“But you’re not stopping us,” Dex prodded.
Bill stared straight out at the water, watching the waves as if he was under their spell.
“No,” he said finally. “I’m not stopping you. Only because I don’t think you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
Even I didn’t know what we were looking for, but I nodded as if I understood.
“How are you getting to the island?” he asked Dex.
“I’m borrowing a friend’s sailboat out of Victoria,” he said. I raised my brows at him, which he ignored. Sailboat? Since when did Dex know how to sail? Ah, what did it matter – when did Dex know half the things he seemed to know.
“I hope your friend knows where you are going and will give you the proper coordinates and instructions when approaching the island.”
“Such as?” I asked, just in case Dex’s friend, whoever he was, wasn’t so educated.
“Campsite is on the southeast side of the island but you’re going to want to anchor off the northwest side and take your dingy ashore. There’s some good anchoring spots near the lighthouse where the mud is a bit grabbier.”
Lighthouse? Not again. I exchanged a quick look with Dex.
“You’re not going to write this down?” Bill asked him suspiciously.
“I have a good memory,” Dex said, tapping the side of his noggin.
“Anchor off the northwest then. It’s only a short walk through the forest to the campsite. But if I were you, I’d think about staying on the boat the entire time. That island can play tricks on you–”
“What kind of tricks?” I shot in guiltily.
“Tricks… you know, like birdsong suddenly appearing or disappearing, or feisty raccoons. The bigger problem is that you’ll be constantly worried about your boat swaying free of its anchor hold in the middle of the night. The west side is the best, but at this time of year, your boat is never completely safe in those rip tides. There’s a reason why that island was chosen to house the people no one wanted. It was impossible for them to escape.”
And it still is, I thought to myself. Dex looked at me sharply as if he shared that thought with me. I don’t even know where it came from. It was like someone else put it in my head.
“Did you hear me?” Bill asked, getting slowly to his feet.
I stared up at him dumbfounded, not sure what he had just said.
“If you get in any trouble out there, you can phone me,” he repeated testily. “Just know your reception will be useless most of the time and the boat’s radio will be your only point of contact. In that case, I’d call the Coast Guard. If you can reach your boat, that is. It’s not much good if it’s out adrift in the middle of Haro Strait and yes, that does happen at least once every year.”
“Can I use the Shining to contact you?” I asked. Dex smirked at that like I thought he would.
“Shining?” Bill repeated. “Oh, I get it. You’re having a bit of fun, eh. Fair enough. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Approach from the west, make sure your anchor is secure, tie up your dingy securely at night and try and keep most food on the boat. Like I said, feisty raccoons.”
He looked over at a white “parks and recreation” truck parked nearby. “Now I better get on with the rest of the day. Good luck, you two. You’ll need it.”
Bill turned and walked off to his vehicle, leaving Dex and I sitting on the log with a wide distance between us.
“The Shining probably scared the hair off of him,” Dex said, watching him go. He focused his eyes on me. “Now you’ve got a pair of balls today.”
I rolled my eyes quickly. “I just like to know what’s going on. What were you talking about while I was sent on a coffee run?”
“I was just getting the lowdown.”
Dex shrugged. “The history of the island.”
“Which is?” I repeated.
“I’m going to call my friend in Victoria, Zach, see if he can pick up some books from the library there. We don’t have time or the resources to get them here.”
“So we’re basically heading into this blind? Heading to an island that you can only approach from the west and stay on the boat and beware of killer raccoons.”
“Ah, so they are killer raccoons now. You better watch that imagination of yours; the results might not be so pretty.”
I didn’t know what to say to that so I sipped on my latte, which had turned cold.
“Just tell me what you know, so we are on the same page,” I said, my eyes imploring his.
He scooched over closer to me and faced me with his right leg lying across the log and leaned forward, diverting my attention away from my coffee.
“This is what I know,” he said, giving me all of his attention. “It was a remote colony for Chinese lepers. They pretty much all died there. It’s a provincial park now. It’s hard to get to but people still camp there. Some people report strange occurrences. Most people don’t stay overnight and when they do, they don’t go back. Given that fact and the fact that so many unhappy people died there, I have no doubt that the island must be haunted. And despite what Bill said, we’ll be staying overnight on the island so as to not miss a moment of it. There. We are on the same page.”
Something was off. I wasn’t sure what. There was nothing on Dex’s face that told me he was lying but somehow I felt like he was. But to bring that up wouldn’t do me any good. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t trust him. I did trust him. I just felt like he was holding something back, not out of spite or something, but because he wanted to protect me. It was almost like I was buying a house from him and he was telling me someone had died there, skirting over the fact that many people had died there from some massive brutal murder. Dex would be an excellent real estate agent.
I told him that.
“Okaaay,” he said suspiciously. “You think I’m selling you something?”
“You know I’d buy whatever you were selling,” I blurted without thinking.
He wagged his finger at me. “See, there you go, all flirting with me again.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Why should I when I have you to do it for me?”
I grunted and stood up, tired of the conversation. He got up too and slapped me lightly on the arm.
“You know I’m kidding, kiddo. Ha. Kidding, kiddo.”
“Let’s go get this hockey game under way. I feel like punching someone.” I started walking towards the seawall and the way back to the hotel, ready to take on the strollers and spastic joggers.
“See you’re getting into the spirit already. That just warms my heart.” He grinned at me before polishing off his giant cup of coffee and tossing it in the trash. Had he littered on the ground it probably would have caused Bill to come running out from behind a log, ready to slap a hefty fine on us. I knew that man really didn’t want us going anywhere near his island, and I couldn’t say I disagreed either.
After the meeting with Ranger Bill on the beach, we went back to our hotel and I promptly passed out on my bed. The late night, the travels and the change of location did a number on my mind. Like usual, I had a bizarre dream that I couldn’t quite remember as soon as I woke. Normally I was so good at remembering the details but lately I just couldn’t. Though, perhaps that was a good thing. Some nightmares were best left forgotten.
The game was at 7 p.m., so I was putting the finishing touches of my makeup on and listening to the band Mini Mansions on my iPhone speaker when there was a knock at my door. It was Dex, who walked in wearing a ratty black and yellow Canucks jersey and holding a new, smaller blue one in his hands.
“Uh?” I asked, pointing at it.
“You listening to ELO?” he asked, peering at my phone.
“No. What is this?”
“Oh, I went for a walk, thought you should wear this.”
He pushed the jersey into my hands. It was my size and not as hideously ugly as the one he was wearing. But still. Confusion.
“You bought me a Canucks jersey?” I asked. “I don’t even know if I like the team. Or any team, for that matter. Or the game.”
“You will. And you’re welcome.”
“I thought you were a Rangers fan. You grew up in New York, didn’t you?”
“I was, now I’m not and I did, but I’m not in New York anymore. Either way, it’s going to be an exciting game and I would be honored if you would slip that jersey over your pretty little head and wear it tonight.”
I wondered if he ever tried to dress Jenn up, too, and drag her out to games. But there was no way I was bringing that up. I was getting the distinct impression that Jenn was a touchy subject this weekend, though I wasn’t sure why. Maybe they had a fight or something. I can’t say that didn’t tickle the back of my head in a delightful way.
So I decided to be a good sport, be the anti–Jenn if you will, and put on the jersey. I was only wearing a thin, long–sleeved shirt at the moment anyway. I walked over to the mirror and peered at myself. It didn’t look half bad. It was a bit tight around the boobs; Dex somehow had underestimated them, but it flowed loosely everywhere else.
“Really brings out your eyes,” Dex said, standing behind me, meeting my gaze in the mirror’s reflection. It was almost romantic. Then he said, “They aren’t as angry as usual.”
I mustered up the best glare I could, hoping it might shatter the glass in the mirror.
“Yes, that’s the look,” he remarked with a nod.
I tugged the jersey down further and walked over to my phone and switched off the music. Then I had to quickly check my emails to see what was being said on the blogosphere.
He followed me over to the bed and snatched the phone out of my hands.
“What are you doing?” I cried out.
“I hope you realize that I didn’t pay extra for the wireless here and if you’re using roaming on your phone, it’s going to be retardedly expensive.”
“I just need to check something,” I explained, making a grab for it.
He held it high above his head, which was too far for me to reach. I was only 5’2” after all.
“What are you checking?”
“None of your business!”
“I think it is… if you’re checking those blog comments, it’s only going to bring down your whole weekend. We’re here now, and there’s nothing you can do about them. Haters gonna hate.”
I hated that saying.
“I have to promote on Twitter,” I stammered. That was the truth.
“I’ve seen your Twitter. You’ve got haters on there too.”
That wasn’t true. On Twitter I was amassing a range of followers who genuinely seemed interested in me and the show. Twitter had become something of an addiction for me. I probably checked it at least once an hour, which probably was racking up a huge bill while I was in another country.
“I have to text my sister.”