things go tomorrow, maybe he’s just stressed about getting the trip underway.

Hey, let’s go over to the sun deck with a drink to watch the yacht leave the harbour. We should be on our way soon.

SHARILYNE

(brightening)

At least this boat presents the right balance of large yacht ambiance blended with the compelling attraction of a warm and congenial nautical experience.

THEY GO UP TO THE SUN DECK, STRETCH OUT ON LOUNGE CHAIRS AND STAFF MEMBERS BRING DRINKS AND SNACKS. THROUGH TIME-LAPSED FOOTAGE, WE SEE THEM FINISH THEIR DRINKS AND ORDER OTHERS. THEY WALK OVER TO THE RAILING TO PEER DOWN AT THE DOCK, WHERE WORKERS ARE STILL HAULING SUPPLIES ON BOARD. THEY RETURN TO THEIR LOUNGE CHAIRS, PAW LISTLESSLY AT THEIR PHONES, THEN APPEAR TO FALL ASLEEP. WHEN THEY AWAKEN, THEY GLANCE AROUND, CONFUSED, THEN SIGH IN DISAPPOINTMENT WHEN IT BECOMES APPARENT THAT THE YACHT IS STILL DOCKED. FINALLY, AS THE SKY IS DARKENING, THE YACHT LURCHES INTO MOTION.

SHARILYNE

It’s about time! I can’t wait to feel those open sea breezes.

EUGENE AND SHARILYNE TURN TO EACH OTHER AND CLINK GLASSES, BUT THEIR GRINS ARE WOBBLY RATHER THAN TRIUMPHANT.

EUGENE

(glancing around the deck)

Hey, don’t you think they’ll do some sort of safety talk so we know where the lifeboats and life jackets are? They did the last time we had a charter.

SHARILYNE

Oh, you’re right. Maybe they just wanted to give us time to settle in first.

(she frowns in concern, then appears to shake it off)

They’ll be setting dinner for us soon. I’ll tell the crew we’ll be ready after we leave the harbour.

THEY STAND AT THE RAILING TOGETHER DRINKING IN THE VIEW OF THE RECEDING SHORELINE. THERE IS A BRIEF AURA OF CONTENTMENT AROUND THEM AT LAST. THEN THE YACHT SHUDDERS, SLOWS AND GRINDS TO A STANDSTILL. A DISTANT, GUTTURAL VOICE FROM BELOW DECK YELLS “DROP ANCHOR” BECAUSE IT’S FUN TO ASSUME THAT SUPERYACHTS FUNCTION LIKE LEGO PIRATE SHIPS.  

EUGENE

What the?!

SHARILYNE

(turning to a uniformed crew member nearby)

What’s going on? Is there a problem?

CREW MEMBER

Captain says we’re anchoring here for the night.

EUGENE

Why?! We just left after waiting all day! Look, the harbour is right there.

TO MAKE HIS POINT, HE SOMEHOW PROCURES A HOCKEY STICK OUT OF THIN AIR, DROPS A PUCK ON THE DECK AND FIRES A WRIST SHOT OVER THE RAILING, WHERE IT BOUNCES OFF A PALM TREE ON SHORE AND INTO THE WATER JUST OFF THE YACHT’S BOW.

CREW MEMBER

I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know. Captain just said we have to stop here for the night. Can I get each of you another drink? Perhaps with a little paper umbrella?

EUGENE

I’m going to bed. This is ridiculous.

HE AND SHARILYNE LEAVE THE VOLUMINOUS SUN DECK AND RETIRE TO THEIR MAGNIFICENT 1200-SQ FT MASTER SUITE. IT LOOKS LIKE AN ABOVE-AVERAGE AIRPORT HOTEL IMPREGNATED THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE. DESPITE THE SOLIDLY-BUILT GERMAN ENGINEERING THAT MAKES THE REVERIE A VERY QUIET AND PRIVATE YACHT, EUGENE TOSSES AND TURNS, UNABLE TO SLEEP. FINALLY, HE SHUFFLES TO THE SPACIOUS SKY LOUNGE WITH ITS 103” CINEMA SCREEN, PULLS OUT A DISC WITH SCRAWLED HANDWRITING ON IT AND POPS IT INTO THE DVD PLAYER. HE SINKS INTO ONE OF THE DEEP UPHOLSTERED SOFAS AS A HIGHLIGHT REEL OF DANIEL ALFREDSSON GOALS BEGINS TO PLAY ON THE SCREEN. BEFORE LONG, EUGENE IS SOUNDLY ASLEEP WITH A SOFT HALF-SMILE ON HIS FACE.

CUT TO:

INTERIOR YACHT BRIDGE – MORNING

EUGENE AND SHARILYNE SIT WITH THE CAPTAIN AT A LARGE WOODEN TABLE. SPREAD OUT IN FRONT OF THEM ARE A NUMBER OF WRINKLED MAPS, A GLOBE AND ASSORTED BRASS MEASUREMENT INSTRUMENTS BECAUSE AGAIN, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A YACHT LOOKS LIKE, SO AM GOING WITH LEGO PIRATE SHIP.

SHARILYNE

So, we’ll sail by ourselves for the first few days and then pick up the rest of our family and friends on the 27th in Exuma.

CAPTAIN

I can’t pick them up there. Boat won’t fit.

EUGENE

Well, what about Nassau? They could fly in there.

CAPTAIN

Can’t pick them up there either.

EUGENE

Why not?

CAPTAIN

Look, let’s talk about our route. Show me where you’d like to sail.

EUGENE

We want to sail between Andros and Eleuthera, here, around the Exuma District. We’ve taken charters through there before and the sailing is nice and calm.

HE TRACES A LINE ON THE MAP BETWEEN TWO LARGER BAHAMIAN ISLANDS, AROUND AN ARCHIPELAGO SPRINKLING OF SMALLER ISLANDS.  

CAPTAIN

The boat’s too big to sail between Anderson and Elora there.

SHARILYNE

Andros and Eleuthera.

CAPTAIN

Sure, fine, Anders and Eleanor. But the boat won’t fit in there.

SHARILYNE

No, see, we’re familiar with that area. There are coral reefs and shallower waters, but we know a lot of vessels that have sailed through there.

CAPTAIN

(becoming agitated)

I’m not sure what you’re not getting here. The draught of the boat is too large. It will end up like a beached whale. We need to sail east of Eeyore island, out into the Atlantic so we don’t run aground.  

EUGENE

We’ve sailed through there before and it was fine. We could get a specially experienced pilot if you like, to help you navigate.

CAPTAIN

(more agitated and upset)

I am the captain of this boat and I am not navigating between those islands.

EUGENE

(also agitated, flipping through his email, locating what he’s looking for and stabbing a finger at his phone screen)

Listen, the charter agreement I signed and paid for says, “The Captain shall comply with all reasonable orders given to him by the Charterer regarding the management,  operation and movement of the Vessel.” That’s me, I’m the Charterer. This is the Vessel. You are the Captain. And we want to sail between these two islands.

THE TRIO SIT STARING TENSELY AT EACH OTHER FOR A FEW BEATS.

CAPTAIN

I can see we’re not going to agree here. I’m going to call the charter agent.

HE EXITS THE BRIDGE AND CAN BE SEEN THROUGH THE WINDOWS PACING THE DECK, SPEAKING RAPIDLY INTO HIS CELL PHONE AND GESTICULATING WITH FRUSTRATION FOR SEVERAL MINUTES. EVENTUALLY HE RETURNS WITH A PRINTED MAP.

CAPTAIN

Look, I talked to the agent and he agrees with me. This is a 60-foot boat and it cannot safely sail through those islands, I don’t care how nice you think it would be. Here’s the route we’re going to take: east around Eleuthera, see?  

SHARILYNE

That route takes us out into the open Atlantic, absolutely not.

EUGENE

You’re going to hire a pilot to help you navigate and we are sailing among those islands, where it’s nice and calm.

CAPTAIN

(laughing derisively)

You must be confused. We are going around the islands. It’ll be fine, you’ll see.

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR YACHT – NIGHT

THE VESSEL IS TOSSED AGGRESSIVELY BY THE WAVES ON THE OPEN OCEAN IN THE DARKNESS. INSIDE THE LIGHTED BRIDGE, WE CAN SEE THE CAPTAIN, VISIBLY FLUSTERED, STRUGGLING TO CONTROL THE YACHT. PROBABLY IN REALITY HE WAS STEERING WITH SOME SLEEK AND MODERN METAL CONTROLLERS, BUT LET’S GO WITH A BURNISHED WOODEN SHIP’S WHEEL FOR THE SAKE OF AESTHETICS AND SEAFARING DRAMA.

CUT TO:

INTERIOR CABIN – NIGHT

EUGENE AND SHARILYNE SHIFT MISERABLY AROUND A DARK, CRAMPED CABIN, LURCHING UNSTEADILY WITH EVERY ROLL OF THE WAVES. THEY TAKE TURNS ATTEMPTING TO LIE ON THE BED OR STAND WITH A STEADYING HAND ON ONE WALL, BUT THEY CAN’T STAY STILL. THEIR EYES ARE DARK AND HOLLOWED FROM LACK OF SLEEP. PERIODICALLY ONE OR THE OTHER RUNS TO THE WASHROOM WITH A HAND CLAPPED OVER THEIR MOUTHS.

SHARILYNE

The crew suggested we move to this cabin further below deck so we wouldn’t feel so sick, but it’s done nothing to help, Eugene!

EUGENE

(violent retching in response)

HE EMERGES FROM THE BATHROOM, HIS FACE ASHEN.

What time is it, Sharilyne?

SHARILYNE

4 a.m. What time were we supposed to arrive?

EUGENE

We should have been there hours ago, this harrowing ordeal is taking twice as long as if we had gone between the islands like I told him to.

THE YACHT PITCHES WITH SUDDEN INCREASED VIOLENCE AND SHARILYNE SCREAMS IN TERROR.

SHARILYNE

What if the boat capsizes? What if it starts to sink and we’re stuck on the lower decks, Eugene?! We don’t even know where the safety gear is. We’re trapped down here! Oh my god.

SHE BEGINS TO HYPERVENTILATE AND WEEP WITH FEAR. EUGENE ATTEMPTS TO COMFORT HER, THEN RUNS TO THE BATHROOM RETCHING AGAIN.

TIME-LAPSE FOOTAGE OF THEIR CABIN IS OVERLAID WITH A TRANSPARENT MAP SHOWING THE BOAT’S ROUTE AROUND ELEUTHERA ISLAND THROUGH THE ATLANTIC, AND FINALLY BACK INTO THE CALMER WATERS ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE ISLAND. THE BACKGROUND BRIGHTENS TO DAYLIGHT.

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR BOAT DECK — MORNING 

CAPTAIN

(with an air of forced nonchalance and joviality)

Good morning! Bit of a jostling night at sea, wasn’t it? Hope you got a good night’s sleep! Thought we would head to Norman Cay for the next couple of days until we pick up the rest of your party, sound good?

EUGENE

(incredulous)

Norman Cay?! Are you serious?! You told us the boat was too large for that area and that’s why we had to sail to the far side of Eleuthera last night! You needlessly and recklessly exposed the vessel to the open Atlantic Ocean without barrier or break of any waves.

SHARILYNE

That was a harrowing ordeal that needlessly and punitively subjected us to hours upon hours of waves pummeling the yacht! Now you’re telling us it’s fine to sail among those islands?!

CAPTAIN

Look, I told you, the boat was too big for the route you wanted to take. Now, do you want to sail around Norman Cay or not?

EUGENE

(looks at Sharilyne in incredulity)

Sure, fine. Sounds good.

CAPTAIN

Great. Oh, and Merry Christmas!

HE PULLS A SANTA CAP OUT OF HIS POCKET AND PERCHES IT JAUNTILY ON HIS HEAD AS HE HEADS FOR THE BRIDGE, WHISTLING “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU,” COMPLETE WITH MARIAH CAREY’S VOCAL EMBELLISHMENTS, PURELY BECAUSE THAT AMUSES ME AND I AM WRITING THIS SCRIPT.

MONTAGE:

WE SEE EUGENE AND SHARILYNE’S CHRISTMAS ABOARD THE YACHT. THEY OPEN PRESENTS BENEATH A TOWERING POTTED PALM STRUNG WITH LIGHTS AND CRYSTAL ORNAMENTS. IN THE MANNER OF OTHER WEALTHY PEOPLE LIKE THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY, THEY GIVE EACH OTHER GAG GIFTS. SHARILYNE HANDS EUGENE A LARGE, FLAT BOX AND HE OPENS IT WITH PALPABLE ANTICIPATION, THEN UNFURLS A 2007 THROWBACK OTTAWA SENATORS JERSEY WITH “ROBERTS” INSCRIBED ON THE NAMEPLATE.

EUGENE

(frowning briefly, perplexed, then grinning broadly)

Ah, I love it! You’re right, that would have been a fantastic trade, Muckler should have listened to me.

HE PASSES SHARILYNE A RECTANGULAR BOX.

Watch out, it’s breakable!

SHARILYNE UNWRAPS THE BOX, THEN CAREFULLY EXTRACTS A SCULPTURE ABOUT 18” TALL. IT IS A MALE FIGURE DRESSED LIKE A SPARTAN, LURIDLY SHIRTLESS, WEARING A BRONZED HELMET PERCHED ON THE BACK OF HIS HEAD SO THAT HIS EYES ARE COVERED LIKE HE’S WEARING HORSE BLINDERS. THE FIGURE HOLDS A SHIELD IN HIS LEFT HAND, ON THE BACK OF WHICH CAN BE GLIMPSED TINY WRITING THAT READS “RISE UP!” THE FIGURE POSSESSES AN UNMISTAKABLE AIR OF VALIANT EFFORT SUBSUMED BY ABSURD DEFEAT.

SHARILYNE

Oh my god, the Naked Spartan! Amazing!  

THEY CLINK GLASSES AND SETTLE BACK INTO THEIR ARMCHAIRS TO WATCH THE NOW-CALM SEAS BEYOND THE LOUNGE WINDOWS. OUTSIDE ON THE DECK, TWO CREW MEMBERS SURREPTITIOUSLY MOVE A SNOW MACHINE INTO PLACE AND TURN IT ON, SO THAT IT SHOOTS FINE FLAKES of FAKE SNOW INTO THE AIR, WHICH DRIFTS GENTLY DOWN OUTSIDE THE LOUNGE WINDOWS, BECAUSE IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY, THAT IS WHAT I WOULD PAY SOMEONE TO DO AT CHRISTMAS.

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR YACHT DECK – MORNING

THE YACHT IS DOCKED AT THE ELEUTHERA ISLAND MARINA FOR EUGENE AND SHARILYNE’S FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO JOIN THEM ON THE CRUISE. A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE ARE WELCOMED WARMLY ABOARD, ALL OF WHOM CLEARLY KNOW EACH OTHER WELL AND HAVE NOT BEEN TOGETHER FOR A LONG TIME. THERE IS A SPECIAL FOCUS ON VERA, EUGENE’S MOTHER, A SPIRITED MATRIARCHAL FIGURE IN SOMEWHAT FRAGILE HEALTH. THE SOUNDTRACK TO THIS REUNION SOUNDS LIKE THE TINKLY SENTIMENTAL MUSIC AT THE END OF JOHN WILLIAMS’S SCORE FOR “HOME ALONE,” BUT A JANKY STARBUCKS VERSION OF THAT, DIFFERENT ENOUGH TO AVOID LEGAL TROUBLE AND HEFTY RIGHTS PAYMENTS.

EUGENE

(turning to the captain once everyone is settled on board)

So, let’s head south, on the west side of the Exuma District, where the waters will be calm.

CAPTAIN

We can’t. We’ve been through this before. Big boat, shallow waters, won’t fit.

EUGENE

Last time you took us out into the open ocean a few days ago was a nightmare. I am telling you to stay west of these islands, in the sheltered water.

CAPTAIN

There’s no other option, we have to go around to the east. It’ll be rough getting there, but calm once we reach the next island, you’ll see.

HE TURNS ON HIS HEEL AND WALKS AWAY. EUGENE AND SHARILYNE LOOK AT EACH OTHER WITH DREAD, BUT THEN PLASTER NERVOUS SMILES ON THEIR FACES BEFORE THEIR GUESTS NOTICE.

MONTAGE:

MISERY AT SEA. THE YACHT IS AGAIN TOSSED VIOLENTLY BY THE ATLANTIC, WITH SOME OF EUGENE AND SHARILYNE’S FRIENDS AND FAMILY CRAWLING ON ALL FOURS TO GET ACROSS THE PITCHING DECKS. VERA SITS FEARFULLY IN A STURDY CHAIR, A CAREGIVER STEADYING HER TO KEEP HER FROM TUMBLING OUT OF HER SEAT. ALMOST ALL OF THE GUESTS SUFFER VIOLENT BOUTS OF VOMITING FROM THE SAILING CONDITIONS. AT ONE POINT, SEVERAL GUESTS ARE SITTING IN THE DINING ROOM SIPPING LISTLESSLY AT GLASSES OF GINGER ALE AND NIBBLING PLAIN BREAD WHEN THE BOAT SUDDENLY LURCHES TO ONE SIDE AND A DECK CHAIR CRASHES THROUGH THE GLASS PARTITION ABOVE THE DINING AREA. SHARDS OF BROKEN GLASS RAIN DOWN, NARROWLY MISSING THE GUESTS WHO SCREAM IN FRIGHT.

EVENTUALLY, THE SEAS CALM AS THE YACHT APPROACHES A LANDMASS WITH A SHELTERED HARBOUR.

CAPTAIN

See, I told you it would calm down when we got to Cat Island! Smooth as glass now. This is Hawks Nest Marina, an ideal location to disembark and have some beach time. We can have a beachside barbecue here tomorrow, sound good?

THE PASSENGERS DISEMBARK, STILL SLIGHTLY WOBBLY ON THEIR FEET, AND GATHER ON A DOCK. THEY WALK TOWARD THE BEACH, THEN SUDDENLY STOP SHORT. THE CAMERA IS BEHIND THEM AND PANS UPWARD TO SHOW US WHAT HAS GIVEN THEM PAUSE: THE BEACH IS FESTOONED WITH SIGNS READING “DO NOT SWIM IN THE WATER DUE TO SHARKS.” SHARILYNE PULLS OUT HER PHONE AND RAPIDLY TAPS ON ITS SCREEN. WE PEER OVER HER SHOULDER AS SHE CLICKS ON THE FIRST WEBSITE ABOUT HAWK’S NEST MARINA AND READS: “MOST AFTERNOONS HAWK’S NEST MARINA FUEL DOCK IS SURROUNDED BY SHARKS FEEDING OFF ALL THE CATCH OF THE DAY! IT’S LIKE BEING AT YOUR OWN AQUARIUM.” THE GROUP TURNS AROUND INSTANTLY AND REBOARDS THE YACHT.

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR YACHT DECK – DAYTIME 

IT IS NOW JANUARY 1, THE LAST DAY OF THE CRUISE.

EUGENE

I don’t understand. We’re at Exuma right now, why won’t you let us disembark here?

CAPTAIN

It’s too rough, it’s not safe for your mother to disembark here.

SHARILYNE

(looking over the railing at the water)

The waves are exactly the same as they were when Vera boarded the boat.  

EUGENE

We’re leaving together on the dinghys, the same way my mother arrived.

CAPTAIN

I’m not letting anyone off this ship, I told you it’s not safe here! Now, let me captain the ship. I’ll take us back to Nassau and you can disembark there.

SHARILYNE

We don’t need to do that. Why don’t you let some of us disembark here and you can drop the others off at any island with an airport and calm waters, if you think it’s unsafe for Vera or anyone else to disembark here. You could even drop them off where we picked them up.

CAPTAIN

No, I’m not landing here for you to disembark.

EUGENE

Look, I have to make it to an important medical appointment. I need to get off this boat today.

CAPTAIN

I’ll let you all disembark in Nassau where we started. We’re going around the eastern edge of Eleuthera Island to get there, for reasons we’ve already been over.

SHARILYNE

(instantly distraught)

We are not going back out onto the open ocean! I cannot experience that severe fear and illness again, and I won’t let you subject our family and friends to that experience.

EUGENE

Just stop the boat anywhere and let us get off, we don’t care where. We want off this boat now. You could let us off at Eleuthera where you picked up our guests a few days ago, or any of the other islands with airports.

CAPTAIN

No, those are all unsafe. I can’t let you off in any of those places. We’re going east of Eleuthera to get you back to Nassau.

MONTAGE:

MORE SEAFARING SUFFERING. THE BOAT IS TOSSED BY THE ROUGH SEAS AND THE PASSENGERS LURCH AROUND MISERABLY ON BOARD. THERE IS COPIOUS VOMITING.

GUEST 1

I am suffering from severe illness.

GUEST 2

I am suffering severe emotional harm.

GUEST 3

I feel like we are being confined against our will.

GUEST 1

How long have we been out here being buffeted needlessly by the rough seas?

GUEST 3

18 hours being punitively compelled to sail back to the starting point against our will!

GUEST 2

Oh, thank god. There’s Nassau!

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR YACHT DECK IN NASSAU MARINA – SUNSET

THE CAPTAIN STANDS ON THE DECK CASUALLY SALUTING EACH OF THE PASSENGERS AS THEY DISEMBARK, OFFERING HIM BALEFUL GLARES AS THEY GO.

THE MELNYK PARTY STANDS TOGETHER IN A BEDRAGGLED KNOT ON THE JETTY, GAZING UP AT THE YACHT FROM WHICH THEY HAVE FINALLY DISEMBARKED. THERE IS PROLONGED SILENCE AS THEY EACH ATTEMPT TO METABOLIZE THE JOURNEY THEY HAVE JUST COMPLETED.

EUGENE

Well, that was anything other than the relaxing luxury holiday experience we were promised.

SHARILYNE

It was a days-long voyage spent managing intense vomiting, vertigo, sleepless nights, severe anxiety and fear over potential capsizing or sinking.

VERA

Don’t forget dodging shards of glass as deck chairs not properly secured careened into glass railings and rained shards of glass on the dining area.

GUEST 1

That was a voyage marred with fear and uncertainty.

GUEST 2

No one seemed to be in charge or concern themselves with safety.

GUEST 3

Let alone a luxury experience!  

EUGENE

That captain was overwhelmed and out of control. All he did was scream at and deride the crew in front of us.

SHARILYNE

This was a harrowing and destructive voyage full of needless pain and injury.

EUGENE

Let’s go home, everyone. We’re all sick and exhausted, and I don’t know about you, but I am fearful of ever boarding another boat.

THE CAMERA PANS AWAY ABOVE THEM AS THEY BEGIN TO SHUFFLE DEJECTEDLY DOWN THE JETTY BACK TO DRY LAND. THEN THE CAMERA PULLS IN AGAIN ON THE YACHT, ZOOMING IN OVER ITS DECK AND ALL THE WAY INTO THE MAIN DECK LOUNGE.

A LARGE, LEATHER-BOUND, GILT-EDGED BOOK SITS ON A SHELF BESIDE A CHAIR. THE BEARDED ELDERLY MAN FROM THE OPENING SCENE TURNS AND PULLS THE BOOK FROM THE SHELF, TURNING IT TOWARD THE CAMERA SO THAT WE CAN SEE ITS COVER: “GUEST BOOK.” HE FLIPS CAREFULLY THROUGH THE PAGES UNTIL HE FINDS WHAT HE’S LOOKING FOR, THEN POINTS AT ONE PAGE WITH A MERRY TWINKLE IN HIS EYE.

HANDWRITTEN GUEST BOOK ENTRY

Dear Reverie Crew

Thank you so much for such an amazing trip! It was an experience I’m sure we will never forget. The few days we spent upon Reverie were action-packed, yet relaxing at the same time. The sea-bobs were a definite hit! The food was incredible as well.

New Years was a great time; the decorations were absolutely gorgeous! The top deck was definitely memorable as well. Thank you so much for making this such a great experience! This was an amazing way to start the new year.

The Melnyk Group

THE BEARDED MAN CHUCKLES SOFTLY TO HIMSELF, THEN CLOSES THE BOOK AND RETURNS IT TO THE SHELF BESIDE HIM. LAYING HIS FINGER ASIDE OF HIS NOSE AND GIVING A NOD, HE DISAPPEARS IN A POUF OF RED AND GREEN GLITTER.

A FAINTLY ECHOING “HO HO HO” CAN BE HEARD AS THE SCREEN FADES TO BLACK.

-THE END-



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