The Sea Gypsies of Ngoguyon
Two boys and a girl were riding in an outrigger canoe. The hull’s exterior and the bow and stern decks were blue. The hull’s interior, the two outriggers and the beams were white.
It was a nice day for the trip. They felt a gentle breeze coming off the shore. It was sunny with a few white cirrus clouds in the blue sky. Light dappled off gentle swells in the greenish blue water.
The oldest boy sat in the center of boat’s stern. His legs were partly outstretched and spread in front of him. He wielded a two bladed oar in both hands. The oar was white with a yellow blade at each end. He had a steady rhythm of dipping the left blade into the water, pulling it back, lifting it out, dipping the right blade on the water and repeating the motion. When each blade left the water, water ran off the blade. Then, it dripped off. He had no need to watch his paddling.
He was looking toward the boat’s bow. His sister sat at the middle’s starboard, facing him. Her legs were placed similar to his. Her waist length hair had streaks of dark brown. Some of it fell down her chest and stomach. The rest fell down her back.
Their brother, the youngest, sat at the bow’s port. His hair fell to his shoulders.
His brother and sister faced him. His hair fell below his shoulders.
They had brown skin and naturally straight black hair. Their bangs grew to their eyebrows. They wore no clothes and were barefooted.
His brother and sister looked beyond the stern. The boat left three wakes behind it.
They turned their heads to starboard. He kept looking straight ahead, concentrating on his task.
The starboard outrigger sliced through the greenish blue water. It generated ripples that migrated out from it in the water. The outrigger was at the edge of about a yard of pinkish water. Water lapped the edge of a beach of a pink on the verge of being red sand. The beach extended about fifty yards inland. It ended at green grass, then shrubs. A tree forest extended inland from the shrubs.
Ahead of them, the shoreline curved to the right. They followed the shoreline around the curve.
The girl quickly turned her head to her older brother. She excitedly spoke Sarginese, the only language they knew, “Look to the shore, Que!”
Both turned their heads shoreward. Quenan kept paddling.
A herd of animals walked along the shore. They were covered in blue fur from their shoulders to their noses. The rest of their bodies was bare purple skin. An upward curving short brownish white tusk stuck out of each lower jaw side. Two horizontal white tusks stuck out of the lower jaw front. They used the horizontal tusks to dig for shellfish in the wet sand. The three children watched them for a while.
Quenan turned his attention back to the task at hand in time. Directly in front of them, two grey fins, a dorsal and the tail tip, stuck out of the greenish blue water near the pinkish water.
He frantically back paddled, blades loudly smacking the water, water spraying into the air, to stop the boat.
The other two heard the ruckus. They quickly turned to look at him. His sister said, “What’s the problem, Que?”
“Look behind you! There’s a Lamtasaur,” Quenan answered.
The boat stopped and drifted away from the shore. Quenan laid the oar across his lap. The boat gently rocked in the swells.
The grey head and neck of the Lamtasaur rose out of the water. Water ran off, then, dripped. The neck was easily longer than four feet. The Lamtasaur turned its head toward the shore. It opened its mouth, showing rows of sharp brownish white teeth.
The head went down fast toward the animals. One of them froze with the left front paw in the air. It held its head up and cocked to the right. Its mouth was open. Its left eye looked up as death came. The Lamtasaur grabbed the hapless creature. The doomed animal let out a loud screeching squeal. The rest of the herd scrambled for the safety of the shrubs.
The Lamtasaur picked the animal up fast, tossing it into the water. The animal landed in the greenish blue water with a large splash and loud smack. It tried to swim toward the shore. The water turned red around the animal.
The Lamtasaur grabbed the animal in its mouth again. Its head and neck submerged. The fins disappeared. The bloody water thinned.
Quenan resumed rowing. He dipped one blade in the water after the other in rapid succession. The boat picked up speed.
He had been rowing boats since he was four years old. They considered him an expert, able to run a boat fast and maneuver it with ease.
They reached a river that emptied into the sea. The sandy beach and pink water narrowed on the opposite river bank. It ended at some bluish grey rock cliffs. They rose about five hundred feet at the highest out of the greenish blue water into the air.
Quenan turned the boat starboard into the river’s mouth. He rowed upriver into the forest. Trees grew on both river banks. He went upriver until it became too shallow for the boat. The river continued inland. The trees were about two feet from the river bank.
He steered the boat starboard. The bow hit the riverbed close to the bank. The girl turned to port. She jumped into the water with a splash. The water was crystal clear. The bluish grey gravel bed was easily seen.
She held the boat with both hands. Her younger brother jumped into the water with her.
Quenan put the oar into the starboard bracket. He jumped into the water on that side.
Quenan and his sister waded to the bow beam. Quenan held on the gunwale with his left hand. His sister held it with her right hand. She waded to the other side of her younger brother. All three grabbed the beam. They lifted the bow by the beam. They pushed the bow further onto the shore. This prevented the boat from going anywhere.
They stepped over the beam onto the narrow, bluish grey graveled bank. Twigs and leaves from the trees littered it.
Quenan walked around the bow to join his siblings. He was the tallest. They walked around the port outrigger.
They waded into the river. They swam and played in the water. They played their version of Marco Polo. They splashed each other, laughing.
After several hours of swimming and frolicking, it started to darken. Quenan looked at the eastern sky above the trees. The sun had disappeared below the trees. He said, “Boupha, An, it’s time to go.”
They swam to the port outrigger. They waded onto the bank. They walked around the outrigger. Quenan stayed on the port side. An-Toan Kim walked to the bow. Boupha-Kannitha walked around him to the starboard side. Quenan and Boupha-Kannita grabbed and lifted the beam. An-Toan Kim laid his hands of the bow. All three pushed the boat into the river.
Quenan stood knee high in water. Boupha-Kannitha was half way up her thighs in water. An-Toan Kim was up to his hips in water. Boupha-Kannitha and Quenan held onto the beam.
An-Toan Kim waded starboard to the beam. Holding onto the beam with the left hand and the right hand on top of the bow, he jumped onto the bow. He laid on his stomach. He got on his hands and knees. He crawled to his seat. He sat facing the bow.
Boupha-Kannitha ducked under the beam. She waded to the hull. She held onto the gunwale with her right hand. She waded to the middle. She got into the boat. She sat facing the bow in her seat.
Quenan held onto the beam as he waded to the hull. When he got to the bow, he put his left hand on the bow. He pushed the bow to point downriver. He was half way up his thighs in water.
He ducked under the beam. Holding onto the gunwale with both hands, he waded to the stern beam. Using the beam and gunwale, he jumped. He climbed into the boat. He sat facing the bow in his seat. The boat lazily floated downriver.
He grabbed the oar out of its bracket. Quenan rowed the boat downstream to the river’s mouth. They left the mouth. Water extended to the horizon. Quenan steered the boat to port. The boat faced the east. The yellow sun was near the eastern horizon.
He rowed the boat along the shoreline. They watched the sun sink to the horizon. About a mile past the curve, the sandy shore narrowed. They approached some bluish grey cliffs rising high out of the water. The sun was red and halg way below the horizon. It was getting darker.
The sun was gone by the time they reached the cliffs. Thousands of stars appeared. A light shone low in the cliffs. As they approached, the light dissolved into their home. The one story house nestled in the cliffs. Light shone in the windows. Light revealed a porch extending over the water. It was lit above and underneath. Light glinted off the water under and around it. Piers and two boats were visible. The first boat was tied to two piers under the porch. Its mast and boom laid across the boat’s length. The second boat was bigger. It was tied to two piers on the other side of the porch.
They came to the porch. An-Toan Kim grabbed the bow painter in his right hand. Quenan maneuvered the boat along side of the porch. The starboard outrigger went between two piers. He secured the oar in its bracket. He grabbed the stern painter in his right hand.
An-Toan Kim and Quenan stood up. They tied the boat to their respective piers.
An-Toan Kim stepped onto the bow. He turned right to face a ladder going up to the porch. A shelf was at the base of the ladder. He stepped onto it. He grabbed the ladder’s rungs. He climbed the ladder to the porch. He grabbed a rail on each side at the top. He stepped on the porch. He swung aside to the right. He waited for the others.
He looked up at the western sky. A single white full moon had appeared over the horizon. The sky was full of thousands of stars.
His sister came up followed by his brother. All three faced east. Light came from two holes in the porch. Light shone along the roof’s eave. It was just bright enough to reveal the entire porch.
They walked to the varnished reddish brown wood front door. Quenan opened it. They entered a hallway. The floor was greenish blue carpet. The walls were white. The ceiling was glowing white, providing the light.
A man stood in the hallway. Like the children, he had brown skin and short black naturally straight hair. He wore black shoes, white socks, shorts and a short sleeve shirt. He stood five feet ten inches tall. Quenan stood five feet eight inches tall. The man spoke Sarginese, “There, the three of you are! It’s close to suppertime. Go and wash your hands and faces!”
“Yes, Dad,” all three chorused.
They walked to the back of the house. Lights came on along their path.
They entered the bathroom. The light came on. The floor was pale blue tile. Some of the house was carved into the cliff. The walls and tub were bluish grey rock. The tub was on the far wall. It was a combination of bath and shower. A blue shower curtain with fish hung from the ceiling at one end of the tub.
The children turned left. They came to a cabinet carved in the wall. The front was bluish grey varnished wood. Two doors were in the middle. Two drawers were on each side. The top was blue speckled marble-like stone. A sink was carved in the top. There was a gold faucet at the back. They ran their hands under the faucet. Nice warm water wetted their hands. They put one hand under the soap dispenser. Pink soap ran onto their hands. They rubbed their hands together, turning the soap into lather. They washed their hands. They rinsed them of. They washed and rinsed their faces. They went to the opposite wall. They stood before air vents in the wall. Warm, drying air came out. They dried their hands and faces. They exited together.
They entered the dining room. The floor was white marble tile. A rectangular red wood table stood in the middle. A chair was at each end. Three chairs were on the side opposite of the children. A chandelier hung over the table.
A robot was seting silverware around the plates. Glasses were behind the plates. The robot finished setting the table. It glanced up, spotting the children. It spoke Sarginese, “Evening, lady and gentlemen. Please, be seated. Dinner will be served shortly.”
The children sat in their respective chairs. The robot exited to the kitchen.
The robot and their parents came in with trays of food. They set the dishes on the table. The robot exited with the trays.
Their mother was like them. Her hair fell just below her shoulders. She wore a short sleeve shirt, pants and sandals. She sat in the chair on their left. Their father sat to their right. They filled their plates and ate.
The table conversation was all in Sarginese. Their mother said to the children, “How was your trip?”
“It was wonderful,” Quenan said.
“We saw a herd of Pecalaur on the shore,” Boupha-Kannitha said.
“We watched a Lamtasaur catch one,” An-Toan Kim said.
“That’s fascinating. Tomorrow, I need to go into Launfrabeng. There is someone coming to stay with us for a while. I need to pick him up,” their father said.
“May I go,” Quenan asked.
“Me, too,” the other two children said, one at a time.
“Yes. You need to meet him anyway. All of us will go. You will need to go to bed early tonight. We need to leave early tomorrow morning,” their father said.
“Yea,” all three children chorused in unison.
Later, the children showered. They brushed their teeth. They went to their bedrooms. They liked sleeping naked.
Boupha-Kannitha entered her bedroom. The floor was salmon, her favorite color, carpet. Her queen sized bed was on the far wall. It was covered with a salmon bed cover. The walls were painted salmon. A red wood desk and dresser stood on the left wall. A red wood vanity stood on the right wall. Two reddish brown wood doors were in the right wall. She walked to her bed. She pulled the cover back. The sheets were white. The pillow case was salmon.
Quenan entered his bedroom. The floor was navy blue, his favorite color, carpet. His king sized bed was on the left wall. It was covered with a navy blue bed cover with various boats and ships printed on it. The walls were painted navy blue. Pictures and diagrams of bots and ships decorated them. A red wood desk and dresser stood on the far wall. A few models of ships laid on the dresser top. Two reddish brown wood doors were in the right wall. On the wall with the entry door, shelves lined it to the left. A few books laid on a couple of them. Other shelves contained more models of ships and boats. He walked to his bed. He pulled the cover back. The sheets were white. The pillow case was navy blue with boats printed on it.
An-Toan Kim entered his bedroom. His room was similar to Quenan’s. The carpet, walls and bed cover were purple, his favorite color. He walked to his bed. He pulled the cover back. The sheets were white. The pillow case was purple.
Their bedroom ceilings glowed providing adequate light. They crawled into their beds. They laid down. The ceilings dimmed until the rooms were dark. They provided dim light so they would not be in total darkness. Quenan’s, however, had points of light in the patterns of the local stars. There was a circle of light like the moon. They slept.