Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
I’ve had many adventures, most of them invited upon me by –
Yourself, says Screen Four.
I once wrote about youngest-brother Barry spearing two prized groupers, tying them to himself and swimming through hammerhead sharks. That earlier column helps set the mood for today’s “ADHD Powered,” which further confirms Barry is:
A) Fearless, a humble man of inestimable cunning, strength and courage, or
Why not both A and B? votes Three.
Barry owns Blacktip Custom Spearguns LLC, which sells his exquisitely handcrafted Weapons of Bass Destruction. Gent that he is, the “Barron” drives his lovely Miss Lisa to Marquesas, where they will compete in the Key West Open spearfishing tournament.
Notice, guides One, Barron’s intent is to secure dinner, not become it.
Black, interjects Five, remind readers this column, as are all the rest, is true and without exaggeration … that the upcoming Associated Press quotes are from actual national papers.
This is the last day of the event, the third and final dive in high-visibility water. Our two heroes, experienced divers, drop 35 feet to the bottom and, surprised by the strong westerly current encountered, drift without a “here’s where we are” float ball for 20 minutes.
“I’m done,” Lisa signals Barry, who agrees the rough seas have pounded them long enough. Together they surface behind the boat, the sun’s angle making it impossible for the captain to find them.
This is called “setting the scene,” explains Three.
No, it’s “foreshadowing,” counters Four.
“Mind, guys? It’s my story.”
Barry’s, actually, clarifies Five. But go ahead.
“Wow,” says Barry, “look how far away the boat is.” Estimating the distance at 200 yards, he unwraps a safety sausage.
Aren’t sharks drawn to sausage? asks Two.
“A ‘safety sausage,’ Two, is a brightly colored inflatable buoy that helps the dive boat locate any divers who are more than a few feet away. On with the story.”
The boat draws no nearer, so Miss Lisa inflates her sausage as well, thinking two eye-catching inflatables may help the cause. She quickly tallies the positives: both are strong swimmers. Thick neoprene wetsuits, flotation devices and oxygen still left in the dive tanks remove all fear of drowning.
What about fear of something else? points out Five, eyes wide at the thought of fins knifing the surface nearby.
Blowing loud whistles and waving arms frantically, divers drift northwest as boat chugs east. Thirty minutes later, Lisa and Barry begin situational assessment in earnest:
1) In the captain’s mind, we could be down for a reeeally long time. (It’s such a shallow dive.) He may not even realize we’re “missing” for at least an hour. Maybe longer.
2) The sun is setting directly behind us. Looking to the west – INTO THE SUN – will make it that much harder for the captain to spot divers, sausage or not.
3) They won’t hear our yelling or any kind of a signal because the wind is blowing away from them.
For a time, bigger waves lift two divers enough to allow a glimpse of the boat. Ten minutes later, the view is horrifyingly empty.
[Associated Press news clip] Divers failed to return to their boat after an afternoon dive five miles south of the Marquesas. Around 6 p.m., the dive boat captain realized he was missing two of his four divers and contacted the Coast Guard.
Gasps Three in disbelief, The captain doesn’t realize HALF his divers are gone? Does he handle Congressional accounting?
Lisa suggests using fish lines to lash two humans together and float upright, back-to-back, allowing a combined 360-degree look at the horizon.
Visual SurroundSound! chimes Two.
The pair, despite constantly tasting salty, face-drenching waves, agrees not to breathe through airhose regulators. This will preserve tank oxygen for the long night ahead.
Survival talk spurs hope that search parties are forming. “We focus on each other,” says Lisa. “Mostly it’s Barry making sure I’m not losing my mind. I assure him I’m OK, but add, ‘When the sun goes down, I cannot make promises.’”
Sharks! blurts Five.
– keep the divers company. “I try not to get caught sucking my thumb and whimpering,” Barry says, grateful Lisa is “so strong, positive, locked in, funny. My hero, much tougher than I. She is incredible.”
Lisa shares the same view of her Blackwell. “Though we’re alone in that big blue ocean, Barry is focused, determined, confident. He even keeps his cool when I threaten to shoot him if he kicks me just one more time. I don’t think many people would be able to stay so clear-headed.”
Clear-headed? sighs Four. That kills any notion the Barron has ADHD.
In what Lisa describes as a “spectacular sunset” –
Sure it’s spectacular, says Six drily. It’s her last.
– the sun drops out of the sky, and Barry starts shivering uncontrollably as time in the water approaches four hours. In the silent black, sharks don’t surface, but thoughts of mortality do. Conversation slows as Lisa wonders who will care for her young son, Hunter.
That mother’s agonized question, explains Six, actually instills the will to survive.
Two boats pass to the north, unresponsive to the constant blinking of handheld flashlights. In the starlit darkness, Barry is first to see a helicopter, its course leading away from the floating pair. Lisa quickly fastens a sausage to her long speargun and shines a flashlight at the red tube, creating a brightly glowing five-foot wand.
[Associated Press news clip] About two hours into the search, the HH-65 Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew spotted a small light in the water. The light was from the two divers, pointing a flashlight at the helicopter as it searched for them after dark.
“It’s banking, it’s banking!” Barry shouts. “They see us – they’re turning toward us!”
[Associated Press news clip] The helicopter crew gave the divers’ location to a small Coast Guard boat from Key West, which pulled the two from the water at 8:15 p.m., about three miles from their dive boat.
Hmm, murmurs Two. Bet it feels as though eternity passes before the rescue boat arrives.
“I have them take Lisa first, of course,” Barry says. “But she still looks beautiful when the boys drag her out, so much so that they forget me in the water and all turn to look at this mermaid the sea has surrendered.” He anxiously looks ’round, wary of a shark grabbing him moments before he’s safe on board.
A shark does not get him, trumpets Six. Again.
Despite the harrowing experience and its dark dreams, Lisa greets Barry the next day with an exuberant, “Let’s spearfish!”
Makes sense, laughs Three. I mean, think of her favorite quote:“When you’re given something fantastic, embrace it with everything you’ve got and hold on tight!”
Lisa promptly pops a personal-best black grouper. Barry dives, too, shooting a particularly toothy four-foot barracuda.
Life, exults Six, is meant to be lived.
Postscript: Captain Scott Buschman, commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West, rejoices his crew rescued Barry and Lisa. “The two divers had the proper safety equipment. If it weren’t for the flashlight, they easily could have been missed.”
What the pleased captain doesn’t know is that, one day earlier, two divers do NOT have flashlights.
But good ol’ Dan at Divers Direct in Palm Beach knows they don’t, and he insists flashlights be bought before the pair leaves his store. Barry bellows, “It’s a day dive!” and argues against such a purchase until peacemaker Lisa steps in and says, “Fine, fine. We’ll take ’em. They’re only a few bucks.”
Best bucks ever spent.
Post-Postscript: Surprise! Our beloved Miss Lisa (Rollins) co-stars in “Catching Hell,” debuting June 1st on The Weather Channel.
Don’t miss this gripping tale of commercial spearfishers risking their lives in extreme ocean depths for the day’s best catch.
* * * * *
Chronicler of the real-life “Dracula” dies
Compassionate news anchor whips up own “storm”
Undisputed Prince of Parkour
Barry and Lisa live out their own version of Open Water