Friday evening the wind whistled through cracks around the old windows in the house. Ben looked out. It was prematurely dark. Earlier, Greta had indicated that she wanted to go out, but when Ben had opened the door she just stood there, then looked at Ben as if to say “No way! Jose’.“
Ben went back to his reading but had hardly picked up the book when there was a knock at the door. Snooter whined, as she was accustomed to do, then stood by the door, waiting for Ben to open it.
When he opened the door he saw Kiri standing there in the blowing wind, a worried look on her face. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “You’d better come on in out of the weather.”
Kiri started to enter, then saw Snooter and hesitated. “It’s Ok,” Ben assured her. She loves visitors.”
She patted Snooter as she entered. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I hate to bother you, but I need help. You’re the only person I could think of.”
“It’s OK,” said Ben, absolutely delighted to see her again. “How can I help?”
“Well – I need desperately to get to the beach, because I have to meet someone urgently. It can’t wait until tomorrow. And I don’t have any means of transportation. It’s an emergency.”
“Sure. I’ll be happy to give you a lift. I don’t drive it much – I walk most places – but I do have a minivan. Which beach are we talking about?”
“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve forgotten the name of it. I know it’s not too far from here.”
“You probably know it’s not the best night to go to the beach. Gale warnings are out for mariners – 10 to 15 foot seas – high winds – 25 to 30 knots – gusts to 45 knots.”
“Yes,” he replied.
Good, she thought to herself. This will keep boats away and people off the beach – give us some privacy.
“45 nots?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Excuse me,“ she said, getting out her phone. (Ben was used to this by now. She was still learning the language.) “nots” she said into her phone.
Knots appeared on the screen – square knot, granny, clove hitch, stevedore, sheepshank, Turk’s head, …
“Oh. K-N-O-T-S. … Is this over the whole ocean?”
“Well, pretty much over the Gulf of Maine.”
She reasoned to herself, statistically: getting hit by a knot would hurt, depending, of course, on the size of the rope, but since there were at most 45 knots over the whole Gulf of Maine, the chances of getting hit by a knot would be small.
“Yes, it’ll be an ideal night. I think the weather would be perfect,” she said.
He looked at her in disbelief. “OK. If you say so. I’ll be ready to leave in a moment. ”
She sat on the couch. Snooter came over and laid her muzzle on Kiri’s thigh and looked up at her.
“What’s the beach look like?” Ben called from the kitchen, where he was filling Snooter’s water dish and food bowl.
“I only remember it from the evening we arrived and it was getting dark. It’s a sandy beach with a very gentle slope. I remember there was an island separated from the mainland by the high tide and there were things that looked like black beach balls bobbing in the waves.”
“Black beach balls? Oh … seals. Those were probably seals.”
“Really? … How wonderful!, she said. ”Seals”, she whispered secretly into her computer. Up popped a video of navy seals, bobbing on the sea in their black wetsuits. “Yes, that’s what it must have been.” She hoped the seals would not be there on a night like this.
“I think I may know the beach,” said Ben.
“Thank goodness!” she said with relief, as she wandered into the kitchen.
Ben was putting things away in the cupboard when Kiri spotted a canister labeled “Popcorn”.
“What’s it?” asked Ben.
“It’s Popcorn Beach.”
“Are you sure? I don’t know of any Popcorn Beach, I’m afraid.”
“Well, it’s something like that. It’s Pop something. But I seem to recall now it’s some kind of meat.”
“Meat?” said Ben, who now had a pretty good inkling of what she was getting at. “Maybe it’s Popsteak Beach. “
“Don’t be silly. I think it’s some meat from a pig.”
“Poppork Beach? Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“No!” she said emphatically. ”Wait a minute! Now I remember. PopHam, that’s it! That’s the name.”
“Really,” he said.
“Yep,” she said, proud of herself.
“So you want me to take you to Popham Beach.”
“Would you?” she asked, using her beautiful eyes. “I’m supposed to meet someone there across from the island at about 8:00. Just a short meeting. Can we make it?”
“Of course. No problem. Well … I’m ready. If you’re sure you want to go out on a night like this.”
Having finished preparations for being gone several hours, Ben paused to talk to Snooter. “Be a good dog,” he said.
He always says that when he leaves, she thought. Like, … what am I going to do? It’s soooooo… borrrrr…ing. There’s nothing to do in the living room except sleep. … Wait a minute! Now that he mentions it, I can squeeze through the cat door into the mudroom and …
Maybe I better not, she thought. He’ll get angry. He’s such a Philistine – doesn’t appreciate life’s finer things – not even the delicious black grass clumps spit out by the rotary mower – yum!
Ben and Kiri closed the door behind them and walked a short distance to his minivan.
“Wow! This is pretty big. Is this electric or is it one of those smelly, infernal combustion machines?”
“ ‘Internal’ combustion engine,” Ben corrected.
“That’s what I said.”
“OK. Yes, I guess it’s just the ‘smelly’ kind, but it’s the best I’ve got.”
“What’s it called? You always seem to give your transportation vehicles names.”
“It’s called a Previa.”
“Previa? I’ve never heard that name. What does it mean?”
“Don’t have a clue. Anyway, I call her Efi.”
“It’s right there on the body — ‘EFI’ .“
“Cool. So … let’s go, OK?” She climbed in and slammed the door.
Ben turned the key in the ignition – nothing. “Uh-oh.”
“What wrong?” she said, a little concerned.
“It won’t start.”
Ben turned the key in the ignition again – nothing.
“Open the hood,” she said.
Ben fumbled around under the dash and finally found the hood latch.
They both hurried around to the front of the vehicle and after extensive feeling around, Ben released the latch and lifted the hood.
“That’s your problem,” Kiri said. “Someone took your engine.”
(to be continued)
© 2012 Eric Lord Bandurski
All Rights Reserved