chap. 22...we are stardust  

sparkee58 58M
606 posts
6/2/2006 2:33 am

Last Read:
8/23/2006 8:21 am

chap. 22...we are stardust

You can only get to Bald Head Island by boat and usually we were running late and had to stand around on the deck of the small ferry. In the summer this wasn't unpleasant but on blustery winter days it was like crossing the open Atlantic on the twenty minute trip. The cold wind would blow as we rounded the lee of the smaller Chicken Island and the waves sometimes broke over the bow or abeam. We huddled down behind the cabin door, holding limp cigarettes and drinking lukewarm coffee. Down below in the snug cabin we could see the locals reading the paper and adjusting golf gloves. Many times we were soaked to the bone as we carried the first heavy bundles of shingles up the ladder and across the roofs.
"Well, the world traveler returns." said Sig.
He had come over on the supply boat and now he sat behind the wheel of an electric golf cart. We unloaded hand tools and put them in the basket behind the seats. The only gasoline vehicles allowed on the island were for construction. We kept Old Bo there, a worn clunker of a dumptruck, but we were advised to keep it hidden. It bellowed smoke like it was coal fired and celebrated like New Years Eve in Times Square when first cranked.
I got in the cart beside Sig and the other three crew got into another cart and we were off. At a vee in the path Sig cut to the left and motioned to the others to go right. Soon we were under a dark canopy of lush vegatation. Sunlight twinkled overhead, filtered through the leaves of the tall oaks. A red fox broke across the black paved cart track without changing his stride or noticing our presense. An owl hooted. It sounded muffled in the old forest.
"Tally ho!" yelled Sig and ran off the road after the fox. It disappeared into the tall green grass. We hit a bump and the five gallon bucket holding my tools fell and spilled onto the road. Sig turned in the cart seat and watched me as I picked them up. I got back in.
"Yea. The weary world traveler," said Sig again and slapped my leg.
"That's me."
"I wanna hear all about it."
The narrow cart path ended at the north end of the island where a marshy creek slowly flowed on one side and on the other were palmetto trees and a white sandy beach and farther out the breaking waves of the Atlantic. We heard the muffled crash as if from faraway and we sat in the shade of a dense leafy canopy and looked at the sunlight bright on the water. Birds sang in the background like crickets at night. We sat there for a few minutes and basked in the almost holy majesty.
"They say you are closer to God in beautiful places," I said.
Sig nodded.
"C'mon," he said.
We stepped out of the cart and walked out on the unspoiled white beach. Shells were scattered like stars in the night sky. The roar became louder and soon we stood at the edge of the cool water. A wave threatened to get Sig's boot wet and he jumped back hurredly. He pointed excitedly out to where a wave ran high like a liquid backbone and then after a long run toward shore it broke in a white foamed fury.
"That's a pisser!" he yelled.
"That's a good wave," I replied.
I sat crosslegged on the ground. We both wore shorts and rubber soled boots.
"You could show a little more excitement. See, there's a small reef right there offshore and that's where it starts."
"Uh- huh."
Sig looked down at me.
"Oh, I forgot. Charlie don't surf. Charlie don't surf," he said.
"Shut your orifice."
Sig threw his big head back and looked at me in amusement. His New York accent was thick and sometimes it might as well have been Latin.
"Shut my orifice," he said and laughed.
He sat down on the beach beside me and tried to smoke. The wind kept blowing the matches out.
"You'll never get it lit," I said.
"You gotta ask yourself in a situation like this what would Hoofer the Roofer do?" asked Sig.
His short black curls danced in the breeze. A dark line of pelicans came toward us from the south, their wings held straight out as they glided toward the water. They all dipped down in a natural ballet and soon they found a school of baitfish and they spread out and dove into the water like kamikazes. Small erns walked to the water's edge pecking into the wet sand and ran back like Keystone Cops as the water flooded in.
Sig lit the entire book of matches and when it flamed he lit his cigarette. He threw the matches down and we watched them burn and then he covered the ashes with sand.
"So, how was Millisa? What did you do with her? Nobody has seen her in weeks."
"Millisa moved in with her sister in DC."
"That wasn't my first question."
"Interesting. She was interesting."
"Mr. Detail."
I shrugged. Millisa's smile and smart eyes came to my mind. I remembered how she would lay in my arms at night and purr like a happy kitten.
A cloud passed over the sun and at the same time I felt the cool emptiness in my heart.
But then the sun reappeared and the breeze died and it was hot.
Sig sat down on the white sand and started unlacing his Timberland high top boots. His head nudged toward the water. We both wore Baggies under our shorts and we stripped down and were soon swimming and bodysurfing the cool breaking waves. Thirty minutes later we stood on the beach again, drying in the sun.
"I'm going to sneak the boards over tomorrow and hide them in old Bo," said Sig.
I nodded.
"And your fishin' pole, Charlie."
He looked at me and shook his big head.
"Charlie don't surf," he said like singing a song.
We pulled our boots on and Sig took one last look before we got back to the cart.
"That's a real pisser!" he said excitedly. We headed to the job.

It was cool that night; I slept with the windows open and dreamed about the Carolina Beach Hermit. I had read a story about him in the Morning Star earlier and I unconciously mulled it over as I tossed in a fitful sleep. Along the shoreline on the island stood WWII concrete observation bunkers that stuck out of the sand like moles on a pretty face. The Hermit had left his career as a respected college professor and abandoned his family to live alone in one of these. I tried to wrap my mind around this.
What would compell a man to do that? To just walk away from a promising career, with tenure, and to forsake a luxurious home and loving family to live as Jesus spoke of when he told of the lilies of the field. Did the Hermit ever find the truth he was looking for. I tossed and sweated like battling a virus.
I saw myself flat on my back in the dark bunker, my bed made from grasses and palmetto fronds. I lay awake listening to the soft crash of waves, the breeze blowing salt mist through the open doorway and my mind awhirl. I stood up and walked outside and the dark sky was afire with bright twinkling stars. The surf sounded louder and the tall sea oats danced. I saw the long white line of the breakers and the flying white foam as they smashed down. I walked the white sandy path, stealthy as Uncas the Mohican, down to the bay where the crescent moon looked over the calm water and it lovingly smiled back. The stars shone on the water like a cloud of fireflies.
Tomorrow morning I will come here and fish for my breakfast. And the day after. And the day after...
And then, right before I woke, Daphne appeared cradling her hurt paw and then Kami moaned as she clutched at my hair pulling me to her. Millisa and Bobby MacGee and Judy Blue eyes all sauntered through, shaking their fingers at me, lounging on the bed and laughing until, the room suddenly bright with daylight, I woke up alone and stared up at the ceiling.

I anchored out on Perigrine the next Friday in the small bay between Pleasure Island and Bald Head. It was a little tricky setting the anchors alone. I dropped the twenty pound Danforth off the bow, motored fifty feet, pulled on the line and set it. I felt it dig into the soft sandy bottom. I let the line run free as I motored fifty more feet and dropped the twelve pound lunch hook, moved back between the two anchors and set that one. Then I tied both lines off on the big steel bow cleat using two figures of eight and a half hitch. There were no other boats around.
I cooked a steak on the hibachi grill and opened a bottle of red wine. I ate ouside sitting on the cockpit, my back to the cabin, watching the sun sink down lower. The breeze stopped and the water lay smooth as a mirror. Mullet jumped and splashed around me like sudden dull firecrackers. I watched the ripples expand across and then the dim outline of the shore where they landed.
It was dark when I finished the wine. The breeze had picked up and this kept the mullet biter flies and mosquitos away. I went below and retrieved my sleeping bag and some pillows and lay back staring at the starry, starry night. Images and emotions, poignant as old photos, some surreal as a Salvador Dali painting swarmed in my head like angry bees.
I finally fell asleep and awoke just before dawn.
The radio was playing ever so softly. It was Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock". Two dolphin had swam in to investigate and their splashing had nudged me from somewhere deep.
"We are stardust,
We are golden
We are caught in the Devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."
I sat up and watched as they circled the boat, diving up and curving back down into the water, their long gray bodies sleek and smooth looking. Their eyes looked into mine right before they disappeared underwater. They circled once more and headed out toward the inlet.
I boiled some water on the Coleman and had coffee and some fruit and then I packed a backpack and rolled up the sleeping bag. At dead low tide I felt Perigrine gently touch bottom.
I put the ladder over the side, put the packpack on and climbed down into the calm water. The sun was already up hot. The water was cold and tingled my testicles until they shrank to get away. The bottom was sandy and I could see starfish and swaying grass below. The water was up to my waist. I waded to shore, holding my topsiders up high. I was soon on the wide beach and felt the sand squish beneath my bare toes.

It was about a mile hike on a white sandy path through the thickening scrub oaks, bent like old men, and small, withered pines that lined both sides. It was thick as a jungle, hot and humid and green everywhere. A small tidal creek ran alongside the path with its marshgrass and reeds. Black muck lay exposed and the rank aroma of low tide seemed amplified under the hot canopy of trees.
I stopped about halfway and set the pack down beside an overturned pine tree in a clearing nearby and sipped from the bottled water. While hiking I had noticed the different sounds, the gulls warning of my approach, the tattattat of a woodpecker hard at work, an owl echoing in the dense growth like Big Ben in London. Now it was quiet.
I could see the ocean from here and the white foam flying as the waves broke. I saw the dim outline of a line of hunting pelicans. The sun was up high. I took off my tshirt, rolled it and put it in the pack. I put this on my back and continued on. Soon I walked around a curve in the path and it stood before me.
It was made from solid gray concrete and was about ten foot square. There was a large opening on one side for a doorway and holes for viewing ports on all sides. I stepped inside onto the concrete floor in the semidarkness and felt cobwebs on my face light as a baby's breath. I heard something scamper out and then saw it out the corner of my eyes as it disappeared into the woods.
I went outside and dropped my pack. It looked like no one had been here in years. Looking out, I had a perfect view of a wide expanse of beach.
I cleared the brush and debris from inside the bunker and sat down and studied the information I had about the man that had lived here from 1955 until his "mysterious" death in the summer of 1972.
There were quotes from residents in the article:

"I do remember hearing there was this crazy old man at the beach. And I remember hearing of his death- because it was talked about."

"Here was this pretty smelly old guy living in a concrete bunker. You think he can't have all his marbles in the bag. But he could cast a spell. Dozens of people listened to him, ranting and raving about the evils of society."

"When asked why...he said he proposed to write a book for the benefit of humanity called "A Tyrant in Every Home"- about whom we call today- dysfunctional individuals."

"(He) was somewhat dysfuntional himself, leaving society and all the comforts of home behind- a warm bed, a roof over his head, family and friends, fresh water and indoor plumbing. Instead he found the warmth and security of Nature- sunrises over the ocean, bountiful seafood at his doorstep, a multitude of four-legged companions and thousands of visitors each year"

"It's the story about a man who, in his 60s, decided to ditch it all-his career, life with his family- and make his way from Shelby to Southeastern North carolina."

catseyes23 61F

6/2/2006 8:00 am

Sounds like fun, Sparkee. Just the simple things in life....


sparkee58 replies on 6/2/2006 9:56 am:
yes...the simple things

rm_1hotwahine 62F
21091 posts
6/2/2006 9:20 am

we are golden

Yeah, I'm still [blog 1hotwahine]

sparkee58 replies on 6/2/2006 9:55 am:
joni mitchell

rm_1hotwahine 62F
21091 posts
6/2/2006 3:12 pm

we are caught in the devil's bargain

And we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden...

sorry. had to finish it

Yeah, I'm still [blog 1hotwahine]

rm_goddess1946 105F
13518 posts
6/13/2006 7:44 pm

Bald Head Island...
I love that place!!

Just a little food for thought.............
If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you...

sparkee58 replies on 6/14/2006 1:28 am:
it is a wonderful island
I was there in the 80s, before it was tamed
too crowded now, I would imagine

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