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  • We went down to Cory and Barb’s for supper that night. July evenings are long and slow on the island. Their place faces west and looks out to the open ocean to the south and then clear across the bay to the Harbor in the north. Any way the wind has a mind to blow he can keep an eye on his boat while she rides the mooring.

    We set our salad and beans in the house on the kitchen counter along with the other salads and pies and casseroles and went back out to join the sunset watch. Cory had a fire going in the firepit out front and after a time the company separated so the guys stood around the fire, one hand in a pocket and one around a cold beer. I had white wine in a paper cup but the stance was the same.

    The women sat around the picnic table.

    Often guys with beer around a fire talk cars and sport and such, but on the island conversations have a different flow. We remembered the old days and how the old timers rigged a trawl or made cider or dried cod. Swapped tales of wild lobster boat captains. Shared the finer points of gardens and gathering chanterelles, clamming hotspots, and how the hunting might shape up come fall. Talked the rise and fall of the price of lobster and the fickle fortunes of the halibut season just past.

    The level in the bottles went down with the sun. GG took the salmon off the grill. Cory’s dog Gus made off with the cheese and snacks on the table.

    The world took a deep, deep breath.

    Far out over the southern horizon the sky darkened.

    Barb moved to get plates. Cory fetched another stack of slab wood and threw it on the fire.

    I went from group to group. Listening and watching the day end so fine and easy.

    A little after sunset, Dute cruised in, snagged a mooring and rowed ashore with his crew. Dute’s boat missed any definite class. Not a lobster boat but not for show either. Not made and kept for work with stacked tubs and lines and gear stowed ready to hand, but not polished and bright and buttoned down either. A pleasure craft.

    He wore shorts despite the chill and she a billowing skirt. He introduced her offhand, like maybe she’d only hooked up with him when he landed on the beach and he hadn’t had a chance to study up on her name quite yet. Wendy. Her handshake was stronger than his.

    He swayed by the fire like an old salt home from sailing the seven tuna seas. It was the righteous end of a four-day bender.

    You ever been to Jonesport, Benjy, Dute asked, staring into the shifting flames.

    I hadn’t.

    Well they got this bar right where you come off the wharf. Don’t even need to go up into the town.

    GG remembered it used to be the village store.

    Fellow found out he made out better selling beer, said Billy. Started out just dividing the store in half, made a bar in one end and kept the store in the other. After a time he let the store go.

    Whatever, said Dute. Nice place. Don’t even have to walk up into town.

    What’d the fourth month think of you taking off this time of year, asked Billy.

    I counted in my head. January. February. March. April. April. Oh, April.

    She’s mad as hell, said I went out with another woman, Dute said. He watched Wendy carry a drink across the field. Guess I did.

    I was between the groups and she joined me for a time. She’d been hiking snowfields in Utah a couple of weeks ago. She had to be 20 years younger than Dute and the rest of us. I couldn’t figure out how she got from the glaciers to hopping aboard Dute’s vessel. But I liked the way she leaned in to tell the story about singing to let the bears know she was on the trail.

    The sunset wind pressed her dress against her thighs and the last red glow and the firelight flickering made her face a play of shadow and her eyes sparkle. She told her stories open and strong and loud enough so anyone near would know and yet, her hand on my arm when she made a point made it a private matter.

    The first stars shimmered. Day shifted to night.

    Billy and Dute and Wendy moved away toward Billy’s place. They wavered as they walked, bumping into each other. The footsteps wove a darker, tangled trail through the grass already wet with dew. Their laughter rang through the air still soft with the day’s warmth.

    There are times when the goddess comes all bright and glorious. Then her eyes radiate wisdom and their light is deep and powerful. And then there are times when she lets her hair down and shakes it wild all around her. Then her eyes are delightful wild and her smile is full with clear intent.

    I don’t know Benjy, said GG. Look like a Cialis moment to me.
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