Over dinner he told Mary about his purchase of the new house and its surroundings. She was impressed and worried all within the same breathe.
Her worry was the distance from the island to the mainland. John assured her that he didn't think it would pose a problem, as by the time the restoration on the house was finished it would have all modern conveniences installed. Which meant whether it be a week's or a month's worth of supplies there would always be a place to store them. Unknown to Mary, he had already, ear-marked the airstrip and hanger. Just to the left and to the rear of the property the land had all but been cleared of bush and trees, leaving only the essentials.
"There is one thing I haven't told you, one of the cottages will be turned over to you. The only thing you will have to do is tell me how you want it furnished and be happy living in it.
"Mr. Wright... I mean, John, thank you, thank you so much."
David looked up to who he now classified as his friends. The birds were something he looked forward to in his Long day. The animals and small creatures were always a source of life to David, even before his cruel departure from this life. Feeding the birds each morning was a pleasure he found great happiness in doing. A child with great awareness, but without a head for his eventual rise into business. At an early age he saw the consequences of his father's actions. He saw adults and children alike with little more than a pittance to survive on, at times even less. Even as a child in his tender years he seemed to have the foresight to know something was amiss. So doing as God had intended, he tried to help. He would give a little to all that needed it; adults and children alike. It seemed the more he gave, the more he needed to help. The labourers saw the impact and would turn a blind eye to food and drink going astray from the kitchen. They knew what the young man didn't, his father was not paying just dues to his staff and workers.
David was an honest child, never took more than he needed, even with all his endeavours of the people he alone supported. Only on his ninth birthday did he see what all had seen before him - his father coming up short with his commitments. When he had confronted his father was when life for David became a living hell. A mother stricken by illness was unable to help her son in any way. After his mother died, David was left to the full hell of his father. He could never do anything right by his parent and eventually the effects were beginning to show. One day David went into the house and never came out again. The abuse from his father continued, letting him know how worthless he was, even in what David thought of as his own domain, his bedroom. On a fateful morning in March, 1891, David, a beaten child, died alone, hanging himself from the beam that crossed the ceiling, his heart and soul having been eventually broken by the will of his father.
The following day, John Wright rang friends in the hope of finding a well respected workman to do the rebuilding work on the house. He knew the work was excessive and was somewhat unsure if he could find a reliable tradesman for the work needed. All of his acquaintances and colleagues gave him different recommendations, but none of the type required. John wanted the house to be reconstructed to its original condition, with of course modern conveniences added. The old kitchen would remain as constructed, but would be partitioned off as a reminder of its past. The outside wall would have to be extended by he thought, at least 20 feet to accommodate the new kitchen and cleaning area.
As a last resort he rang Jack. Jack suggested a retired builder by the name of Tony Rourke. Writing his phone number and address down, he thanked Jack and ended the call.
"Mr. Rourke, my name is John Wright, you were recommended as the person I need. A house I have purchased needs a great lot of work. In fact, it's going to take a hell of a lot of work to get it back to its former glory, and I was hoping you would be the man to help me."
"Mr. Wright, I am now retired, but I'm sure my son would do as good a job."
"Mr. Rourke, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the house is in as bad a condition as I have ever seen. Most builders have suggested reducing it to rubble and re-building. The house is solid but shabby. I have bought the Hartman place and I have been told the house and property are common knowledge?"
"Good God!! The house you talk about was possessed by a living devil." There was silence, then "I know that abomination well. My ancestors worked on that God forsaken place. I will go with you to the island, but I make no promises of doing the work you want?"
"Thank you, Tony. If I may call you Tony?"
"Yes, John? I will meet you at the island tomorrow at 12:30. Goodbye for now, Sir." John was hoping and praying that this would be the start of returning the house and land to its former glory. What had gotten John's attention was the fact the builder knew of the house and surroundings, that would be an advantage when reconstruction started.
Mr. Rourke was already waiting for my arrival. After the usual pleasantries we walked toward the house. As we got closer to the house he stopped dead in his tracks and stood looking up at the house with fear, anticipation, and downright hate. After he looked around the house, refusing to go inside at that time, he gave a nod that he would do the required work with more than a look of uncertainty. There was no bargaining, the price would be $200,000 - take it or leave it. I agreed to the price with a little concern.
From the roof down would be a quick description of the work that needed to be done. Ceiling joists, window frames all around, roof and supports, plus, for the first time in its history, electricity. That would definitely bring the property into the 21st Century. Being so far out from any mainland meant electricity from a generator, which is partially why the cost was so much.
The work couldn't start until the following Monday as he had to get a crew together. Back at the boats, we shook hands and I asked if he could suggest someone to trim the garden. Tony had to laugh, if only at the point of exercise needed to accomplish the task. We parted company after he said he would find someone to trim the garden.
David had seen the two men arrive and he got a warm feeling inside when he heard what was being said. What year was it? How old was he? He couldn't answer, but he knew it had been a long time since the house had been occupied. He heard strange talk of airstrips, hangers, and electricity; he wondered about the strange talk. David went to his little bit of heaven, the loft, where he could think in peace on the balcony. David had been alone so long that visitors seemed out of place. But now that they were gone he felt even more alone. His mind drifted back to when there were more children than adults on the island. Remembering the fun times made him laugh, but now that he was alone again a depression started to overtake him. He sat, legs dangling over the side and cried.
John sat drinking tea when the phone rang. "John, I have your deeds. As I said you are officially the owner of yet another island. Congratulations. I'll drop them off later. It seemed the bank stalled on payment. I'll explain when I get there. Bye for now."
"Is that right? Thanks, Jack, see you at lunch?"
"Great, I'll be over about 1:00. Bye for now."
"Thought you'd never get here," John said as Jack walked up to the house.
"Sorry ... traffic. You could have had a drink ready." Jack said with a 'why not' look.
"So tell me about the bank stalling on the payment." I said as I offered him a chair.
"Well, after I was given the order for payment I went straight to Mr Ripponoff's office to collect the deeds and Barry rang the bank to confirm. But Barry rang me this morning asking me why he had to wait till this today for the money to be paid into their account."
"Well let's see what my industrious bank manager has to say." I rang the bank and asked to speak to the manager. They said he was busy till I gave my name, then they were all sweetness and light."
"Hello, Mr. Wright, what can I do for you?"
"First, you can tell me why you held up payment of the bank order until today? I specifically asked for it to be paid yesterday. It seems to me that trying to get the final interest on the money before it leaves the account was more important. In the light of that, I can only presume that my custom benefits are not good enough for your bank, in which case I may take my business elsewhere." I was sure at that minute he was sweating profusely.
"Please accept my apology and my assurance that it will never happen again."
"Mr. Clarke, I can assure you that apologies do not pay bills. I would be right in thinking if the situations were reversed that an apology from me would not be accepted. Good day, Sir."
As we ate lunch, I told Jack what the pencil pushing bureaucrat Mr. Clarke had to say for himself. Amused was the byword. I studied the deeds carefully, more as an acceptance that I finally owned the house. "I am going to replenish what I hope will be my first home, Jack, would you like to tag along? I hope to persuade Mary to give the place the once over tomorrow." "Be my pleasure, I would like to see what $10,000,000 looks like." We were both laughing as Mary came in with tea and coffee.
"I'm taking the boat out tomorrow to check out my $10,000,000. Jack is coming along for the ride and I was hoping you would also give the place the once over, you know, you being a woman and all." I said in my best country-boy accent.
Suggesting taking food and drink with us was a good idea, but spending the day? I don't think Mary realised the time that it would take to get there and back. Jack of course offered to bring the beers.
The day started off bright and early with breakfast, tea, and paper. At nine Jack arrived, beers in hand. "No slacking, I really want to see what you thought was so wonderful about your new abode."
"The scenery was what first attracted me to the island, then I saw the house. It is built like an English country mansion. The house could have been built in any town, city, or country, it has the traditional pathway leading up to the house. Try to picture a house built for the classes in Mississippi with three floors and a balcony that goes around the roof. I can say with all certainty that the materials were the best that money could buy. The view will take your breath away. When you said Edward Hartman was rich, you weren't kidding."
David watched as the party walked up the pathway. They stood in front of the house looking out to sea. You really have a good eye, John, he heard the lady say. He stood to the side of the adults listening to what was being said. The more he heard the more excited he became.
"So, how long do you think you will have to wait to move in?"
Jack looked at John to answer. "The building work will take 6 months, the generator Mr. Rourke will purchase, but I have to pay shipping costs separate to the cost of the work. I thought of a swimming pool but thought better. Putting so many new things into something old takes away the character." I took him to where the airfield and hanger would be plotted and positioned.
David again heard words that he did not understand, but something inside him told him that this could be his time. And it gave him hope that once again he would get a chance at living and breathing. Even alone a person can learn. He had been alone now for so many years in which time stood still but still moved on. On the edge was where he had always been as far as his life was concerned. Was this going to be the time when he was given something to cherish, or was he going to be in limbo and on the edge for eternity?
Jack was suitably impressed at what he had seen, even if he didn't see the sparkle that John thought it had. Mary, on the other hand saw beauty, in an outsider's perspective, while John saw a life in a house and a home that would begin when tools were put to their jobs. After they had eaten, they took one last look and made for the boat. The conversation was a mixture of work and play. After farewells, Jack started his trek back home.
Monday John made his way to what was called the Hartman house, at least for now. He docked and saw what looked like a tanker. Looking across he saw all the heavy machinery being unloaded from the vessel. Tony Rourke had already put some of his crew to knocking down decayed walls. The front of the house looked bare with the window frames and doors having been removed and laying in a heap just offside the path. Blue plastic sheeting lay on the ground waiting for its eventual use. There were four different sized cabins. One he guessed was for sanitary purposes, one would be a small office, one for storage, and the other for amenities - break rooms, perhaps.
Tony came over and we shook hands. He said they had been here since six this morning getting equipment unloaded, stored, and ready for action.
David looked on as he watched his abode being destroyed. Now his fear of his being forever alone returned. If the house was destroyed would that mean his existence was over? Would he then become a memory never to be granted what his spirit wished for? His hope now turned to fear.
He looked around at the beauty as if it was to be the last time. So much hardship had he seen from this place of woe. Would he ever see the freedom of laughter, or would this now be another let-down in a life he never really had? He ran to his little corner of the world and cried as he let his eyes drift to the endless sight of the ocean.
John went for another scout around the island taking in the views. Coming to the rear of the house he looked out at the infinity of the sea. The blue and green rippled endlessly to the base of the skyline. The alter ego of his present home, but with a beauty that could not be surpassed. He looked up to the balcony that had a grandeur of excellence. Though shabby and in need of a lot of TLC, he could only imagine what could be seen in the distance from up there. As John made his way back to the boat he again got the sense of being watched. As he stepped onto the boat he looked around the island as if trying to find someone. He shook his head. Strange! He took one last look as he sailed away from the shore.
Six months. Twelve months. John waited patiently to occupy his new home. Tony Rourke phoned on the Tuesday, of course when he wasn't at home, to tell him the work was now finished and ready for him to inspect. John had gone to the island on quite a few occasions, but never stayed as it looked more like a demolition site and wasn't safe to be there.
David had watched as his home was stripped from the inside out. Then he watched as it was re-assembled and it started to look like the house he had grown up in. Now he knew for sure that at last someone would be living in what he called home, for how long he didn't know. The excitement grew as he watched the transformation of his home. Now other fears overtook him. Would they stay? Would he get the life that had been so tragically taken away from him? What about the people that would live here? It was his home first, they wouldn't make him leave, would they? Months had passed with every possible thought going through his mind as to what might happen. Excitement, fear, worry, all seemed to flash in and out of his thoughts. But there was also a peace within' him, the kind of peace that brought a warmth that said at last his wait would be over, whatever happens. That night he saw the island go back to the peaceful place it had always been. Watching as everything that had cluttered the house and surroundings was taken away, he again looked at his home in all its glory. As he looked at the stars above, he again felt an inner peace and calmness. What would happen to him he knew not, but he would be at peace in his little corner of the world. As the waves quietly splashed the shoreline, glistening like diamonds as the water rippled upon the sand. As he drifted off into the haze of the night, his final thought was this was the first time he'd felt alive, if only in spirit.