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and left its icy deposits on the seats and breathed on the rock beach. We reached We left our nose prints on the glass
the coiled lines. The wind grabbed the the deserted docks and quietly tied up. and retreated through the rapidly
Bimini slowing us down even more. Thump thump, grumbled the air. The closing darkness to our boat. As we
We wrestled with the sea for an hour pines whispered knowingly at us as reached the ramp it came again…
and never seemed to move past the they swayed together against the wind. thump, thump, thump. Rhythmic,
bulk of Elliott Bay. When we saw the A pair of Canadian geese honked insistent, fading on the wind, flitting
same Bremerton ferry pass us going angrily from the beach but stood their into the sky. Then stopped. Then
west and then east again we knew we ground. Across the park meadow a deer returned. Thump, thump, thump. It
weren’t destined to make Gig Harbor looked up from its grazing and stalked was everywhere and nowhere.
in daylight. stiffly away. Thump, thump echoed the The twilight showed nothing. The
With a new boat and old crew, forest. A splash off the quarter revealed building showed nothing. The geese
nasty weather and conspiring tides, we no source. We were intruders. The sun said nothing. The trees whispered
turned our frozen hands and feet to the slipped away but we didn’t notice. It their ancient incantation of rustling
charts. Blake Island was dead ahead was long past natural daylight. and groaning as we hustled on board
but the book said it was closed. Closed? and locked up the hatch. It stopped
The lodge house with its famous plank again.
salmon or the marina with its stone jetty We put on music, but it didn’t seem
shelter - closed? We didn’t care. Even to fit. We turned it off. We turned on
if we had to tie to a mooring buoy it
Author at
our diesel heater and pretended its
would at least be in the lee of the south
the wheel.
little clunk, clunk, clunk could dispel
wind and we could hole up until the the cold and the presence outside. We
situation changed. We dodged another poured the last of the wine from the
ferry and scoped the island with our launching and tried to relax, warm in
binoculars for a glimpse of the channel the cozy light and lulled by the scent
pilings so vaguely remembered from of chili beginning to bubble on the
a visit 17 years before. The rain beat stove. We had successfully distracted
heavily on the canvas. ourselves from the mystery, from what
The island was dark but we picked we had begun to call the “Spirit of
our way in. The trees groaned under the With a new boat and old crew, nasty the Island.” We laughed like nervous
wind but shouldered the air a hundred weather and conspiring tides, we turned children daring each other to knock on
feet above our mast and gave us the our frozen hands and feet to the charts… the haunted house.
calmer water we sought. The hissing Blake Island was dead ahead. Then the hull knocked on us.
of the whitecaps faded off and only I sprang to the hatch and bashed
the steady chunk, chunk of our engine With the tide low the empty island my head. A voice called out. I ripped
broke the silence. loomed over us. Fantastic designs of a fingernail fighting with the deadbolt.
But there, what was that? Where? bears and orcas peered down from the A light pierced my eyes.
Above us? Behind us? What was that dark lodge house. Thump, thump. “Hi,” said friendly park ranger
extra thump? Depth was good, engine Surreal faces and distorted postures standing on the dock. “Just wanted
was steady, but there, again, what was pressed their lidless stares down on to check and make sure you are all
that extra thump? Surf? We scanned us. Thump, thump. We stepped off the right.”
the shores for waves but saw only the boat. The thumping disappeared. We gasped our surprise.
wreckage of the great December wind Warily we climbed the ramp and “Yeah, I’m here pretty much all
storm that had ripped and strewn a dutifully read the park instructions for year. I spend about five nights a week
dozen trees on the beach where the moorage, payment, and avoiding the in the winter. Lots to do now with
outgoing tide taunted them to float. animals. We felt foolish putting cash in all the trees fallen across the paths
Thump. Thump. Is there another an envelope on a deserted island but we and such. That’s my house across the
engine? No boats in sight. Thump. did. It didn’t impress the geese. Neck meadow.”
Thump. It seemed too rhythmic to arched the male cronked a warning The thumping?
be natural. Thump. Thump. There is as we passed up the path. Others “Oh, that’s just the tribe practicing.
no human source to be seen. Thump. camouflaged in the thickets around Opening of the lodge is next week
Thump. Thump. Sometimes it was the meadow joined in. A kingfisher and a bunch of them were backstage
distinct. Sometimes it was ripped added his protest as we walked up to practicing the ceremonial beats.
away from us by the winds aloft as if the lodge. Hope they didn’t spook you out or
grabbed by a hunting eagle and carried Dusty souvenirs and furniture anything.”
crying into the night. Thump. Thump. squatted glumly behind the windows Nope, not us, not really, not too
Thump. opening into the empty gift shop. much…
We glided around the gray Darkness glowered from the recesses But we’d swear as we fled the
breakwater and cut the engine. Our of the building. A “Closed for the harbor at the first sign of light the next
momentum carried us nicely over Season” sign hung at its lonely duty morning that the eagle on the totem
the suddenly still water that barely station inside the door. pole winked. 48° N
48° No r t h , Ma r c h 2010 Pa g e 37
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