…most men walk around in quiet desperation.
Mar. 2: 13.43: 80 degrees: 29.27 F: 10-20 SW
Mr. Lowry just radioed. He wanted to warn me about the storm that is headed here. He reminded me that I needed to stow away the lawn furniture and double-check the tethering on the radio mast and secure the launch and put it away in the boathouse and make sure all the shutters are closed and locked down before I go to bed tonight. He should know me better. What is here is here and no wind will blow it away.
The storm will be the first of the season and bring an end to the balmy and calm weather I’ve had here over last few months. It will be nice to have some sort of change though. The texture of the sea has already sprouted its agitated whitecaps. The horizon has an ominous, dark bank of thunderclouds billowing upward like goofy balloon characters in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Henrietta has been anxious about the change in weather and has been underfoot all day nudging me to take shelter. There is still plenty of time before the storm hits I tell her and we need to keep working at the falls this afternoon before shutting down for the evening. I had promised Mr. Lowry that I would finish the footbridge over the falls before he returns this spring. He wants the whole superstructure of the bridge made from bamboo making an indigenous look as though natives built it a long time ago. It will be extra work, but it will look nice when it’s done.
Mar. 2: 20.32: 75 degrees: 28.13 F: 25-40 SW
I made the final rounds this evening making certain everything is tied down and sealed up tight as a drum. It took a while to locate Big Cat and Little Cat and get them put away safely in Mr. Lowry’s house. I found Big Cat in a new nesting place beneath the hibiscus and Little Cat was under the porch behind the bougainvillea. Neither one wanted to cooperate in their rescue, as usual.
The wind has kicked up quite a bit, but no rain yet, just a fine mist swirling in the air. You can’t really see a storm at night just feel its commotion and fury. The sky is covered by low, shadowy clouds that stream beneath the moonlight giving an eerie feel like the planet is hurling out through space. I feel pretty safe and sound here though in my room. I have the windows open as the room is still quite humid and the breeze is comforting. I’ve been playing with the window blinds, opening and shutting them. I guess I’m bored. I’ll lock the shutters up soon and close the window before I go to bed.
Maurice radioed just a while back to tell me that he and Janice will not be able to come over tomorrow because of the storm and that we will try to get together next year when they return. The static electricity from the storm really raised havoc with the radio reception and made it difficult for us to understand each other. Maurice had to keep asking me to repeat what I said though I didn’t have much trouble understanding him. I was looking forward to their visit. I haven’t seen them for a long time, since their wedding. It was nice of them to have invited me.
I have my little bottle of champagne, some crackers and cheese. This won’t be the first birthday I spent alone, though it would be nice to share it with someone. Maybe Maurice and Janice have left a card for me on the mainland. I’ll check when I go in. Henrietta has curled up snugly on her rug and is asleep. All my chores are done and all I can do is to rest now. I need to stop opening and shutting the blinds, though.
Mar. 3: 7.18: 70 degrees: 28.08 S: 26-58 SW
I was greeted this morning by the full force and fury of a tropical storm with gale-force winds deflowering the glossy greenery and heavy rain running in sheets off the roofs. It is s dim and gray day with thick, low clouds brushing through the swaying, twirling palm branches. I hope there won’t be do too much damage. I will have to venture out later this morning and check on the boathouse and the launch since they’re hidden and I need to check on them. From what I can see, everything else in the compound looks okay.
I had to get up last night and close my windows and shutters that I left open. What an idiot! I forgot to close my windows. I thought I had closed them, but I guess not. I remember I did dream that I was listening to a party going on somewhere in the distance. I remember hearing the tinkling of ice in glasses and the muffled chatter of voices and decided to close my windows. It’s funny how dreams can fool you.
There won’t be much I can do today except weather it out. I have a book to read though I’m not much in the mood for that. There is no one to radio and even if there were, the storm would make any communication with the mainland difficult at best. I’ve always found it trying to communicate with the mainland even in clear conditions.
Mar. 3: 15.12: 72 degrees: 28:58S: 25-55 SW
I found a woman today. Her dinghy crashed up on the shore last night in the storm. I think she was trying to run the beach, but missed and landed in the rocks. I’m not certain why she was out on the ocean at such a time. I had gone down to check on the boathouse and the launch and as I stood on the beach, I noticed the red, plastic sheet flapping over in the rocks. When I got there, the deflated dinghy was badly tattered and looked like a huge cowry shell with the girl covered beneath its rubbery sides. She was all crunched up near the bow, wearing only a two-piece bathing suit with a rose-floral sarong scrunched up around her waist. She was a young girl, fit as a fiddle, but unconscious, so I gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I had to carry her up to my room, as she was too drowsy to walk on her own. She has been here the whole afternoon. She has a lump on her forehead and some scratches and bruises, but otherwise, she seems okay. She has tattoos, one on her shoulder blade and one just above her ankle. She has been resting quietly most of the time, but once in awhile she tosses and turns restlessly, mumbling something about just being left alone, or just leave her alone. I’m not sure exactly what she’s saying.
I went about my work for most of the afternoon, checking on the girl from time to time. I drained the pool and cleared the filters of debris and did the same for the pond and checked on the carp there to make sure they were okay. Fish don’t mind a storm. I checked Mr. Lowry’s house and made sure it was sealed up and not leaking or damaged by any palm branches that had been jettison in the wind. I couldn’t keep my mind off of the girl the whole day. Having her here is unsettling. When I got back in, I made some tea and baked some biscuits in case she needed nourishment. She has been resting very quietly lately, occasionally stretching herself out. I’m not sure if she is just lollygagging or recovering. She is waking now.
Mar. 3: 20.38
Her name is Cynthia, but she said I could call her Cindy. She’s from a very wealthy family and is an actress now and was at a party on a yacht when a man accosted her and she just doesn’t tolerate anything of that sort, so she took the dinghy and headed toward the mainland, but the storm came up and swept her away. She doesn’t like to be manhandled and she really wanted me to understand that. She insisted a few times that she just isn’t that type of girl and I guess she’s not.
She wanted to know all the details about her rescue. She wanted me to tell her everything down to the smallest detail. I told her everything, even that I had to let her sleep in her wet clothes for fear of disturbing her. She seemed to like that and appreciated my ‘discretion’. She was astonished that I had carried her all the way up the hill in such a torrential rain. She said that was so heroic. We talked for quite a while and she seemed quite at home and assured of herself.
She is showering now and humming a pleasant melody. I suppose she is happy just to be alive. I gave her one of my tropical shirts to wear and some sweatpants. The brunt of the storm has passed though it is still showering off and on. I have opened up the shutters to let the evening fresh air in. There is a spectacular sunset of crimson and gold stretching across the sky and there is a huge solo cloud suspended just offshore absorbing all of its colors. The cloud is shaped like a huge parrot that seems to be gliding in to land on my island.
I have baked fish and made salad with mangoes for dinner and I will serve her tea with mint leaves floating in it when she is ready. I hope she finishes soon so she can join me on the lanai and enjoy this glorious sunset.
P.S. I re-checked the beach this afternoon and that inflatable boat had “Property of City Marina” stenciled on it. Not sure what that means (?)
Mar. 4: 4.32: 77 degrees: 29.90R: 5-10 S
I could not sleep so I am writing now by a light from a lantern on the lanai. I just want to record everything that was said and done last night. It is all so extraordinary. This is truly a whole new experience for me.
Cindy told me how she was adopted by a family of some royalty and grew up in a chateau in southern France. Her family played host to a parade of worldly figures and dignitaries. She was taught art and classical dance and different languages and grew to be very worldly with sophisticated taste. She is a dancer now performing at some of the swankier clubs on the mainland. Her adopted parents have disowned her because of her wayward lifestyle and bohemian friends so she is on her own now. I told her I wish I had been a dancer like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, they’re so smooth and agile, but I’m klutzy and look awkward out on the dance floor. She laughed and told me anyone can dance and that she will teach me some day. She was sketchy about the rest of her upbringing so we talked about her life on the mainland and all the parties and social events that went on there. She told about a lavish party she just gave at her place and how everyone was there, though someone made off with some of her CDs and how you can’t trust anyone anymore, even friends. She’ll have to move soon, though, as her landlord has raised the rent again and indicated she could pay the increase by doing certain favors for him, but that’s out of the question and she’ll get the extra money somehow. She relished being part of the “in” crowd and really wanted to share that with me. I would like them, she told me. They were all quite ‘chummy’. As I listened to her, I felt how wonderful and exciting her world sounded and how much I was missing here staying on the island. I suppose I should make the effort and get out and meet more people. She told me that what she really wants to do is organize an actor’ troupe and tour the world and perform in the grandest theatres of the world. She sees herself as a leading lady that simply needs a stage and an audience.
I told her that I want to buy a party boat someday and take people out scuba diving and snorkeling. It would be wonderful to be skipper of my own boat and ferry people off to spots where they can dive below the surface of the ocean and see the exotic creatures there. I had to repeat some of the things I told her, as it seems that the wreck the other night has impaired her hearing somewhat. She told me how she used to see this island from the mainland on really clear days and had always wondered who was living here. I told her that I look over at the mainland sometimes and wonder the same thing. She told me I was sort of cute and that she was really exhausted and needed to get some rest. She grew drowsy and began to drift off. She mumbled something about dreams were all we had, then rolled away on her side and fell asleep.
I curled up on the rug to sleep. Henrietta came in around 2 and nudged me and snorted in mystification, then went back out to her burrow.
I had forgotten to feed the cats last night. I’ve never forgotten that before. I’ll do that now. Then I’ll go down to the beach and clear off the wreckage and dispose of it. Mr. Lowry wouldn’t appreciate such an eyesore on his beach.
The early morning sky is growing lighter and the stars are fading. There are twinkling lights on the horizon that could be from the mainland, but, then again, they seem too far away.
Mar. 4: 17.10: 84 degrees: 30.01S: 5-10 W
Cindy is down at the cabana sunbathing on a chaise and I’m resting here on the lanai with two doves pecking about my feet. Cindy must have fed them this afternoon since they normally do not show up for feeding until suppertime. I spent the day cleaning and grooming the grounds, removing the debris and clearing the pathways and lawns. Even though Mr. Lowry will not be back here for a long time, I want him to know that his island remains as clean and beautiful as when he left it. Cindy had picked some blossoms and made flower arrangements for my bungalow and did some light cleaning for me. She is still exhausted and recuperating from her ordeal, but is doing much better now. It seems the whole island has flourished from the storm with a floral explosion of cranberry and maroon orchids and white velvety blossoms tinted with pink or violet on the hibiscus scrubs. Nearby, tiny beige finches hop about the branches of the ficus and two perched cockatiels preen on the limb of an acacia tree. Off in the distance, there is a rainbow arching over the dark green ravine of the mountain ridge. The mountain has its head covered in the clouds.
Cindy made a mid-day meal for me from fruit and vegetables she found in the refrigerator and some bread and cheese and a tropical punch for drink. At lunch she told me that the mainland wasn’t as great as it was cranked up to be. It’s a mixed-up crazy world that is best to be avoided at all cost. She was glad that she had gotten away from there; glad she crashed the boat here. ‘Good riddance!’ It was Providence, she said, and asked me if I believed in Providence.
I guess there was this musician she liked and they had a falling out of some sort. She has been hurt and I’m not certain how she’s handling it. She quickly changed the subject by asking about Mr. Lowry’s house and if she will get a chance to go in and see it. She is very impressed by it and would love to see the inside. I guess she had walked up to the house in the morning and peeked through the windows. I told her that Mr. Lowry does not permit people in his house when he is not there, but perhaps he will be back soon to show her around. She wanted to know more about my shell collection that I keep in my wooden specimen cabinet. She thought it was puzzling how I had just one shell in each little drawer. I told her that I keep a sample of each shell subspecies I find on the island in a separate drawer until I find a better one to replace it. I have been doing that for years now. I’m not sure if I could have explained to her what I meant by a better one and she politely didn’t ask. She was curious about my journal and why I keep it locked in the drawer. I told her it was just a record I’ve been keeping and, yes, it’s probably foolish to keep it locked.
I will take her down to the beach tonight and make a bonfire for her.
Mar. 5: 7.48: 83 degrees: 30.15S: 5-10 W
What a glorious night! There are no words that can capture it, at least none that I can come up with. I made the largest bonfire imaginable. The flames soared high into the night shooting off sparks and cinders like a volcanic eruption. Cindy said she loves bonfires they are so dangerous and alluring. It was a fabulous fire, spectacular. I think even the mainland must have seen it.
We sat on the beach by the fire and talked for hours. We talked about how lucky she was to be from such a prominent family and how special her life has been. She told me about exotic places and bizarre happenings and confided in me how wonderful it feels at times to be part of something so big and so wonderful. I had to confess that I missed that part of life and how people just didn’t seem to take kindly to me, and how I find it hard at times to make friends and to fit in. She told me how people think she’s too pompous and how she can intimidate people with her brashness and sass, but they’re just jealous that’s all. Then she stood and asked me to dance with her, but I shied away and told her I would just look awkward and she would just laugh. She told me anyone could learn to dance, that you just had to feel the rhythm in you and let your body follow. She urged me some more, but I had to refuse, so she began to show me how she danced on the mainland and told me she didn’t care if the whole world saw her dance that way. She rubbed her hands up and down her undulating body as she slowly rotated round and round in front of me. Once in awhile, she would dip down into a squat and then slowly shimmy back up again. She enthralled me. Captivated by this girl of sensuous flesh and bones, seemingly lost in a trance as though dancing with some imaginary partner. She would speak to me with her eyes closed as she danced. I can’t remember much of what she said. I can only remember her sinuous form silhouetted there in front of the towering flames.
Then suddenly she stopped and fell to her knees on the sand next to me, and began laughing in a mischievous glee. She suggested that we go up to Mr. Lowry’s house and enjoy the rest of the evening there. I reminded her of my instructions and told her I couldn’t disobey Mr. Lowry’s instructions about strangers in his house and he would probably dismiss me if I did. I told her we could still enjoy the rest of the evening here on the beach. She was disappointed and sad, but told me I was an amazing guy, the way I stuck to my guns and all and she really liked men like that. We stretched out on our backs close to each other and talked softly about our likes and dislikes. I described Mr. Lowry’s house for her and told her how it was finished in teak wood and furnished with all sorts of rare and exotic objects from around the world and how the central breezeway has beautiful hand-painted murals along it. I spoke to her for the longest time, unfettered and unafraid. I spoke to her even after she had fallen asleep.
I did go to Mr. Lowry’s place this morning and gathered up some clothes and toiletries for Cindy from the guest pavilion. I’m sure it will be okay, as Cindy is a guest and Mr. Lowry would want me to be hospitable. She was appreciative when I brought them to her, but said something about it not being the same, whatever that meant. She is going with me to the falls today and picnic while I work on the bridge.
Cindy is calling for me; I have to quit writing now.
Mar. 5: 17.18: 85 degrees: 30.16S: 5-10 SW
We went to the falls today. I worked on the bridge as Cindy picnicked at the clearing by the basin of the falls under the cool canopy of the forest, my favorite spot. It’s a secluded spot, enclosed by huge, green ferns and wild blossoming geraniums and gently shaded with filtered sunlight. She loved the setting and told me it is so plush and fresh and unlike the scraggly parched places on the mainland. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her the whole time I worked; she fitted in so well like a tropical flower.
I spent most of the day hauling beams up to the top of the falls for the bridge. I have to admit that I made certain Cindy saw me carrying the bulky timber, though they really didn’t seem that heavy today. Cindy sat at the basin and amused herself with Henrietta for the better part of the morning until a large peacock emerged, strutting his stuff for her. The peacock put on quite a show, as though courting her, fanning out his train and talking to her in his cocky cries to get her attention. He was impressive with his luminescent green and gold-feathered tail adorned by those curious blue-green eyes. I got jealous and went over to join the bird and started aping the bird’s strut and cries and circling around with him for Cindy’s attention. Cindy couldn’t control her laughter from our silly antics, though admonishing me off-and-on to behave and let the bird be. The peacock finally trailed off into the jungle and I finally went back to work. Cindy was left alone and looked somewhat forlorn.
In the afternoon, Cindy sauntered up to my work site to talk. She had gathered some white orchid blossoms, still glistening with droplets from a recent drizzle, and had arranged them in her hair, which also glistened. She told me how amazed she is that I could domesticate a wild pig like Henrietta and how sweet Henrietta turned out. Then she asked if I could build her a bench there at the spot by the basin so she could come and enjoy such paradise. She told me there was such tender serenity there that she would never find on the mainland or even dare to look for. Then she quickly changed her mind and said perhaps we shouldn’t disturb such a place. She asked me if I had every jumped from the top of the falls. I told her no, it would be foolish. Then she gave me a curious grin and stepped to the ledge and jumped off into the basin, scaring me to death. I just remembered now seeing nothing but her sprawled-out body sinking slowly into the depths of the pool with petals floating on the surface. I had no choice but to plunge in after her. When I emerged, she was there waiting for me, laughing, and she quickly wrapped her arms around my neck. She wanted to know if she had scared me and I told her she was a wild impetuous nymph bent on destruction. She burst out laughing even more heartily and wrapped her legs tight around my waist and clung to me. I was stunned, dazed, I can only remember there were thick drops of rain thudding and splashing off our skin.
Mar. 5: 21.20: 82 degrees: 30.12s: 5-10 SW
This evening we dined on the lanai and had fresh fruit, poi, fish and tea with mint leaves. Cindy did most of the talking. She wanted me to help her write a letter. It seems that she was up for the leading role in a musical and was passed over. She wants to write a letter to this guy she knows and let him know what a terrible mistake he’s made. Since I did so much writing, she wanted me to help. I told her I would, though I don’t think I’m that good with words.
Later this evening, I got more relaxed and got Cindy laughing hilariously. I told her about Henrietta and how, when she was a piglet, she used to hang around with Big Cat and Little Cat and learned to stalk birds just like the cats. One day I caught Henrietta slowly sneaking up on a bird and when she was just ready to pounce on it I clapped my hands to startle her from her folly. She was pissed and angrily sat down on her haunches and turned her head to glower at me for interfering. I could imagine her trying to get all fours off the ground as she lunged after a bird. Cindy really enjoyed the story, she has such a gorgeous and infectious laugh, and even Henrietta snorted and squealed mirthfully along with us.
Mar. 5: 23.55
I can’t sleep. I’ll never sleep again. I’m overwhelmed by a warm glow of love I never imagined existed. I love her and she loves me. I love everything about her. She is the most wonderful, beautiful woman in the world. She’s all I could have ever hoped for. What a marvelous feeling knowing I’m not her servant, but her lover.
What greater purpose in life then to please her?
She is waking now and is moseying over toward me.
Mar. 7: 8.05: Saturday
I went to work on the bridge today and left Cindy alone. When I returned in the afternoon, I found her at Mr. Lowry’s house on the veranda. She had a bath towel wrapped around her head like a turban and was wearing one of Mr. Lowry’s terrycloth robes and she was curled up on a deck chair with Mr. Lowry’s telescope in front of her. The sliding glass door was ajar and the curtain was flapping out through it. I asked her what she has done and she told me she’d just taken a bubble bath and was sitting on the veranda spying on the mainland. She told me she felt so much better and that she has never felt so clean and refreshed. I was upset, but couldn’t get angry with her. What was done was done and she looked so lovely and desirable there and I may as well make the best of it. She wanted to really show me Mr. Lowry’s bathroom and, like a giddy schoolgirl, took me by the hand and led me through to it. The bathroom was so luxurious, extravagant, she said, the whole place was like a fancy European spa fit for a queen. It’s a marvel what wealth can buy she concluded. She told me to shower and clean up and join her on the veranda for champagne and hors d’ oeuvres and we can watch the sunset together. As I showered, I could only think about what I have gotten myself into. I had promised Mr. Lowry that no one would use his house when he was gone. I scrubbed down the best I could, but couldn’t clean the stains around my fingernails, nothing seemed to work and so I had to just leave it be. Cindy left one of Mr. Lowry’s terrycloth robes there for me to wear and I finished up and joined her on the veranda.
Cindy was in a festive mood and lavishly savored each and every sip of champagne and each morsel she ate. I was uneasy about the whole thing, sitting on Mr. Lowry’s veranda and having his champagne and food and I got the funny feeling that I was somehow Cindy’s guest. She told me she missed the mainland and needed to get back there as she had some important business to take care of. I told her there shouldn’t be any problem taking her over. She told me about a restaurant, Crusty Jake’s, on the mainland where her friends hang out and how the seafood cassoulet with an eggplant salad is so divine. I kidded her that it probably wasn’t like the real thing, but she didn’t catch my drift. She told me I needed to experiment and try new things, stop being such a stick-in-the-mud. She asked if I ever dreamed of owning a home like Mr. Lowry’s. I told her if I was fortunate and things worked out someday I could see myself living in such a place. She thought it would be difficult on a custodian’s salary and I wasn’t sure what she was getting at. I told her that I have a good job, taking care of the grounds and all; it’s why I’m here. She started talking about the house décor and how she doesn’t like it and thinks it is too formal, too stiff. She would do the whole place over in a more casual, relax style so people can feel comfortable and at home. She would keep the mirrors though as they really brighten the place up. Cindy was curious about why there are no photos of Mr. Lowry or anyone else in the house and why there are no books. It’s as if he didn’t even live here. I explained that Mr. Lowry is a private person who doesn’t care much for personal items. Cindy grew talkative, mostly talking in riddles as though she had something else on her mind. I suppose the champagne made her tipsy and talkative. She finally excused herself and went off to sleep in Mr. Lowry’s bed. I stayed and ended up watching the sunset alone and trying to sort it all out. I finally went and joined her in the bed. She was drowsy, but snuggled up close to me and I held her for a while. She seemed like she just wanted to be held, to have someone next to her. I felt, though, she was somehow drifting away from me, like sand running through my fingers. I didn’t like the feeling. I’m not sure what to make of it.
Mar. 8: 15.30: 86 degrees: 30.15S: 5-10 SE
We hiked to the rim of the crater today. We followed the trail up to the bend that looks out over the beach. It’s a beautiful spot where you can see the white sands run out to the reefs then the whole bottom drops off into the deep blue waters. Cindy was quiet and reserve as we gazed out over the vista then we hiked up through the thick vegetation of the ravine and reached the crown of the crater by noon. I showed Cindy my favorite spot on the rim. I told her I call it the “pedestal of the world” and if she stood at the edge of the cliff it feels like towering over a world that has come to a complete stop. Cindy wasn’t impressed and thought it silly and just wanted to sit and rest.
She told me I should think about changing my hairstyle as the matted look was out. She said I was too reticent and I should try to talk more and show more interest in people. I would make more friends that way and be more successful. She told me I was too emotional at times. People who are successful are more composed, reserved, like a photo and not as animated. She told me that the yacht she was on had rented the extra dinghy from the city marina and that was all there was to that. I’m not sure why she brought that up and then she told me not to get too enamored with all the happenings lately. She asked me what I thought about all this and I told her that I was happy she was here and enjoying the island with me.
We walked silently around the rim and took some photos then headed back down to the compound. Cindy walked ahead on the way down and kept her distance. We didn’t talk much then.
Cindy is exhausted and resting now. I’m preparing a soup for dinner tonight. It’s just a hodge-podge of leftovers and vegetables. It’s looking like a muster-colored pasty broth and I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out. The peas I’m using have an odd taste, I can’t figure if they’re bitter or sweet, but I’m sure they will be okay. We’ll have some bread and cheese to complete the meal and then I’ll clean up for her so she can enjoy the evening.
Mar. 9: 23.55
We took our walk on the beach this afternoon and Cindy insisted that she needed to get back to the mainland. She told me she had her apartment there and a job to get back to. She wore a broad-rimmed hat that shaded her eyes and she kept her arms crossed tight about her. I could tell she wasn’t comfortable talking about this with me. I told her I can take her back and, perhaps, I’d move there too so we could be together. She was insistent that that was not a good idea. She told me how I was a sweet guy, but the mainland would eat me alive and that it is best I stay on the island. I’d be a sap if I went there, she told me, and give up all this.
There had been something I wanted to tell her all along but never found the right time or the right words. I finally found the nerve to ask her to stay here, stay with me on the island. I told her that she would be safe here and cared for and we could travel if she liked. I reminded her how she told me she wanted a man who really loves her and would respect her no matter what and that I am that man. She smiled and told me that sometimes it’s not what she wants, but what she is used to and it would be best to get back to her own kind. She told me she loves the island. She loves its soft breezes and perfumed air, the vistas, the warmth, strolls on the shore, and the peace and solitude. She told me she’d miss Henrietta and Big Cat and Little Cat and the birds that eat out of her hand, dining on the lanai and watching the sunset, and the mint leaves in her tea. She told me she loves everything about the island, she just didn’t love me.
Cindy found a shell on the beach and wanted me to tell her about it. I told her it was a Marlinspike Auger, a terebra. It had a cinnamon-colored pattern to it that spiraled up the auger like a ribbon. It was a lackluster specimen and nothing special. I told her how shell animals are so soft and tender that they need their shells for protection. The ocean is a dog eat dog world and the shell is the only thing that can protect such a fragile creature. She asked me if the animal was still in it and I told her no. She examined it for a while then tossed it back to the sands. She told me that shell creatures are such grotesque-looking things, but they do make pretty shells.
We ate on the veranda tonight. Cindy wasn’t feeling well and so I did all the food preparation and clean up. We didn’t talk much and what was said didn’t make much sense, but we agreed that I will bring her back to the mainland tomorrow and she should sleep there in Mr. Lowry’s place and I should sleep at my place.
Cindy did drop by later in the evening to check up on me. She was tired and drained and leaned against the doorway with her slack torso resting on those sturdy legs of hers. She asked me if it was understood then, and I answered it was. She told me to be a good sport and not make it difficult and then she left.
Little Cat brought in a mouse and played with the poor doomed creature for the longest time until he left it for me to dispose of.
I spent the rest of the evening staring at myself in the mirror of the medicine cabinet trying to convince myself that the truth is simple to see, it was just accepting it that was hard.
I’m such a fool!
Mar. 11: 3.12
I brought Cindy back to the mainland today. She sat at the bow of the launch and quietly stared at the city skyline, as it grew closer. Once in awhile, she pointed at some landmark or building and asked what it was. She was amazed how so many things she knew there looked so different from the vantage point of the sea. She asked me how come I didn’t radio for help when I first found her. I was embarrassed and didn’t answer but told her that the radio was on the blink due to the storm. We didn’t speak much after that.
Why didn’t she look at me? She just sat there like a passenger returning from a long trip and I was nothing more than her damn chauffeur, some meaningless oaf at her disposal. Had our eyes met just once more, she would had seen how much I loved her and how wrong going back to the mainland was and how she didn’t really want to leave and how this was all just foolishness on her part. I should have told her that it was crazy; she belonged on the island with me, that we were meant to be together. But I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I sat speechless, choked up inside and afraid to utter a sound. I should have told her how much I cared for her and how much her happiness meant to me and how true my feelings for her are and me and… and how much I needed her. But she just sat there up at the bow, cold and so, so indifferent and so far out-of-reach.
When I got Cindy to the marina she asked me if I could walk her back to her place. I guess she didn’t want to walk back by herself. She led me through the center of the city to the dingy tenements on the other side. The city had an oily stench to it that was far more pungent that the briny fumes of the marina. We reached a street lined with bars and cafes and many shops that were vacant and boarded up. Above the stores were shabby apartments units with tattered curtains flapping through the open windows and loud music blaring out from inside. The street was filthy and the people there all seemed drab and listless. My heart ached, knowing she lived in such squalor and I wanted to whisk her away and bring her back to the island, but I felt she would want no part of that. Some acquaintances emerged and greeted her. She introduced me like a lackey she had just met. She asked them if a Marcellus had asked about her and I gather he hadn’t. She thanked me for helping and told me, dismissively, that she’d be okay now. She seemed ashamed and embarrassed, not of them, but of me! We said farewell and she walked off, disappearing into the crowd.
I had a tough time making my way back to the launch. I’m not use to that part of the city and all the streets and alleys look the same. I was disoriented and made a few wrong turns here and there. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I had to ask for directions. No one could help me or they weren’t sure where I was headed or didn’t want to bother. I walked around for quite a long time before I figured I’d head into the chilly breeze coming off the harbor. That would lead me to the marina. There were a lot of “for rent” and “job opening” signs in the windows and I was tempted to stop and apply. There were old men sweeping off their concrete sidewalks and old women lugging their groceries home. I thought that maybe if I lived on the mainland I would run into her again. Then I worried how I would tell Mr. Lowry about all this and if he would ever trust me again. I told myself that I can clean the place up and get things back the way they were. Only I would know. I worried about Cindy. Maybe she read my log. Maybe she was angry that I had doubted her about the dinghy. She should have known it didn’t matter to me. Maybe it was something I had said or did. I wasn’t sure. I knew my happiness has been snatched away and that terrified me. I just figured that I needed to get back to the island, get things straightened out again and back to normal, the way they were. As I approached the marina, some of the local children came out to taunt and laugh at me. They think I talk funny and the more I tried to befriend them, the more they laughed at me. I finally had to tell them to go off and play now and leave me alone.