But Not Forgotten by Martin Roy Hill

That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I didn’t set out to kill Frank Adams because I wanted his money. There was little enough of that left in the family to bicker over, let alone kill for. Besides, I already had gotten everything I could ever want or need from Frank. My wife. His friendship. His respect. I owed Frank Adams more than I could ever repay. And so I decided to kill him.

That Saturday we set out for the marina as we had done each weekend for more than a year, ever since we had placed Frank in the home. No, placed is much too a delicate word. We were forced to lock him away like a crazy aunt.

Strange, though. He was never troublesome on those day trips. The disease that ate at his brain was responsible for the frequent moods swings — one moment a disruptive child, the next an abusive bully — that made caring for him impossible for his wife and daughter. But those swings never occurred when we were together. Perhaps what was left of his dignity held his moods in check around me. Or maybe his long love for the sea, what he could remember of it, soothed him somehow. Then again, it may simply have been because age had shrunk him, and the man who once stood eye‑to‑eye with my six‑foot frame now stood small and frail before me.

On our day trips, I drove him to the commercial basin on the point where the fishing boats and charter yachts moored. We stayed away from the private marinas, where we might run into people Frank knew. And we never went to the yacht club anymore. Bobbie, his daughter and my wife, and Nance, his wife of nearly 50 years, didn’t want Frank’s friends to see him that way. “They should remember him as the man he was,” Nance insisted.

The man he was. Frank Adams, naval war hero, successful businessman, renowned yachtsman. Now the man who was Frank Adams was a pathetic soul ravaged by a mysterious dementia that slowly robbed him of his memories and his dignity. The Navy officer whose actions saved dozens of his shipmates after their destroyer sank at Leyte Gulf, the businessman who built a successful marine insurance company from scratch, the sailor who twice won the Transpac yacht race from Los Angeles to Hawaii — once by sailing through a hurricane — all of this had been taken from him by this devastating illness.

In time, the doctors told us, he wouldn’t remember any of us — not his wife, not his daughter, not me. The illness had already turned his rich, commanding baritone voice timid and halting. Soon, he would lose the ability to speak altogether. Eventually, the illness would destroy so much of his brain it wouldn’t be able to continue the simplest life functions and he would die.

Frank fidgeted in his seat. He pulled his glasses from his pocket, put them on, took them off, put them back in his pocket. He cleared his throat. “Where’re we going, Mark?” he asked, his voice a harsh, hoarse whisper.

“The marina, Frank. To see the boats.”


“Like we do each weekend, Frank.”

“I see.”

He didn’t, of course. We had the same conversation each weekend. The illness seemed to steal the memory of each trip even before the day was done.

“Ah, Mark, I really don’t know if we should,” Frank said. “Maybe we should head back now. I have a lot of stuff to do.”

“Stuff, Frank?”

“Work,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of work at the office to do. There are a lot of people waiting for this big proposal, and I have to spearhead the thing…”

I let Frank ramble. There was no work, no office. Frank seemed blissfully unaware the business he had built was no longer his. That was good. When the cost of his care forced us to sell, the disease had not progressed enough to spare Frank the heartbreak. Now, it was as if the event had never occurred. Now the nursing home was Frank’s office, and its staff his employees.

“It’s the weekend, Frank,” I said. “You don’t work on the weekend. It’s our time to go to the marina. Like we do every weekend.”

“Sure, I know that, but….”

The sentence hung suspended, unfinished. Frank fussed nervously with his glasses again, putting them on, taking them off. He’d lost track of what he was saying.

Frank was fidgeting with his glasses the first time I met him. Bobbie had brought me home to meet the family, and Frank was in his study poring over charts for the Transpac. He placed the glasses on his nose to trace a rhumbline with his finger, then removed them and chewed on their ear tips as he contemplated the course line. Frank was locked in his thoughts, oblivious to us standing in the den until Bobbie called his name. Embarrassed, he seemed uncertain what to do with his glasses as Bobbie introduced us.

Despite his initial embarrassment, Frank and I took an instant liking to each. We’d both been naval officers — Frank on a destroyer in the Pacific, me on Swift boats in Vietnam — and we both loved sailing.

We spent that evening reviewing his charts and telling war stories. That’s when I first heard about the battle of Samar Island, where Frank’s tincan went down after helping fend off a Japanese attack on the Leyte Gulf landing forces. Most of the crew made it off the ship, but half of those died in the water waiting for rescue, some from exposure, some from shark attacks. Frank was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in keeping the few survivors alive.

That was also the first time I learned of Frank’s ambivalence to his own survival. “We lost a lot of good men,” he told me. “Why I survived and they didn’t….” He shook his head. “I’ve never felt right about that, Mark.”

I didn’t think much of the remark at the time. Most of us who have been to war and lost friends feel a certain uneasiness about our own survival. Survivor’s guilt, they call it. It wasn’t until several years later, after we had won Frank’s second Transpac victory, that I understood the depth of his remorse.

The race got underway from Los Angeles with full knowledge there was a tropical storm brewing near Hawaii. But after plotting the storm’s course, the weather service assured us it was blowing to the southwest, well away from the course we’d have to sail. They were wrong.

Halfway through our crossing, the storm reared and grew to full hurricane force. It also reversed course, blowing straight in front of the racing fleet. Most of the boats turned back. Frank was among the few skippers willing to challenge the ocean’s fury.

Frank lashed himself down in the racing yacht’s cockpit, and stayed there for nearly 48 hours guiding us through the storm. Looking at the pitiful man sitting next me as we drove to the marina, it was hard to remember him as he was then, strapped to the helm, wrapped in a yellow slicker, bellowing into the wind verses from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the same poem he had recited to keep his men calm, awake and alive after the sinking of their ship.

When the storm passed, we found ourselves so far ahead of the remaining racers we knew we had already won. The crew began celebrating before we even made port. All except Frank, who stayed alone at the helm, quietly dealing with his own demons.

“I’m sorry, Mark,” he said as I slipped into the cockpit beside him.

“Sorry, hell, Frank,” I said. “We won.”

Frank’s gaze was held on the sea. He shook his head. “I put you and the others at risk,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that. I wasn’t thinking about anyone but myself.”

“We won, Frank. You’ve always said sometimes you gotta take chances to win.”

“I shouldn’t have risked you, Mark,” he said. “Or the others.”

“We didn’t try to stop you, Frank,” I said. “You gotta take chances.”

“I wasn’t thinking of winning, Mark. I thought maybe…..” Frank looked at me, but his stare was dark and distant. “I was hoping — I wanted the sea to take me back, the way it should have done. To set the record straight.”

“What are you talking about, Frank? What record?”

“Samar,” he said. He turned his gaze back to the sea and didn’t say anything more.

No one really knew just when the illness set in. Frank had always been a little distracted. We passed it off as simple absentmindedness whenever he left his briefcase on a plane or misplaced a document. But when he began repeatedly missing important meetings, we started to suspect his memory gaps were more than simple forgetfulness. The night Frank got lost driving home from his office, we knew there was something more seriously wrong with him.

From that point on, we simply watched as he deteriorated into the hapless man he now was. It was a damning, wrenching experience, watching a man for whom the mind and physical prowess was everything shrink into a confused and frightened animal. There were still occasional moments of clarity, when the old Frank Adams seemed to struggle through to the surface, but they grew fewer with each passing month. In each of our souls we secretly wished his body would give out before his brain finally did. A sudden heart attack, a stroke, something that would take him quickly and spare him this growing indignity. We never actually spoke about this, but we could read it in each others’ eyes whenever Frank left the room.

The illness not only took away the man Frank Adams was, it took all he had earned and built over the years. Frank’s business was gone, as well as his beloved racing sloop, both sold to pay for Frank’s special care. Nance and Frank’s house was put on the block, and the money from that was gone as well.

The savings and investments Frank and Nance had built up went before everything else. For that matter, so had the savings Bobbie and I had put away. All that was left was Frank’s retirement funds, and they were perilously low. Nance moved in with us to conserve that money for Frank’s care, but it was only a matter of time before that, too, was drained.

It was on one of our weekends at the docks that the idea of killing Frank first came to me. We stopped to admire a yawl tied up to the charter docks. She was a vintage craft, with teak decks and trim, the type of boat that draws the attention of even the driest landlubber. Frank stopped to admire the boat each time we came to the marina. Each time it was like he saw her for the first time.

“I know this boat,” Frank said.

“Of course, you do, Frank,” I said. “We were here last weekend, remember?”

Frank looked at me like I was crazy.

“No…..No, I don’t, Mark. That may be, but I don’t think so.” His face brightened. “You know where I know her from? I served on her during the war. In the Pacific!”

“No, Frank,” I said. “You were on a destroyer, remember? The destroyer went down at Leyte Gulf. Remember?”

Frank started shaking his head. “Leyte Gulf? Went down? I don’t think so. This is my destroyer. I remember standing watch there at the helm….”

Frank let the sentence hang unfinished. His face twisted in anguish. Tears swelled in his eyes.

“Samar,” he said. “Not Leyte. Samar. Oh, God, please don’t let me forget them, too.”

He rested his head on the cool metal railing bordering the docks, his sobs barely heard over the screech and cry of the dock’s chafing gear and rubber fenders. When he finished, he looked out at the bay and pounded the railing.

“God, I hate this,” he said, his voice a harsh whisper whipped by the wind. “I wish God had just let me die out there.”

Frank walked a few yards, wiping his eyes dry with his sleeve. Then he stopped and stooped down. He turned back to me, holding in his hand a short length of ordinary braided rope.

“What’s this doing here, Mark? This is from my boat. I recognize it. But what’s it doing here? I keep my boat at the yacht club.”

Frank turned one way, then the other, looking for a boat that was no longer his. He had already forgotten his anguish. He spotted the yawl and dropped the rope.

“Hey, Mark,” he said. “Look at her. She’s a beaut, isn’t she….?

From that moment on, my plan began to evolve. Its details came to me slowly, in small bits as if I were daydreaming. In that reverie, I easily became convinced of the truth in what we all thought but never spoke of: that Frank Adams would be better off dead. I reasoned he was no longer truly alive, that he was simply the flesh and blood remains of a man who once was; a walking skeleton with no mind, no memories, no joy and no soul. I told myself that if I were so afflicted, I would prefer death than being stripped of all control over my bodily functions, to having my legacy robbed from my family, to be driven into a state of financial despair and forced into county care where I would simply be an unthinking piece of dying flesh. It was easy for me to see the simple truth in all this, for I still believed I had my own powers of reasoning.

It took me a week to steel my resolve, another to execute my plans. I called on Frank early that Saturday, knowing it would be my last chance to spend time with him. As we neared the marina, I told him I had a surprise for him.

“What do you mean, Mark? What kind of surprise? Can I see it?”

“Not yet, Frank,” I said. “When we get to the docks.”

I parked, and we walked straight to the charter wharf, where Frank once again discovered the yawl he so admired.

“My she’s yar, isn’t she, Mark?”

“Yes, she is, Frank,” I said. “Remember my surprise?”


“I told you I had a surprise for you.”

Frank looked puzzled. “I guess so,” he said.

“Well, this is it,” I said. “We’re going out on that yawl.”

Frank’s eyes brighten, and just as quickly clouded. “I don’t know, Mark. I — ah — may not have the time. I have to get back to the office, you know.”

“Now, Frank, I’ve discussed this with Nance and Bobbie, and they think it’s swell. So do the people at the office. You need some time off. They all agreed to that.”

I had, indeed, discussed the outing with Nance and Bobbie, and with the people at the nursing home. They all agreed the trip would be good for Frank. They didn’t know, of course, I wouldn’t be bringing him back.

Frank fell quiet and studied the yawl with a doubtful stare. I wondered what strange convolutions of thought went on in his depredated brain. Had the lure of the sea I had counted on been taken from him? Did some fear tear at him? Did some ancient instinct warn him of unknown danger? I began to think he would back out of the cruise. I almost hoped he would.

But there was no more need to convince Frank.

“Well, then, okay! Let’s go!” he shouted, and sprinted across the brow like a young boy on an adventure.

I had signed the charter papers the day before, and I wasted no time taking the boat out of the slip. Frank insisted on helping, letting go the mooring lines and, after we’d motored into the channel, helping to set the sails. I was amazed at how adeptly Frank handled the sheets and halyards, as if he suffered no diminished capacity at all. The illness destroying his brain seemed to have missed this, and I wondered if it was by simple chance or because Frank somehow fought to preserve this last part of himself.

After we cleared the channel buoys, I turned the helm over to Frank. He had no problem keeping the compass steady on our course while I studied the weather. The sky was overcast and the wind blew hard. Froth curled the top of the waves. The sea spray was cold. A man in the water wouldn’t wait long before hypothermia set in.

While Frank steered, I slipped into the engine compartment and worked the throttle until the auxiliary motor flooded. This was my plan. When Frank “accidentally” fell aboard, I would be unable to start the motor. A boat under sail blows at the mercy of the wind and sea. Without the auxiliary motor, it would be impossible to bring the yawl around in time to save Frank.

That, at least, would be my story.

I finished with the motor, and went forward to fetch sodas and sandwiches the charter company had stored aboard for us. As I returned aft, I heard Frank’s voice. I thought he was talking to himself, carrying on one of his long, droning conversations as he frequently did when by himself.

I was wrong.

Frank stood at the helm, his back stiff and straight, both hands gripping the wheel, the wind whipping up his thinning gray hair and flapping the loose ends of his jacket. His voice was deep and rich, his articulation without fault. I marveled at the sight and listened to his words.

“God save thee, ancient Mariner! From the fiends that plague thee thus!”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. How, I wondered, had he regained his full voice? Where in his afflicted brain did he store those words?

I placed the sandwiches and drinks next to Frank and checked our course. The lubber line was dead on due west. I popped open one of the sodas and sat back listening to Frank’s recital.

“That reminds me of the hurricane,” I said, after he finished. “Remember the hurricane, Frank?”

“What hurricane?” he asked.

“The one we sailed through going to Hawaii. During the Transpac. Remember?”

Frank furrowed his brow, then shook his head. “Was I there?”

“You were there, Frank,” I assured him. “That was your second Transpac win, remember?”

“’Fraid I don’t, Mark. I don’t think I’ve been to Hawaii — except during the war. Oh—“ Frank snapped his fingers. “You mean Halsey’s Typhoon, don’t you? I remember that. Sure I do.”

Frank was in a hospital in Pearl Harbor recovering from the injuries he received at Leyte Gulf when Bull Halsey’s fleet encountered the typhoon. I let the subject drop, and tried another.

“Tell me about the war, Frank,” I asked. “About Leyte Gulf — Samar, that is.”

Frank looked puzzled at first, then anxious, his mind unable to recognize the words.

“I don’t know, Mark, about that,” he said. “I know I was there once—“

It struck me that the illness plaguing Frank’s brain had finally stripped away the ghosts that haunted him all these years, and that thought hit me like a blow. What I was doing, what I had planned was all predicated on Frank’s desire to return to the sea, to even the score he had always felt was necessary to rid him of the guilt he endured for having survived while others did not. I had convinced myself I was doing Frank a favor, fulfilling his last wish. Without his memories of the war, without its ghosts, what I was planning to do seemed too much like — well, like murder.

“The war, Frank, the war,” I said, surprised at the urgency in my voice. “You know, when your destroyer was sunk by the Japanese. You were in the water a long time. There were sharks.”

“Oh, that,” Frank said. He sat down, his body sagging again. “Of course, I remember that. Nothing can make me forget that, Mark.”

I felt my heart start beating again.

“Tell me about it, then, Frank. About the battle.”

Frank searched the fragments of his memory, then slowly put the story together. “We were — where were we? — off Samar Island, that’s it. North of the landing at Lady — no, Ley‑tee Gulf. That was it.

“The Japs came down on us from…the north?” I nodded my concurrence, and Frank looked pleased. “They wanted the landing fleet and the little carriers we were guarding. Old — what was his name? Seems I just had it.” He looked at me apologetically. “I’m sorry, Mark. I just don’t remember things anymore.”

“That’s okay, Frank. Do you mean the captain?”

“No, though he was a fine man. That was…the typhoon!” Frank snapped his fingers as he grasped the memory.

“Bull Halsey?”

“That’s it. Halsey was supposed to be up there to the north to block them, but he went off chasing a Jap ghost fleet. Left us there damn naked with all these Japs coming at us.”

“What’d the Japanese have, Frank. What kind of ships?”

“Oh, God, I don’t know. All kinds.” Frank patted the yawl’s gunwale and smiled broadly. “Not like this little lady. Isn’t she a beaut, Mark? We could’ve used her there, I tell you.”

“There were battleships, weren’t there, Frank? And cruisers?”

Frank set his eyes on the horizon. He squinted as if he seemed to see it all again.

“Oh, God, yes. Battlewagons — the biggest the Japs had, the…the…”

“The Yamato.”

“That’s right, of course. What you said. How could I forget? They had cruisers, too. And tincans, lots of them. We watched their pagoda masts come over the horizon, then next thing shell splashes were coming up all around us.”

“Then what?”

“Well, let’s see. Captain — Captain? I can’t remember his name now. A great guy. Best tincan skipper in the Navy. I bet he made admiral. You met him, didn’t you?”

“No,” I said. “He died there at Samar, Frank. When the ship went down. Remember?”

Frank became distracted by his sandwich. He picked it up, sniffed it, then took the pieces of bread apart to examine the makings.

“Who made these, Mark? Did you make these?”

“No, the charter company did, Frank. Something wrong?”

“No, they’re fine. Just fine.” He took a bite and set the sandwich down. He picked up the soda and studied the can while he chewed.

“What did the captain do, Frank?”


“Your skipper on the tincan. At Samar.”

“Oh, that. He ordered us to attack.”

“The Japanese fleet? By yourselves?”

“There were — oh, four or five other tincans, but we were the closest to the Japs. So we laid a smokescreen and then made a torpedo attack. Got us a cruiser, too.”

“Then what, Frank?”

Frank thought a moment. He took his glasses from his pocket and put them on, then took them off, looked at them, and put them away.

“Oh, I don’t know. Something. You know.”

“Is that when your ship started getting hit?”

Frank nodded, and fumbled with the glasses in his pocket.

“Yeah. I guess so. You were there.”

“No, I wasn’t there, Frank. I wasn’t even born yet. You were there. Remember?”

“Of course, I remember. It was like…like someone picked us up and threw us into a wall. But we kept going. I remember. Yeah. The other tincans came and made their attacks, and the skipper said we should follow them in and give them cover fire.” Frank chuckled and shook his head. “Cover fire with our puny five‑inch guns.

“The exec said, ‘Just give the word, captain.’ And the skipper said, ‘The word is given.’ And we went back in at the Japs.”

“But you turned them back.”

“Yeah, somehow. I don’t understand it. ‘Course, we were goners by then. The ship was taking hits from all sides and going under and the skipper gave the word to abandon her. He never made it off the ship, the skipper. I remember now. A good man. I just wish I could remember his name….”

“Evans,” I said. “Ernest Evans. Remember? He got the Medal of Honor.”

Frank nodded, but he was thinking of something else.

“Damndest thing, though,” he said. “After we were in the water, a Jap tincan came by. We thought they were going to machine‑gun us, but the Jap skipper…he saluted us. Can you imagine that? He saluted us. I shouted out, ‘Look at that, boys. He’s saluting us.’ Everyone thought I was shell‑shocked or something ’til they looked up and saw him, too.”

“What happened after that, Frank?”

Frank had a distant look on his face, as if watching something deep in the past.

“Then the Japs — the Japs just went away. Everyone just went away and forgot about us for two days and two nights. Everyone except the sharks.”

Tears swelled in Frank’s eyes and streaked across his face, blown by the wind. He picked up his sandwich, then set it down without a bite. He began humming something but it wasn’t a tune. The words began trickling from his mouth, low and soft.

“Her lips were red, her looks were free/Her locks were yellow as gold,” he recited. “Her skin was white as leprosy/The Night‑mare LIFE‑IN‑DEATH was she/Who thicks man’s blood with cold.”

“You recited that poem to keep your men calm in the water, didn’t you, Frank?”

Frank shook his head.

“Sure you did,” I said. “It was in your citation. The one for the Navy Cross. It said you kept the survivors from panicking and kept their spirits up by reciting that poem.”

“I don’t remember it that way,” Frank said.

“You don’t remember reciting the poem?”

“I remember,” Frank said. “I remember it like…yesterday. It’s all I can remember. It just didn’t happened like that, like they say in that piece of paper.”

Frank fumbled with his glasses again, putting them on, taking them off. He finally put them away, and wiped the tears from his face with his coat sleeve. Then he looked at me, and for the first time in what seemed ages I saw the clarity in his eyes that I had come to expect from Frank Adams.

“I kept reciting that poem to keep myself from panicking,” he finally said. “I was so scared, Mark. The only way I could keep from screaming myself mad was to recite that stupid poem I had to memorize in high school.

“There were a lot better men than me in that water, Mark. A lot braver. When I made it and they didn’t, it — it just didn’t seem right. I swore right then I had to make something out my life. I owed them that much at least, not to waste the life they gave me.”

Frank slipped his glasses into his pocket.

“Now it’s all gone. Everything. I know it is, Mark.” Frank tapped his head. “In the few moments I have like this, I know it is. I’ve let you and Nance and Bobbie down. I’ve let those men down. And now, I can’t even remember their names or faces anymore. It’s not fair.” Frank put his face in his hands. “It’s never been fair.”

I moved next to Frank and placed my arm around his shoulders. The wheel was loose and began to spin. The boat slipped off a wave and rolled steeply to starboard. I looked past him, and watched the waves frothing. One quick shove, and it would be over.

“You did all by right them, Frank,” I said. “You’ve done all right by everyone.”

I braced a foot against the port bulkhead as the yawl took the reverse roll. Frank’s weight leaned heavily against me. He wasn’t bracing himself against the movement of the boat. He was as limp as rag doll, almost as if he knew what I had in mind and was making it easier.

The deck straightened, and Frank’s weight lightened. I kept the pressure against him, waiting for the roll to starboard. The bow pitched up on the next wave, and slipped off to the right again. The deck began to list in the same direction. I pressed my weight against Frank’s.

Frank patted my leg. “Thank you, Mark,” he said. “I’ve always loved you like a son.”

The soda cans tumbled with a clatter as the deck began its steep roll. The remains of our sandwiches followed the cans. The boom swung wildly above our heads as the boat swung off course.

Just one quick shove. One quick push and it all would be over. Frank’s pain and despair. Our emotional and financial drain. Everyone would be better off.

But I just couldn’t do it.

No matter how sick his brain might be, this was still Frank Adams, the man I had grown to love and respect. A man who still had much more to give than he took. A hero in my eyes and everyone else’s, if not in his own.

I grabbed the stuffed collar of Frank’s lifejacket and pulled hard to the left. The deck flattened out. I took the wheel and swung the bow back into the sea. The roll lessened. I set the autopilot and sat back.

Frank looked at me sadly.

“I love you, too, Frank,” I said. “We all do.”

Frank said nothing.

“Listen, we’ll just let the autopilot drive her for a while. I’ll go below and get some more sodas and sandwiches. But you keep an eye out for traffic, okay?”

Frank nodded, but remained silent.

Everything in the cabin not lashed down had crashed to the floor and slid around. I picked it all up. The wind blew harder now, singing a low mournful tune as it whipped through the halyards and strained the canvas. I thought I heard voices above deck.

I carried the sodas and sandwiches up the short ladder to the aft well. Frank was no longer at the helm. I looked to starboard, then port, but I didn’t see him. Then I heard his voice behind me.

“Don’t just stand there,” he shouted. “The skipper’s ordered us over the side. She’s going down.”

Frank was ‘midships, one hand holding the starboard guy wire, one foot on the gunwale. He was hunched over, as if ducking shrapnel.

“Frank, what you are talking about?”

“The ship’s going under. The captain’s ordered her abandoned.”

“The captain?”

“He just came by with the bosun,” Frank shouted. He stepped up to the gunwale and teetered there. “They went up the air castle.”

I dropped the food and rushed across the deck and caught Frank’s lifejacket and pulled him in. He struggled, then stopped. His eyes were pleading but perfectly clear.

“Please, don’t stop me, Mark,” he said. “Please.”

I studied his face, but could find no reason to stop him.

Frank straightened to attention. “Just give the word, captain,” he said.

“The word,” I whispered, “is given.”

My grip slackened. Frank patted my shoulder, then slipped into the sea. He disappeared beneath the waves for a moment, then surfaced and turned to me.

“Thank you, Mark,” he shouted. Then he saluted. I returned the salute.

“You see that, boys?” Frank shouted. “That Jap officer just saluted us, by God.”

A wave splashed across Frank’s face, then a second and a third. I watched as he drifted farther from the boat. He began to disappear between the troughs, but I could still hear his voice.

“Come on, boys. Keep together. Don’t spread out. Keep together now.”

I lost him in the sea. I tuned the radio to the emergency channel, and made my Mayday call. The wind blew past my ears, and carried with it was Frank’s rich baritone voice. I could just make out the opening lines to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Martin Roy Hill is a former newspaper and magazine journalist, now working for the Navy as a military analyst. His nonfiction work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, LIFE, Newsweek and Omni, among others. His fiction work has appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and San Diego Magazine among others. He is also the author of two books, Duty: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond and The Killing Depths, a military mystery thriller.

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