The head spat seawater and snapped, «Who else would it be, Wenceslao?» He explained that he’d lost his body in the explosion and drifted for days. He was about to give up hope until he saw the lifeboat.
«If we find your body, I promise I’ll have it reattached, Maese» Wenceslao vowed.
«Thank you, lad, but I fear we’ll never see it again. I suppose you can stop calling me that now. I’ve got no ship, and without a body they aren’t likely to give me another one. Call me Pedro.»
Glad to finally have someone to talk to, Wenceslao and Pedro passed the hours going over every last detail they could recall about what had happened. Neither of them could pinpoint who or what exactly had caused the initial fire. Then the discussion changed to the curious absence of any rescue ships, then the weather, then politics, and at last as the sun reached its highest point, they were both too hot and parched to enjoy each other’s company.
«Wenceslao, be good and stow me away in the shade.»
Ever the obedient crewman, Wenceslao took the flare gun out of its box and replaced it with Pedro’s head. He closed the lid and asked him if that was all right. «Yes, it’s all right,» Pedro responded. Wenceslao heard him yawn, and the two of them fell asleep as Cecilia reached the last page of her magazine and flipped back to the first.
Another week passed with neither signs of land nor ship. Then one day at sunrise they awoke to the sound of a voice.
«We’ve already done this,» Cecilia complained, smelling the now-scentless perfume sample between an article about the health benefits of opium and erasing the solutions to a crossword puzzle so she could solve it again. Wenceslao opened the lid to Pedro’s box so he could see and the two of them scanned the placid waters for the source of that voice. They heard it again. «I saw your lips moving that time,» Cecilia said without looking up.
Wenceslao saw a little spot, like a rock, approaching from the lee. A sea turtle perhaps? Or the head of a seal? Were such creatures to be found out here? They heard the voice again, and the little object move faster in their direction than before. It was a severed hand wearing a head mirror and rowing with the wooden stick from a Magnum taped to his arm. Doctor Fistus!
Exhausted after rowing for weeks, the doctor fell flat on his back in the lifeboat and gently laughed. «I can’t,» he panted, «believe…I finally caught up…to you.»
Wenceslao and Doctor Fistus embraced and never separated again. They exchanged tales, and just as they were about to enter an awkward silence, they heard the deep boom of a large ship.