Last man off the Island .......
A Short Story
I looked down at the white shiny bow of the lobster boat cutting the surface and then reflecting of the sea as the boat speed lifted onto a semi- plane , there is usually nothing like spending a day on the sea , especially a day like this , the pillowy sea mists are still holding near the surface and yet at the very salty surface the line of sight still seemed pretty clear , the boat , supplied with the twin turbo diesels slowly rose onto the almost mirror like surface of the sea . Of course I know this path pretty damned well , from the mainland out to the islands isn't all that far . And yet , I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that the GPS and radar on the boat is a huge help and a life saver too . The boat ................ an old Jones Brothers creation , one of the last ones that they built together purred smoothly along . The wipers clearing away the mist's that had gathered on the windshield screached between the clouds of foggy mist and once in a while we would rise up over the swells beginning to rise up with the tide .
And yet the trip today was a different kind of trip , I eased back on the twin throttle controls and let the boat sink into the breaking surf a bit and slowed to a safe speed . I was on my way to the old island where once even I called it home ! Today though I was making a special trip . The last man on the island had passed on , over the years the distance and the cost of deliveries and the lack of jobs had driven most of the inhabitants away to the mainland . And yet .....not everyone had left , a few' hangers on ' had stayed there until a couple of years ago the last of the families had left , the MaCort's had finaly given in as well . Today though , as I pulled the boat up to the run down creosoted timbers and tied off the stern in the calm waters , I turned in time to see the two men backing the pick -up down the ramp .
As I tied off the lines and watched the two men get out of the truck and drop the tailgate I wondered , how do they do this , the shiney new coffin sat waiting for them to load onto my stern . Another burrial at sea ! Another trip that turns my emotions to jelly , but yet we must do what we have to do now don't we .They both turned to the boat without saying a word , and yet we locked eye's for a moment , as they both waved goodbye and then they got back into the old truck and drove away .
I had come here to bring the last living full time resident off the island and to give him a burial at sea as he had requested in his last will and testament . Not something so unusual out here on the coastal islands of the state of Maine . As I started the diesels and motored away from the dock , I turned and looked at the box wrapped in the flag , and I wondered why ? Why is it that some people never leave their home for more than a few miles ! This man never had ! He wouldn't even go to the mainland in the last ten years he would go about his simple life of being a fisherman and that's about all . And now , It was my duty to make this man's one last trip , there were no others here and yet many had offered to accompany me . I thought better though , I knew him best perhaps .
At the shoals north of Monhegen Island I slowed the throttles and began a long slow circle , Tied the wheel off to keep her in a straight line and turned to chores , I dropped the stearn rail and looked one last time , then I removed the flag and folded it slowly and then placing it there on the dash of the cabin , I turned one last time to the weighted coffin...........
"What words can be said , what prayers my friend , what can I say to you that you havent already heard from those who loved you ? .........and with that , I slowly slid the coffin into the sea and watched it slowly sink into the briney depths, the depths that he loved so much , even more I thought silently ......than the people in his life .
"Good bye , my Father .........goodbye ." and as I motored away towards the mainland I realized , yes . The tears are coming now , and thats okay ." I will miss you Dad !"
On the return trip once again , I watched the red sun drop slowly into the sea and wondered ,How many thousand times he watched this .