The Island Chapter 3
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The Island

“I have found peace, it exists upon the rolling glass of a steady sea.”


Chapter 3
Recreation

I walked out of my room, back into the labyrinthine hotel of hallways and stairs. Eventually, I made my way back past the front desk. My greetings to Greg were somewhere between “Have a goodnight” and pure gobbledegook. I could tell my head was in a good place. The things I thought were happening, had to be carefully dissected and analyzed before ascertaining their validity. This was usually a decent sign that my time was going to be overwhelmingly bristled with overthinking and careful observation, which to be honest, are some of my favorite pastimes.

I stepped out into to the early evening and made my way back to Front Street. It was just past six o’clock, and the second to last boat back to the mainland would be departing soon. I started to realize the stark difference between the island I was so accustomed to, and the one I currently roamed. I recalled visiting here about a decade ago, during peak summertime business with a girl who, for all reasoning at that time, I thought was to be the girl whom I was to marry. Instead she broke my heart, becoming that mythical “one that got away”. Alas, that is a story for another time. I remembered the late afternoon warmth of the summer sun, the bustling shops and corridors of the town amass with people. I recalled children splashing in the waves that crashed near the sand located curbside off of Front Street. I can still imagine the huddled mass of boats, each fighting for space in the harbor. There was an energy that abounded with the themes of “summer” and “love”. Those themes were an unmistakable focal point of a visit to the Island that late August. Everywhere young women in sundresses, accompanied by men in swim trunks sipped on libations, cheered to good times, and feasted on the cuisine of innumerable eateries. The summer brought life and vitality to the town in a way that was spiritual in nature.

The village, now near the seventh hour of the evening, in the dead of winter, offered something starkly different. Front Street was barren, save for a few solitary travelers like myself. Off to the side streets, a scattering of locals could be seen congregating towards the local watering holes. The sands were virginal, undisturbed for weeks. Not a step had been taken, nor a soul frolicked toward the now frigid waters. The harbor was clear, open and sprawling, begging for sailors to take up moor. The late afternoon sun of summer was no longer an option. The early setting of winter-dusk was well upon the seastead. The seaside town had a strangeness about it. The town was situated in such a way that it faced directly to the eastern sea, with looming cliffs in the west. One could only gather that residents never truly experienced sunset. That lack of finality to the day's end contributed to a night life that, although small, held within it an undiscovered vigor fawning to burst at the seams. I opted to head towards one of the bars on Front Street where a group of locals could be seen gathering for a drink.

It was called Hawaiian Harry’s, a small but well decorated Tiki bar located half way back to the ferry-dock up Front Street. There were a few patrons scattered on the small tables adorned with luau-floral imprints, small tiki statuettes and straw hats. I quickly recognized the family from the boat and nodded to their patriarch accordingly, finding solidarity that we were some of the few here for the winter island experience. I sat at the only bar stool left, and asked the bartender for a menu. He obliged, and my spirits perked up to know that this place served what could only be described as the Island’s signature drink, “Bison Milk”, called so for a very odd and unique reason.

See, what had happened was… Years ago, when movies were called “talkies”, and the young film industry across the way needed to shoot films about the old west, it was somehow cheaper to transport dozens of non-native bison to the Island, than to film elsewhere in their natural habitat on the mainland. In the intervening years, the bison population exploded, almost to the point of ecological collapse. However, with assistance from an affluent family, they reigned the numbers in. The bison became a tourist commodity, privatized by the family which now owned the Island. The drink itself, was a wonderful mix of coffee, rum and coconut. It was a splendid sensory addition to my heightened state of being.

I conversed with the bartender for a spell, enjoying my concoction. His name was Ornelas. He turned out to be the manager of the joint and he had lived on the Island for seven years. I asked him how he came to be on the Island, and he told me just like most people in town.

“They show up for a small contract with some restaurant, construction, or tourist company, usually loosely associated with the Family. Then you just end up staying.”

He went on to explain, “The rent is surprisingly affordable, and the Wakefield Family subsidizes almost any other utility. It’s just easier out here.”

“So people just come out here for a short time, but end up staying somehow?” I asked.

“Pretty much, I don’t even know what it is.”

The drink, about half finished, started to make my body aware of how hungry it was. I asked Ornelas, “Where would be a good place to eat?”

“Right now?" he asked, responding with,"Crab Shack. Especially if you want fresh seafood.”

This sounded appealing, and in line with the spirit of the Island. I took the last few sips of my cocktail, and just before getting up from my stool, the horn of the last boat to the mainland blasted. From the doorway you could see the ship inch its way out of the harbor. As the boat left, a slow, brumous mass formed in its place. The fog settled upon the town. An inter-dimensional portal of mist appeared within the doorframe of every establishment still daring enough to sling libations at a local populace in attempts to distract from the distinct and distant, isolated way of living that was so uniquely designed. The world outside each establishment faded away into non-existence upon entering, as did the world at large when I first arrived to the Island.

I crossed the threshold of Ornelas’s place into the thickening fog. With little reception, I used an Island map on Front Street that stood high and proper on a large placard to find the Crab Shack. The place was located more towards the dock, back on one of the side streets, about two blocks from Harry’s. After a light stroll, I arrived to find a building with a minimalistic exterior, a large red door with seven porthole windows on either side. Everything about the place was congruently nautical themed in fashion. I struggled with getting the door open, and upon entering, the entire restaurant stopped for a split second to look at me, only to continue to carry about their conversation and discourse. I felt as though I was virus entering a host, examined by an army of white blood cells. A small girl in a waiter uniform came over and asked me how many would be dining, I told her just one. She escorted me to a small table in the corner, near one of the portholes from which I could see the fog slowly obscuring the view to the other side of the street. I ordered a hearty meal consisting of a seafood melody, and enjoyed a decent glass of wine. Halfway through, I excused myself to wash up. I found myself in the restroom, taking yet another small half sheet of my substance laden paper. As I finished my meal and settled the bill, my mind started to take in just how peculiar and odd the air of this town tasted.

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