Sunday, March 3, 2024

Return to Monhegan

This excerpt is from the novel Sailing Beyond Beyond. It is the first episode of the first chapter. The book is available in paperback, digital, or audible

Return to Monhegan

The Odyssey sailed free and true. It was born for the sea. It was never meant for weekenders. She had adventure in her soul and rode the waves as good as any before her. And Rich felt the same. He felt at one with The Odyssey; as if this was all meant to be.“Salty,” Rich smiled. “I must see Salty again.”Rich took a reading after sailing for 45 minutes and adjusted The Odyssey's course for Monhegan Island.“I wonder how the old salt is doing?” Rich said squinting into the afternoon sun.

Dread fell upon him like the shadow of the mainsail. Dave Smithson, Judge Franklin Stafford, and Sam White pried into his mind like a pack of pestering rodents.  They were beyond conscience. They lacked the ability for compassion and integrity. And Rich was haunted by how easily he was nearly taken over by them.

“Who got to them?” Rich wondered. “How could someone be dedicated to a cause that was ultimately brutal? People gravitate to acceptance and comfort. They have needs beyond what can be provided by truth and kindness.”

“I pray to never lose myself into something that strips me of what is good and natural,” Rich said aloud. “God, I pray to protect my heart and thoughts and to never let my mind become a breeding ground for disease and abhorrence.”

A cool soft agreeable breeze washed his face. It seemed to remove the past like blowing dust from an old cherished and forgotten book; the sort of book read by a grandparent, put away, and picked up years later. A rediscovered innocence, but now with the temperament of maturity.

Rich thought of Salty. “What tethered him to Monhegan Island? Did fear keep him from a try at a sail around the world again? Would a second failure be devastating? Were there other pressing obligations? It is a selfish venture. I, I only will be the recipient of any good. How could it possibly enrich the lives of others? Perhaps that was the conclusion Salty arrived. Although, planned for some sort of selfish accomplishment it has become for me a matter of survival.”

Rich lifted his eyes above the starboard bow and scanned the distant horizon. A thin green coastline lay quiet and serene. “Monhegan,” Rich said. “I can’t wait to see the smile on Salty’s face.”

He adjusted course to steer south of the island and enter the harbor by heading north.

The plan was to arrive after sunset to not attract attention. Smithson had contacts all over the mid-coast of Maine and the outer islands. Who knows how many acquaintances he has alerted and if one of those who live on Monhegan?

Rich assumed nothing. Although he tossed a crate to float in the waters indicating a European destination, certain that Smithson would recognize it coming from The Odyssey, weeks might pass before discovered.

As an autumn glow from the sun disappeared into the waters Rich dropped anchor off the southwest coast of Monhegan in Lobster Cove. He launched the dinghy and rowed 200 yards to a stony beach. He pulled the dinghy to shore and looped the line around a rock.

Up a steep slope, a pathway surrounded by brush and long grass led to a lane and Rich followed it into the village. He was careful not to walk as if to attract attention. The path led past several weather-beaten shake shingle homes sitting quietly and alone overlooking the sea.

He attracted the attention of a dog bolting from a dog house beside a stack of lobster pots. The dog charged with ears pinned against its head. Rich jerked.  He bent down and grabbed a handful of stones and tossed them. It was not to the dog's liking, thus it returned to a more comfortable position – inside the dog house

Rich spotted Salty’s quaint dimly lit cabin and knocked quietly.

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