Brian's Sea Venture
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
By Jurgen Braunohler
As a sullen Brian came down the hall, the front door opened and in walked Dad. Instantly a smile lit up the kid's face. Although he loved his mother, it was plain who the role model and hero in his life was. Tom Horwood was a Canadian of British ancestry, amiable and good natured. He happily ambled down the hallway past Brian to the bathroom with a self-absorbed look, without so much as a glance in the boy's direction or a word of hello. The youngster's expression changed to disappointment and then to indifference. He grabbed his own jacket and walked out, without being noticed.
“Honey! Have you seen Brian?” asked Treasa through the door as Tom dried his hands.
“I thought I saw him as I came in” he replied. “Why, is he missing?”
“He`s not in any of the bedrooms and we have to go soon.”
“Well” said Tom, “why don't we just eat. We can go without him if he doesn't show up. He's done this so many times already.” Tom didn`t believe in coddling anyway, but it was a pity. A little more attention just might have changed what the fates had in store that night.
As the Horwoods drove to the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall with their daughter Aileen for the concert, Brian arrived at his friend Harvey's place. 15 year old Harvey was a nice guy, but a real slouch. The rest of the place showed the same disheveled neglect and the parents were out. The entire house was gloomy. Also present was their mutual friend John, a real troublemaker who could turn violent and who, at the age of 16 had been smoking for some time. The other two were just starting to dabble in this, while John himself was dabbling in more dangerous things.
With a round of applause, the popular Irish band The Chieftains trooped on stage and things got underway. The Horwood family had an excellent view from the balcony of the packed auditorium and all thoughts of Brian were forgotten. A haunting, traditional Irish melody played on a pair of flute-like tin whistles soon gave way to the intoxicating rhythms on the drum known as the bodhran, followed by other instruments. Brian and his friends, meanwhile, were on their way to a nearby mall and a collision with destiny.
Young Jenny was sorting things out at the cash register when Brian and his two buddies entered the convenience store, which had no-one else in it. She cast them a warm smile and a nod of hello. John whispered something to them after which they all wandered in different directions. One boy stuck his head out into the mall and looked around.
“Give me everything you've got – don't f...* with me! Put it in a bag!” Jenny found herself physically dragged by her shirt half over the counter and face to face with the vilest expression of John, who was now pointing a gun at her.
“Jesus Christ!” gasped Harvey. “We were only going to lift some smokes!” But he was grabbed by John, who ran out the door with him.
“HEY!!” yelled a security guard running up the hall. The startled Brian froze, as the image of trembling Jenny, so much like his own beloved sister Aileen, immobilized him at the critical moment.
Tom and Treasa had no idea of the disaster taking place. A huge round of applause and a standing ovation followed one of the most spectacular fiddle performances they had ever seen. Only Aileen, who was genuinely worried about Brian, expressed any concern.
“You know” said Tom, “we're worried too, but Brian is just going to have to learn from his own mistakes.” Meanwhile, down at the police station, the boy was experiencing real fear as his lawyer sat down to speak with him.
“You have no idea what you have done, have you? Okay...Do you know where your parents are?”
Treasa woke up in a cold sweat, the last words of her nightmare etched in her mind. That anyone would question the whereabouts of Tom or her, the most responsible parents on the planet, was as unthinkable as their conduct in that dream. Yet what to do about out-of-control Brian? Then the reports of his two friends robbing the store – her dream was probably accurate. She considered that sail training vessel again, the Sea Venture. But how to get Brian into that youth program? How?
Originally from Toronto and a writer & author for 19 years, many insights have contributed to this novel: as a tall ship seaman, nautical historian, rehabilitator of juvenile delinquents, youth program staff, house parent raising homeless kids and others, social activist, artist, musician and adventurer, among other things. The events in this story have been inspired by personal experience.