by Jake Christie

SWINGING THE LAMP.
a story.

They sat in the canoe, the shorter one staring at the taller one with an intensity that can only exist between two people sitting three feet from each other in a canoe on the ocean. The canoe was red. Their ski masks were black. The shorter one finally lifted the bottom part of his mask so he could speak. From far away a lighthouse swept it's beam across the water, and the light shined off his lips.

“Where's the ship?” he said.

The taller one shrugged, a move so subtle and noncommital that it was just barely visible, even in the light of the fat full moon. The canoe bobbed on the waves. The lighthouse's beam cut through again.

“What?” said the shorter one.

“I didn't say anything,” said the taller one. The words came out muffled through his ski mask.

“Oh, so now you're not saying anything!” said the shorter one. “A few hours ago I couldn't stop you talking about how rich we'd be, how much gold we'd have. About how the gold shipping lanes pass right through here, close enough to paddle out to, and they'd be so easy to rob. But now you're at a loss for words.”

The taller one shrugged again. The lighthouse sliced through the air to illuminate exactly nothing on the ocean except waves and a red canoe.

“How were we even supposed to get away with the gold? How much could we fit in your canoe?” He raised his voice. “You know, I'm starting to think there is no Commission for the Nautical Transport of Precious Metals! I'm starting to think you made it all up just so you could have somebody to take a canoe trip with!”

“Shhhhh,” shushed the taller one. It came through his mask quite clearly.

The shorter one's conspicuous jaw dropped. He took one last look around and, seeing nothing that even resembled a transport ship, stuck his paddle in the water and began paddling towards the shore just as quickly and loudly as he could.


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