This Side of Death Ch. 03
Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32
Ch. 3 Dawn’s Early Light
I woke to the sounds of a squirrel burying a pine cone just outside the tent. My having taken up residence in his part of the forest had not distracted him from a routine he had been performing all the days of his little life. The tent was warm and bright. A gentle breeze off of quiet water filtered its way through the open canopy. I wondered how long I had slept.
I laid there recounting my dream. “Dream, dream, dream. All I seem to do is dream.” I could hear Mr. Pitney’s voice sing the words. My night out on the water had merely been just that -a dream. Just another fantasy -“Alone again, naturally.”
The first divorce had been from my job. The second came from the woman who had laid her head beside mine for twenty-seven years. Faithful to both job and wife, each had served me with papers before I finally woke up from my dream. Both had dumped me because I was nearing retirement. One because it would cost them twenty or thirty years worth of health insurance, the other because she wanted someone younger, someone who would listened to the incessant minutiae of her boring, pitiful life. She had been a stay at home mom for all but a couple of those years. A dutiful mother, she had tried her best pushing three kids through college. One child who had no ambition in life, happy as a lark to make pizza’s three nights a week, tease the teenage girls as they ordered, and spend the rest of his time playing online games in the basement while living with good old mom and dad. Another child was in her seventh year as a manager in a national retail chain with dreams of corporate life while the youngest child had secured one degree in literature and another one in architecture. After all of that he was now working his way toward becoming a journeyman carpenter in the big city. After fifty years of living, I found myself broke, separated from job, family and home. Realizing I couldn’t compete physically, emotionally and certainly not financially with the new man in my ex wife’s life, I retreated to the infinity of God’s wonderland in the frozen north.
Funny, I thought as I laid there, soaking up the warmth of the sun, breathing in the pleasant odors of pine and salt water, it had taken this retreat from humanity to realize that sometimes -just sometimes, all the hard knocks of life end up mining you an occasional truck load of unforeseen treasure. Living in God’s country, free to come and go as I please, just enough money to make an old cedar cabin my residence and enough left over for a beer or two on the table, I came to understand Jeremiah’s narrative, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness.” Ralph Waldo’s thought was similar. “In the woods a man casts off his years, as the snake his skin…”
Just as I was about to sit up to greet the new day, my dream stirred. Two large brown eyes flickered open. “Hello,” she said in a raspy tenor voice.
“Hello yourself,” I replied, pinching myself to see if I was awake. “I was thinking it had all been a dream. How did you sleep?”
“Is that what you call it? I thought it was a nightmare. I thought I had,” she choked on the word, “-died.”
In an instant heaven and earth fled away. I lay on my side quietly watching the brown-eyed lady roll over onto her back. She closed her eyes. I waited vainly for the tears of realization. They did not come. Drawing a deep breath, she opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling of the tent. Time passed. The little squirrel scurried off as I heard the shriek of a bird of prey high above us. Thorondor, I imagined. Had he not too escaped into the west?
“You’ll have to forgive me,” her sultry voice sang to me. “I’m not really a morning person.”
“No problem. I quite understand. Stay put and don’t feel as if anyone is rushing you. There are no clocks on any of these walls. I was about to get up anyway. I need to see what eryaman escort bayan I can do to scrounge us up a decent breakfast.” At the door, I turned back to the woman still staring at the roof, “One question if I may.” Two bright glittering eyes flickered down the sides of the tent before catching me at the door. “Might I inquire as to what your name is?”
A gentle smile crept across an amazingly expressive face. “Dawn.” I returned the smile and began to exit the tent when I heard her sing to me. “Kendel Dawn Clarke -but my mother use to call me Grace.”
“Nice to meet you Kendel Clarke -but my mother use to call me Grace. Will a bagel and eggs serve you right if I can’t find us anything else?”
The air was full of sea salt and pine tar. The sky was a deep blue with a misting of stratus high up overhead where the sun sat filtering down through the lofty pine boroughs. I had risen later than needed.
Before opening the cooler to search for eggs, cheese and bagels, I felt the sudden urgency to first check on our only means of rescue. Though its strength had been tested once or twice before against some unseen rock, this time the fiberglass had taken on jagged granite. The optimism I had started the day out with seemed suddenly in short supply.
Sand encased, rolled over on its topside, I quickly noted two small wounds from an earlier encounter. Fiberglass was strong but not impermeable. And sure enough, a six inch gash, complete with crows-feet fractures that ran starboard just behind the cockpit. Rolling the boat over and viewing it from the inside, I knew it would leak. I found two other stars before turning my full attention to the newly acquired frayed glass gash. Luckily, it was forward of the rear bulkhead. If worse came to worse, I would simply have to paddle a boat which needed plunging every fifteen or twenty minutes. But the duct tape stored away in the front storage compartment would hopefully make such interruptions unnecessary. Tracing an index finger along the gash, I wondered if it would run as the craft flexed in the surf. It wouldn’t look pretty but I knew the tape should hold long enough to get me back to the car.
“Ooooh! That looks bad.”
Startled, I turned as Kendel Dawn Clarke bent over to survey the damage. “Can you fix it?” she asked with grave concern.
“It’s not pretty but the integrity of the hull hasn’t been breached. A couple of pieces of duct tape and I’ll set out back to car. How are you feeling?” I could tell that words weren’t going to come fast for her. I also sensed from her eyes that questions about the night before should be held until she volunteered them. “How about some breakfast?”
Kendel sat in our only chair eating scrambled eggs with blend of four cheeses stirred in along with freshly diced peppers, chopped young green onion complete with slices of an avocado on the side. Camping since boy scout days, I had been taught early on that just because a boy found himself out in the middle of the woods without his mother did not mean he was reduced to eating only berries and grubs. A bit of that salmon which got reprieved the night before would have tasted pretty good mixed in with those eggs. Two lives saved, I thought to myself.
Humming as I cooked, I found it difficult to formulate the ice breaker. Perhaps she would not want to talk about any of the why’s and wherefore’s of the previous evening. Just because I had saved her life didn’t mean I was privy to any of its details. But I was finding myself more hungry for detail than I was for breakfast.
Finished with breakfast, I poured some of the left over water from our tea into a pan and began washing up. Kendel, remained seated, speaking shyly with gratitude for the meal but keeping the rest of her thoughts to herself. I knew then and there that I would not lead the questioning. It would be have to come voluntarily from her ankara escort own mouth or not at all.
Restoring everything to place, having dried the last dish, knife and fork, I turned back to my guest.
“I had planned on getting up earlier and paddling back to where I had put in at down by Duchess Harbor. But I figure it to be at least noon by now with sunset coming around eight thirty. I suppose I could make it there if I left now but after last night I think it would be wiser if I just waited another day and gave these tired shoulders some rest.”
I have to admit there was a bit of selfishness on my part to wait. Though the whole life and death thing was still there, I had taken inventory of my drop-in-guest. Did I say a bit of selfishness? Actually, I kept replaying the unfastening of her bra the night before and being permitted to towel off her magnificent mother’s flesh. And there was the fact there was only one tent to sleep in and it was small.
“You paddled that thing all the way from Duchess Harbor?” my guest queried with amazement.
“It’s not that far, least ways as the crow flies. Twenty, possibly twenty-five miles I would estimate. Certainly easier than driving from there to here. However, I’ll be to first to admit that it’s a fair days paddle even for me. If the tides are favorable and I don’t have a head wind, I suppose I could make it back there in seven hours. It would take a sane man ten by the highway.”
Kendel Clarke looked at me anew as if trying to measure me to some preconceived notion. “Aren’t you scared being out there in all that water all by yourself?”
“Not as scared as I was last night! You almost pulled me in along side you a couple of times. Kayaks are very sea worthy but they can also be very tippy. I had an empty boat when you dropped in last night.” A little levity I thought was needed before any real discussion of what had actually happened. “If I had left all my camping gear stored away inside, I would have been sitting much lower in the water and much less prone to tipping.”
“Sorry,” her eyes smiled before turning down toward ten sandy red toe nails.
“Hey, if the roles had been reversed, first, I don’t think I would have floated back to the top…” A perverse little thought about her water wings versus mine almost made it to light. “…and if I had, I doubt I would have let you go once I had my hands around you. I am not a good swimmer. Period. End of sentence. And I can’t float even if my life depended upon it. Then again,” I continued, “I think we are all surprised by just what we are capable of when the time comes.”
Those two big brown eyes starred straight out into the wood that sloped down away from our ridge. Without flinching as she looked up at me, she repeated my words, “Then again -sometimes death would be a welcome relief.”
“Only to those who have lost their hope. ‘Hope is a good thing,’ as Andy Dufresne once said. But I think Red was also right when he told Andy that sometimes hope can drive a man insane.” Now I was the one staring out across the brown pine needle forest floor. Just like last night -sometimes the storms of life wash you under. Just when you get your head above one wave, another comes along and pushes you under. Just when you weather one storm, another comes along. Hope might spring eternal but it doesn’t always tread water forever and a day. But I suppose, only fools give up. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say. I think as I grow older, I’m more prone to look for that lining when trouble comes my way. However, like Job, whether we find purpose within the midst of the storm or not, we can’t give up. Life goes on and the sun does shine on the morrow.
We both sat there for a while, quietly lost in our own thoughts as the warmth of day began to creep through the trees as the sun was past half way and beginning it sinking in the sincan escort bayan west.
“My husband ran off nearly two years ago,” she said, breaking her fast. “Right after that my daughter went into that rebellious teen scene. We no longer talk -I mean, we never have friendly conversations anymore. And that asshole of a boy friend she picked out for herself. Where’d I go wrong?” Then, laughing to herself she sighed, confessing, “And as if things couldn’t get much worse, along came John. John use to be my partner in a business we built up together. After fifteen years! The stink’n bastard. And Ann -his wife, my best friend and all. John-boy,” she chuckled, “he goes and puts hands on me! Jeesh! The louse!”
I watched as the tiny woman’s demeanor sank as she began wrestling the demons within. I knew one of those demons had thrown her off the bridge the night before.
“Was he the one who threw you off the bridge?
“John! Good lord, no.” Again she laughed as if trying to imagine it. “John can’t lift a finger let alone the nerve. He’d catch hell from Ann if I told her about his touching me and all, but she’d never leave him over it. I suppose even when it was all said and done, she and I would even share a laugh over it. No. It wasn’t John. It was someone else. Somebody who doesn’t -” I sat patiently as the petite woman fell back into silent running.
I began collecting kindling and pine thatch to make ready for the evening fire. She looked up and smiled at me once but then looked away and fell back into her thoughts. Having the wood all neatly stacked, I setup the shower bottle for her and set off to retrieve my two piece fishing rod and reel and head back down to the beach.
A log jam at the bottom of the makeshift trail forced me to walk a tightrope of wood down to a clean sandy beach. I would have to do a little arranging before I took the boat out again. For now, I retied the little florescent jig and cast it out into the gray-green surf. Nothing. Again and again with the same results. I wondered if my little cove had had all its native residents driven out to sea the night before.
Twenty hours earlier I had turned my little boat toward Witch Candle. What a difference a day could make -for me as well as for one Kendel Dawn Clarke who’s mother called her Grace. And graceful she was. Even though she was still under the strain of coping with the fact that someone had tried to murder her, Kendel had a sweet, graceful aire about herself. She also had some strength. If it had been my ex who I had been rescued the night before, she would have been totally catatonic by now, rolled up in a little ball in the darkest corner of her mind that she could find. But that was just her way of self preservation. I guess we all have our own patented ways.
Trouble reveals character and what I saw hiding in Kendel was impressive. At first I think she reacted the way any sane person would react if they too had been dropped into the drink in the middle of the night with their hands tied behind them. I thought that was a particularly cruel mercy her murderer had granted her. If he had wanted to be kind, kind in a morbid sort of way, seeing as how he wanted her dead, he would have knocked her on the head before dropping her over the railing. Even tying a weight to her legs would have been more merciful than what he had done. As I saw it, dropping someone into the frigid black waters of Witch Candle in the middle of the night with only their hands tied behind them gave that someone a heartless false hope. It was a hope that if only they could kick their way to shore. If only they could keep their head above the surf. If only- There was no tender mercy in granting a hope that hasn’t a chance in hell of seeing the light of day. No, there was no getting around it, sing-song John was a heartless bastard. In a strange new light, I found myself hoping to return the favor to him in some small yet clever way.
Called back to reality, my line began to sing. I would make it back to camp with three little rock cod. Not my greatest fishing story but sometimes you don’t get what you want, only what you need. It would be enough.
Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32