“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)
28 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985
We sailed clean past Kingston, Jamaica and almost to the fortress of Guantanamo Bay. Captain Merk ordered us to re-chart our course; best possible route to the nearest safe harbor from the storm. We poured over the radar images and maps to quickly give him a course. The course would take us straight into the harbor at Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. It wasn’t the best ‘tourist’ port, but it would serve our need.
With some measure of relief, the radar showed the hurricane had changed direction, too. That reality became more obvious as we anchored at the the Port to sunny skies and a light breeze. Still, just to be safe, we dropped anchor and began to disembark passengers, and all non-essential crew went inland. That meant that Ian and I would have the opportunity to be tourists for a few hours.
We were at the end of the wharf when I spied it. It wasn’t hard as the cupola rose above the surrounding buildings like a lighthouse amid a stormy sea. The characteristic shape along with its red and white stripes could only mean one thing – Chicken! And, not just any chicken; mind you, but the genuine Colonel Sanders’ made in Kentucky fried chicken!
Yes, I’d spied myself an American restaurant – Kentucky Fried Chicken – KFC! I tell you, it was quite a sight for my homesick and hungry eyes. There was no doubt of what would be my first stop. Nope, no doubt at all. My mouth was already watering to the point of drool.
‘KFC!’ I squealed as I latched onto Ian’s arm and pointed.
‘I can’t believe it.’ He shook his head. ‘Of all the things you could have seen.’
‘Come on! We don’t have much time, and I want fried chicken. The baby wants it, too.’ Real meat. Real protein. I pulled him along.
‘Alright, but slow down. We’ve got time.’ He pulled me to his side and whispered in my ear. ‘Stay close, and keep quiet. They don’t like Americans here at the moment.’
‘Oh, Ian, just hurry. I’m so hungry.’ I pleaded.