Meanwhile, in Marathon Key Buccaneer Billy had hired another deck hand for the short term. Cooper was finishing undergraduate work at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. He came to work for Billy to earn enough money to survive his final year. He was smart and focused. He read, a lot, just like me. He knew things I didn’t. We’d go to Big Pine Key, late at night, and lie on our bellies on a dock he knew about, looking at an astronomy book with a red light, then we’d flip over on our backs to find obscure stars and constellations. I knew a little bit about celestial navigation but relied heavily on electronics. He knew a lot. I saved all my money, called Ambrose for advice, and bought him a quality sextant for his birthday. I fell so hard.
He went back to Pensacola for that final year. I spent all my money going to see him. He was accepted into a graduate program at Woods Hole Oceanographic. I knew how much he wanted it so I wanted it for him. I was afraid he’d get it. I was on my best behavior, hoping he’d ask me to go too. He didn’t. After he got there, he changed his mind when I lied and told him not to call me because I was seeing other guys. During our drunken, late night, telephone marathons Ambrose warned, “Lying for love takes the magic away.” I didn’t listen. Ambrose was kind enough to make a small loan to me so I could get to Massachusetts. I got a job waitressing and cleaned houses in my spare time. We found ourselves a little apartment where I was happy to do whatever was necessary to keep the love alive.