The midday doldrums. Mermaids drumming in the doldrums. Soldiers siesta
on rafts of sargasso in the doldrums. Hank Buck rises dripping on his
elbows, dogtag jingling. There's only one.
Water drips in the sunny doldrums. The raindrums in the distance,
the choruses of mermaids, broken by laughter. Liquid images upside-down
glassy in the glasseyed sea. Glistening brown biceps and golden armbands,
shells jingle and breasts jounce as they call and respond like
cheerleaders. Watery cheerleaders in the Horse Latitudes.
Hank recognizes Lana Lugalbanda, Anna Annapurna, and some
girlfriends of theirs. Behind him, Ted Bronson: "Drumming for rain
The girls chant in Murrogach. They chant to Varuna for the afternoon
showers. The sargasso slops. Bright stars in the Stargasso Sea. The sun
is wet and gold in the milky air. Dolphins slap in the ponds beyond.
A barely perceptible change in the timbre of the air, like a tuning
fork changing to a new frequency. In the distance the girls' lusty
drumming & singing continues. Hank feels something he'd never have felt
back when he was just a Man. The air is sighing. The air inhales &
Catspaws ripple at the margin of slop. Hank moves over the sticky
leaves and bladders to get a better view. The air puckers, inhales once
more the first circles appear on the glass of the sea.
The girls cheer, hurling thanks to the Gods, and splash back into
the water. The drums dropped into the deep, and the girls dance with the
dolphins. It would never occur to Hank to join in, that he could join in,
but he and Ted and Skitch watch, amused and fond.
Soon after, the rain stops. Even in the heavy humidity, Hank's lungs
feel far too dry and parched. The sun's going down in his lungs. The gang
gathers back together, and they all slip into the waves. The first
lungful of water, something that used to be so horrid and frightening, is
cool and refreshing. The shadows break up above, and the mermen and