I stood on the bow of the Fairchild Conqueror as it sailed across the choppy waters of the Caribbean. To my right side (which people who know things about boats call the "starboard" side, for reasons I could not tell you in a million years) I could see the fair island of Cuba as a green line in the distance. To my left side, there was nothing but miles and miles of open ocean. We had sailed for three days out of Nassau, headed for Grand Cayman. The salt air was in my face. I had an ice-cold frozen mimosa in my hand. The weather was mild and the sun wasn’t in my eyes anymore and all was right with the world. Captain Manuel came out on deck to wish me a good morning.
"Fair sailing ahead, Captain?" I asked.
"Yes sir, Mr. Fairchild. You may want to go below, though," he said.
"Why?" I asked. "Lunch isn’t for a couple of hours yet. The weather is perfect. It’s a beautiful day for a sail."
"Not everyone is as good of a sailor as you are, maybe, Mr. Fairchild."
"Oh," I said. "I guess she’s awake now."
"She’s awake, Mr. Fairchild. And, well, she’s not best pleased, if you catch my meaning."
"That’s not good," I said.
"You probably need to go below and have a chat with her. That’s a message, by the way."
"I see," I said.
"I didn’t use the actual words that she used, out of respect to both of you, but the tone indicated that you needed to get down there in a hurry, Mr. Fairchild."
"Of course. Yes. Aye aye, captain."
*
"I am going to kill you," Emma said.
"You don’t mean that, sweetheart," I said.
"No, literally. I am going to kill you. Here, in international waters, so nobody can prosecute me. As soon as I get the strength to peel myself off this floor, I am going to get up and hit you with the nearest blunt object I can find, and then get Captain Manuel to help me throw you over the side."
"Seasickness is a terrible thing," I said. "Or so I have been told, never having had it before. But you’ll be fine."
"Morning sickness is a terrible thing," Emma said, "and so is seasickness. I have both at the same time and I have never felt more miserable in my life. The only reason I am staying alive is to make sure that your life becomes as miserable as mine, in the short time that you have left to live it, that is."
"Did you drink any of that ginger ale?" I asked. "It’s supposed to help with that."
"If I had a bottle of it, I would break off the end and grind it in your face. I want to go back to the Bahamas. Now. Tell the captain to turn the ship around."
"It will just be three more days until we make it to the Caymans," I explained. "Then we can go ashore and do all the paperwork we need to do for the trust funds."
"Captain Manuel?" Emma said. "Where’s the closest port?"
"Turks and Caicos, ma’am," he said.
"We’re going there."
"Yes, Mrs. Fairchild. Right away."
"We need to go to Grand Cayman," I said. "That’s the only reason Dad is letting us use the Fairchild Conqueror for the honeymoon. We have to be physically present to sign the trust fund documentation."
"Justin, listen to me. Do you want to live out the rest of the day?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then this is what you will do. You will get on the phone to your father. You will explain the situation. You will charter a nice safe airplane to take us from Turks and Caicos to Grand Cayman and back. And then we will enjoy the rest of our honeymoon on the yacht, while it is safely parked at a marina. Do I make myself very clear?"
I was very uncertain on the mechanics on exactly how you chartered a plane, but I was in no position to argue. "Yes, dear," I said.
"Because if you don’t do it, I will get on the phone and call your mother and tell her you are being unreasonable. Got it?"
"Yes, dear," I said.
Emma turned to the toilet and let loose a string of horrible retching noises. I went to the bridge to find the satellite telephone.
*
"Mr. Fairchild?" Captain Manuel said.
"Yes?" I said. "Don’t tell me she’s still threatening to kill me."
"No, sir. Something else. Come and look."
I followed Captain Manuel up to the bow. Just off to starboard, there was a bright-blue life raft that looked for all the world to be patched up with duct tape. The people on board–more people than anyone could comfortably fit in what was a very small life raft–were waving to us.
"Cuban refugees," Captain Manuel said. "I’ll let down a line and pick them up. We can drop them off at Turks and Caicos."
"Wait, what?" I asked. "You can’t be serious."
"We have to pick them up," Captain Manuel said. "They’re refugees. They’re going to starve or die of thirst if we do not. It is the law of the sea."
"But they’re Cubans," I said. "Couldn’t we just take them back to Cuba?"
Captain Manuel shook his head. "They would be shot," he said. "We have to take them aboard. The Turks and Caicos people will put them in a refugee camp until they figure out what to do with them."
"Cuba is a modern progressive regime," I said. "We have good diplomatic relations with them now. Obama was just there. They’re not going to shoot these poor people just for trying to leave."
"Mr. Fairchild, I have very specific standing orders from your father about this," he said. "We are taking these people somewhere they will be safe. We’re going there anyway, so there will be no delay. You should go below. I will have Pablo serve you and Mrs. Fairchild in your cabin."
*
Emma had made it into bed and was sipping on a ginger ale. I told her about the refugees.
"Well, that’s wonderful," she said. "It’s nice to know that a huge giant yacht like this can have a humanitarian purpose after all."
"I’m just troubled that we’re helping Cuban refugees," I said. "It feels wrong, taking them out of their home."
"You were fine helping Syrian refugees," she said. "Isn’t it the same thing?"
"Well, those people are fleeing tyranny and oppression in Syria," I said. "It’s not the same thing. In Cuba, people have literacy and access to health care, and those old restored cars. They’re in a pristine socialist environment. They ought to be happy."
"It’s not your decision about what makes people happy," Emma said. "Maybe they’d be happier somewhere else. You don’t get to decide. All we can do is help them and make sure they don’t drown."
"I don’t want them to drown," I said. "I just… I don’t even know."
"You want to feel good about yourself for supporting the Castros," Emma said. "And that’s fine, but not everybody does. Those people were willing to risk being seasick for days to get out of Cuba. And right now, I can tell you that I respect them for that."
*
After Emma went to sleep, I went online and sent an e-mail to Polly back at campaign headquarters, letting her know about our refugee crisis. She suggested that we send out a press release, "Selfless Congressional Candidate Rescues Helpless Refugees at Sea." I suggested that we send out a different press release, "Selfless Congressional Candidate Rescues Helpless Refugees at Sea While On Voyage To Set Up Tax Shelter in the Cayman Islands." We ended up not sending either one out. Sometimes to go the distance, the best thing is to do nothing.
***
Next, Week Eighteen: The Taco Bowl
Check out the previous installments:
Last year:
Week Forty-Nine:The True North
Week Fifty:The Garden State
This year:
Week Four:The Brain Trust
Week Six:The Snow Day

Week Seven:The Coin Flip

Week Eight:The Wicked Witch
Week Eleven:The State Dinner
Week Twelve:The Maple Leaf Rag
Week Thirteen:The Large Endowment
Week Fourteen:The Transit Authority
Week Fifteen:The Ten Forty
Week Sixteen: The Bachelor Party