Constance 'Dusty' Miller
(Editor's Note: this is an excerpt from a work in progress, The Spy I Loved.)
With twenty-four cabins, all of them occupied, Lindsey’s attention was fully engaged. If there was something vaguely disturbing about the two dark foreign men getting into a boat shortly after Liam had gone up the river, it escaped her. The men were in Cabin Eleven. It was right across from his in the crazy hodgepodge that was The Pines. They didn’t look much different from anyone else. Just like anyone else, the one on the back was hunched over the motor. The one in front sat facing the rear, his pale face standing out against the green windbreaker. The only thing was that it had a hood. Most of them did as the weather was notoriously fickle and fishermen were out in all weathers.
Dale floated about from dawn until late, between the dock and the store. Mark worked straight days, six days a week all summer long. Mark or Dale fixed anything that was broken, within reason, which saved them from calling in expensive service people from town. Mark, nearing forty now, a perennial bachelor and scrupulously polite with Lindsey at all times, had somehow managed to never become a part of the family.
Lindsey had the impression Dale simply wasn’t capable anymore, and yet living in a shitty little apartment in Sudbury all winter just encouraged him to drink. They had tried that and she was sort of grateful when he said he didn’t want to do it again. The camp was the only real home he’d had in decades, and he saw no reason to put down firmer roots in any town. What few friends he had were around here. For Dale, to go to the coffee shop once a week, Sunday mornings regular as clockwork, was a kind of social life. But even he had reluctantly agreed that having Mark around in the winter would be a help and it was better if Dale wasn’t left alone.
Dale’s first little heart attack three years ago had been a godsend. He had woken up and realized that he really did need another man to help run the place. There would be someone there in an emergency. Dale knew that Lindsey must ultimately leave. She wondered if he had even missed her, and yet he must—he must. He simply didn’t know how to say it. To say it would be to confront that ultimate goodbye. That would be the day when she packed her bags for good, threw out a lot of childish stuff and then walked out of his life for all intents and purposes. Dale probably assumed she’d just get a job as a substitute teacher or something and stay in Espanola…
The guests were a distraction from all of that other world, that private world.
There were Japanese businessmen in Cabin Four. They were pretty easy to read. So far they had rented about half of the rather tacky porn videos on hand, in a dingy back room with an ‘Adults Only’ sign above the door. When they saw her coming and going, they would spurt Japanese back and forth.
Nothing shocked her anymore. She took their money and handed over the receipt for the DVDs and that was all she cared.
She had her story, and she figured everyone else did too. Some were merely more interesting than others.
Hopefully hers would turn out as well as any.
Don’t expect too much—
Cabin Eight was a trio of young married couples, and they hadn’t been seen since check-in. It wasn’t all that different from a bunch of undoubtedly married Japanese businessmen, away from their docile little wives and rice-paper houses, drinking scotch with the boss and pretending they really cared about trout and small-mouth bass.
What you really want is a promotion.
A title, and a plastic sign on the door.
Suck-holing around a bad boss was the life for them.
No price was too high.
They were so bored they spent their time drinking and watching bad porn.
She tried to avoid obvious mental pictures of wedded bliss, the quiet and confident companionship, exhibited in at least one friend’s marriage,
When she took a good look at some of her other friends’ choices, it was easy to be contemptuous.
Contemptuous for what little they had settled for. What was terrifying was how quickly some of them had settled down for the long haul, dishes and laundry and diapers, kids, kids, kids, and ultimately, a long twilight followed by death. Their menial jobs would eventually kill the men, most of whom did not enjoy a long and golden retirement. Sometimes it seemed the whole town was like that—the whole world as she had known it.
Toronto had been an education in more ways than one. Toronto was a glittering paradise, with a million desperately lonely, isolated people. They all lived close together and in the same place.
Most of them at least had somebody.
Soon, two more years, she would have no one—she’d be just starting off.
So far she had avoided all that. Not that there weren’t longings, even temptations. There was always that distant purpose—to get her degree in History and get the hell out of Dodge City as Dale called it.
Perhaps there was a smidgeon of contempt there after all. Or maybe it was jealousy. They were at least having a life. Her monthlies were almost due and that might have had something to do with her mood. The notion that one was responsible for one’s own thoughts and feelings was vile in that it just added to the problem. It was a piling-on of the guilt.
The thing to do was to focus on the work and push the bitter, lonely thoughts aside.
With all of those cabins strung along their sandy road under the pines, someone was always wanting something, someone always had a problem, and someone always had a question. There was always someone coming and going, always someone in the store, always someone on the dock, either setting out if it was early or coming in if the hour was late.
It was only after a long and busy day that she thought of Liam again.
End of excerpt.
(Yeah, Dusty's been real grumpy lately and we are desperately trying not to mess with her, but her book is very close to being done. -- ed,)
FUCK YOU. HAVE A NICE DAY>DUSTY.