There was a moment, standing there on Captain Alvaro's boat, The Melmoth, in which Biondetta and I locked eyes. She was defiantly glaring at me, perhaps trying to ward me off by letting me know I was not welcome, but at the same time, deep within the dark brown of her eyes, there was a pleading. Was she telling me to leave or was she asking me? I didn't have time to think about it for very long as the Captain, with his hand still on my shoulder, started pulling me along with him to the front of the boat where Ikemael and the two girls were talking.
"And here is where the party is at!"
The Captain's bellowing voice had the tone of a circus ringleader or a pitchman for an 'As seen on TV' product. He definitely resembled John Waters but he had the feel of some kind of shuckster, a smooth talking gentlemen with a great offer that will only be available for a limited time. He was almost too polite and spoke with a casual formality that seemed more like a presentation and less like conversation.
Ikemael and the two girls, both of whom were now dancing to Kanye's Gold Digger, looked over at us and smiled. Ikemael raised a flute of champagne to greet us and I saw the girls were holding similar flutes and there was a bottle of Dom Perignon off to the side. Obviously our new friends had more refined palates than the Tecate tainted ones we were sporting. Ikemael raised his right hand and the Captain gave him an enthusiastic high-five. During their exchange the other girl, not Ikemael's new love, walked over to me and handed me a flute of champagne brimming over with bubbly.
"You look thirsty, Starbuck."
While I gladly accepted the champagne I cringed slightly at the 'Starbuck.' This Moby Dick routine was getting old. As you may expect, there is another Jackson Panic law dealing with attractive women in bikinis who offer you a flute of Dom Perignon. You graciously accept while allowing her to call you whatever the hell she wants.
This new beauty, wearing only the slightest red and white striped bikini, then took my Tecate from my hand and threw it overboard. We then clinked glasses and took a deep drink of the cold champagne. It clashed momentarily with the residual Tecate lingering in my mouth but the fizzy sweetness then came through and it seemed like the perfect drink for this very moment. The bearer of my champagne was playfully smiling at me from behind the glass she held pressed against her lips.
"Thanks for the drink, but my name is not really Starbuck. It's -"
"It is today, Starbuck. I rather like that name."
There were strong tones of Italian in her accent. The kind that made you think you could listen to her read the dictionary and find it pretty hot. Of course, it helped that she was standing in front of me in a bikini holding a bottle of Dom Perignon and looked damn fine doing it. Fuck it - if she wanted to call me Starbuck then who was I to argue any differently?
"Okay, Starbuck it is, but I didn't catch your name."
"That's because I didn't offer it."
With this she broke into a girlish giggle and took a pull directly from the bottle of Dom and then handed me the bottle, indicating I should do the same. I raised my glass to tell her I had enough of my own but she pushed the bottle playfully into my chest, giving me a look that told me to just do it.
"Forgive Desdemona, young Starbuck, she's lacking a certain sense of refinement. She loves to drink fine champagne but does so like an eighteen year-old girl at a keg party."
The Captain was flashing me his incissor-heavy smile once again, with his cigarette firmly clenched and still dangling an extraordinary amount of ash. I looked back at my new lady-friend.
"Desdemona eh? That's not really one I come across very often."
I then proceeded to drink directly from the bottle myself, a much bigger drink than Desdemona had.
"Well, now you've come across me. Or at least you will if you're lucky."
I admit it - I choked, literally. I coughed up champagne onto the back of my left hand that was holding my flute. My eyes watered up and I felt the champagne seeping down the wrong pipe. My current predicament wasn't eliciting any sympathy from Desdemona though, as I heard her peals of laughter coming from beyond my now blurry vision.
"Careful Desi - you don't want to kill our new friend with champagne."
There was something about the way the Captain said it that I didn't like.
"Are you okay baby?"
Desdemona, or Desi, walked over to me, still giggling, and began rubbing my face.
"Yeah, I just choked a little."
"Here, I'm sorry for making you choke."
With that she gave me a quick kiss on the lips. I would have been more grateful had I not still felt the need to cough and were my eyes not still watering, but the kiss was a nice gesture. She remained close to me as I blinked and sniffled a few times.
"I guess I'm not good at holding my liquor."
"So what are you good at holding?"
It seemed like everything she said was purred forward bursting with double entendre.
"Ah, well, certainly not my own since you definitely got the better of me just then."
"I'll let you in on a little secret, Starbuck. I'm going to get the better of you every time. I always end up on top."
So there I am, a foot away from an attractive woman in a bikini who is feeding me champagne and throwing me lines that carry naughty little promises of promiscuity and the whole thing is playing out next to a group of people who have stopped their conversation and are clearly eavesdropping on ours. I looked past Desi and saw Ikemael, the Captain and the other girl staring at us.
"Do you guys need to be alone? I can take the Captain and Cindy back to our boat if you'd like."
I couldn't do anything but blush. The happy threesome was over there laughing and Desi was amused as well and I felt like an awkward asshole unsure of what to say, which doesn't happen all that often. Desi broke up the stilted moment on my behalf by bending over and picking up a bowl that was sitting off to the side.
"Would you like some pomegranate seeds to go with your champagne? They're the perfect complement."
I am not a huge fan of pomegranate seeds but I was just fucking thankful that we might direct the attention to something else besides my choking on Desi's flirtations. As I was reaching for the bowl, a hand reached past me from behind, grabbing the bowl. I turned around to see Biondetta throwing the bowl overboard. What is it with these people just throwing things into the water?
Biondetta icily glared at me again, "Those things are nasty."
"Biondetta! What on earth are you doing?"
The Captain's voice sounded shrill this time and tinged with an unexpected anger. Biondetta wasn't looking at anyone other than me.
"Believe me, you didn't want any."
"I guess I will take your word on that."
She then turned and walked back to where she had been sunning herself. I pivoted back towards the group and gave them the universal 'what the fuck' look. Our three new friends looked very agitated but Ikemael was his usual self, bordering on cackling.
"What the hell was that?"
The Captain looked at Ikemael and smiled a close-lipped smile, excused himself and walked back to Biondetta, leaving me and Ikemael alone with the girls. Cindy, the one person I had not yet met, then extended her hand.
"Hi, I'm Cindy."
Whereas Desi was clearly from another country and Biondetta and the Captain also seemed foreign, Cindy was without a doubt an American girl. She was tanned, blonde and lacking the subtle beauty of the other two - less mystery but more breasts. I shook her hand and introduced myself.
"So where you girls from?"
Ikemael then slapped me on the back and laughed.
"Good luck with that one brother. I've been trying to get that out of them for ten minutes!"
I felt Desi's arm slink its way around my waist. Quite frankly I didn't care where they were from at this point, though in hindsight I probably should have. Regardless, when you're standing on a gorgeous sailboat drinking Dom Perignon and an attractive woman in a bikini has her arm around you - you don't ask too many questions. That's a Jackson Panic law.
So how did I get from that point, a virtually perfect one, to hovering over a toilet, sweating bullets and hoping I didn't die?