There were no stars in the deep ocean. Dylan stared and stared, but the flood lights from behind him, from the rig he stood on drowned out what would have been the dead of night anywhere. Anywhere but here.
Below him the swells chopped the girders that supported the rig and the sea spray made its way into his sinuses, his mouth, enriched his clothes with a sticky salt, and made his skin feel dry and rough. He thought it might stay like that forever.
The squeak of boots on the metal grate that was the floor made Dylan turn.
"Smoke?" asked The Head.
"Don't smoke," said Dylan. He'd quite when he'd arrived on the rig. Not easy. Not one bit. Nearly every guy who worked here smoked. Some of them vaped. Some of them smoked and gave the ones who vaped shit. Dylan bypassed the whole situation. The first two weeks had been hell. Cold, watery, salty Hell.
"You been here not too long," said The Head. "Mind?" he held up a lighter.
The light flicked and the cherry flared. "What did you run away from?" asked The Head.
"Nothing. It's just a job," said Dylan.
"Everyone who comes here runs from something," said The Head. He was black. As black as they came. His father, he said, had come from Kenya. His mother too, but she had died years back.
Dylan had once asked if he ever went back to Kenya. The Head told him, "Once, long time ago. But I'm American. Not Kenyan. Immigrant, my parents. My history weren't slaves to anyone--not on this continent anyway."
That made The Head as American as they came, Dylan figured. A disregard for your ancestry was what America was founded on.
"I'm not a fan of the ocean," said Dylan.
The Head sucked his cigarette. "Bad place to run away too then."
"Yes." said The Head.
Dylan was about to tell The Head his sister was a big fuck-up, that his sister had taken everything once his parents died. He was about to tell The Head that the people you grew up with were the people you should never trust--they'd never treat you as well as they'd treat strangers, but before he could the klaxon sounded. It wailed into the night and the yellow spinning lights atop the rig flashed into the dark dark night. Bright even, against the glare of the floods.
Dylan stared at The Head, and The Head held his cigarette between still lips. It fell and slipped through the grated flooring and plunged into the sea. Both men began to run.