TITLE: Island Shell Game
GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction
James couldn’t remember the last time he’d read a newspaper. Even now he wasn’t actually reading the Providence Journal—he was hiding behind it. Hiding from the sun’s glare off the harbor. Hiding from that empty dock where the ferry should be. And hiding from the chatter at the tables around him—the place sounded like a seagull feeding frenzy.
James should’ve delivered the island’s morning commuters to the Newport docks more than two hours ago. And right now, he shouldn’t be sitting here on the crowded outside deck of the Bean; he should be steaming south out of Narragansett Bay, carrying a few hardy spring tourists back to Brenton again. On a clear morning like this one, he’d cover the three and a half miles in sixteen minutes, aiming at the tall lighthouse until it was time to round tiny Piglet Island to starboard. Once he cleared the harbor breakwater, he’d idle across to the town pier and spin the forty-eight foot Homer S. Morgan in her own length to come in port side to. At exactly ten minutes past eleven, dock lines and a metal gangway would land on the Homer’s side deck.
When his passengers—two or twenty-two, it didn’t matter to James—smiled their goodbyes and headed up the wooden dock, their first stop was usually right here at the Bean. This shingled bungalow just beyond the ferry landing served as the island’s unofficial welcome center.
James would follow a few minutes later, barely nodding to the regulars at the big table before heading inside.