Mike and Liz had survived the first round, and they’d remained hopeful the specters would settle down. But there was enough unfinished business for any cosmic disturbance to rile them up again. This storm watch was more than just a minor blip on the radar—or a coincidence.
Noisy seagulls hunted as the storm with enough power to blow them to Rhode Island threatened. Mike rolled his shoulders, flexing the stiff muscles in his back, trying to imagine he could shed his wife and his son to escape the gaping jaws of Captain Edward Barrett’s legacy. Normally a lingering vague threat, it rubbed him raw at moments like this when he had nothing to do but wait for the bay to come in around him so he could go out and make a living.
He rinsed his hands in a tide pool. The shadow sent hermit crabs scurrying. Brine stung his knuckles but stopped the oozing with that invisible layer of stickiness every saltwater fisherman learns to love. An incoming tide rolled across the flats as the storm clouds amassed.
The boat teeter-tottered on its keel as Mike climbed aboard and settled into a seat. Reassured by the glimmering water rippling in to release him from bondage, he readied his fishing gear. Chants of “ohmmmmm” from morning beach yoga carried in the breeze. At least that was connection with living spirits, as opposed to the dead, stale vestiges of lives ended too soon who were unable to give up and let go.
A woman out for an early morning walk grew larger and larger. Her broad brimmed hat dipped so low over her eyes he couldn’t see her face, though her skinny legs, matchstick arms, and pigeon chest were unmistakable once she’d emerged from the glare. That, the jangling earrings, and the purple and pink broomstick skirt hitched up and secured with a silver belt.
“Good morning, Mike.” Always oppositional, Sandra was headed out when everyone was on their way back.
“Where’re you going, Sandra? Tide’s coming in.”
She flipped up the floppy brim and grinned. “I’m headed over to check on Harley.”
The Whaler rocked in the surf. “Should be ready to roll in about twenty minutes. I’ll give you a ride over.”
Sandra didn’t break stride. “That’s okay. I’ll be sitting on the beach with the old buzzard before you even pull up anchor.”
They were both oddballs: He, wearing a Red Sox cap, a scruffy beard, a black tee shirt showing a bit of belly, while sitting like a bum in a beached boat. Sandra, like an escapee from a Harry Potter novel, headed over to check on a ninety-six-year-old hermit who lived on a dune that was cut off from the mainland at high tide.