The little sloop “Dusty Rose” darted between the rocks firmly guided with a cold wet spray of winter water washing the bow. Ike turned the rudder left then quickly right compensating for the waves and wind of the rough sea while glaring ahead into the quiet waters of Penobscot Bay.
“Ginger!” Ike yelled below deck never veering from his focus. “Come up and take the wheel. I’m taking down the mainsail.”
The rocking was remarkably reduced when Ginger popped from the hole, another hot steaming cup of winter liquid in her hand. She slipped into Ike position and held the wheel straight as Ike jumped up and moved from line to line loosening their hold on deck and reducing the stress on the weathers sail. As the boom swung over the deck, Ike and Ginger ducked in unison and the sound of the lines racing against the metal cleats competed against the wind. The sail fell to the deck. Ike folded each link into a proper stack and tied off the lines to hold it secure.
“We’ll go in by the jib from here.” Ike assured Ginger, taking back the wheel and a sip of the warm cup.
“How far is it from here?”
Ike scoped out the ever-glowing sunshine drenched landscape.
“It is just off to starboard. We first have to get past this Isle au Haut.”
“So tell me, why does Blackie live up here when half the year he is stranded by the weather and the rest of the time…”
Ike was quiet.
“Do you think we will find him…or anyone else? This situation is starting to really scare me.” Her voice quivered.
Ike was quiet.
“Who?” Ginger questioned Ike’s one word sentence.
“This is the island where JFK’s gravestone was quarried.”
The conversation stopped as the waves revealed a dock filled with bobbing fishing craft. As the wooden dock grew closer, Ginger put down her cup and crawled over the folded sail to the bow. No instructions were needed as Ike loosened the jib and coasted to the beams. With a soft bump, a line was tightened to the barnacled encrusted post. Ike released the wheel and tied off the stern. The couple gathered by the wheel and proceeded to shore up their ride.
Walking down the frost-covered dock each fishing vessel was examined finding no evidence of life. Passing the “Pres Du Port” sign, Ike pointed to the main street.
“Route 15, that is what we want.”
As they walk down the vacant road past a ghost town of vacant windows and doors slamming in the wind, they look for some sort of transportation.
“Wanna give it a try?” Ginger pointed to a red jeep with it’s canvas top flapping.
Ike unscrewed the gas cape and took a whiff, then moved under the dashboard.
“Is there a key?” Ike asked fumbling on wires and metal.
Ginger looked over the driver’s seat, the gray sweater falling on his back and said, “Yeah, there is a key.”
“Give it a turn.”
Ginger stretched over the hunching mechanic and turned the key to the right.
A sparked flashed and Ike jumped back knocking Ginger in a staggering circle.
The two recaptured their position as the vehicle rumbled.
“Climb aboard” Ike, said blowing on his fingers.
Shifting into gear, the rusty hulk slowly rolled down the path picking up speed with every grinding shift.
Ginger looked back at the ship that landed them on this cold forbidding rock, but Ike pressed the pedal and followed the curves of the empty road. Following the winding path, Ike turns right at the first turn and heads back toward the roar of the water.
“Do you know where you are going?” she questioned.
“Oceanville.” Ike confidently responded.
Over a bridge and onto another island then left over another waterway, the pair sped while storm clouds freckled the grey sky.
Ike turned onto a rocky dirt road and slid to a halt. He slowly reached for the key and turned it left, quieting the beast. Ginger dusted herself off and stared at the tilted shack.
Ike slowly climbed out of the chuffing delivery vehicle and stood next to her watching the curtain flutter out the broken windows.
“Looks real welcoming,” Ginger commented as they walked up to the door.
Ike pushed the wood opening a dusty dark room.
“See if you can find some light” he asked Ginger, wandering into the cluttered space.
The pair separated exploring new ventures.
The room glowed as Ginger lit a candle, then another. Ike found paper and magazines next to a stone fireplace, setting them ablaze with his Zippo lighter stored in his Swiss Army knife.
“Ah, now that’s more like it.” Ginger moved to the warmth and rubbed her hands together.
Ike silently walked from corner to corner, moving papers, opening drawers, and shuffling through stacks of DVDs and CDs.
Ginger added some of the wood stacked next to the fireplace saying, “Looking for something?”
“Some reason why Blackie left.”
“So Blackie left?”
“He would be here this time of year. Where is he?” Ike quietly pondered.
“Who is Dusty?” Ginger asked looking at a carved wooden post.
Ike smiled and continued to exam notes and records.
“Who is Cricket?”
Blackie had a lot of girl friends.
“He gave them all nick names. He had a problem remembering names, so….”
“She was a small black haired girl with big eyes.”
Ike looked up from his investigation, “She was very special to him.”
“Are these names like notches on a gunman’s belt?”
“Blackie was a suave handsome sculpted man with thick hair and a killer smile.”
“Oh,” Ginger added reaching for a framed photo blowing off the dust. “Is this?”
Ike leaned over and nodded, then went back to the desk arranging files.
“Woo, you are right. He’s hot!”
“Easy big girl,” Ike chucked.
“What are these other names?”
The silence was only broken by the slam of metal drawers.
“Woo, did you two compete??”
Ike straightened up and turned to Ginger’s list. He walked forward placing his hand on the carved names.
“Parsley, Dill, and Clover”
Ginger’s brow crumpled under this awakening.
“Sister with spice.”
“…and Rag-A-Muffin?” Ginger ventured to question.
“Rag-A-Muffin and Patches were sisters. Kiwi was sweet and quiet. Maggie and Wizzy were from the South. Skunk you can guess. Pumpkin was the first. Caitlin and Cullen were another pair of sisters. Bunny was a soft, black…”
Ginger interrupted the continuing list, “I think I get the picture.”
“I got it. I got it!”
Ike turned with a solemn face-to-face. “Then there was Buffy. She was very, very special. I think he would have married her. Beautiful blond with a frisky smile and seemed to fill his every need.”
“Need… or want?”
“And want. She would cuddle next to him and he gave a smile I’d never seen before.”
“What happened?” Ginger asked.
Ike dropped his hand and stood staring at the post in silence. Ginger watched as he turned back to the desk continuing his search. She did not continue the conversation realizing it was too fragile.
Ginger added some more wood to the fire as the room glowed in warmth and light. Ike booted up a laptop, then another, then a third connected to one keyboard. Each screen reflected the light enlarging to massive screens on the walls. The room was aglow with information screens scrolling through multiple windows at the speed of light.
Ginger walked to the chair where Ike had seated himself, mouse pointed all over the screens, opening files, reports, and closing as quickly. She rested her hand on his shoulder. As the computers purred he reached up touching her comfort. A warm squeeze and the computers were not the only purring.
“We have got to go back.” Ginger broke the silence.
Ike stopped the search, put down the mouse, stood up, and turned to Ginger.
“I’ve figured out this map,” she said pulling on the gray woven material wrapping her while still hold his hand. “We’ve got to go back to that island.”
Ike, being Ike, did not question any further and took the instructions as faith.
“We’ll start back tomorrow. Let’s get some food and rest and start in the morning.
There is nothing here.”
“Really?” Ginger surprised looked.
“Yeah, Blackie has vacated this place some time ago. He is a free spirit, so he could be anywhere with anyone.”
“I’ll check out the kitchen and see what we can take with us. Are we really going back?”
“If that is what you want.”
Ginger smiled and turned into the kitchen.
Ike smiled a relaxed face shutting down the multiple screens.
“We’ll go back.”