Is this turned up to eleven? No, not yet, but I’ve twisted the knob and know the boil is coming. We glimpse another of Gil’s kids but this is a man in a hurry to get critical information up and out as soon as possible, even in their quiet little coastal village.
Interesting that the mayor was not really surprised by all this. What does he know? And who told him?
His two boys picked up their bicycles where they’d left them in Idaville and rode on ahead to home. Gil jogged without pushing himself too hard. After only about fifteen hundred feet, between the Hathaway and Stasek Sloughs, he saw his house. Smallish for two stories, but with several outbuildings. One for his wife’s art studio and classes. Another for his constant tinkering with motors. Of the fifty acres that were also theirs, forty-five were leased to a neighbor who was a traditional farmer. The remaining five were enough to keep his family of seven fed and healthy.
Dashing up the steps to the porch and into the house, he saw his eldest daughter, Erin, in the kitchen, stirring something in a pot.
“Mike yelled something about trouble at sea?” she called, but he was already out the backdoor to his workshop. There, he checked the oil and alcohol in his little motorcycle and kickstarted it. A moment later had him back on the Pacific Coast Road, headed south toward Tillamook proper.
Halfway there he passed the massive creamery plant, shuttered since the Breakup. When Mac and I first came here, we’d hoped to find a job there. Me in maintenance and her as a floor worker but it had already ceased operation. No power and no customers.
Crossing over creek after creek – sloughs they called them here – had him into the town. A left on First and a right on Laurel saw him park in front of City Hall. Behind him to the east was the County Building. Deserted and unused. Gil took the seven steps two at a time and opened one of the two brass-framed doors.
“Mister Haven!” the old man who was more a secretary than guard said at Gil’s sudden appearance. “How can we help you today?”
“I’ve got news that Mayor Peale needs to know now,” Gil replied, halting. “Is he free?”
“Hizzoner,” the older man said with a cough and a smile, “had little on his schedule today, so just got back from a long lunch at Pelican Brewery. I’ll ring him you’re coming, Mister Haven.”
Wake him up, in other words, Gil thought, taking the stairs to the second floor. He knocked at the closed door and waited.
“Come!” came a man’s voice.
“Mayor Peale,” Gil strode in and put his hand out. “Sorry to barge in but there’s something you need to know soonest.”
“Such drama!” Only a year or two older than Gil but his hair already going white, he had the weatherbeaten face of a man who spent most of his life at sea. “And that is?”
“My trawler had engine trouble,” Gil began. Peale’s face was, so? “We were assisted by, and then I invited aboard, imperial Russian guided missile destroyer Golitsyn. No more than five nautical miles offshore.”
“Dear God.” The mayor sat hard into his chair. “They’re here already?”
What was that?