The Head

There were no stars in the deep ocean. From his place on the rig, Dylan looked down into the choppy water. He’d never understood the navy blue and white and dark camo they wore until he stayed his first night here.

The constant smell of sea and grime and grit was enough to sour anyone’s taste buds for fish or crab and oil.

The squeak of wet rubber boots on the metal grating made Dylan turn.

“Smoke?” asked The Head.

“I don’t smoke,” said Dylan. He’d quite as soon as he’d got to the rig–not an easy task, most guys who worked on it did–but Dylan found something perverse about smoking on an oil rig. He’d gone 5 weeks without, now. Those first 2 had been hell.

The Head shrugged. “Mind?”

Dylan shook his head and turned back to the dark night.

The flood lights along the rig illuminated everything, made the spray from the swells visible as a mist.

The Head breathed out and the wind caught the smoke and pushed it toward Dylan. He hated the smell these days.

“Why you come here?” asked The Head.

Dylan shrugged. “The money.”

“Bullshit.”

“I needed a good night’s sleep,” Dylan tried again.

The Head laughed.

“This is the place for it. This or a fishing boat up north.”

Dylan smirked. The Head was black. As black as they came–said his family immigrated from Kenya. First generation. He said he wouldn’t take reparations. His people hadn’t been slaves, not on American soil, anyhow.

Dylan looked to the sky but the lights of the rig didn’t let for stars.

“Do you ever go back to Kenya?” asked Dylan.

“Did once. With my mama. Didn’t get far though. Didn’t fit in. Didn’t feel right. I mean–good to see some places and people that I came from, but I’m American.”

Dylan didn’t know what that meant anymore.

“American,” he said.

“Yeah,” said The Head. “Like the stars and stripes. The Grand Canyon. The Rocky Mountains.”

“The Rockies are also in Canada,” Dylan pointed out.

“Canada is also part of the American continent,” The Head countered.

Dylan was about to respond but the words never came. The klaxon sounded and before he knew it his hands were over his ears. The Head’s eyes were wide and shocked. He spoke but Dylan couldn’t hear a word he said. Dylan knew what he was saying though. When The Head began to run, Dylan followed.

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