One would think that having my own, personal cabin would protect me from unwelcome surprises due to strangers. One would be wrong. First sight of my cabin on Sensation was a doozy. It was an interior guest cabin with beds against two different walls. The room reeked of fish.
“What’s with the separate bunks?” I asked my departing counterpart, Robin. “Aren’t you here with your girlfriend?” He was about to answer when a very tall, attractive woman entered. She was six feet tall and, while pleasantly slender, still built solid. Her long hair was naturally blonde, but the last six inches were dyed black. She wore a cowboy hat and boots over snug blue jeans. Vanessa was her name. She answered, “He stinks. He belches all night, so I want as much distance as possible.”
“You like cod liver oil?” she suddenly asked, prompting me to reply, “You asking me on a date?”
She gestured broadly to the room. “We’ve got plenty for ya. I’m sick of ‘em. If I smell one more damned pill, I’m gonna puke. Loverboy here don’t eat no food, jus’ lives off cod liver oil.”
A quick glance proved Vanessa wasn’t kidding. I counted no less than four bottles of cod liver pills of varying sizes. A fifth bottle lay on its side on a bunk behind where Robin sat, looking suspiciously as if it had dumped its contents between the cushions. A family-sized jar with a wide mouth was currently open, the smell of heavy fish oil almost visually emanated from it.
“Aren’t you supposed to refrigerate those once opened?” I asked in wonder. Robin scoffed, “Bah! You Yanks always worry about stuff like that.”
“So’d you tell him yet?” Vanessa asked Robin. He ignored her, but she pressed the question. Robin reacted strongly, and suddenly both were glaring at each other, postures frozen in defiance: she tall and leaning willowy-strong over him, he looking up to meet her with bulldog neck tensed and fists clenched. He finally spat, “Shut up, woman!”
Offended, Vanessa snatched up the nearest bottle of fish oil pills—the family-sized jar sans lid—and hurled it at him. Delicate globules of smelly fish oil sprayed wide, bouncing off Robin to clatter off the walls, the desk, the bed and everything else until they found every last corner.
Robin snarled, reaching for her. She gamely bounced back, but this was no game. They exchanged all manner of insults, voices rising until she screeched and he bellowed. Finally he muscled his way in to give her a solid slap across the face. The sound was shockingly loud. Violence in person is completely unlike anything in the movies. It was immediate, intimate, horrible.
“Oh!” she cried in surprise, hair flinging wild. I leapt in between the two of them, now shouting myself. I had no idea what was going on, even as I sensed this was not an unusual occurrence between them. Indeed, before I could interfere they both whirled upon me as one.
“This is none of your business, Yank!” Robin bellowed.
“I can handle this myself!” Vanessa echoed. She was already returning her attention to her adversary, adding, “I’m from Texas!”
Vanessa delivered a tremendous blow of her own, a wallop that sent Robin reeling. Before he had a chance to recover, she shoved him onto the bed. Next came a sharp crack of head hitting the bulkhead, and Robin collapsed. He gave a low moan, and Vanessa was atop him. Then they began madly kissing, passionately rolling across the tiny bunk… and grinding cod liver pills into my future mattress.
Excerpted from Ship for Brains [Cruise Confidential, Book 2] by Brian David Bruns (World Waters, 2011)