by Joseph Grant
Stanley Brockton had known fear as a young man during the war as an Ensign aboard the USS Vincennes and was with her the night Japanese torpedoes sent her to her watery grave off the Solomon Islands, 9 August ’42. The memory of that first night and following day where he drifted burned upon the black, bottomless sea, nearly half-blinded by aviation fuel and where he surely would have drowned were it not for a wayward PT boat, still haunted him and brought chills to the old man even after all this time, but this did not deter him from enjoying the ocean during his long life nor bringing his family to the beach when the weather was temperate. Delightedly, he watched his five year-old great-granddaughter as she played on the outskirts of the surf and the war was very far away from him this day, but in a blink his smile turned into a look of dread as a large, rogue wave surged, knocking her off her feet and pulling her out helplessly in the undertow. Immediately, the old man charged down the beach onto the wet sloshing sand under his feet, cursing the ocean and jumped into the surf and frantically swam through the churning tide, searching for any sign of her. In absentia, Stanley Brockton was posthumously cited as a hero by the police and the island papers for rescuing his great granddaughter by tossing her into the shallows, thereby allowing others to reach her, her life for his, his body never found. The local townspeople, superstitious old salts as there ever were, whispered how the young sailor had perhaps made a pact with the sea and how the sea, a tempestuous mistress, had finally reclaimed what had been taken from her those many years ago.
Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, has been published in over 55 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.