When Dark Closes In (Historical Fiction, Prologue)



WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Surf and Shore Restaurant, Puget Sound

1966

The night started with the usual banter, kidding around, catching up on school and friends. Would they be able to pick up where they left off before college? The time away, seeing others, meeting new people had given them the opportunity to test their relationship. It all started here on Puget Sound at the Surf and Shore in 1966.

A swordfish and other fish types hung on planks of wood from old piers. Fishing nets, antique rods and reels, a whale harpoon, rudder wheel, port-hole window and other various artifacts gave the ‘Lobster shack,’ as it was known to the locals, its character.

“Does this bring back memories of our meeting here, when you came with your parents?” Scott asked.

“Yes. The place still looks the same. We sat over there facing the pier side. You were working that night, clearing tables.”

“Yep. Every day, I’d rush off after my last class, come to work, get off at 9:00, then drive home and study till midnight.”

Jennifer speared her lobster with knife and fork, and then cut into the shell ripping out succulent chunks of white meat dipping each into a tiny cup of melted butter beside her plate.

“This is good. What do you find so amusing?” she asked.

“I like watching the way your deft, manicured nails rip into that crustaceous creature dismembering it as if looking for some left in there.” He said.

“I guess it’s not a very proper way to eat lobster, but there just isn’t enough of it.”

“Would you like me to order another one for you?” he asked, teasing.

She threw a roll at him. Her aim was off and it bounced off his wine goblet, nearly knocking the glass over. His hand caught it in time.

“Oh, my g… Look what your bad influence makes me do,” she said.

“Oh, so it’s my fault? The manipulating, Irish Catholic daughter of a logger is blaming me for her childish behavior?” he said.

“May I refill your glass, sir” the waiter said, as he approached their table.

“Sure. Thank you. And, this young lady needs a glass of milk. She shouldn’t be drinking.” Scott said.

“Oh, I am sorry. I misjudged your age. Excuse me, I will bring you…”

Jenifer and Scot burst out laughing.

“Oh, no problem. It’s all right. Actually, she is the legal age. She just doesn’t act like it sometimes.” Scott replied with a conspiratorial wink. “We’re just kidding around. She really is nineteen.”

“Oh. Yes, sir. OK, then. I will check back in a few moments, and take your order for dessert.”

“Thank you.” Scott replied.

“He doesn’t enjoy your humor.”

“Now that you’re home from college, have you made plans for the summer? Or do I get to snatch you away from the girls? ” he asked.

“Oh, you mean Carolyn and Dana? We haven’t discussed any yet, except to ride the ferries around the islands, shop, and check out the cute sailors at Bremerton home on leave. I will think about you though while you’re at the garage sweating under a car hood with a wrench in your hand.” She smiled impishly.

“You would do that, while I slave away to save for our future?” His pretended hurt expression was all a part of the game he played with her.

“Oh? Is that what you’re doing? Have you considered that I might not accept your proposal?”

“I admit I have. I guess I would have to be very convincing, wouldn’t I? But, whenever we’re alone, you get that ‘uncomfortable feeling’ that I am expecting too much, and moving too fast for you.”

“And what is wrong with having that ‘uncomfortable feeling’? I am not a ‘fast’ kind of girl.”

“OK, then. I know your parents have raised you to believe in their old-fashioned Catholic virtues, but you can loosen up a little. We’re in the sixties now, and our generation doesn’t want to live by the same old set of rules our parents did.”

“Yes, I know. But, I still think trust and respect are necessary in a relationship. It isn’t because my parents are devout Catholics and hope I’ll choose to live by their set of values. It’s because I want what they have in a marriage one day, and that didn’t come about with ‘free love’ like so many are into these days. The kind of relationship I want can’t be rushed.”

“Right. The long, slow kind. I understand. Well, we may not have that kind of time, anyway. The military’s selective service is requiring registration now. Their upping the numbers of troops to ship off to Vietnam. Enlistment is down, so they’re pushing the draft to meet the demand. I had to fill out papers and send them back to the local draft board.”

“But, you don’t have to worry about that, do you? I mean, while you’re in college? Don’t students have immunity to the draft if they’re called up?”

“Usually, yes. But…”

“But, what?”

“But, I still had to register. And, I have to keep a 3.5 GPA, even while working at my uncle’s garage as a mechanic. I have to pay tuition debts, so need to work my way through school.”

There was a long pause; both of them quiet, thoughtful for the next several minutes.

After dinner they walked barefoot along the shore, breathing in the salt air. She felt safe, shielded from things when they were together. They stood looking out at the sea sending white caps thrashing against the pier. Scott wrapped a warm arm around her.

“A storm is moving in.” he said.

Jenifer could not help but feel there was a wave of the unknown coming, building, strengthening, preparing to break on impact as it came, just like the surf that rolled into shore, with a vengeance, then rolled back out to sea, each wave bigger, stronger than the one before.

_________________________

Joyce E. Johnson – 2013


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