Ruins on Little Hog Island
Dana stood poised at the edge of the sea in her bathing suit. A rough wind tossed and tangled her hair. She studied the island, its rocky shore and the tangle of dark hemlocks and spruces. Sweeping away, barely visible behind the trees, was a barren rocky spit with birds flying in and out. Her birds, terns, by the look of it. The island was wild, intriguing and tempting, as well as close enough to swim to. She stepped between the rocks into the shockingly cold water, and paused, shivering. A man coming up the beach waved his arm urgently. She considered going on, but decided to wait and stepped back onto the damp sand.
She was a little embarrassed because she no longer trim, but bulged a little in her suit. The man was fully dressed and did not look as if he would ever wear swim trunks. He was gruff-looking, weather-beaten and sported a two-day beard. He looked to be about her age, fifty-ish.
“You thinking of swimming out to Little Hog Island?” He asked. “Not from these parts, eh?”
“Yes, I thought I’d swim out and back. I like a destination, when there’s one nearby.
“I need to warn you it’s not safe. The way the tide comes in and out around the island, there are currents, and they get very fast. People have died trying to swim out there, visitors. Most of the locals know better. Ask anyone. Want to swim? Go over the dunes there and swim in the lake. It’s warmer, too.”
“Thanks,” Dana said, as the man turned and disappeared back down the beach among the rocks.
She went over the dunes and found a lake, picturesque amid the pines. After she’d swum, she lay on a blanket and half-dozed, thinking dreaming of the island until voices woke her. A group of teens set up a volleyball net and were playing, diving for the ball, leaping high. From their banter, she gathered they were locals.
“Excuse me,” she asked, “Has anyone drowned swimming to Little Hog Island?”
“Yes,” a girl said, “a couple people, three or four. I guess there’s bad currents there.”
“Have any of you been out there?” The kids all shook their heads.
“My Grandpa said he’d been out there, and kids used to go out when he was a kid. I guess the current shifted. He said there was some ruins.” one boy said.
“But you never went out to look?”
“Nah, never thought about it much.”
Dana couldn’t stop thinking about it. As soon as it got dark, she hauled her inflatable kayak out of the trunk of her car and blew it up. She felt like a spy or a criminal. If there were bad currents, she would avoid them. She paddled along the shore until she was well past the island, then out to sea, and then back around. She landed without incident on the far side of the island and stowed the kayak in the bushes. Then crept carefully up a narrow path through the darkness, shining her flashlight with a red gel on it low to the ground.
Did she think she was some kind of sleuth? Who was she kidding? She just had an overactive imagination, thinking that man was trying to hide something. And if he were, would she be able to find it? Then what?
The trail climbed steeply, winding between rocks, and then opened into a clearing. There were ruins dimly visible, stonewalls, foundations, a small stone building that looked intact. There was a light coming from the window—and voices.
To be continued, hopefully, at the next Spuddy retreat!
*(to read the next intallment, click here)Monday, April 25, 2005; 9:06 PM