Rachel proved herself as a spy—her resourcefulness training paid off, as had emergency planning and ocean crisis control.
"Gee," said Autumn, "you took a lot of spy classes."
"That's why I'm one of the best," Rachel replied. "Anyway, here's the plan—flip the boat back over."
"Great plan! Why didn't I think of it?" Autumn said sarcastically.
"What do we do?" Micky asked, ignoring Autumn's remark.
"Obviously, we can all tread water. All we have to do is tread water while lifting the boat out of the water, then have the people on one side of the boat push it over."
"That should work," Autumn said. "If, of course, theory put into practice works."
"Don't be so ambiguous," Mike reprimanded.
"Sorry. I meant go for it."
"That's better. Okay," Rachel switched back into mission commander mode, "the guys on one side, the girls on the other. The guys are pushing it over, and we'll all lift on three. Get under the side of the boat on two and you should be able to figure out when three comes. Guys, wait to push until we tell you to. Girls get on the far side, and guys on the near side. Anything else?"
"Ma'am, no, ma'am!" barked the other seven agents.
Rachel laughed. "At ease, and take your posts!"
Very little time seemed to pass before the boat was righted. With eight people working on it, the boat seemed much lighter than it was. Of course, there was the fact that all their luggage was resting comfortably on the ocean floor at that point.
Getting back in the boat was another matter entirely. It was finally decided that all four Monkees would climb in the boat, two on each side, and balancing weight on each side as closely as possible. Then each of them would pull his girlfriend onto the boat.
With a small amount of problems, Davy, Peter, Mike, Micky, Coralia, Autumn, Kattina and Rachel returned to their boat. Before they even sat down, Autumn groaned.
"What's wrong?" Peter asked.
"We're all here safe and sound, right?" Autumn asked all the boat's occupants.
"Right!" Davy exclaimed. He was the only one to answer.
"How are we getting back to shore?" Autumn asked again.
"We'll row," Micky volunteered.
"With what?" Autumn again.
"With the oars," Mike said.
"And where," Autumn queried once more, "are the oars?"
"They're gone!" exclaimed Kattina and Rachel. Coralia just looked confused she didn't hang out with all the guys very much.
"I ask you again, how are we getting back to shore?"
She was answered by a short silence, which was followed by a sudden clamor of everyone suggesting solutions, and expressing their disbelief.
"Sit down!" Rachel and Mike yelled. They suddenly found themselves to be the only ones standing, and quickly sat down.
"We will get to shore," Mike reassured them. "When is high tide again?"
"What?" everyone else exclaimed.
"I was only joking. Sheesh."
"Where's Jack Lalanne when you need him?" Rachel wondered.
As the rest of the boat discussed the matter, Autumn rubbed her tired eyes.
"Sleepy?" Peter whispered.
"Uh huh. I just wish I'd never known about this. I'm glad you love me, and I love you, too, but we could stand to be apart for a week."
"Autumn, they told us that we might not survive the mission. Well, they said that last time, but we figured our luck might be running out. None of us wanted to have to spend our last days away from you four, and it wouldn't be fair to you if we just . . . left and never came back."
Autumn pondered that for a minute. "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at the CIS!" she shouted. Davy, Coralia, Rachel, Micky, Mike and Kattina stopped talking and looked at her.
"She's mad at the CIS," Peter explained.
"Oh." They turned back to their conversations.
"Anyway," Peter said, whispering again, "I really do love you."
"I love you, too," she whispered, but Peter wasn't looking into her eyes anymore. He looked down and picked up her left hand. It didn't really matter to her what hand he held, so she pulled her hand out of his and offered him her right hand, as he was sitting on her right side.
Peter took her right hand and he and Autumn both turned their attention to the planning at hand.
"Coralia, for the last time, I'm afraid that it would be very difficult for us to paddle ourselves to shore," Rachel said, exasperated. She'd obviously answered that question several times.
"What if," Kattina began, her voice trailing off. She leaned over the side of the boat. Mike, startled, grabbed her waist to make sure she didn't fall. "What if we used these?" Kattina asked, sitting back up. In her hands, she held a pair of wet, salty oars.
The eight occupants of the boat celebrated as best they could without rocking the boat. During the short, but loud, celebration, Peter switched back from Autumn's right hand to her left. (Bear with me, dear readers, it'll come. It'll come.) Autumn was so happy about the oars, she didn't even care that it was uncomfortable.
Mike passed Autumn and Peter one of the oars. Because Autumn was on the side of the boat, she had to release Peter's hand and take the oar. As she secured the oar in the oarlock, Autumn thought her left hand felt funny, something she couldn't describe . . . just different.
"You'd better row, Peter. There's no way I'm doing this." Peter and Autumn very carefully switched places, making sure to never let go of the oar. Peter and Mike began rowing. Kattina and Rachel each collected an additional oar, giving each of the Monkees an active role in their triumphant return to land.
Autumn tapped Rachel, who was sitting next to her, on the shoulder. Autumn began to relate a funny story from the previous Thanksgiving, when Rachel had been in Mexico. As she related the story, Autumn noticed that Rachel seemed a little distracted by Autumn's animated hand gestures. Autumn reasoned that they were a little distracting, but didn't tone them down any.
The second she was done with the punch line, Rachel grabbed Autumn's left hand. "What is this?" she asked.
Autumn looked at the palm of her hand. "It's my hand," she said, obviously confused.
"No," Rachel said, turning Autumn's hand around so Autumn could see it, "that."
"What? My fingers?"
"No. That," she repeated, indicating Autumn's ring finger. Autumn wished she'd been thinking in the previous seconds when she saw what had distracted Rachel.
Autumn didn't answer Rachel. Instead, she turned to Peter. "What's this?" she asked, thrusting her left hand in front of his face.
At first, Peter didn't seem to notice at first, but he did. "Uh, guys? Could we stop for a minute?"
"Sure," said Davy, and him, Micky and Mike stopped rowing. Everyone on the boat was staring at Peter, trying to figure out why he'd stopped them.
As if there isn't already enough pressure on me! he thought.
on to Goin' Down Part Nine
back to Goin' Down Part Seven