Pirates (Story by Risa Peris)

Captain Meredith Marcello, of both English and Italian descent, was hot. On deck, the heat was suffocating. She was security detail on an Italian ship that waved the Italian flag. The crew was diverse. Not even the captain of the ship, Weatherstone, was Italian. The language on board was English. The ship contained precious cargo – oil. The ship was cruising at a quick clip through the Indian Ocean. This made Captain Meredith nervous. The part of the Indian Ocean they were in was rife with pirates. Captain Marcello’s only order was to prevent pirates. At 0700 hours news crackled on the radio. There had been a pirate raid on a French vessel. Captain Marcello gave orders to the three men she oversaw.

“Be hypervigilant. Any ship is a suspect.”

Around 1100 hours a ship appeared. It was trolling slowly. Both ships were in international waters. The other ship had no flag raised. Marcello could see through her binoculars. She saw dark-skinned men standing on the deck. She saw ropes and what looked like nets. Some of the men were staring at her or the ship. None smiled or waved. Weatherstone sounded an alarm and then came to the top deck.

“Who and what are they?” he asked. “They’ve changed their course. They seem to be heading toward us.”

The ship deviated its path slightly but Weatherstone did little to drastically change the ship’s course. The small boat with no flag got closer. Marcello and her Navy staff got concerned. Seriously concerned. When the boat was close enough, Marcello fired a shot.

“A man went down,” said Gio.

“I killed someone?” Marcello was concerned.

“I don’t know. But someone is down. The people on the boat are going crazy.”

Marcello and her crew fired more shots. As the boat got closer, the Indian flag was raised.

“God damn it.”

The boat and the ship had now drifted into Indian waters. The Indian Coast Guard appeared and demanded the killer of the fisherman. That was Marcello. She begged Weatherstone to help her.

“I already called it in to Italy. They want me to surrender you.”

Marcello was given up to the Coast Guard.

“I thought they were pirates,” she said. “Why weren’t they flying the Indian flag?” Marcello refused to cry.

The Coast Guard didn’t speak to her so Marcello continued on. “There has been a pirate attack earlier today.”

“You killed an Indian,” said one of the Coast Guard crew. “You’re a murderer.”

“No. No, I’m not.”

“You deny shooting your gun?”

Marcello became quiet. She would say nothing more until she got Italian counsel.

The Coast Guard crew clucked his tongue. “Well, at least you’ll be going to the women’s jail. Far less bad than the men’s jail.”

Marcello then, without any reason other than fear and sadness, began to cry. She cried in her uniform. She cried at the port. She cried in jail. An Italian ambassador came.

“Good thing you killed the man in international waters. At least now, we have a fighting chance of moving the case to Italy.”

“I was just doing my job.” Marcello had no more tears.

“Piracy is a worldwide problem and it never seems to end well for either party. Don’t worry. Italy will save you.”

Marcello spent four years in the Indian jail and then was extradited. She faced trial in Italy.

“I was doing my job. I was protecting the ship and crew.”

The judges nodded but Marcello knew not a single judge understood what it was like to be security in pirate-infested waters. Nobody knows unless you actually try to serve and protect in abysmal circumstances.

Marcello was released with time served. She wasn’t sure she would have done anything differently on that fated day. When she was released, she said good-bye to the sea.


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