The Lighthouse Keeper

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In light cast from a sun just on the cusp of the other side of the world, the West Quoddy lighthouse keeper walks his beach South from the Eastern most point in the united states. He follows the sound of an incessant horn blaring over and over again. His light, a beacon for those desperate enough to seek land and brave the rocky shores makes his task after a storm like last night’s to scout for bodies, living or dead. At least with the noise, he knows someone is alive and that helps motivate the journey.

He moves through fog sitting heavy on the ground like mold on bread. White and thick. He penetrates it, plants his cane and follows with two hasty steps. He falls into a steady rhythm and makes good time toward the bleating honks interrupting the morning clam.

After the bruhaha, the headlands are in a right state making the trek South especially difficult. He breathes hard as he moves, body aching from the tense night of waiting for the storm to destroy everything or not.

He spent the time watching his light bounce off an impossible mix of clouds and surf.

As he moves though he warms up and as the sun arrives it offers its warmth to burn off the fog, but what makes the trip agonizing, is feeling wet and gritty.

Already his skin rubs red and raw in places.

He steps over driftwood obstacles stirred up from the nightmarish surf that slammed the lighthouse and made his mind turn to thoughts of drowning under the weight of tons of water and being dragged out to sea to serve as food for fishes.

It’s not the first time the realization he was going to die unsettled him, he fought in the Spanish-American war, traveled to the shores of Cuba on a boat that creaked just about as much as his knees are today. Some of the men placed bets on when the ship would break apart throwing them all into the shark-infested waters.

The morbid banter continued until they disembarked for shore and their war, but on their trip home death was a subject skirted by all the war vets they had just seen to much of it.  

He’s been in service to West Quoddy lighthouse, or its keeper, for almost thirty years and has come to terms with the God above wanting his death. When it occurs likely no one would notice for months not that it matters much to him what is done with his mortal remains. His kids are grown and his wife long dead, his only relationship is with the giant light keeping boats off the rocks.

Sadly he knows this relationship is the best one of his life. It makes the most sense also. Just like he knows every step he takes today brings him closer and closer to the blaring horn.

And he is right. Around one final bend, there it is the source of the horn, a beached tugged boat.

Two men try to shove the craft back into the ocean while a woman stands in its cabin foghorn cord clutched in a fist.

She pulls and the noise rattles the keeper’s skull.

When she lets it go filling the air with blessed silence one of the men stops his worthless pushing and says, “Honestly, Martha.” Before going back to attempting to push the several tons of boat back into the water.

Martha jerks the cord a second time, the horn returns to assault for a brief second before Martha releases it and leans over the side, “it’s mission first Stewart and since we don’t even know where we are. That makes things difficult doesn’t it?”

Stewart’s mouth opens as if he has a retort locked and loaded, but wilts as he thinks better of it.

The second man finally gives up his shoving and stares into the sky. “If this fog clears I can get a better sense of the sun, but I believe we are in Maine.

“Maine, as in the United States Maine?” Stewart moans, “Virginia would have been better.”

“Buts it’s not where we are that’s concerning,” the tall skinny man retorts, “but when.”

Martha throws down a sodden newspaper, “April, 1935,” she exclaims as if happy to offer another log of disappointment to their situation.

The keeper’s mind takes notice of all the wrong happening in front of him.

The clothing for one.

All three are dressed in white form-fitting suits. They have what the keeper assumes are their surnames stitched above their left breasts and on the right shoulder is a red rectangle marred with a sauwastika.

Martha Smith notices him first and points a sudden finger in his direction, “get him!’

The man called Stewart launches at the Keeper and covers the twenty meters separating them in no time to dig iron-hard fingers into the old flesh on the keeper’s shoulders.

“He is a bit old.”

The tall skinny man with Berger stiched to his chesty quips back, “good, we need intel, not heroics. Remember if the USA declares itself neutral Germany loses. The motherland wins only with the help of unchecked profiteers.”

The keeper wonders if his heart can keep up its current tattoo. It hurts as it bounces off his chest, surging with adrenaline and fear. He doesn’t know anything about Germany, or profiteering. He knows about lighthouses and this peninsula and about half a dozen ways to make people sorry they stepped foot anywhere near it and somehow knowing freedom is again at stake if he fails.

 

 

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