Copyright© 2013 – Nicholas Hall
Gif's Island – Chapter Five-"Never a tear bedims the eye that time and patience will not dry." – (Bret Harte)
His remarks concerning his living arrangement gave me pause, various thoughts rocketed through my mind, yet I remained silent, although a plan was formulating which might suit Stony, but I was uncertain how he might react to it. What I was reasoning out in my mind might offer solutions for both of us, him a place to stay and me with additional help here on the Island, and more importantly, help me determine if Cameron's death like Ray, Stony's brother, was an accident or murder. There were a great many unanswered questions, now that Stony had presented some other possibilities concerning Cam's death and the death of Ray Jackson. The only way to discover what was fact or fiction was to pursue the issue to its conclusion and he definitely had a start on that.
I broke my silence with a request, "Help me feed and water the livestock and then we'll fix something to eat. Two of us doing it will get it done faster and make it easier on me."
Stony helped feed and water the chickens, gather the eggs from the laying boxes, and feed and water the two young pigs I was fattening for fall slaughter. They'd help provide for Momma and Jim and any others who might be less fortunate. I had enough eggs so I thought a trip to town was in the offing. Momma always had a use for them and I had a live box full of catfish I needed to skin out and take to her also, something I'd planned to do earlier in the day until Stony made his appearance. She hadn't had any fresh fish since I was home a couple of weeks before. It was time I made another trip and replenish my supplies of gas, propane bottle gas, and feed for the chickens and pigs. I'd have to start stockpiling materials in anticipation of winter. Although it was still several months away, it wasn't any fun traveling the river with snowballs hitting you in the ass wishing you'd prepared better.
After we finished outside, we washed up at the outside pump and I took a couple of pork chops out of the freezer. The chops were those nice, thick, Iowa chops; once seared on each side, the juices and flavors would be sealed in, unlocked only by the breaking of that delicate surface when placed, hot and juicy, in the mouth allowing the flavors to coat the palate and satisfy the desire for nourishment. Frozen quite solid, I estimated it'd take at least an hour for the chops to thaw enough to grill, so I placed them on the counter, while Stony and I peeled and sliced some potatoes for grilling (olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and placed on the grill until crisp-tender). I fixed a salad from the last of the lettuce, kohlrabi, radishes, young carrots, and green onions from the garden and put it in the refrigerator to stay cool and fresh until it was time to eat. I then fixed us a couple of brandy old-fashions and we retired to the porch to enjoy our drinks and wait for the chops to thaw.
One drink wasn't quite enough to wet the whistle, so to speak, so I fixed a second, hoping to savor it long enough for the chops to thaw. The second drink really loosened Stony's tongue and I found him to be not only fun to be with, but articulate, smart, and damned clever by half. It sounded as though he was one of those persons who could fix anything, build anything, or figure out a new way to make something work the way he wanted it to; Stony was young, but talented and fucking good looking to boot! I found myself focusing on his face, watching and enjoying his calm and relaxed demeanor, and anticipating spending the evening with him.
The chops were fantastic, once grilled, and the meal was complimented by a convivial and most welcome conversation. I hadn't had this opportunity in a long time and it was beginning to cause the moroseness I often felt when I was alone to descend deeper into the recesses of my mind, not forgetting Cameron, but not dwelling on my loss either. It was a strange feeling, not unwelcome, but not anticipated either; a feeling of ease, of beginning that journey, the task of moving on in life that Mom so wanted me to do.
Stony's easy banter, his quick wit, and intelligent mind satisfied and motivated me to become an active participant in the conversation while, at the same time, lulling me into a warm safe place. I'd not felt this way in over ten years; sadness had impacted on me like a ten pound wood splitting maul. Now, however, as I laughed and visited with Stony, the realities of the death of Cameron and Uncle John, that feathery light wafting impact I felt so often coming over my soul was barely noticeable, but still deeply felt, only recessed for this moment, this time I was spending with Stony.
Watching him, I thought we both were enjoying the mixed drinks and each other's company as daylight slipped away and was replaced by the gathering dusk and night. Stony noticed it first, exclaiming "Oh, my God! I've got to get back. I only rented the boat for a day," a frantic look on his face.
He rose to leave, but I held up my hand for him to stop and sit back down. "Sit down and take a load off. In case you haven't noticed, there are no lights on that boat and you don't know the water so you couldn't find your way back if you wanted to. Hell, I'd spend half the night running up and down river trying to find you. Hennessey rents the boats on a twenty-four hour basis, so morning will be soon enough to return it. You may as well enjoy yourself since you're going to spend the night in the spare bedroom. In the morning, after breakfast, I'll follow you back in my boat. I have some things I need to do in town. If it gives you any relief, I'll give Hennessey a call on my cell phone and let him know you're here on the Island."
One of the few concessions I made to the modern technological world was the purchase of a cell phone. I kept it charged from the boat battery with an adapter made for that purpose. When the boat battery charged as I ran boat motor, the cell phone charged also. I could go several days without recharging it however. Momma was the one who insisted I make the purchase; said it gave her "peace of mind" knowing she could reach me when she needed me or I could summon help. I suppose she's right so I made use of it and called Hennessey, informing him his rental boat and client was on the Island and going to spend the night.
Stony sighed, a rather resigned but relieved sigh, realizing I was right. He was going nowhere this evening. I lighted a gas lantern, hung it on the porch so we could continue our conversations and libations with light instead of the darkness which had crept in on us.
It was a great evening; Stony had more questions concerning the Island and my living arrangements than he did about the unexplained deaths of young men, especially that of his brother, Ray. The questions he asked were good ones, but after I answered each, he'd ponder the answer for a moment, as if seeking a alternative solution before asking another.
"How many wells do you have?"
"Do you have water piped to the barn and the house?"
"What do you do for hot water?"
"Heat it on the stove."
"Where do you get your mail?"
"At my mother's house."
"Why don't you have electricity in the cabin? Have you ever thought of using either solar or wind power to generate electricity for use? What do you use the generator for?"
"I never thought I needed it; the generator is used for the power equipment in the shop."
The questions seemed endless until, finally, around ten at night, I announced I had to go to bed; gave Stony a flashlight, pointed out the outhouse to him, showed him the spare bedroom, and went to bed. Morning came way too soon, considering the lateness of the hour (for me) when we retired and the amount of booze I'd consumed, but the roosters in the chicken yard let me know it was time to get up. If it weren't for the fact that I allowed some of the hens to raise chicks in the spring, I'd chop the head off of that damned, noisy, horny rooster. By the sounds of the noise this morning however, it would appear there is a younger one beginning to make his appearance. Those poor hens are going to be a bit bedraggled if I'm correct.
I limped my way to the kitchen, left leg giving me fits this morning, pumped a coffee pot full of water from the pitcher pump near the sink, added filter and coffee to the basket, and set it on the stove to percolate into the dark, rich blend I so savored in the morning. While waiting for the coffee to be done, standing in my boxers, looking out toward the slough in front of the house, slowly scratching my balls, I failed to hear Stony walk up behind me.
"Contemplating the morning or just standing there trying to raise the flag?" he asked, startling me.
I jumped, surprised by his voice and presence thinking I was all alone standing here, then laughed, "Contemplating the morning; there's no sense raising the flag on such a hot day."
Stony stepped up beside me, standing silently, dressed only in low-rise boxer shorts riding low on his slim, almost non-existent hips, scratching at his crotch where a slight, but noticeable protrusion was evident. He was slim, not overly muscular, young-looking with very little body hair, and his face was adorned with one delightful, fucking beautiful smile, bringing a smile to my own face, a flutter to my heart, and an increase in the pressure rising in my groin. I don't think he had any idea how beautiful I thought he was or how attractive he was to other people; no, he seemed innocent as a new-born babe, but of that I wasn't altogether certain.
"Any day is a good day for that," he responded with a laugh and followed by a kind of a giggle.
Smiling back at him, I said, "Right, but I have chores to do and then I'll fix breakfast for us. After breakfast, we'll run to town and leave your boat, then head to my mother's house so you can shower and get cleaned up."
"No need for you to follow me in. My truck and gear are at Hennessey's and once I turn the boat in, I'll find a campground somewhere to stay," he replied in response to my offer.
I looked at him, he looked at me, then around the cabin and out toward the slough. It was then I finally decided to risk making my proposal to him.
"Look," I offered, "you don't have a place to stay; I have plenty of room here and you're welcome to stay as long as you want. I've got the spare bedroom and if that isn't big enough, there's the small room down the hall I use for storage. Besides, I can always use some extra help around here with fall and winter not that far away."
Stony stepped back, contemplating my offer, noticed my scarred body but made no comment or asked no questions, just acknowledged the obvious through his inspection. It was often difficult for me to ask for help; I was a proud and determined man, always preferring to "go it alone" these past few years. He seemed to know that, even in the brief time we'd known each other, accepted it, and understood if I weren't serious, I wouldn't be making the offer.
"On one condition," he countered, "I pull my fair share and not leech off of your generosity. I'm able to do a lot of things and I'm not afraid to work."
"Deal, now help me do chores and gather eggs."
Stony hesitated, then finally smirked, "Don't you think we should get dressed first? I wouldn't want the chickens to peck my pecker with their peckers," and laughed heartily and casually flipped the front of his boxers up and down, bringing his cloth-covered cock to a bounce and a slip to the side.
Dressed, it didn't take us long to feed the livestock, gather the eggs, cook breakfast and wash up afterwards. While we ate, Stony finally broached the subject he was curious about, but reluctant to make an inquiry. He was not, however, as reluctant to ask as I had been in the past to discuss it with others. Pointing at my leg and side, he asked,
"How did it happen?"
For some reason, I didn't hesitate to tell him. In fact, I told him everything as we did the dishes, loaded the things I wanted to take to Mom's, and the empty gas cylinder and gas cans in my flat boat. Rather than him run the motor on his rented boat, I insisted we tow his rented boat behind mine. While we motored out of the lake, around the Island and up and across Johnson Slough toward the mainland and Hennessey's, I relayed to him my deep love and commitment in my relationship with Cameron, how I was injured, Cameron's death, and my recovery and inheriting Gif's Island with the death of Uncle John. I finished just as we docked at Hennessey's to return his boat. During the entire time together on the river journey to town, Stony didn't comment, criticize, or question, but remained quietly interested in what I was saying, as if he was absorbing some of my pain, my loss, by pulling it from me and returning something from him to me. I really felt relieved, satisfied, and justified in telling someone whom I trusted to understand and not fawn false sympathy for me as many people would. No, I felt more than comfortable with Stony, even as young as he was.
Stony fumbled with his wallet to pay the bill, but I quickly secured his hand. "I'll pay, don't worry about it. Hennessey will not charge me, a local, as much as he would you, an out-of-towner."
His puzzled look caused me to laugh, "its all part of the game. We tend to make a bit more off of people who are here for a little while versus those who live here for a long time. Prices are always higher in the summer."
I secured my boat to the slip space I rented from Hennessey and we unloaded the cargo from it into my pickup. Stony's pickup was in the parking lot where he'd left it, so I walked with him to where it was parked. It was an older model, somewhat worse for wear, but apparently in good running condition, so I was assured by Stony. The topper on it was mismatched, but serviceable and sturdy, so it must've been added later. He had the topper covered truck bed filled with his personal possessions including clothes, tent, sleeping bag and camp cooking equipment. I also noticed a couple of boxes of books stashed in the midst of everything else. He checked the contents of the back quickly then moved to the truck cab. Once opened, he breathed a very audible sigh of relief.
"Problems?" I asked.
"No, not now," was his response holding up a good-sized backpack similar to the those seen on college campuses draped across one shoulder, slapping up against hip and back, of college students on their way or from classes or the library.
"My laptop computer and discs and other accessories are in here. I was worried someone may have made off with it. I have a lot of stuff, you know data and pictures, stored on it and I'm afraid I'd be lost without it."
Pausing to think a moment, he asked, "Where are we going to keep my truck? I can't very well leave it here, can I?"
"We'll store it at my Mom's. There's an extra garage located on the alley I use for things and there's room for it there. Before we return to the Island, we'll transfer the personal and other items you need to my truck and those you don't think you'll need right away, we can store inside at the house. It'll be no problem to come back anytime and bring them to the Island if you want or need them."
Stony shrugged commenting, "About all I can think of is the camping gear. Everything else I use or wear. I really don't have much else."
As I looked over his possessions, I couldn't help but agree with him. Stony brought everything he owned with him and it filled the back of a pickup truck. It wasn't much, but it was all his.
My boat secured at the dock, we carried the eggs, fish, cylinders, and gas cans to my pickup truck, climbed in, and gave him directions to my mother's house, just in case he lost me the few blocks there. I thought me showing up with a visitor just might surprise her – it was to me.
To be continued.
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