Chris Honingh [Amsterdam, 1951] is a Dutch author of poems, short stories, novellas and novels. In his native language, he has published six poetry books [Querido, Amsterdam] and many poems and short stories in Dutch and Flemish literary magazines.
Trained as an art teacher, he devoted the first thirty-five years of his life to drawing, etching, and painting. Since 1985, he has focused his efforts on writing with an emphasis on English short stories in the last decade. In 2017, he self-published a bundle of short stories, “The Pool.”
Mr. Godwin spends his days at his house near the beach in Margate. He enjoys watching the seagulls, but most of the time he sits in his armchair reading a newspaper or a Scandinavian crime novel. Sometimes he'll sightsee from his living room.
His eyes fix on the wedding picture on the dresser. The framed couple looks happy. It’s the one picture that survived after his wife Tess left home on some stormy November day nineteen years ago never to return. He still doesn’t understand why.
Their usual coffee cups had been in the sink. A clean tea towel had dangled next to it. The coffee machine, a gift from their daughter Ann, had been on. Its red light was burning.
He remembers it burning. It hadn’t alarmed him.
He walks to the hallway, but there’s no one there. The front door is locked. The cat skulks around his legs, meowing its lament.
Nothing has changed in the living room. The ugly painting of a rooster and its hens hangs over the mantelpiece. The couch where Tess did her needlework is in its place.
Since his retirement, Mr. Godwin thinks of her more often. When he tries to conjure up her face, he has to reference the picture first. She stands tall and beautiful; her smile warms his heart again. Her wedding dress flatters her figure although she needs no flattering.
Far off, he hears the susurration of the sea.
In his slippers, he walks to the coat rack. He halts, leans against the wall for a moment, and tries to place a faint memory. It’s as if Tess’s perfume lingers in the hallway. He stops pacing to monitor his heartbeat. He hears Tess walking across the landing after hanging the laundry on the small balcony. In the sea wind, it dries in a jiffy. Should he put on his sun hat? He hesitates. The weather forecast says cloudy with a chance of rain later in the afternoon.
Oh well, he’ll wing it.
He opens the door, and the sea stares him in the face. Shrubs in his front garden hunker down in the salty air. Sand has built up in the door frames and the rundown windowsills—he must remember to paint them. After shutting the iron gate, he turns right and sees Mrs. Beechwood’s shadow duck behind the gauze curtains. He smiles. His neighbour is shy but nosy. Tess was the opposite. She’d tell him a million stories about the people she’d met while shopping, but she never gossiped. No way. He loved that about her.
So, Mrs. Beechwood thinks I didn’t notice her. My brain may go slower, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going at all. It’s life that rushes by. Even the sea breeze seems stronger every day, or does he grow weaker? It’s a mystery. The older he gets, the more puzzled he becomes. Every minute life seems harder to comprehend.
The Esplanade at Margate is now a pedestrian area, but he’s already caught two cyclists redhanded. They’re too lazy to walk. Never a policeman when you need one.
Mr. Godwin revels in his beach walk. He likes to stretch his legs. He doesn’t mind staying inside, but it makes him a little loopy. If he doesn’t get outside from time to time, he soon won’t be able to get out of his chair. Who will help him then? He hasn’t seen many people since Tess’s disappearance. Ann only comes twice a year. Her excuses waver between, “It’s quite a ride, Dad,” and, “I can’t get a babysitter.” It’s difficult for him to picture the faces of his two grandchildren. What are their names again? Patsy and Timothy or something. Exotic names. They will have changed. Children leave your life like grains of sand slipping through your fingers. That’s what Ann did.
He passes the weathered structure of the Bandstand, defiant in its grimness. He’s seen a picture of the former Oval Bandstand, an elegant, ladylike edifice where the local band played in summer. Now it’s a ruin. You can’t even sit on the iron benches anymore, all rusted and trashed. He turns toward Albion Road where he’d been a stamp dealer for thirty years. Since he retired, his stamp shop has become a chicken curry takeout. One morning, the contractors had smashed the shopfront’s bay window and left it shattered on the ground. The name ‘Godwin Stamps and Other Postal Items’ was still readable. He felt as if he had hit the cobblestones instead.
In the beginning, he earned a decent living. When he approached Tess about the stamp shop, she was not enthusiastic. She saw no future in postage stamps—“paper scraps” she called them—but she changed her mind when the business thrived. At first, they lived above the store, which got on Tess’s nerves. He tried for something bigger. The beach would be ideal for children; she was three months pregnant with Ann and refused to stay in the small apartment above his shop. The house at the beach was her idea.
He gave in.
As he nears the Oval Gardens, Mr. Godwin spots a man in overalls poking about with a rake. Odd. There are no leaves on the ground. It’s June. Mr. Godwin can’t see any distinguishing features, nor any company name on his clothing. What’s this guy doing? A mental institution is down the road. Maybe he escaped. To be sure, Mr. Godwin avoids the park and continues down the terrace toward a pathway leading to the beach. He supports himself on the freshly repainted cast iron handrail. A beach house shelters him from the wind. As he strolls the boards, the sand whips around his legs. He takes off his shoes. Nothing beats walking barefoot on the beach and feeling wet sand between your toes. With shoes in hand, he reaches the water’s edge. He stands and gazes at the rolling waves.
He turns around. The beach fans out before him. A yellow strip of sand separates marine life from the mainland. From where he stands, the houses look like small teeth in an enormous denture. A flag flies on a distant white pole.
He’s alone, yet he doesn’t feel lonely. The murmuring sea and whistling wind keep him company. He brushes off the warm sand stuck to his feet. A high sun pushes the last cloud beyond the horizon. Heat shimmers over the beach. As Mr. Godwin walks towards the flagpole, a little girl approaches and takes him by the hand.
His first reaction is to withdraw his hand, but she won’t let go. Who’s this child? Is someone playing him a trick? But she’s alone and looks at him with such innocence. Her blue eyes and cupid face calm him.
“Are you alone?” she asks. Her summer dress and sun hat are dazzling white. She wears bracelets with beads that clink as she walks.
“I’m walking here alone if that’s what you mean,” Mr. Godwin says.
“Now there’s two of us,” the girl says with a smile. “When you are with someone, you’re not alone anymore.”
“That’s true.” He frowns at her, but the girl keeps walking next to him. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” the girl points toward the houses on the mainland. “There. You can’t miss it. It’s the fourth house on the left.”
“I’ve never seen you in town before.”
“Oh yes, you have,” the little girl says, “but you don’t remember.”
“What’s your name?”
“Lucille. My friends call me Lulu.”
“Well then, I’ll call you Lulu.”
Ten feet away, a man’s head sticks out of the sand. His black hair split in the middle, like the parting of the Red Sea. He wears a captain’s hat. Mr. Godwin presumes the rest of his body is in the sand, but one can’t be sure. The Head moves around, and Mr. Godwin thinks he must have been there for some time because his forehead and nose are already as red as a beetroot, scorched by the sun and the wind.
“Well hello, sir!” the Head shouts. “Nice to meet you. How are you today?”
Mr. Godwin is gobsmacked. He watches little pearls of sweat trickle down from the Head’s forehead. Peculiar. On all his walks along the beach, he’s never encountered a talking head.
“Erm, I’m well, thank you,” he mutters. “And you?”
“Never been better,” the Head says. “Never been better.”
“Hi,” the little girl says.
“Well hello, little one.” The Head winks at her. “Do me a favour, sweetheart, and scratch my nose. I’ve got a terrible itch, and as you can see, I’m a bit tied up right now.”
Little Lulu bends and scratches the Head’s nose.
“Ah, thank you, dear, what a relief. I thought no one would come by. Boy oh boy, it’s been driving me nuts for hours.” The Head sneezes.
“Bless you,” Mr. Godwin says.
“Why, thank you, sir.” The Head nods. “That’s kind. And what brings you to the beach? Interested in the sand, perhaps, for occupational reasons? Or are you an old Marine Officer who can’t forget the sea—someone like me?”
Mr. Godwin is dumbstruck. He puts down his shoes; they’re getting heavy. Is this man a sea captain? Why is he buried up to his neck in the sand? Mr. Godwin stares at him. Is he a nutcase? Or is he Lulu’s father who’s just playing a game with his daughter to fool innocent passers-by?
“No, sir, I’m retired,” Mr. Godwin explains.
The Head laughs. “Lucky you! I’m just tired. One stage from being retired. At the moment, I’m stuck in the sand, and it suits me. It suits me well. If I may ask, what did you do in your working life?”
Mr. Godwin looks around. Any minute now they’ll come forward and shout, “We got you, Godwin, we fooled you!” No one shows. The beach is empty apart from a dog leaping into the air after its tail.
The sun bothers him. It becomes hotter and hotter, and his shirt sticks to his back.
“I had a stamp shop.” After saying it out loud, he feels stupid as if he just realised it’s not a remarkable profession.
“Fascinating,” the Head says, “very interesting. Everybody needs stamps. Sounds like a thriving business, sir. I bet you’re well off, in your retirement.”
“Well, yes,” Mr. Godwin says. “But I traded in used stamps which is a more lucrative branch of the stamp business.”
“Used stamps? And people paid you good money for used stamps? How odd.”
“If you put it that way,” Mr. Godwin begins, but he pauses. He’s tired. He looks at Lulu playing in the sand with a shovel and a bucket. Bit by bit, she transfers sand into the bucket until she reaches the rim, then upturns the bucket, strikes it with the shovel, and begins again.
“I’m sorry, sir. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, but I have to go home now,” Mr. Godwin says. “I need to feed my cat.”
“Well sir, that’s a noble task, so I’ll detain you no longer. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, and I hope you’ll soon come. Look out for little Lulu, that beautiful child, playing with her bucket. I know she’ll be pleased to see you, too.”
Mr. Godwin picks up his shoes and turns around.
With the wind in the back, he tries to follow their tracks, but can’t find the footprints of the little girl anymore. He looks around for a while. The Head and Lulu have vanished too.
Puzzled, he stares over the beach. The sea rolls and foams, noticing nothing and no one.
Back home, Mr. Godwin feeds the cat. He watches her devour last night’s leftover kippers. She purrs as she eats.
Mr. Godwin has just sat down in his armchair when the doorbell rings. He gets up and sees through the glass of the front door Mrs. Beechwood holding a pan with a towel keeping its contents warm. She has brought his dinner.
“Mrs. Beechwood, come in.” Mr. Godwin offers a weak smile as he opens the door.
His neighbour watches him. “You look tired. Did you walk too far? I told you, walking through the sand at your age—”
“I know, I know, Mrs. Beechwood, that’s not it. It’s not my age. The strangest thing happened.”
“Oh, yes? Tell me.” Mrs. Beechwood sets the kitchen table and shovels bean casserole onto his plate. “Was it hot out there?” Sitting opposite him, she watches how he eats. At first, Mr. Godwin finds her intent observation distracting, but soon he’s happy to share his story. While eating his dinner, he tells her of little Lulu and the sea captain, buried with only his head above the sand.
“And you’re sure it was real?” the neighbour asks. “I mean, you walked in the hot sun without a hat. I’ve told you a dozen times you have to wear a hat when walking along the beach. You could have had sunstroke or something.” She stands up and places a hand on Mr. Godwin’s
forehead. “Maybe you’ve got a fever.”
Mr. Godwin has to admit he feels drowsy, perhaps from dinner or the sun. It is all a blur. The events have confused him, and he closes his eyes for a moment. He sees himself back on the beach, hand-in-hand with Lulu. Could he have dreamed it? He never had hallucinations before. Why would he have one now?
He lets Mrs. Beechwood put a wet washcloth on his forehead. It cools somewhat, yet the images stay.
“Take an aspirin, that’ll help,” she says. “And go to bed. Sleep is the best medicine.”
He goes upstairs. When he pulls on his pyjamas, he hears the front door close.
The first thing Mr. Godwin hears are seagulls. Their shrieks hurt his ears. As he inspects his bedroom, he sees Mrs. Beechwood has left a window ajar for fresh air. His head thumping, he descends and makes himself a sandwich in the kitchen. The cat leaves through the cat flap.
If he had dreams last night, he doesn’t remember them. If not a dream, what then? Slight nausea overcomes him. Shreds of yesterday’s events drift through his mind, and it is only when the morning newspaper arrives that the pictures of Lulu and the Head wash away. He sits down in his favourite armchair with today’s paper, but he’s too restless to concentrate. First, a cup of coffee. That’ll clear my head. When the coffee machine is simmering, he stumbles as a wave of dizziness rushes over him.
Was he sick?
Back in the living room, a ray of light falls on the wedding picture illuminating Tess’s face. Her lips slightly part as if she wants to tell him something.
Rubbish! Pictures don’t talk.
He puts on his jacket and takes the straw hat from the rack. Best to be on the safe side. Then he changes his shoes for sandals and goes through the drawer to find his sunglasses. The shades may prevent further delusions.
That thought persists as he walks out the door and onto his porch. He looks to the right, but Mrs. Beechwood isn’t there. Running errands, no doubt. He passes her house in a hurry. It reminds him once more that he misses having a woman around. But Mrs. Beechwood isn’t wedding material; she doesn’t attract him. She takes good care of him, but he might as well hire a housekeeper. He does, however, like the arrangement they have now.
He walks by his old shop. It’s still early morning, and few people roam the streets of Margate now. The tourist season is over; the residents have their village back. Most, like him, are older people, but the youngster who runs the chicken curry cafe is about Ann’s age. As he strolls into the street, he slows down and blinks. Many shops have changed ownership. Some have disappeared, replaced by offices. When he sold the store, he made a good profit. Now, however, the housing market is booming. The real estate prices in the newspaper amaze him.
Under a grey façade, a neon light with large letters says, ”Bijarani’s Chicken Curry.” As Mr. Godwin looks inside, he sees a young man with a turban. The Pakistani entrepreneur wears a colourful shirt with a small collar. A young woman in a long robe kneads the dough. Although they’re wrapped up in their work, they notice Mr. Godwin passing by, and the man with the turban walks to the door.
“Mr. Godwin, sir, how very nice to see you again. It’s been a while. Please come in. Make yourself comfortable.”
“No, no, Mr. Bijarani, thank you. I don’t want to bother you.”
“No bother at all,” the Pakistani says. “You want a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, please.” Mr. Godwin looks around. The place has changed beyond recognition. Where his counters were, there’s an open fireplace. The glass display cases with the albums and catalogues have disappeared, and there are tables with metal chairs where the photocopier used to stand. The girl brings him coffee. “Milk and sugar?” she asks with a melodious accent.
“Please.” Mr. Godwin watches her movements. She glides across the room and makes him think of the fairy tales of A Thousand and One Nights.
While he looks at the rotating meat, he feels dizzy again. He wants to go back outside. In one gulp, he drinks his coffee. “Listen, I’ve got an errand to run,” he says.
“By all means, Mr. Godwin, go ahead. You’ll always be welcome here.” The young woman bows and folds her hands in front of her breasts as he gets up.
Outside, he can breathe again. Today is not a day for living in the past, he says to himself. You’ll only get a headache.
As he leaves the street, he sees the sea between two houses. The sun shines, and some clouds float by without a rush.
Why can’t I relax?
The truth is he doesn’t dare. He thought his whole life was right. His life was a sham. The day Tess disappeared is burnt into his memory. Could I have prevented it? How? That question still haunts him.
At the Esplanade, he walks down the beach path and looks around. As he approaches the spot he met Lulu and the Head, he sees a young woman in a bikini lying on a towel. Next to her is a baby carriage with a harmonica hood. A transistor radio plays soft beat music, which scatters on the wind.
The young woman is lying on her belly reading a tattered paperback. Part of the front cover is gone. Her bikini top shifted presenting a slightly more revealing view of her cleavage.
“I don’t like you staring at me.” Around her green eyes, she wears heavy eye makeup. Her eyebrows are curved dashes as though she’s frowning. Long wavy hair falls far over her shoulders and touches the towel. Sand covers the back of her calves.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Mr. Godwin says. He tries to eliminate the impression he is peeking by putting on his sunglasses. “I don’t want to bother you.”
“There’s a lot of scum here. Just now I had two fools, peeping at my boobs. You can’t sit anywhere. It’s like you’re on display.”
Mr. Godwin looks around. The beach is empty. As far as the horizon, you can’t see a living soul, except for a dog digging in the sand at the flood line. It sticks its nose in the wet sand. Is that the dog from yesterday?
The young woman sits up. She doesn’t seem threatened by Mr. Godwin’s presence. As she puts the paperback down, the baby in the carriage cries.
“She’s thirsty.” The young woman lifts the baby dressed in white.
“I can imagine she is,” Mr. Godwin says.
The young woman looks at him, stung.
“How? What do you mean?
“Well, the sun and all that.”
“I breastfeed her every two hours.” She lowers one cup of her bikini. The breast now looks out of place. Mr. Godwin stares at the nipple and sees how the infant grabs at it in anticipation. “She’s hungry.”
Her breast’s shadow falls on the baby’s face, whose lips pucker while moving its head around. The woman tightens her grip and nudges its mouth to the nipple by pressing the side of her breast.
Mr. Godwin is transfixed. He remembers when Ann was as small. Tess couldn’t breastfeed for long. It was painful and had stressed Tess. A baby’s suction power is enormous, and for Tess, that was reason enough to accept the doctor’s advice to stop.
“Could you please stand over there?” The young woman nods in front of her. “Cast your shadow on us. It’s better for the baby.”
Mr. Godwin steps forward. While contemplating his role as a father to Ann, he notices a police officer strolling towards them. Along with a white truncheon, the man wears shorts and a thin jacket. On his head sits a flat police hat.
“Beach Patrol,” the officer introduces himself.
“Everything all right, ma’am?”
The young woman lifts her head.
“Yes, everything’s all right. Why wouldn’t it be?”
The baby keeps sucking.
“Is this gentleman bothering you?”
The woman shrugs her shoulders. The baby loses the nipple and cries.
“No, he’s not bothering me. He’s shading us.”
“Hmm, casting a shadow, you say, ma’am. From where I stand it looks different. Is this gentleman harassing you? If so, I’m inclined to report this to the proper authorities. It could be a serious offence.”
The officer takes a notebook and a pencil from his pocket. “What’s your name, sir?”
“But she asked me to stand here,” Mr. Godwin says.
“First things first, sir. What’s your name?”
“Godwin,” the patrol officer mumbles while he writes the name in his notebook. “Profession?”
The officer looks up. “Retired? That’s not a profession. What do you do?”
“Do? I do nothing,” Mr. Godwin says. It’s true; he does nothing at all. He’s only living through his remaining days. Feeding the cat, reading the newspaper or a crime novel, and sometimes watching TV, although today little appeals to him. Apart from Mrs. Beechwood, he speaks to no one anymore. He might say he misses Tess, his wife.
“Nothing?” the patrol officer says. “So, you’re loitering. Are you a beachcomber then? The beach is large enough to wander somewhere else.”
Panic overwhelms Mr. Godwin. The patrol officer takes off his hat while writing. Mr. Godwin sees how his grey hair parts in the middle like the Red Sea. A sigh of relief escapes him.
It’s the Head, but older. Gee, those pranksters! Maybe he should join the game, see what they’re up to.
The beach patrol officer hands Mr. Godwin a ticket. “That’s one hundred pounds, sir.”
One hundred pounds for throwing a shadow on a mother with her child. The world keeps amazing him.
“I don’t have that kind of money on me.”
Behind him, he hears a shuffling in the sand, and he turns around. A man, his arms covered in tattoos, carries three beach chairs and puts them down close to Mr. Godwin.
“Beach chair, sir?”
For a moment, Mr. Godwin is stunned, but he thinks why not? He has loose change left in his pocket and pays. The chair rental man tips his cap and continues to look for other customers. Mr. Godwin turns to the patrol officer again, only to see he has disappeared, as well as the mother and child. She left the paperback wide open. After a little juggling, he folds out the beach chair and lies down. The awning protects his face from the sunlight as he stares at the sea. He’s amazed at the restored tranquillity, how the wind moves the sand about, and how the sea murmurs again. He leaves the turmoil behind, and his body relaxes. With eyes closed, he tries to think of nothing. The sun is life-affirmingly warm, and an insect buzzes around, yet he doesn’t react. Nothing can distract him now.
Mr. Godwin is in a good mood when Mrs. Beechwood brings him dinner. He looks at her fussing with a kind eye as she puts his plate on the table.
“Gosh, you’ve even got a little sunburn,” she says surprised. “You need to cream up better. At your age, too much sun can be dangerous.”
What’s not dangerous at my age? He ties his napkin around his neck, and after Mrs. Beechwood has put the food on his plate, he eats quickly. He even scrapes what’s left on the bottom of the pan.
“Gosh, you developed an appetite being outdoors,” she says. “I’ll make dessert if you want me to. It won’t take a minute.”
Before he can protest, she leaves the house to get the supplies. When she returns, Mr. Godwin stands by the kitchen window and looks at the evening sky. The leaves on the trees in his garden don’t move. On the coast, the quiet night air is rare.
“It’s chocolate pudding, is that all right?” she asks.
Here and now, Mr. Godwin realises his life is like an overexposed film: all images blurred. In the grand scheme of events, his existence seems futile. He feels like the drowning man who tries to reach the lifeboat in vain. They throw him a lifebelt, but he sees the boat drift away.
He stares at the chocolate pudding.
“I’ll whip up some cream if you like,” Mrs. Beechwood says.
I’ll whip up your cream if you like, Mr. Godwin thinks. Anger creeps out of its hiding place, and before he knows, it engulfs him. You would like to fill a swimming pool with chocolate pudding and kick me off the diving board, as you walk around with a huge syringe of whipped cream yelling, “dive into it, it’s good for you.” You’d like that, wouldn’t you, old witch? Don’t pretend you’re worried. I’ve had enough of your interference and treating me as if I am underage and dependent. Blow your fussing. If you don’t like it, go!
Satisfaction immerses him. It’s like being washed ashore on an uninhabited island. Belly down, he feels the waves are playing with his toes. Exhausted, but gratified he looks around. He finds himself on a sandy beach which stretches out for miles and miles. After the first hesitating steps, he notices he’s naked. In his previous life, he would be embarrassed, but now he thinks what the heck. No one notices. Goosebumps appear on his white arms; a soft sea wind caresses his body. Imagine Tess here. He notices a shadow near the trees. Would it be her?
Mr. Godwin feels liberated alone on this island. It’s a mysterious feeling overwhelming him, but it’s also surprising. People live through the eyes of others. Even in prison, you are not alone; your fellow prisoners always surround you.
The sand is hot on his feet. Sometimes he steps on a sharp shell. Sandals would be nice to have. The sun intrudes upon him, and he gazes at the vegetation where palm trees and shrubs shed shadow.
When he hears the first shrieks of seabirds, he understands the island is full of life. With quick steps because of the hot sand, he reaches the shadows of the trees. Here he discovers an unprecedented phenomenon. Baby turtles climb up from the loose sand and leave their nest to plod as fast as they can towards the sea. Thousands of little wind-up toys running for their lives. Mr. Godwin’s eyes pop out. As far as the eye can see, the beach fills with small running turtles.
The seabirds hover over this banquet. They rise and fall on the wind, cruising the thermals and sometimes even float still in the sky, motionless as if they can’t choose which one to pick. Sometimes their diving fails whether it’s a feint or a skirmish to prolong their pleasure. When the first turtles reach the water’s edge, and the sea touches their flippers, the birds of prey attack. They plummet like fighter planes, picking the little animals off the sandbank one by one to land further afield and eat their spoils.
Mr. Godwin praises his life cycle compared to the short ones of those turtles. For once, he thinks of himself as a survivor. God knows how long he soaked in the salty water, sometimes encountering giant jellyfish, sponges, coral polyps, and colonisers. The seabirds continue their scooping. Their cries yawp over the beach, and Mr. Godwin feels he’s hungry too. Would tortoise meat be any good? Perhaps not as tasty as chocolate pudding.
The earlier euphoria has gone. How do you make a fire on an uninhabited island? He remembers the scout’s handbook which he used at boy’s camp. What was it again? Something about rubbing sticks. Sticks won’t be hard to find. Then what? He digs in his memory. He’s also heard of striking two stones together. Where to find two suitable stones? He observes the forest and notices how dark it’s in there. For now, he prefers to stay on the beach. Who knows what’s between the trees? Before you know it, he could be food for a predator. Not a very appealing thought.
By now most turtles have reached the sea and swum away to an uncertain future. As far as Mr. Godwin is concerned, the future is always uncertain. Time pushed him forward all his life, like a constant wind blowing on his back. He couldn’t enjoy every moment. They disappear before he knows they’re there. Now his stomach rumbles; he has to find food somehow. He steers clear of some dead turtles left by the birds; they don’t appeal to him. Perhaps edible fruits? In the top of the palm trees, he detects coconuts, but the height deters him. Far too dangerous. He wouldn’t survive a fall of that magnitude.
Mr. Godwin walks another mile before he gets tired. Maybe he should have settled for the chocolate pudding, but now it’s too late. He longs for some company. He looks around; there isn’t another soul. Lulu and the Head would be nice. He’d even settle for that oddball Beach Patrol Officer or the mother and her child. No one pops up on the empty beach; only some seabirds hover to snatch up the last turtle remains. A beach chair. Mr. Godwin would kill for a beach chair. He can’t even conjure up the rental man. Drained, Mr. Godwin sits down in the sand.
He gets drowsy and has trouble keeping his eyes open. The cries of the seabirds keep him awake for a while but fatigued by the course of events he falls asleep. He thinks he’s dreaming when he hears someone calling. The voice shouts above the din of the crashing waves. The words are only just audible. He sits up and leans on his elbows, focusing on the surf, where a raft with a sail made of several tea towels floats about. A figure holds the mast firmly. If the raft shoots through the surf, he can hear better.
“Any more whipped cream, Mr. Godwin?”
It’s Mrs. Beechwood.