didnt often have the same day off, but when we did Kevin
and I went off hiking and rock climbing together on different
parts of the island, usually as far from town as we could get.
There were some small towns or communities actually,
in other places near the water, but nothing close to Jordan Harbor
as far as commercialism went. We had gotten a map of trails that
went through the large state park that covered more than half
the island, and after getting out on one of the official trails,
wed veer off and do a little bushwhacking, looking for challenging
rock faces to climb. This wasnt difficult to do, for there
were plenty of rock formations all over the island, not to mention
some of the sheer and dangerous cliffs near the water.
These few times hiking and climbing with Kevin enabled us to escape
from Jordan Harbor and anything connected with it; we lost ourselves
in the activity; it was just us against nature. And concentration
was definitely required when trying to scale these lichen scaly
boulders, walls and ledges, inserting our hands and feet in whatever
openings or crevices we could find. We carried no safety ropes,
so there was no room for careless mistakes, particularly when
we reached certain heights. In most cases, once we had gone so
high, there was no going back down the same way. And in this element
of challenge and risk, we couldnt help but feel a bond.
Nothing else mattered but to get to the top of that rock wall.
We would be hurt or dead if we didnt. We realized this,
though neither of us said anything (just a quiet smile if anything)
Occasionally, whoever was in the lead would give a warning or
some advice, but that was pretty much it until we got to the top.
When we arrived at the top of some formation, wed sit quietly
for a few minutes, smiling and appreciating the view over the
trees; and then, relaxed again, wed talk about whatever
came to mind, usually something from our pasts, places we had
been to and people wed met there. I had done a two-year
hitchhiking trip prior to that summer in Maine, and Kevin, a few
years older than me, had done four years in the army, so we both
had our share of stories.
Kevin talked about going back to Germany some day, or some other
place in Europe. He had come back to the States to see his mother
and what little family he had (a brother and sister in Texas),
and he had spent a couple months driving around the country, and
ended up in Maine.
I couldnt go any further in this country, he
said. But I liked the look of it here. Its plenty
different than the Texas I come from, and thats just fine
with me. Ive had enough of Lone Star country. He smiled
in a tired way.
I told him Id probably make it out there again in a couple
years or so. There was so much of the country I wanted to see
at the time, and Kevin could relate to that restlessness in me;
he had plans to move on somewhere, soon.
I cant do another winter around here, he said.
I mean Ill keep in touch with Gloria, but
He shook his head. She just dont have enough of what
I want. He looked at me.
I could see that right off the bat, I said, and he
Shes not a bad person, he said, and she
knows how to take care of a man in some ways, but
something missing there.
Shell find somebody more suited to her, I said.
Shell settle with someone from her own backyard. It
wont be long before she has kids and a place just down the
street from her mother.
Thats it, man. Thats exactly whats going
to happen. I can see that. And Ill be happy for her when
I cant get tied down myself, I said. Although
I wouldnt mind having a little fun with one of those summer
How bout Sherry? he asked, referring to one
of the cashiers at the store who usually worked the first shift.
She looks like shed be fun, and shes not butt
ugly like some of these local women around here.
Shes got those lovin eyes, doesnt she? But doesnt
she have a guy?
She had one. Im pretty sure hes history. I dont
think that woman stays with any one man too long. He laughed.
I was thinking about going to one of Frank Doyles
parties, I said. Hes always after me to come,
and he says there are plenty of women around.
Frank says a lot of things, Kevin said. Half
of it I wouldnt believe. To hear him talk youd think
he was the biggest stud around. But Ive seen women laugh
behind his back. The only reason he has the party girls around
is that he has money. His daddy has money. Thats why he
can afford to stay out here all summer without a job.
I wondered about that, I said. He seems to have
a lot of time to drink beer.
Yeah, thats why. His old man owns some big company,
and he has a place here on the island. Has one of those big boats
down in the harbor too. But Frank has his own apartment in town.
He says he does work around the old mans house and boat
for his rent, but I doubt it. He doesnt do anything but
sit on his fat ass. You should see that apartment of his. A regular
This description didnt surprise me. Frank Doyle seemed like
anything but the ambitious type. Still, I thought Id visit
him one night, just for something different in the small town.
I had already been to all the popular night spots, which just
overcharged you for everything; and I had spent a few evenings
sitting in the town park by the harbor, watching the couples and
families walk by, and the celebrations in the boats. I felt like
really getting ripped one night and having a time that I would
remember months from then, a memory to take with me when I left
I knew where Frank lived, having stopped at what could have been
called a frat house with Kevin one day. The place was just a big
old, two-story house that the landlord had converted into a couple
of apartments and some smaller single rooms, collecting a stiff
seasonal rent while not putting much money into the upkeep. The
landlord probably made enough money on the jacked up rents to
send him to Florida in the winter.
Anyway, Frank Doyle had one of the bigger rooms on the first floor
in the back. He did have his own bathroom, which some of the other
rooms didnt, and a little kitchen area, for which he paid
I knocked on the old scarred door on my day off one late July
afternoon, mainly to get out of the midday sun. Doyle was home,
but not long out of bed, it looked like: tousled hair, sleep mark
on his face, bleary-eyed and shirtless. I noticed he had a pretty
big belly for someone his age.
I thought it was someone else, he said, letting me
I was relieved that I hadnt interrupted something with a
Rough night? I asked.
Oh, dude. A rough three days is more like it. His
trademark tired yet knowing grin. I saw it just about every day
at the store. He looked around the one big room, and then just
shook his head and laughed.
You can see for yourself, he said.
Yes, the place was a mess, as Kevin said it was. Pig sty hadnt
been much of an exaggeration. In fact, maybe it was an insult
Beer bottles and cans everywhere; that was the first thing I noticed.
Pizza and food containers, milk containers, dirty glasses, cups,
mugs, plates (disposable and otherwise), plastic garbage bags
half full (flies busy around them), clothes discarded over every
chair in the place and on the dirty, thin carpet, a bed mattress
on the floor in one corner, with sheets that looked as if they
hadnt been changed since the beginning of summer. There
was a big radio/CD player in one corner, with plenty of CDs scattered
around it. Near the bed, besides clothes, was a pile of paperback
books that I would have guessed hadnt been opened yet that
When does the maid come in? I asked, and Doyle laughed.
I dont know, but Im gonna fire her when she
does. So what brings you here, dude? This is a surprise. Youve
never been here before, have you?
Not inside this party palace, I said, grinning.
Yeah, well, it serves its purpose for this town in the summer.
The rents the cheapest youre gonna find.
Not as cheap as mine, I almost said.
Well, I got the day off and I just happened to be going
by, I said. I said to myself: I know someone who likes
his beer, and it seemed like a good day for that.
Yeah, well, Im glad you stopped. Ive been telling
you for how long to stop over?
I know. But you know how many days off I get. I wasnt
even sure if Id have this one off until this morning.
I asked Rita for a job, Frank said. I know she
could use another person part time. But she just laughs. You and
Kevin ought to put a good word in for me, with all the business
I give that place.
Rita had mentioned to me that Doyle had asked for a job, but she
was reluctant to hire him, saying that he drank too much. And
hed sell beer to all of his underage friends, I know that,
she added. I dont trust him.
So I knew that Doyle wasnt going to be working at the store,
but I didnt want to get into that. The summer would be over
in a few weeks anyway, and it didnt seem like Frank needed
the money that bad.
Are you staying here past the summer? I asked.
No, dude. I go back to school.
He told me about his being a student at the University of Maine
in Orono. Frank was a business major.
It sucks, he said. But I had to major in something
or my dad wouldnt pay for it.
He wants to see something come out of it besides a knowledge
of how to party, huh? I said, kidding him.
Dude, its a good thing he doesnt know how much
I party, Frank said, laughing. Whenever I go down
to that boat of his, or out to his house, I try to look as clean
and sober as I can. You know what I mean? I play the game then.
I wondered how much Frank really fooled his old man. Probably
not as much as he thought. The old man most likely picked things
up from word of mouth in this small town. After all, Frankie flaunted
the partying image with his Hawaiian shirts and straw hats, his
flashy necklaces and his one earring, his expensive shades and
sandals, and even the goatee. Yet it all came off in a comical
way. I know that nobody at the store took him seriously, and I
doubted if his friends did. At times, when he didnt know
you were watching him, Frank looked like a lost kid, as if he
had suddenly awoken in an unfamiliar place. And in these moments,
you knew just how much of it was an act and you really couldnt
dislike him. After all, he wasnt a bad kid; he had just
picked up some things about style from some of his
daddys rich cronies down on the yacht, and thought thats
what you needed to get by in the world. It probably did carry
him a certain way, I thought.
Is your buddy working today? he asked, looking in
a little fridge he had plugged in to one wall.
Yeah, hes on. One of us has to hold down the fort.
Whos with him today, Sherry? He grinned at me,
pulling two beers out of the unit.
I think so. Unless Ritas pulling a double. Hell, I
dont care. I put in eight straight days in that place. I
knew I was off.
Frank handed me a can.
Whats the story with Sherry? he asked, still
grinning in that knowing way.
I guess I gotta find out. Kevin says shes on her own
Let me tell you something about Sherry, dude, he said.
This is my third summer on this island. I first met Sherry
Duhamel my first summer here. She worked in an ice cream shop
down near the park. We partied together all the time that summer.
She even came out on my old mans boat once. But in the three
summers Ive known her Ive seen her with about ten
different guys. That woman likes to have her summertime fun. I
bet you get your chance before the summers over.
Sounds interesting, I said. But how about here
at the frat house? There must be some party girls around.
You really are ready to go today, arent you?
Well, you know how it is, all work and no play
I shrugged. And this is the party place on the coast, right?
I knew you werent just the quiet guy you are at the
store. Kevin told me you liked to drink and get high. He
threw some clothes, draped over a chair, on the floor and offered
me a seat. Then he flopped on his bed. If I tell you something
honestly, dude, I dont want you to be mad at me.
Of course, I was on my guard then.
See, I actually thought you were gay, he said, not
grinning yet until he saw my reaction.
But Frank didnt have to worry about me being mad at that;
it wasnt the first time someone had that idea about me.
And, on my hitchhiking trip, Id had fags make moves on me
all the time, thinking I leaned that way. I even knew women who
had mentioned the same thing, without intending offense. I just
smiled at Frankie.
I did, dude. I dont know what it was, the way you
talked, something. It just seemed like you didnt act like
other guys. You didnt seem interested in women. I mean,
Kevin noticed that. He thought you were that way too before he
knew you. After he got to know you a little, he told me he didnt
think you were gay.
I laughed, and then he did too.
No, I didnt make any moves on him when we went out
rock climbing, I said.
Thats what he said, dude. He said he had known some
fags in the army, but you werent like them. He said you
hadnt tried to pull anything on him.
No, I havent had Kevin Hemming on my mind in that
way, I said.
Like I said, I didnt want you to be mad. I mean its
funny now. Youre just a partying dude like the rest of us.
Although, I wasnt sure Frank was entirely convinced of this,
and I didnt care. Seeing him in his squalid living quarters
hadnt raised him up in my estimation. It was easy to be
a partying dude when your old man had a yacht just down the road
and paid your rent for you.
But I didnt want to get too spiteful; that wasnt the
idea for being here in the first place. I guzzled my beer and
placed the can amongst the many other empties.
Not wasting any time today, are you, dude? And I keep telling
myself Im gonna take a day off, do something healthy for
a change. He snickered and looked at the can in his hand.
Well thats a start, I said, grinning at him.
Get your morning protein drink in you and youll feel
© Mike Blake June '05
also Chapter One and