Door County Mystery: In the Nick of Time


Green Boats of Healing
Staring hard into the deepest night of the Wisconsin forest, wondering if I had become like Barry just after he and Pam had bought the tiny cluster of simple, screened in cabins on the deserted beach in Tortola where, word had it, Madonna used to stay.

Cocktails at sunset for the nine couples who were guests at any one time. Simple dinners pulled from the sea minutes ago. There was no menu. And no one cared.

Pam was the hostess. Welcoming and warm, she could talk as long as you’d listen. But Barry was a different kind of guy. Polite, nodding hello as he’d tend to gardens and grounds during the day, then come sundown, he’d pour himself a gin and tonic, squeeze his lime wedge, then he’d walk by himself to the table closest to the water, pull out a chair and spend the next hour or so just staring out to sea. Speaking not a word. Neither happy nor sad. He just kept looking. He just was.
As if staring off into the dying light of an ocean sunset was all that mattered.

I’m not sure what he saw. This was the early nineties. Things were so very different then. Traveling the British Virgin Islands, I had no idea that I was getting to eat life’s desert first.

Didn’t everyone go on trips like that? Everybody was a vice president or CEO or something. Sure there were vulnerable, downtrodden people in the world. And you knew that . . . but what could you do? This year it’s the Caribbean, next year the Canadian Rockies. Assuming of course that the stock options kept growing.

Income gaps were for people in other countries then.

And as for our hosts? Barry and Pam most likely never really had a questionable past. But there are quiet corners of the world where people go to hide. And I always wondered if Barry was hiding from something as he sat and looked out on the water.

When I was a teenager, my parents took us kids on one last family vacation in a deep green forest on the western shore of Puerto Rico. The host couple there would blast Wagner into the jungle every night and I remember my parents wondering, half joking but only half– war criminals?

Which I, at 16, thought, “Cool!”

And then back to right now. As the rain came down on the dark, yet bursting with life night of Peninsula State Part in Door County Wisconsin: as the fireplace crackled, as we somehow held hands even though she was standing at the kitchen counter 10 feet away.

Back to right now. To this dark night and to every dark night in this forest I could feel the gravitational pull of this place. As if we were out there in the wetland marshes next to the Bay and Fish Creek, out there with our ancestors singing to the night in the rain.

Just like Barry, I kept looking out into the dark and murky distance. Knowing no real answers, not even sure of the questions. But this time remembering, that I could find a mystery when I needed one.

Find it in the nick of time.

2 Responses to “Door County Mystery: In the Nick of Time”

  1. Naomi de Plume Says:

    I think Barry was listening, not looking; waiting for answers to come in on the wind. This is beautiful, ChiGuy, so ambient and reflective.

    Oh, how I would love to hear Wagner being blasted from the Jungle. Cool,indeed.

  2. chicagoguy12 Says:

    Naomi–you are totally right. He was listening. I honestly wasn’t aware of that till I read your comment. Thanks for that. I know this isn’t the kind of piece that has broad popular appeal, so it means a lot that you, Teresa and Jeremiah–three of my heroes–gave this not just a read but also some thought. . . .as for the Wagner, NOW I’d like that too! Back when this trip took place, the Mar y Sol festival was going on and The Allman Brothers were just one hitch hiked ride away. MUCH cooler!

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