“Let me see. … That’s ridiculous! … Maybe the engine’s in the rear.”
They hurried around to the back, opened the hatch, and searched around.
“Nope. Not here,” said Ben.
“You really don’t know where your engine is, do you.”
“Well … no,” he said sheepishly.
“How long have you had this car?”
“Only a couple years, I guess.”
“Do you have a manual?”
“Sure.” Ben got it out of the glove compartment and handed it to Kiri.
Kiri thumbed through the index and turned to the appropriate page.
“This shows the engine under the driver’s seat! Boy, I bet that’s convenient.”
“Well, no one could steal it when you’re not looking.”
“How do you check the oil?”
“Oil? There’s oil?” Ben asked. “Is that important?”
“Well … probably doesn’t make much difference now. Let’s check the battery,” said Kiri. They went back around to the front where the hood stood open.
“I didn’t notice this before. What’s this – a crystal garden?” Kiri pointed to the battery terminals.
“Kinda pretty, isn’t it.”
“Tell you what,” she said. “Try to start the engine again. I’ll twist the clamps on the battery terminals to make better contact.”
(The van started immediately.)
“Wow! How did you learn about cars?”
“Dukes of Hazzard, “ she said proudly. “Your old TV reruns.”
( … at Popham Beach )
“You know that the gate’s closed this late.”
“I know. Doesn’t matter.”
“But you can’t get in.”
“Sure we can. We’ll park here, far enough away, and I’ll walk in.”
Ben looked dubious.
“It breaks no rules. I checked. The beach is open to enjoy; just the parking lot is closed.”
“Don’t you want me to go with you?” he asked hopefully. “I don’t like the idea of your going off by yourself in this weather.”
“I’d rather you didn’t. It’s kind of private. It should only take about 15 minutes. Is that ok?”
“OK. I’ll wait in the van. But you’d better take this,” he said, handing her his flashlight. “You can see all right now, but you may need a light on your way back.”
“If you’re not back in 20 minutes I’ll come looking for you.”
“I’ll surely be back by then,” she smiled.
Ben watched as Kiri walked down the road, past the gatehouse and through the empty parking lot. The wind was blowing fiercely and she held her hood close to her face. Pretty brave, he thought. It must be something really important for her to want to go out on a night like this. He lost sight of her as she walked along the sandy path to the beach.
After a while he looked at his watch – 15 minutes. He was a little concerned about her out alone on the beach in this weather. Perhaps he could check on her.
No, he decided. I should respect her privacy. I’ll wait 5 more minutes.
After 20 minutes his concern for her safety overwhelmed considerations of privacy and he thought he might just walk toward the beach far enough to see her, without being seen. He zipped up his jacket, opened the door with difficulty against the wind, and walked along the road to the entrance gate. After he crossed the parking lot, he started down the sandy path between the wild rosebushes. He could just see her small footprints occasionally in areas sheltered from the wind and blowing sand.
He spotted Kiri at the end of the path, standing windblown just outside the reach of the rough, incoming surf. She was looking toward the island, which was now isolated by the high tide. There wasn’t another soul on the beach. Was she expecting someone to approach by sea? Surely not. Whoever she’s meeting probably changed his or her mind because of the weather and couldn’t contact her. In a little while she’ll probably give up and come back.
In case she turned around, he didn’t want her to see him, so he hid himself well behind the dense rosebushes. He could make it back to the van before she returned. It made him feel a little guilty, but he wasn’t really spying on her – just concerned.
Now she was looking intently toward the island. She moved closer to the water, then had to retreat because of the waves. But she was still staring at the island. What is she looking at?
Then he saw it.
(to be continued)
© 2012 Eric Lord Bandurski
All Rights Reserved