First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by:
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
BOSTON HARBOR, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
December 18, 2019, 1:35 P.M.
Joann got through customs without any trouble. She checked her bag and was told to proceed to the boarding entrance for staff on the second level. As she approached the entrance, she had a strange feeling that she was being watched. She was. A young woman in a ship officer’s white uniform was watching her approach. She greeted her.
“I am Ellen Zan,” she said. Her uniform was well-pressed and spotless. She had short blond hair and bright green eyes. She appeared a bit mannish and robotic for Joann’s taste, but she was a handsome woman. “Welcome aboard The Saint, Joann Lawrence.” Joann was impressed.
“I will show you to your quarters and take you to the children. Please follow me.”
Joann’s quarters were a comfortable stateroom on the outside of the ship. It had a porthole and a double bed. “I’m sure you will be comfortable here.” Joann nodded. “Yes, I’m sure,” she said.
“I have much to do, so I will take you to the children now.” Joann followed her down the hall.
“They are in the Children’s Game Room,” said Zan, as she walked briskly down the corridor. Joann had to pick up her pace to keep up.
Zan opened the door of a large room filled with an assortment of various electronic games, but the children were sitting at a table with another crewman playing a card game, Old Maid.
Zan addressed the crewman. “You can go now, Richard. I will take over.”
The crewman complied.
“Children, this is the woman who will be taking care of you for the next few days. This is Miss Lawrence.” She turned to Joann. “This is Thomas Belton and this is John Belton. Their mother will be down shortly. I will see you later.” Zan took her leave.
Thomas looked to be about six years old and John about nine. They extended their hands. Joann knelt so she could face the children.
“Glad to meet you,” she said, as she shook their hands.
“I haven’t played Old Maid in a very long time. Is that one of your favorite games?”
They both nodded.
Thomas was dressed in shorts and John in what Joann thought looked like knickers, even though it was late December in Boston. The older, John, was wearing something that Joann had also not seen for a long time, what looked like a Madras shirt. Both boys were blond with blue eyes and looked like they needed a haircut.
They finished the Old Maid game. Tommy won. Mrs. Belton, their mother, hadn’t appeared. Joann opened the bag that she had brought with her.
“Guys, why don’t we try to find some new games on the Internet?”
Both children stared at her blankly.
She pulled out the Quick tablet that she had brought with her.
Thomas spoke up. “What’s that? A little television?”
“Oh, you haven’t seen one of these yet?” Thomas shook his head no. And so did John.
“Let’s go to the NPR website and see if we can take a look at some of the games they have from Sesame Street.”
Again, she was met with blank stares.
“What’s Sesame Street?” asked Thomas.
“You know, Tommy,” said John. “Remember Mom told us about it?
It’s one of those new things that we’re learning about.”
“Oh,” said Tommy. “Have you met the Count?”
“You mean the one that counts numbers?” said Joann.
Tommy and John laughed. “No, no,” said John. “Tommy’s talking about our captain. Not the one that’s captain of this ship, but the one that was captain of our ship, The Enchantress.”
“No, no. I haven’t met either captain so far. But I would like to.” At that moment, the door to the game room opened, and a small, welldressed woman with long black hair in a bun and large brown eyes entered the room. The boys stopped talking and stood up.
“Miss Lawrence? I’m Marie Belton. I see you have met my sons.”
“Yes. We were just having a conversation about the Internet and Sesame Street.”
“Oh, yes. Big Bird and all that. I’m afraid the boys don’t know very much about that. You see, we’ve been away on a cruise for some time. They haven’t seen much television. I’m sure you will have a lot of interesting things to tell and show the children. I’ll be happy to stay with them for the next hour while you settle in. Can you be back, say, at three o’clock?” “Yes, of course,” said Joann.
Joann took her leave. Where have these folks been cruising? Outer space? No Internet? Madras shirts? Sixties hairstyles? This is definitely going to be an interesting cruise.