Helmut stood on the navigation deck of the cargo freighter in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and peered out at the horizon and the vast surface of the ocean that was all there was to be seen. His wrinkled skin had darkened from months of salty wind and sun, obfuscating the blue lines of the tattoo on his right shoulder depicting an anchor. Cumulus clouds drifted by in the sky above and sank behind the horizon in the distance. Several illuminated spots on the dark water surface reflected the openings in the cloudy heaven and beams of sun light were clearly visible falling through them. Helmut stared at the endless number of crests that formed on the waves. His attention was caught by a sudden black movement on the surface. The constant change in surface pattern interrupted the trance of Helmut’s thoughts induced by the endless sight of repetitive patterns of waves, crests, that rose and fell, disappearing in the mass of water again. Every now and then, he thought he saw a dolphin jump playfully out of the water, or the vague shower of vapor of a whale’s exhalation sprout into the air, but then again he thought he had mistaken himself. As a sailor in the German navy Helmut had sailed the world for four years, from 1954 to 1958. Ever since he had not been back to the sea and had lived on a farm in Westfalen. He enjoyed listening to songs from his favorite shanty choirs and retold adventures with his comrades from the navy. When he retired last year, his children had offered him a ticket around the world on the Rickmers Singapore. But his memories had betrayed him. Even on board this German ship from the most prestigious German shipping company no body spoke German, and no sailor played the accordion to sing a shanty like they used to. For months, all day Helmut stood here in the sun, on the navigation deck, and stared into the distance.
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