He was the Jack of all trades. Literally. His name was Jack and he was a whimsical poet, a gifted artist, a melodious singer, a notorious pickpocket, and an accomplished swindler. With not a penny to his name, Jack Dawson, at 20, had made a name for himself in the back alleys of Southampton as the ‘Jack-of-all-trades’.
On many an occasion, he was approached by the goons (for want of a better word), to get a ‘job’ done without dirtying their own hands. Though the money he made was next to nothing, Jack would never refuse what he called was an adventure.
This story reels back to the time when Jack was supposed to steal a rare blue diamond that was at that time, the largest one ever. He assumed it was a lost cause when he had traced it far and wide and realized the stone was accompanying Caledon Hockley on his voyage to New York. Sitting in a pub, with his friend Fabrizio, he was playing Poker when fortune favored him with two third class tickets to the very vessel in which the gem was sailing.
Needless to say, Jack was aboard the ship when it started to pull away from the tier.
I saw the gleam in Mother’s eyes and the skip in her step. The smile that used to light up her face that I had thought was gone forever, had returned to claim her face and she seemed constantly happy. My heart did go out to her – she had had enough coping with the financial problems but now, it was all over. Mother was going to hold her head high up when she mingled about the elite once again. She was convinced fortune had favored us, not giving a second thought that she was using me as a scapegoat.
Caledon Hockley was a 30 year old arrogant snob. He was the heir to a massive fortune – the precise reason for my mother to go over the moon when I was affianced to him.
I was a grumpy ill-tempered 17 year old when I boarded the vessel from Southampton that day with my mother and my ‘fiancé’.
Furious at the absurd betrothal, I consider suicide on the very next day by jumping off the stern into the welcoming waters below.
“Don’t do it,” it’s a calm command.
Jack is lazily lying down on one of the benches, smoking and tracing the constellations with his blue eyes. You could almost hear the gears turning as he sketched plan after plan to steal the diamond.
He jumps to his feet when a fleeting shadow runs past him, the echoes of her sobs trailing behind. He follows her and saves her from killing herself.
Thus begins an innocent friendship between the two – a woman of the highest class in the society, beautiful, engaged and with a comely wealth, and a man of the lowest class in the ship, handsome, carefree and a thief.
Jack turned out to be my source of escape from the harsh reality that was Cal. We met secretly just to spite Cal and my mother. For the first time since I had met Cal, I began to settle down and enjoy myself.
He spoke of everything. His gallivanting around the world, his art, his poems. He was the world I wanted to see. I was so absorbed in listening to his stories that sometimes I almost forgot to breathe.
“You’re unhappy,” he observes.
“I’m engaged,” I counter.
“To a rich man,” he laughs.
“It’s a financial arrangement,” I roll my eyes at him.
I see the ocean in his eyes as he laughs merrily.
“Tell you what. I’ll help you get out of this ‘financial arrangement’ if you help me with my quest,” he says.
I readily agree, and he tells me why he is on board the Titanic.
I feel as if I have dived into the Pacific Ocean and emerged with the most lustrous of pearls. He was asking me to help him find the very object of what was chaining me to Caledon Hockley! I don’t tell him that the diamond he was searching for is embedded in a necklace Cal had given me. Sucking in my breath, I gaze into the abyss of his eyes, almost losing myself momentarily into those tantalizing blue pools.
“So, will you help me get to it?” his low voice penetrates through my hypnotized state and I nod.
“Tonight. I promise.”
Jack walks into my suite later that evening. He is distracted by the paintings in my room. I adjust the lighting inside the room and ask him if he will paint me. He immediately pulls up his sketch board and drawing materials onto the marble table.
“Will this light do? Don’t artists need good light?” I ask him in a serious tone.
“Zat is true, I am not used to working in such ‘orreeble conditions,” he replies in a very bad French accent.
I laugh at him and move towards the safe. I unlock it and slowly take out the necklace. I slowly hand it to Jack whose hands shake nervously as the blue of his eyes clash with the intricately cut stone cuddled comfortably.
“Hello babe..” he speaks to it.
“So you’ve finally met the love of your life,” I tease him.
“Rose, how did you get this from him?” his penetrating gaze catches me unawares.
“I.. it is mine,” I reply.
“Yours? This is the property of Caledon Hockley,” I see the realization dawn upon him before he has finished his sentence.
“Yes, it was my engagement present. But I don’t need it, Jack.” I plead, afraid that for some reason the thief would turn over a new leaf now of all times.
“Rose, this diamond is called The Heart of the Ocean. It has been my lifelong quest to find this rare blue stone. Now that I hold it in my hands, now that I really have it, I want nothing more than to give it to you.”
My heart does a somersault then and it seems as if it wants to leap out of my rib cage. I want to take his hand and jump into the ocean and be lost forever in the waters.
“Draw me, Jack,” I whisper.
My finger trails his arm, leaving goosebumps in its wake, as it slowly edges up to his hand holding the necklace. I prod the diamond heart, catching the glint of the lights, and edge closer towards him and with only a hair’s breadth between us, I whisper,
“I want you to draw me wearing this.”
He looks up at me, surprised, yet pleased.
“Only this,” I emphasize.
I peer over from behind him, pulling my robe closer as he signs the drawing.
“Here rests the love of my life,
Naked and chaste –
My greatest pride,”
I am stunned at his immaculate portrait.
“Date it, Jack. I want to always remember this night.”
And he does: 14/ 4/ 1912
I place the sketch in the safe and lead him out.
We hear Lovejoy, Caledon’s bodyguard, entering the suite and we escape into the cargo hold. Jack opens the back door of an automobile and we sneak in.
Panting and giggling, we start laughing at how we managed to give Lovejoy the slip.
Jack caresses the necklace that I am still wearing and slowly, his hands edge lower and lower until his fingers reach The Heart of the Ocean nestled between my breasts.
“Yours to take,” I whisper.
“And take, I shall, Mon Ami,” he replies in his husky voice.
The ocean may be lulling the ship, but I was sinking faster and faster into the oceans of his eyes. I hear the waves crash but witness the true might of it when his lips crash down on mine.
That night, the wind made love to the waters and Jack made love to me.
We couldn’t stay in the car forever, and eventually, we had to move up to the deck.
Hand in hand, we walk as if we were newly-weds. I knew I had caused trouble but with Jack at my side, I knew I could cross Cal. Or mother. Or anything else that stood in my way.
Little did I expect that what was going to stand in my way were pirates!
We overhead talk that the ship had been seized by pirates and Jack immediately took off at a run, pulling me behind.
He swung open the nearest cabin, checked to see if it was occupied, and reassured that it was deserted, he cupped my face in his hands,
“Rose, they are after the diamond. You have to hide. Get back to Caledon. He’ll protect you,” he rushed.
“What? Are you kidding me, Jack? How can I go back to Caledon? Lovejoy saw me almost naked! Caledon must be hunting for me with a loaded rifle!”
“You don’t understand, Rose! These pirates, they won’t hesitate to slay until they raid the whole ship. They know I’m here. They know I’m after the diamond. Those merciless bastards won’t hesitate to push your body off the water. Please, you have to go back to Caledon. You staying with me makes it all the more worse!”
“I don’t care! You hear me, Jack? I don’t care! And it’s a stupid diamond! Why don’t you just give it to them?” I scoff.
He grips my upper arms in a strong hold.
“You think they listen to reason? These people aren’t humans, Rose! Sea monsters, the lot of them! They live to raid, sink and take prisoners of a ship. Handing them over the diamond is not going to change a darned thing! Now, I am going to sneak you off up to First Class, where you will stay put in your suite. DON’T ARGUE!”
I open my mouth to do just that when his lips stomp down upon my mouth and he kisses me hungrily.
My hands instinctively crawl up to pull him closer but with a Herculean effort, I push him away.
“I am NOT leaving you,” I dictate.
“Oh, Rose… You will be the death of me,” he gives in.
I remove the necklace and he tucks it in his pocket.
Together we walk out and climb up to the deck. The ship is a wreck. Humans you only see in your wildest nightmares prowl about looting anything and everything in sight. Swords sway and heads roll. Men and women scream. Children howl and wail. But there’s no mercy. None at all. I see a bearded man with rotting yellow teeth kissing a girl who is scratching him with her nails, shrieking her head off. Ultimately he slaps her into unconsciousness and goes back to sucking her lips. The stench of rot and a hundred corpses lingers about in the air and I start shaking uncontrollably.
Jack pulls me close and leads me to the boat deck hoping to escape the monstrosity. Most of the men are trying to escape on lifeboats, but there’s no saying what lies out there for them in the open waters. Still, anything is better than this, I think.
We push off into the ocean on a lifeboat, along with another old couple. We wouldn’t have made twenty yards away when the jingling of a much larger boat approaching us frightens the living daylights off us.
“Goin’ somewhere, are we?” a crackled voice booms.
Jack puts his arms around me, abandoning the oar.
The boat is soon upon us, and the huge oaf of a man steps into our boat as though he were stepping on to the pavement on land.
His dagger finds his mark and he flips the corpses of the couple who were with us into the water. I hide my face in Jack’s chest, shaking with fright. As I steal a peek, I see the man seated in front of us, his legs stretched out, almost touching my skirts, his hands crossed behind his head, as he rested comfortably against the hull.
“Jack, Jack, Jack. Found yerself a wee little lass now, did yer?”
“What do you want, Bill?”
Bill sits up and leans closer to us.
“Ahh! Always cut to the topic, didn’t yer? Now, now, why the hurry? Yer knows what I am here fer. The diamond. News is this pretty head wears it often. Yer won’t be havin’ it about yer now, would yer, love?”
He snakes an ugly black-nailed finger below my chin and tips my face up. Jack smacks his hand away.
“What do I get in return?” asks Jack.
“Bargainin’ with a pirate is bad luck, Jack. Yer should know. However, what say I don’t take her life, savvy? I fancy her. Could do with a pretty face aboard. Give the boys some eye candy when the tides get rough.”
I gasp in horror and before I know it, Jack is strangling his throat and the boat is swaying dangerously as the men fight each other.
Jack is no match for the rough sea dog and soon he is overpowered.
In no time, Bill has me under his grip with his dagger on my neck.
“The diamond, Jack,” he stretches his other hand towards Jack.
“Let her go. Please,” Jack pleads.
“Diamond,” he repeats.
Jack takes out the necklace from his pocket, never taking his eyes off Bill.
As soon as his greedy eyes focus on The Heart of the Ocean, Bill loosens his grip, as Jack assumes he would. On a sudden impulse, I raise my leg and kick him backwards on his shin. He curses colorfully loosening his grip, and as I crouch down, Jack lands a shuddering head punch into his abdomen, toppling him backwards.
I pick up the dagger he drops and with all my strength, raise it above my head to plunge it down into him, but Jack stops me.
He takes the necklace, clasps it firmly around Bill’s neck and says, “I just saved your life, Bill. Isn’t that a debt you’ll be paying till death, in pirate terms?”
Bill looks into both our faces, struggles up and jumps overboard.
Jack and I almost kiss, when Bill swims back and says, “I could give yer both a trip ter where I next drop anchor.”