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Chapter One

November 27, 2009

The blue sky Autumn morning was up to it’s usual pace which, by default, was slow as Paul Dobbs, Harbormaster for Allegory Harbor,  finished his third orbital walk around the docks.  He had accomplished the daring task of kicking the remains of a seagull’s breakfast back into the water.  So far, the scattered bits of crab shell had been the most excitement since yesterday evening when Jenna Lowson decided to come strolling by the docks drunk on cheap wine and heartbreak.

Shortly after midnight he’d watched Jenna from his front porch as he sat in his antique rocking chair while sharing a Cutty Sark with the cool night air.  He hadn’t been able to sleep but it was nothing new to him.  He was pretty sure he’d not slept through the night for nearly twenty years and besides, the quiet hours of evening were always special to him.

Overdone blonde hair, tight blue jeans, mascara, heels and a plain black tank top had been Jenna’s weapons of choice for her walk.  As she passed by the small wooden house he called home, he raised his tumbler glass to her in greeting.  Waving back to him in response had nearly been her undoing as she weaved, stumbled, and nearly missed the last two steps down to the pier.  She had caught herself on the wooden railing and then spun, putting her hip into the railing for balance as if she had planned to do it for the past week.

“Heya, Paul.”

“Evening, Jenna.”

She gave a self-conscious grin, ran an unsteady hand through her hair and motioned down the dock, “Goin’ to see, Mark.”  She laughed lightly.

“Didn’t figure you were here for the night fishin’.  Jenna, you sure seeing Mark is such a good idea?”

Jenna had surprised him with a quick thumbs-up, “You shoulda’ been a detective,” and then she turned and wove down the maze of wooden platforms and mazes.  She mutter-mumbled something that sounded like, “Best idea I’ve had all day…”

He watched her go, sipped his drink and wished he was about forty years younger.

Coming back to the present, Paul watched the crab shell wobble, flip, and slowly sink back into the surf.  He pushed his hands down into the front pockets of his coveralls as the shell disappeared into the depths.  He’d been the harbormaster for Allegory Harbor for decades.  He was an institution.  It’s what Mayor Flannery would say to him whenever he came down to check on things.  “Paul, sir, you’re an instahtoootion, a gahd damned instahtootion.”  Mayor Flannery had been born on the East coast and from time to time his voice wouldn’t let anyone forget it.

“Instahtootion” or no, he was melancholy. Paul thought about so many things he used to do and wondered if he could do them again.  He knew the answer and chuckled to himself.  Then, he shook his head.  He couldn’t shake the feeling that things had just been too peaceful in the harbor lately.  They had definitely been a bit too quiet for him.  He knew he shouldn’t be asking for trouble in his golden years but he couldn’t help it.  He thought about his wife, passed close to ten years ago.  She wouldn’t have liked it one bit.

The Harbor was a good place, strange at times, but a damn fine place and he never wished it any ill will.  It had been just too, well, what was the word?  He squinted and thought and then found the word.  “Predictable,” he muttered to himself.

It was what was eating at him.  In all his years of walking the docks, of tying off yet another bowline to another small sailboat, of attending yet another town meeting, of filling out another form, of calling over the short wave to issue another fog warning the past few years had become predictable.  He was pretty certain that predictable was not something Allegory Harbor should ever be called.  Peaceful, serene, wonderful, magical, all of those were fine words.  Calling it predictable for Paul was equal to saying his dog had died.

Perhaps it was?  Perhaps too many of the younger ones had run off to the city?  Too many traditions lost to the glow of urban lights?  Perhaps Allegory Harbor was losing its passion?

Then, again, maybe he was just losing his?

The thought frightened him and to get away from it he looked up and let his eyes scan the boats in their slips, up to the thin stream of clouds losing the last of the golden glow of sunrise and then out over the water of the bay.  The only answer was the gentle lapping sound of the ocean hitting the posts of the dock.  He chastised himself for allowing his thoughts to spin downward.  He should get breakfast.  He should walk down to the diner and get some eggs just like he had done for the past several years.  Shaking his head seemed to be the only response to all of it and he turned away from the harbor to head back to his office.  He’d need his wallet for the cafe.

His ears picked up a faint whistling over the other sounds of the harbor and it made him pause.  It was coming from the sky.  Before he could turn to locate the source, the whistle had gone to a sudden roar.  Some deep survival instinct ticked from the far corners of Paul Dobb’s mind and he was moving.  He had time to think, “I should duck,” and then the falling item scorched across the docks, over the bay, and struck the southeastern beach with a deep thrumming concussion and a puff of sand.

Paul, perhaps not the fastest on his seventy year old feet, had still been able to follow through with his thought and then some. He lifted his face from the rough wooden planks of the pier and pushed himself up just enough to look across the bay.  Water underneath the sand had misted on impact and a thin layer of mist drifted over the beach and covered the impact zone.  Alarmed seagulls scattered and swirled away from the beach voicing their displeasure at the day’s interruption.  The sound of impact continued to roll outward from harbor, drifting off into the distance.

He propped himself up on his elbows, scratched his forehead, and muttered something non-sensical as he looked across the water of the bay.  Deciding he was just fine where he was until things calmed down, he stayed there flat against the dock leaning on bony elbows.  He’d learned a long time ago that sometimes it was better not to be in a rush and this was, most certainly, one of those times.  Paul waited to see what would happen next and who would be the first to react.  His wait was not long as the first to do the aforementioned was Jenna Lowson who came up onto the deck from the lower levels of the little red yacht owned by Mark Taylor.

Wearing the garb and hair of a hung over woman suddenly awakened by an explosion, she staggered to the edge of the boat.  Holding onto the edge of the captain’s deck for support she looked over to the impact area with her free hand shielding her squinting eyes from the sun. Then, looking back down the docks she saw Paul, belly side down, looking back at her.

Paul gave her a small wave.

“What the hell!?  What the hell was that, Paul? Did you see it?

Paul pointed over to crater and nodded his head knowingly, his eyes twinkling, “That?  That, Jenna, is a damned site for sore eyes!”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Megan permalink
    December 23, 2009 8:31 pm

    so…when do we get Chapter Two?
    As always I love to read your stuff. I’m curious where this story will go, because for the first time (for me) I get to read some of your fiction set in a non-familiar world. All you other stuff I’ve read was for the LARPs/MMOs we’ve played together.


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