Tall Tales



One tall tale of a Mahi loving Mermaid

by Dusty Middleton


The little storm had come on so violent, so quick in the night, and all I could do was reef the main sail before I escaped down below deck… it blew like hell for two hours and then it was gone. I came up from my cabin with the sunrise, and found my mast floating next to me in calm waters. It rocked and bobbed at an odd angle, splintered and tangled in its own line.

The day came on hot and beautiful, with not a breath of wind, and, I suppose things wouldn’t have been much different that morning if my mast were whole, but I had a sinking feeling, that this was to be my last adventure.

I was half way to Gambini. Out in the middle of the sea, half way through a two week crossing, and shipwrecked.

I decided that afternoon with a scowl that I wasn’t going to make it. I had stared at my two charts, and fiddled with my small radio. I had dipped the almost empty fuel tank five times and stared at the meager reading. I had piled all my food onto the tiny galley table and checked my fresh water store. Everything pointed to trouble. And when night finally came, my boat floating softly sideways, and my mind reeling with doom, I slept the deep slumber that only comes without a mast and sail. It was the strangest of sleeps.

My dreams were of the next realm, and I my interactions were with spirits of the afterlife. I dreamt of floating rafts, flooded refugees, small families and homes, washed out to sea and destroyed by tsunami, sent off-shore by floods, and I tied up with their little village of rafts and floating homes and they traded me cans of corned beef for lighters and matches. I took the cans back to my boat, and they held their new lighters tight, all of us slowly rising and falling in a calm ocean swell, and I untied the rope and waved sadly goodbye and they just stared at me, not smiling, pitying me and my small broken boat, and I floated slowly away and the next round of dreams began. They were always in this floating world, where my broken boat transferred me from one strange encounter to the next.

I dreamt of foggy meetings with tiny skiffs and close calls with phantom cargo ships. I dreamt of Chinese pirates and Amazon tribes on voyaging canoes.

Out there in the middle of the sea, in my broken thirty foot sailboat, I existed in a creepy world of ghostly dreams. Odd churning dreams during the hottest part of the day and early afternoon. Complicated dreams all night long, and again after the sun rose. Until I, an old man decades past my prime, fell in love one night with a pale skinned beauty that I can only whisper to you now… was the magical creature our culture knows as a mermaid.


It was on my sixth night without a mast or sail, I woke from my strange floating dreams to the beautiful girl, standing, dripping, naked on my deck, and I sat slowly up, unbelieving, and let my eyes see what they were seeing. And all I could think was that I must be in the next chapter of my dreams, and I might as well let it all play out. And she carefully and shyly stepped to my open bed near the tiller, the stars a dome of soft light around us. She wasn’t much for walking, though her legs were pristine and beautiful. She was still dripping wet with the sea, and though she didn’t shiver, I assumed she must be cold. My eyes caressed her shape from chin to toe, the wet little tuft of black hair below her navel, and the dark nipples, erect in the moonlight. And I lifted my blanket for her, so natural for a man to do for a beautiful thing, and she lay down in my arms, and nestled her wet hair under my chin, and I put my blanket over the two of us- and that was that. Her smell was of sweet seaweed, faint and perfumed. We fell asleep. Never a word spoken. Nothing more than her laying down with me in a soft, innocent cuddle. My strange dream so acceptable and nice. The wet girl in my arms so simple and pure in my shipwrecked reality. She was like a narcotic, and I closed my eyes into the deepest of slumbers, her soft form fitting so nicely against me.


In the morning I was still floating in the sea, and there seemed to be no trace of the girl, except a slight dampness to my bed. In my memory, a slight, yet clear recollection of the encounter.

That day I stared bemused and grinning off at the horizon and wondered what was real and what wasn’t.

I felt younger and fresher, and though my situation was serious, me being seven days lost at sea, a thousand miles from any real port, and only about four gallons of drinking water left… I was happy. The inkling of a notion that something so beautiful had happened… I think that could have been it, the end of the story, and still I would have died with a smile.

At high noon that seventh day, after letting loose a load that had been burdening me more than usual with the mermaid on my mind, I pulled myself from the dirty fishing clothes I’d been wearing for a week and jumped overboard. In one hand a bar of soap and the other a rope tied to my poor broken boat. And though there was only a light wind pulling the sail-less boat and me through the sea, the excitement in my blood of swimming in that miles deep water, and the mysteries below me… was any beast watching me from below? It invigorated my dulled perceptions. I scrubbed myself and washed my hair clean, and thought about the vision of the mermaid, and her soft body magically against mine. I pulled myself back aboard and dried myself in the hot sun, standing naked and proud, watching the horizon, flat and empty in every direction. A huge, blue circle, with just me standing alone in the center on a piece of flotsam that used to move well in these light winds. I shaved and found clean clothes, and when night came I couldn’t sleep. Nighttime is by far more lovely than the day. On a small boat, the middle hours of the day can be burning. Too bright, and too harsh. Nighttime though is lovely and soft, and after hours and hours of watching dark clouds slide by each other and cover the stars, I heard the sounds of a large fish softly splashing near. And my heart raced. I watched two beautiful hands wrap around the railing near the stern of my boat, and the beautiful face came gracefully up, and as though she expected me to be waiting up for her, her eyes caught mine from outside the boat, and she smiled and pulled herself aboard like nothing, a blur of something strange as her legs came into view, and she carefully stepped over to me, and I wondered about the fish tail and the legs, and I sat there and waited, and she slid down next to me and touched my sun burnt face with her dripping hand. She let her fingers trace down my neck and my shoulder and down my arm, and she picked up my right hand between her two slender, perfect hands and had me touch her wet body.


The moon was some days away from being full, and my boat was barely rocking on the calm, dark water. I was fully awake and every muscle was pumped full of blood and energy. My heart felt the strongest it had been in years. I don’t know how to explain it, except that her touch… her presence… was more invigorating than anything I’ve ever known. A fountain of youth with lovely breasts, lovely nipples…


The mermaid was holding my hand a-squeeze against her. Cupping her own breast with my rough fingers. The moonlight was soft, and I understood somehow that she might only come above the surface in the darkness of night, and that, the midday sun would be too much.


Her skin was so pale, and her hair so black and shiny. Her eyes played lovingly with mine and her face was a round, curious, sexual smile.


When she began talking I was amazed that she spoke a strange, musical English. It was an old language, something from long ago, and her accent had something of Italian in it. And she asked me my name, and I told her Thomas. She asked me where I had been sailing to, and I told her I had been headed for Gambini. Her head tilted then, and a bit of curious confusion wrinkled her brow. She asked if I had enough supplies to live out here in the middle of the sea for weeks and weeks in my broken boat.

I sat there and listened to her words, and her face was so innocent, and I wondered what her questions were leading to, and I knew my supplies were thin, and my water would be gone in less than a week.

I told her, “No, I will be in trouble without rain. In five or six days I’ll be in real trouble without rain. I have enough food to last a while, and maybe, if the currents are in my favor, I’ll drift towards some sort of safety…”

It was as if honest talk of my bad situation filled her with passion. She pushed me down on my back and took my two hands to her breasts, and all I could do was smile in the moonlight, and I listened to the sounds of my little boat in the water, and I listened to her strange, gruff breathing as she used the lungs she wasn’t accustomed to.

She sat on me and rocked slowly back and forth, pushing herself down against me. Slowly she rubbed herself against me. And her head rolled back, her face to the sky, and her eyes closed as she moaned. I was so hard in my pants I thought I might burst. She rocked a bit more, and she looked down at me, her lower lip bit, rolled back under her teeth.

She peeled off my jeans and kissed her way down my stomach.

Her hair was still damp with the smell of the sea, and it trailed down my chest after her lips and nose, and she kissed my balls softly and licked up my mast, and then she let it slide deep into her mouth through her parted lips.

I let out the longest, happiest exhale of my life. All the stress of sailing, and breaking down, and my dire situation left me, and I was so content.
I laid there, staring up at the moon, with my hands on the back of her head and surrendered to her, I let her do what she wanted, and though deep in me there was a twinge of uncertainty and some sort of instinct not to trust… she was so beautiful, and it all seemed so lovely and innocent. ‘What the hell,’ I thought, ‘if this is how it ends, who am I to complain about anything? This is a great way to go.’

She climbed above me and teased me for a second and then she let my face meet her with my mouth and my nose. And I nuzzled up into her, and her perfect knees squeezed my ears softly and she looked up to the moon and let a musical laugh out into the night. And her sweet little flower was so wet and pure, I felt I could drink of it like honeyed milk, and I found myself sucking so pleasingly on her clean, bouy of a clitoris and I loved the soft moans that were rolling out of her, and she leaned back and grabbed my mast, and then she disconnected from me for a moment, and swiveled around, and then reconnected with my face, and now her ass was in the air, and her back was arching, her soft breasts down, her nipples rubbing against my belly, and she sucked long and hard. I licked her with pure animal adoration, I swear I started sucking her juices like they were the mother’s milk of the sea, and I felt my chest and arms growing stronger, and the moonlight was so soft and perfect.


Then she pulled herself away, and rolled from me with the blanket, and stood up from my open bed at the stern of my little boat. And she smiled with a bit of cunning, and all I wanted, so bad, was to enter her… she let the blanket drop, and she stepped up onto the rail, and I watched her beautiful back, and lovely rump, start to change, and she looked over her shoulder at me and kissed, with lips so nice, and as she jumped, with her feet together, I saw the change, in the darkness, her tail flash in the moonlight, the scales, big and jeweled, and there was a single splash. And she was gone.


I sat there alone, long silent minutes, with the soft double slap of the bow hitting tiny waves and the soft creaks that never cease on a small boat; all seeming louder than normal. A wave of sadness and loneliness washed over me, but it was gone in a moment, and the excitement of lust and love were so good, and the curiosity of what might come next had me feeling like a sixteen year old out on his first conquests, and I sat there for a few minutes thinking, and then walked over to my spent bedding laying on the dew dampened deck of my boat, and I sniffed at it and found her strange scent. Not fishy like you might guess, but golden and honeyed like a bar of dried maple sugar with just a hint of sweet limu. I stood there with the sheet to my nose and looked across the textured water and saw the reflection of the night’s sky, and sleep came strong. I laid down and slid right into my strange floating world of dreams, and from an encounter with a lost boat of starving Viking ghosts I woke to the bright morning sun pulsing, twenty degrees above the horizon, and me with some sort of strange hangover that made me more thirsty than usual.

And I drank my whole day’s ration of water in under a minute, and I was satisfied, and felt ok, but I knew that there weren’t many days left until I’d be in serious trouble, and my survival would truly depend on a heavy rain.


By Afternoon that day I had dipped into my water reserves, and foolishly drank my next day’s rations too. I stared at the emptying supply of good water, and wished I had invested in a watermaker, shrugged it off, thought about collecting my urine, shook my head, and instead, came to the conclusion to just ride it out until the end. I would drink just as much water as I needed, and perhaps it would rain…



That evening I hooked a good sized Mahi, and the excitement of the jumping fish gave me a good feeling, and when it came aboard I was so exited to eat fresh food that I skinned and cleaned the animal before it was fully dead, and its eye stared at me accusingly, and where a year earlier I wouldn’t have cared at all, my own proximity to death sent me into a bit of a depression. I cooked the fish anyway. My stove had plenty of fuel, and I had a gallon ziplock full of lighters. And I enjoyed three big slabs of the fish with salt and pepper, and my last bit of lime, but I only ate about a sixth of the big Mahi, and again I felt some sort of sad guilt on killing the pretty beast, and I closed my eyes with a full stomach, and slept a night devoid of dreams, and in the morning I wondered if my mermaid had come to the boat, and I realized sinkingly that the carcass of the fish had been sitting out in plain view and that it might have shocked my visitor, and I drank the last of my water, like a madman, and that was it I told myself. I’d lost track of how many days had passed since I’d left port, and how many days since I’d broken mast, and my boat floated softly in a light sea, with winds that would have had me going at five or six knots if my mast were up, and I sat in a tiny square of shade and watched the clouds move steadily for the horizon.


It was that evening, with no fresh water on board, and me in a slow half-dazed, dry-mouthed state, that as I stared at the blue horizon I saw the reflection of the sun glint off something so far away, and so faint, but almost straight downwind of me, and I focused my eyes and pushed myself up, and then went below deck and found my binoculars, and all I could make out was some sort of reflection right on the horizon, and I figured it must be less than forty miles away for me to see it like that, and I had a new burst of energy that I would survive if only the wind held up. And indeed as it came dark that night the wind increased its speed, and for the first time I was spurred to change my leftover sail from a rain catch that had never felt a drop into a small hand held sail, and I stood there as my own six foot tall mast, my feet holding the sail down, my hands gripping its edge tightly up, and though I couldn’t do much, I was pleased to be back trying. The wind pushed against my back, and my boat bobbed underneath me and we moved gradually downhill.

And as I stood there on the bow that night, hoping for a blinking light, or any sign of man, I heard the soft splashing again, coming from the stern of my little boat and I turned my head and saw my mermaid swimming softly up next to me, and she had a sad look in her eye, and it was difficult for me to set down my makeshift sail, though once I did I realized my arms were both cramped and aching. And I kneeled down with my face over the rail, and watched her beautiful half fish body swim gracefully along.

I could tell she was sad that I’d eaten the Mahi. Somehow I knew, and her eyes told me she was heartbroken at what I had done. It was unspoken but clear, I saw it in her face and I apologized weakly over the rail. She dove under the black water for a minute, and then with a splash she was climbing up over the port rail, and I turned to her and sat, not sure what to expect.


She walked to my bed and sat down carefully and beckoned me over with one of her perfect hands.

I stood up with a bit of pain; feeling the aches of my dehydrated muscles. And I sat next to her and found myself lying on my back, and her body was wet but warm, and she leaned over me with compassion in her sad eyes. And she gave me her breast, and I kissed her nipple and pulled softly on it with my lips, and a warm sweet drop touched my dry, sandpaper tongue, and I looked up at her face.

With a smile I sucked and pulled on the nipple, and sweet hot milk squirted into my mouth, and her face warmed looking down at me, and she brushed the hair from my forehead and she let her fingers slide across my scalp.

After I drank a goblet’s worth of golden milk I felt the best I had in years. She peeled my clothes from me, and the lovely mermaid lay on her back and pulled my face to her, and held me there, thrusting her hips softly up to my nose.

And I caressed her whole body, every inch, for I was sure that within a day I would make landfall, and perhaps this would be my last moments with this magical creature. And I kissed and licked every bit of her, and put my boom into her mouth, and pushed into her, and sucked her nipples almost dry, and then nosing up into her, I kissed my way up past her navel and breasts, and up her neck.

I entered her, and slowly slid myself up, and I heard her moan a musical whale-like moan, and we rocked against each other softly as the wind rocks a small boat in the middle of the sea.

And we spent hours, just quietly interlocked, thrusting deep against each other, sweating and sweet, with that seaweed perfume over us like a cocoon against the cold night wind, and too soon the sun was coloring the eastern horizon with light, and hypnotized, I made out the outline of a mountain rising high above the sea, the sun beginning the day somewhere behind it. Gambini. And she saw it too, and I could tell the sun, though not quite above the horizon yet, rising from behind that distant mountain was too strong for her. In her strange, musical dialect she softly told me that if I ever killed another Mahi Mahi that she would board my boat and slice my throat, and she kissed me once more flat on my lips, staring challenging and slyly into my eyes, and then she lifted herself up, and slid over to the edge of the deck.

I followed her and picked up my rope that I had held while bathing, and as she slid into the water, and her legs turned to tail, I slid in after her. She paused in the water and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. And I wrapped my open hand around her narrow waist, and her tail softly wrapped around my legs. My boat was gently pulling us through the water, and it was a bit awkward, and I kissed her once in her own element and then let her go, and she slid against my open hand and giggled and blushed that I had touched her tail so intimately, and I smiled at her, feeling thirty years younger, and I pulled myself back to my boat and climbed aboard.

She was gone, and an hour later a commercial fishing boat spotted me, and came over to help, and they towed me here, to the small port of Gambini, to safety.

And while I wait here for my new mast to be built and mounted, all I can think of is her, my sweet little mermaid, and how I never learned her name. Part of me thinks that the whole thing might just have been a wet dream, and though they serve Mahi here at the restaurant, I’ve decided to never eat it again, and I figure I’ve only got another couple decades left in me, and if I set my eyes towards the Indian Ocean, with any luck, my boat will break down again, and somewhere I can find a similar encounter as the mysterious one I had half way here, to the limu-green island we call Gambini.




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