Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2317918-The-Great-Ship
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2317918
The final minutes on the Titanic, and they did their best.
Joeseph said, “I can do it. Let me prove it to you. I’m begging you, Maestro!”

The band leader was looking everywhere but at Joseph. His attention was on the madness going on around them. People were crying and hugging and saying goodbye to each other. He saw a bosun’s mate holding a gun to a pajama clad oil magnate’s head. The oil magnate was trying to board the last lifeboat with a bath towel covering his head.

“The guys are all for it,” the violinist went on. He had to speak loudly to be heard, but he was trying hard not to scream. "Did you hear me?"

The band leader finally nodded his head, but his mind was on other things, and Joeseph knew it. “Is that a yes? That’s a yes, right? ”

“You’ve never been able to hit that last note yet, Joeseph,” the bandleader pointed out.

“I can do it, Maestro! The lads are all for it.”

The band leader took a deep breath and burst into tears. “Hurry!” he managed to whisper.


Teddy Longstreet, the Barber’s apprentice, held Sophia Donatelli’s hand as they rushed up the employee’s winding metal staircase to the first-class suites.

The ship was now listing thirty degrees to starboard, which made climbing the steps tougher and though they were going as fast as they could, the chasing water was coming up the steps too, and gaining on them.

“Are you sure?” Sophia asked for the third time, maybe the fourth time.

“I’m sure,” Teddy said for the third or fourth time. “I’ve never been surer of anything in my life.”


“Expecting a flood?” It was a very drunk Waldo St Pierre making the joke. He was wearing a smoking jacket and sitting with four other old men. They were smoking Cuban cigars, and they all laughed so hard at the unexpected comment, one of the rosier of rosy-eyed men shot brandy out his nose and onto the silken, paisley ascot of the old guy sitting beside him. Neither of them noticed.

The young black man standing before them wore white tie and tails complete with top hat. His arms were too long for the coat and his legs were too long for the pants, but it was his trousers stopping at his ankles and showing white socks that made the flood joke so funny. That, and the boat was sinking, of course.

“By God, you’re my steward, aren’t you?” Sir Rodger said from across the card table.

“Yes, sir,” the steward said.

“Those are my clothes!” Sir Rodger added. “Wherever did you get them?”

“From out yo closet, sir.”

“Well, yes,” Sir Rodgers said. “That would make sense.” He looked around the table and they all laughed again. Hard drinking, joyful laughter.

“Have a seat,” Sir Rodger said.

“Have some brandy,” another man said. “We all go down together!”

“Cigar?” a third man offered.

“No, no sir, I got my own,” the steward said. He lit a fat, hand-rolled cigarette and took a deep drag. The five old men stared at him, and he felt their eyes. Then he blew out a great gust of sweet-smelling smoke and smiled a smile that was on the cusp of becoming laughter.

“Is that…?” they asked.

“Yep,” the steward said.

“No!” they said.

“Oh yes,” the steward said.


Joeseph, the violinist, found the band leader at the railing where he’d left him. “We’re all set up, Maestro.”

“What’s that?” the band leader asked.

“We’re going to perform, sir. We’re ready.”

“Yes,” the band leader said. He stood up straight, his head held high, and Joseph led him by the elbow through the throng of frantic, wide-eyed people. Some were running back and forth, railing to railing. Some were crying, some were just staring silently out at the black, moonless sea.

“Alright, alright, here we go lads, one last time." The band leader raised his baton and looked to his violinist. Joeseph closed his eyes and began the first notes of the last sonata he would ever play.


“But I hardly know you,” Sophia Donatelli was saying to Teddy Longstreet. They were both still fully clothed and lying on the unmade bed in Henry Cabbot’s grand suite. Sophia had her arms crossed tight against her chest.

Teddy said, “Come on, you know me, baby. I seen you in the kitchen. You smiled at me.”

Sophia Donatelli looked at Teddy in dewy-eyed silence. “I remember,” she said. “Do you love me, Teddy Longstreet? Please tell me you love me.”

“Oh, baby, I love ya. Believe you me, I love ya!”


The steward’s marijuana cigarette made two full rounds at the table. The men were now beyond rosy-eyed drunk, they were high as kites. They were shit-faced. They were sitting at a card table in the grand cardroom smoking reefer with a negro wearing a beaver-skin top hat. No one would ever believe it. But more importantly, nobody would ever know about it, and for this, they were all relieved.

“What’s your name, my good fellow?” Robert E. Randolph asked.

“My name is Hamilton, sir. My friends call me Happy.”

“This is the first time I ever sat at a table with a negro, Happy,” Robert E. Randolph volunteered.

“Is thaa right, sir? How you like it so far?”

“It not so awful,” the old man answered, grinning hugely now, he slapped Happy on the shoulder, and everybody laughed.


It was coming. The nigh, the note, the works, and when it came Joeseph hit it, and held it perfectly, long, and slow and heart-breaking. The band leader nodded his head.

Tommy and Sophia were lying in the dark on the Cabbot's huge bed with the sheets pulled up to their necks. From somewhere far away they heard the faint strains of a solo violin soaring high and higher until it drifted away. It would be the last music they would ever hear, and they both knew it but left it unsaid.

The six men in the grand cardroom were on their feet now, their brandy snifters held up high over the green felt table. “It wasn’t a bad life,” one said. “No,” the others agreed. “It wasn’t so bad at all…”

--1054 Words--
© Copyright 2024 Winchester Jones (ty.gregory at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2317918-The-Great-Ship