Read the first part of Bringing Lenny Home (a selection from Journey to the Other Side of Life) here.
Bringing Lenny Home
The divers-at sixty feet and sinking-radiated a bluish hue. At ninety feet, the black of their wet suits blended into the currents’ shadows. Silent schools of butterfly fish swept past the less graceful pod of tourist divers from Scuba Lenny. The dive shack usually took six per tour. Three pairs of twos. But today, Lenny made seven, trailing along for back-up.
Even though he knew the ocean floor was nothing to fuck with.
At one twenty feet, the silver dazzle of Lenny’s thick hair-his trademark-faded to paste. Strands waved loose from the straps of his face mask like sponge coral dancing in the currents, not as warm as they should be this time of year. Suddenly, he back-pedaled, trying to stop his forward motion, and not succeeding very well.
Barracuda, dead ahead.
He stabbed through silky water, pointing out the creature to his six companions. Even through his lens and the muted world of the undersea, passion sparked from him and touched his dive buddy and the next closest pair. Lenny knew he was the luckiest man alive. How could anyone call this work?
He’d been diving as long as anyone could remember, including Lenny. It was Leonard Senior, of course, who had taken him on his first dive some forty-five, forty-seven years ago?
The old man had also trained Leonard III, Threeboy, they’d called him…
That memory was all it took.
Lenny shot ahead through the water, maybe too fast, maybe not fast enough. Nine months, and he still couldn’t remember his son without his intestines twisting into a thousand knots. Undersea was not the best place to get choked up, and since he was a professional, he told himself to stop this mad dash. He couldn’t outrun it, anyway.
Number one rule: stay with your dive buddy.
But he could never predict exactly when the grief would attack him. All he could count on was that it would happen every day, crashing over him, like the tide. Several times a day, some days.
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