If I put my ear next to the deck I can hear the spray from the hose gushing down the pipe to our water tanks in the cabin below. I bend at the waist to look through the nearest open porthole and see the back of Alex’s head.
“What’s the verdict?” I ask.
“It’s getting pretty close, ” he says, leaning over the 10″ circular viewing pane on top of the tank.
“Should I stop?”
“Uh…let’s see what happens.”
The dock is barely lit by moonlight. I put my head close to the hole again. The pitch rises slowly like a water glass filling.
“All right, that’s probably good,” Alex says. I leave the hose in for a moment, figuring I’ll max out the tank, just let the water run up the pipe all the way up to the deck.
“Oh God, it’s overflowing!” he says, excited.
I put my hand on the hose and get ready to pull it out, but then I realize. He’s probably joking. That Alex, always with the jokes. You know, he really shouldn’t joke about something like this. It’s kinda serious. Water in the cabin and all that. Unless…wait! I rip the hose out.
“Are you being serious?!” I shout.
“Yeah,” he laughs, darting to the other side of the cabin, “I’m gonna go pump some water out!”
I drop the hose on the dock and hop down in the cabin to see what the damage is. Alex is laughing, taking another look at the top of the tank.
Once he reassures me the leaking’s stopped I smile at him and confess, “I thought you were joking, dude!”
“Really?” he asks, breaking into laughter.
“Yeah, in fact, I was sure you were joking. The only reason I pulled the hose out was because I thought on the infinitesimal chance that you weren’t, I’d regret it.”
“That was probably smart,” Alex grins. He astutely reasons that it’s pretty unlikely that we’re going to stop being ridiculously sarcastic just because we’re on a boat. I agree.
“You know what we need? A code word. Like ‘seriously’. Something that when one of us says it, we know they’re not joking” he suggests.
“You mean like, ‘No, seriously, Alex, Nick fell overboard like ten minutes ago’?”
“Exactly,” he responds, thinking it over.
“Wouldn’t work. We probably already use ‘seriously’ all the time in our jokes,” I say.
“Maybe a weirder word then?”
“Like…’Red Dragon, I think that’s actually a real gun, guys!'” I say.
“Hahah, just like that.”
“Or, ‘Red Dragon, I totally put anthrax in our water tanks,'” I offer.
“Perfect. Then we’d know you were serious. And crazy. Maybe, ‘Red Dragon, you’re on FIRE!'”
“OK, I guess that’s it then. Red Dragon. Except you know when it’s actually crazy there won’t be a full sentence attached. Like when you’re in the passenger seat and a car starts merging into your friend’s car, you’re never like, ‘That car is going to hit us.’ It’s always just baby-talk, like, ‘Uooooohhhh!'”
“You’re right. You’ll be down in your bunk and you’ll just hear, ‘REDDRAGON OHMYGOD!'” Alex responds.
“Oh man, scariest way to wake up ever!”
A moment later Nick comes back into the cabin from a shopping trip. We catch him up on the idea and some of our examples.
He stares me right in the eyes, stern-faced and shaking his head. “Red Dragon, I hate you Dave Green.”