The chill seemed to get his blood flowing, and, first grabbing a towel, he slid on his trousers, then fought his way into his shirt and sweater. With a practiced flip, he landed his derby hat perfectly on his uncombed hair. As he crossed the tiny room for a quick look in the mirror, he slipped on his coat.
He needed a shave. But the time...
He stepped into his shoes and reached for his bag. He’d already packed it the night before, less his shaving kit, having left that out expecting a bit more time to properly clean up.
Not going to happen.
With the bag and kit in hand, he flew out the door, calling for a cab even before the door had closed. Yet even when he arrived at the main road, none were in sight, and he began an awkward jog, the sun, almost in a rude taunt, rising even higher behind him.
It wasn’t until the second block over an available cab came into view. Hopping in the back, he opened his bag, pulled out his wallet, and checked his ticket.
PASSENGER: MIKE BORJON.
DESTINATION: NEW YORK CITY
America. He’d saved long and hard, and now his dream was about to come true.
“Can you go a little faster?” he begged the cabbie.
“Hang tight, mate.”
The cab began to bounce and rumble, even tilting up on two wheels the last corner.
“Port of Southampton, lad. You’d better get them fancy britches a moving.”
Mike paid the man, tossing in a nice tip, then raced up through the buildings to the dock entrance, a wooden structure that looked to have seen better days. A mustached attendant stood at the last doorway, through which Mike could see an empty berth.
He shoved the ticket toward the man, calling out, “New York,” as he tried slipping through the opening.
But the burly man stuck out a big hand, landing it on Mike’s chest. Holding the ticket up, he let go a long whistle and shook his head.
“You’re late, boy. Your ship sailed no more than’—he pulled out a gold pocket watch, making quite a production out of looking at the time—“30 minutes ago. You’ve done missed the adventure of a lifetime. That grand lady is off to New York. To America. Her maiden voyage. And without you, lad.” He shook his head again. “What were you thinking? Out too late with the cards and ale, no doubt.” Shaking his head yet again, he turned and looked out toward the vacant berth. “She’s a beauty, that Titanic. You’ll be regretting this the rest of your life...”