The old sailor watched as Janice splashed her feet around in the water off the ladder on the back end of the sixty-foot boat.
"A penny for your thoughts?" the Captain said.
"Oh, hi, Luke. How's the leg today?"
"Couldn't be better. How's Granite doing?"
"Take a look for yourself," replied a darkly tanned Janice.
"Never seen a Shepherd take to saltwater like that one," Luke Perry said in a chipper voice. "But I guess he's a lot like me in a way. When you're back from the dead, it's a whole new ball game."
"I can't believe how well he's doing," said Janice.
"Miracles never cease, I guess. This eighty-degree water can't hurt."
"I guess not," Janice said matter-of-factly.
"What's wrong, Janice?"
"Come on. You can talk to old Luke. You've been all quiet and into yourself since we hit the Bahamas. You get some bad chow in Panama? What's wrong? The water too blue for ya?"
"Hardly. It's perfect. Really."
"Out of tequila?"
"Then why the sad face?"
Janice kicked at the water with the tips of her delicate toes.
"Promise not to tell?"
"Who would I tell? Ain't nobody on this big ol' barge except you, me and your Dad."
"You met Eddie. I mean, well, of course you met him," she began to apologize.
"I got enough stitches across my forehead to say that I met him head on! So what's the point?"
"No offense intended, Luke, but you were lucky to get out of this with your life."
"True. We all were for Pete's sake. You, me, Jonathan. His secretary and that pilot. Your Dad, Mike Nelson, Granite. All of us."
"So what's the problem?"
Janice just sighed and kicked at the water some more.
"Come on, kiddo. Talk to me."
"Well, I know this must sound silly, but, but…"
"But what?" Luke asked.
"I didn't see Eddie die."
Luke took in a deep breath before answering the troubled woman.
"Me either, but you heard what Mike said."
"Yeah," Janice said. "I did."
"Don't you believe him?"
"Yeah, I guess," Janice said, unconvinced.
"Janice, they searched that place for a week, and didn't find a thing. Not a trace. It's a nasty stretch of water, believe me. I crossed it everyday on my way out of Ilwaco for years when I ran my fishing boat. You lose your ass in the mouth of the Columbia, nobody's gonna ever find it again."
"I'm sure you're right."
"You don't sound too sure," said Luke sadly.
"I just wish I could have seen it for myself."
"Me too, kiddo, me too, but I didn't, and that's all right with me. Because I do know what the ocean can do to a soul, bad and good. That's why we're here, remember?"
"We cashed in all of our chips; your dad's trailer, my place, your retirement fund and we bought this boat and decided to sail the Seven Seas. If you don't like this one, I'll pull up anchor right now, and we can head off to wherever you want to go."
"You live to be on the water, don't you, Luke?"
"It's in my blood, what can I say?"
"What about dad?"
"He's still running away, but I think he's getting closer to being able to live with himself," said Luke. "It would help a lot if you would join him."
"You really think he's going to be okay here?" asked Janice.
"Beats Nebraska, don't it?"
"Amen, Captain. Amen."
"I'm going to go and check on the old fart. You gonna join us?" asked Luke with one eyebrow arched high, raising his scar even higher.
"Be right there, Luke," said Janice. "And Luke?"
Luke turned and walked toward the front of the boat.
Janice continued to twirl her toes in the warm saltwater, as Granite turned around and started swimming back towards her. The smile on his face was worth a thousand words, although he hadn't 'talked' to her since the beach episode. Maybe he was just happy to be a dog again. She sighed in resignation to herself.
"You really are dead, aren't you, Eddie?" she muttered to herself, as she watched Granite paddle toward the stern of their boat.