Shut In, Shut Out

“What a great day to be shut in together” Clark softly declared soon after awakening on Sunday, kissing also-freshly-awakened cruise wife Leigh before issuing the latest of many coughs.

“Less rainy than yesterday, but yes” she kissed him back, wiggly-squiggly happy to be cuddled into her cruise husband, by any label her searing-hot lover.

Searing hot applied to both of them in terms of internal temperature regulation as well as passionate love: their fevers were going with a vengeance, especially Leigh’s.

Nevertheless, they enjoyed the start of this quiet, somewhat wet morning.

🎼 Come sail a-way
Come sail a-way
Come sail away


The sudden quietness from the utter cessation of all electrical sounds and most mechanical sounds on the ship—many of which were soft enough that neither Leigh nor Clark knew they existed until they were gone—along with the instantaneous loss of electrical illumination on this cloudy early afternoon did more than the stateroom’s audio power amp’s transient whump from the sudden loss of power to draw their immediate full attention.

Running Leigh’s entire cruise playlist on her iPhone through the far higher fidelity of the stateroom’s sound system to in part help distract them from their physical ills had seemed like such a good idea—and it had been good, until the power went out.

“This does not bode well” Clark felt the need to verbalize.

Leigh paused her device, happily streaming from their bedside over Bluetooth to nothing any longer functioning.

They looked around, then at one another, hearing nothing beyond their own breathing and occasional coughs, wheezes, and other louder human sounds from adjacent staterooms and other areas.

Before either of them could formulate another thought into a coherent sentence, the lights came back on and the A/V infotainment system went into its cold boot startup sequence. Both of them found watching the startup screen stepping through its startup sequence to be informative as well as a form of entertainment. Whatever specifically it was doing for non-volatile memory, it remembered that it had last been in audio playback mode via Bluetooth, returning to that mode once its startup finished.

“Dare I restart Styx?” she asked.

“Not my very favorite song in the world” KHHHH!, “but thankfully we’re both rational enough to know that whether you do or you don’t, your choice will have no relevancy to whether or not the power remains stably on.”

🎼 Come sail away
With meeeeee 🎼…

“We are running low on fuel. We have an urgent need to at least make a technical call, lest we have a greater humanitarian crisis on our hands.”

Today on this shift, it was Second Deck Officer Niles Mayhew currently at the modern, digital helm as Navigating Officer, maintaining his focus out the window along with First Deck Officer Ellen Glenn, as they once again both overheard Captain Cranch in negotiations with relevant authorities.

“Your hands as well as mine, ma’am. It is already widely known in social media and via some news outlets that we’re being blocked from docking, and whose states and which ports are responsible for this situation.… Correct: technical call. I seek more, because reason and civil human behavior demands it. I require a technical call as a bare minimum.… Thank you. I shall be following up no later than 1500 local if no word has come through by that time.… Very well. Best of health to you.”

Captain Cranch chose to answer the un-asked question on everyone in the Bridge’s minds before either on-duty deck officer could ask, “Stay the course, monitoring conditions all along the coast between Eureka and Port Angeles. They have to allow us to stop somewhere.”

Sunday evening found Leigh and Clark too wrung out to do anything other than rest, sleeping briefly when possible. The weather was cloudy enough, they were paying little enough attention, and they were far enough from shore that neither noticed the Sapphire Prince turn around and start heading southbound.

Outdoor lights and activity not entirely visible through the pre-dawn drizzle and not at all visible with both the sheer curtains and light-blocking drapes closed awoke Clark and Leigh well before they otherwise would have awoken.

“Ulllaaagggh” she gripe-groaned. “What time is it?”


He was already out of bed, heading for the windows/balconette door.

“Keep the door closed, please.”

“That’s my plan” he replied, parting the drapes and curtains.

“What do you see?”

“We’re docked, that’s for sure. I see what appear to be cargo containers being loaded or offloaded—which I can’t tell.”

“Like intermodal?”

“Sort of, but smaller. Half-size, and maybe shorter.”

She turned on the infotainment system, navigating to the ship’s itinerary information page. “Damn.”


“They say it’s a technical call, whatever that is, to the port of Coos Bay.”

“Didn’t know they had a port there… here, I suppose we are.”

“It’s a commercial shipping port with no provisions for passengers. Oh—here they define technical call as being for resupplying, refueling, and offloading recycling and waste. Get this: by order of local, state, and national authorities, only seriously ill passengers and those with severe medical issues who are likely to die if they fall ill are being allowed off the ship.”

“Sweet. Wonder where they’re drawing those lines?”

“Doesn’t say; no hint.”


“Oh, and someone just added that additional medical personnel are boarding to further assist those already here.”

He continued peering out the window.

“Coming back to bed?”

“What’s the point? Sleep’s not going to happen with all this going on.”

“Cuddling can! I haven’t had my morning flesh banana between my buns yet.”

“The one whose appeal according to you is its lack of a peel?”

“That’s the one.”

“You must be feeling better.”

“Actually I feel like shit” Hack!

“Hope not literally! Otherwise I’ll have to wash my hands extra double-dog triple well after feeling you. Coffee or tea yet?”

“Better make it tea” CHHHHuuh! “Otherwise I’ll be spelling the beverage as we did yesterday.”

Leigh delayed her morning banana bun split to cuddle sitting up in bed with her cruise husband, both sipping tea and seeing what they could with drapes and curtains drawn fully open, as well as watching the cruise status screen for updates.

To their partial amazement, the Sapphire Prince eased out of port around dawn, per the status page heading back out into international waters just off the Oregon coast.


It wasn’t some exotic animal, nor the sound of an older internal combustion engine vehicle with a weak battery trying to start. The sound was the mash-up of Leigh’s Hhhhhhhh sigh with the rrrrrrrrr wheeze she’d developed. Both she and Clark were concerned.

He was on the phone with Reception trying to do something about it. “If you don’t have lemons or oranges, which frankly would amaze me given the resupplying I saw this morning with my own eyes but whatever, then how about some vitamin C?…… Not giving me much to work with here, Adela. We’re doing our best to stay as well as possible and heal fully from this thing, but odds of that drop without basic nutrition. It’s a bit late for zinc tablets to do their best, but those might help. What about those?… Alright, let’s circle back. Do you mean to tell me that you do not have any lemons on board? Given what I’ve seen in terms of gratuitous giveaways of lemon quarter slices with everyone’s hot tea whether they ask for it or not already on this cruise, I am having trouble believing y’all can’t spare one full lemon for two passengers.… Please do that. It ought to make a material difference.… Very good. Thank you, Adela. Bye.”

He sat down on the edge of the bed near his Love, “How’s life in the sawmill?”

“Moving from soft pine to medium hardwood” she softly wheezed.

Upset and love propelled him into an upper body cuddle with her, caressing her hot head. “What would you most like right now to help you heal?”

She weakly shrugged her shoulders.

“How about another extended foot massage with the roller, then a lower back massage with it and the egg-footed tool? It’s been a few days.”

“Foot massage yes please. rrrrrrrrrr Back massage no thank you: I need to remain sitting up”–Hack!–“today.”

The massage couldn’t directly help with Leigh’s new breathing issue, though it absolutely felt good, with the love via proximity and skin-to-skin hand contact aiding her body’s natural healing process in the struggle against what they assumed must be COVID-19.

Within the hour 2 fresh California lemons were delivered by room service, making their afternoon tea servings slightly more healing and vastly more lemony.

Hrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrh whhhheeeeeeez. Hrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrh whhhheeeeeeez—this was Leigh’s breathing, not anyone sleeping. “Finding anything?” whhhheeeeeeez she asked, between breaths and bites of her light dinner.

Clark’s eyes remained locked on his notebook computer’s screen. “All kinds of things. Currently I’m in the process of sorting out the bullshit from the plausible, after which I’ll get into what we’re capable of doing under our circumstances. Anything I can get for you at this time?”

Hrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrh “Some more tea” whhhheeeeeeez, “and an upper chest massage, please.”

He was already out of bed before she finished speaking, delivering her tea in short order.

The upper chest massage started soon thereafter, though she’d have to finish her tea before he got too deeply into it. The reason for that was that based upon prior interactions, this request had a special meaning: massage and grope her underappreciated (she believed) itty bitty titties. Surprised though he was that she wanted this when she was obviously not feeling well, he gladly obliged. It might not directly cure her illness, though for sure the pleasurable biochemical reactions the fondle-y caresses got going in her did at least slightly help.