Grandma’s Note. Chapter Four.

It’s monday again and time flies. It got a bit later today but here is after all the fourth installment of my serialized story Grandma’s Note.

If you haven’t read the previous chapters you can find them here:
Chapter One   Chapter Two   Chapter Three

The wind had steadily picked up during the final stretch of Winston’s drive to Black Reef and as he now was passing the sign telling him he had finally reached his destination, he had both front windows rolled down all the way, letting it blow with full force straight through. Even though he was at least a good fifty miles in from the coast also the air in this part of the river delta had that unmistakable seaside feel and smell that he had always found so enchanting, and although clouds were gathering in the sky ahead for what could very well be a thunderstorm later in the evening the temperature for the moment held steady at the pleasant level of so far during the day. The seemingly endless suburban sprawl had finally come to an end a while back and for the last hour or so he had past through field after field of farmland, which luckily was dressed in its most gloriously colorful outfit this time of year, and after the jazz session had come to its familiar, yet still satisfying, end he had turned off the stereo all together and cruised along in what had felt like an almost spiritual silence. He couldn’t put his finger on it but he had felt a strong sensation of having started something meaningful, a sensation of traveling towards something good, a feeling of exciting expectation.

He had been right in his assumption about the town being right on the river and although not much to look at now, enough signs were there for him to feel confident that the place had held a position of importance during some earlier period in time. A small town of probably not more than ten thousand inhabitants, he guessed, it housed a center that architecturally appeared to belong to a town several times that size. Of course, in any other sense it could hardly even be called a town center anymore. Even the buildings along the main street that, with their large windows on the bottom floor, had obviously been built for the purpose of housing shops and boutiques were either boarded up or converted to domestic dwellings, save for a few pubs, a couple of fast food joints and a kiosk. The little galleria he had passed in the outskirts as he entered the town probably covered all commercial needs nowadays, he figured. Other than a group of middle aged men, trying to hold each other up outside one of the pubs and spelling trouble more than anything else, he hadn’t seen a single person so far and he began to doubt what he might actually be able to get out of his little excursion in terms of useful information.

Discouraged by the sight of it he drove the length of the main street without stopping, hoping it would instead take him down to the river bank, which it did. He felt drawn towards the water and hoped it would paint a more promising picture but what he found was that the idea of polishing up the town by making use of the water front had clearly not occurred to anyone who was anyone in Black Reef. Instead the entire view of the river, from the direction of the center of town, was all but blocked out by a stretch of crumbling wooden fishing huts in different colors, one more flaked off than the next. With a deep sigh, he still parked the car in what appeared to be a parking lot free of charge and followed a little half tarmac, half gravel walkway that lead between two of the fishing huts down towards the water. Once through, he was surprised to find himself looking upon a perfectly idyllic picture of five wooden piers stretching out into a slow flowing river, with a tall and lush green forest on the other side. Four of the piers were girdled by docked leisure boats, of a rich variety, almost to the very last available spot while the fifth and middle one laid bare, reaching further out into the water than the others. The view made a quite dramatic contrast to what he had seen thus far and he was forced to somewhat reassess his earlier, as it turned out premature, judgement of how the good folks of Black Reef had chosen to make use of its placement on the river. Even the fishing huts appeared considerably better kept up as he instead observed them from this side.

Winston heard noises telling of cheerful gatherings coming from some of the larger boats and considered trying his luck with simply walking up to one of them, but spotting two figures seated in deck chairs with fishing rods in their hands, all the way out on the middle pier, he decided to try them instead. Closing in on them and seeing the figures belonging to two elderly men he dared suspect that his choice had been a wise one and when one of them already upon introduction owned up to having lived in Black Reef his entire life Winston thought that he just might have hit the jackpot. He asked the man if he knew of a Black Reef Island and was told that, although unbeknownst to the majority of the current Black Reef population, the town had actually been named after the island, which was to be found a few miles further up the river. He then went on, needing little to no encouragement, informing Winston that the little island, named for its characteristic black rocks, had been an important reloading station during the very early days of goods transports along the river but that, falling out of use, it had been declared a nature preserve in the early twentieth century. Nowadays, the man concluded, very few people ever took notice of its existence.

Excited and intrigued by what he had been able to find out so quickly, Winston straightforwardly asked the old man if he knew of anything that might have taken place on the island in say the thirties or forties and the man gladly picked up the trail again, explaining that nobody had cared about the ban against setting foot on the island right up until the mid seventies and that, peaking in the fifties, it had been an immensely popular recreational area for families and young people alike. There had even been, the man told, a few cottages built within its midst around that time. Then, the old man concluded anew in a tone that told Winston it was time to leave the two men again to their peaceful fishing, from the mid seventies through the eighties the ban had been rather rigorously enforced and all the visiting to the island had successfully been put to an end. Now, since about a decade back, he said, there is once more hardly any enforcement of the ban but the island has been overgrown to the point where few, if anyone, ever get the idea of walking ashore. Already deep in thought from the newly acquired information, Winston thanked the old man sincerely, wished both him and his silent companion good luck with their continued fishing, and turned back up towards the center of town to try and find somewhere to spend the night.


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