My wife, boy and I were rushing through the public access to Neptune Beach last night. The Space Shuttle Endeavor was going to be launched. At 7:50 in the evening, the beach was dimly lit by a moon, a smidge on the waning side, but slathered in layers of cloud. Sea foam flopped along the sand, over our feet. Looking south, into the strong wind, was a dense sea spray fog. I left my hoodie in the car. I was a little chilly. Dangnabbit wind. Small groups of folks huddled around their mobile phones, connected to the NASA site. T minus 5 minutes.
I had brought my binoculars. I don't use them much any more. Star gazing, sometimes. Tonight, it was more cloudy than starry. Nothing really to point the binoculars at. There was a small, greenwhite pin-light near the ocean's horizon, about 5 degrees north of east. Through the binoculars I can see subtle shades of black of the fishing ship's shape.
There was a tanker. It was underway without lights. Creeping blacked-out city on waves. Safe passage through the Gulf. Socolddamnwind. Balls to 8 watch again. So tired. No stars. Socolddamnwind. Glow. Off starboard now. Water ablaze. Tanker. Thrashing souls. Screams in my head. So, so damn #$%&ing cold. Damn wind.
"Daddy, can I see?" my boy says, tugging at my pants. T minus 2 minutes and counting.
"Huh? Um, there's nothing to see out there. But, sure." I put the binocular strap over his head. "Y'know, your dad used to do this for a living."
A hoodie would have been nice.