"Tony, what are you doing here?" Shocked to see his builder standing there transfixed, staring at the... well, the mess.
After taking in the extent of the damage done to the house, he spoke, "I tried to contact you regarding the landscape gardener. I tried here, then phoned Jack, but he hadn't heard from you either. Look, are you going to tell me what happened here?"
"There was a bad storm, a very bad storm about four, five days ago. We barely survived it, Mary, the boy, and I." Emphasising the boy.
Tony picked up on 'the boy', but said nothing. "Storm, what storm. Nothing was said about any weather fronts approaching." Looking around again at the destruction, he continued. "Are any of you hurt?"
"Tony, don't patronise me. I know a storm when I see one. I've lived through a few of them on my other island. What the hell do you think caused this...?"
"Its not that I disbelieve you. It's just that you must have been singled out, since there haven't been any reports of storms or hurricanes in this area."
"So, explain all of this destruction. And after you think that through, see if you can explain the hell we've been through? I sure as hell couldn't have done this on my own."
Tony was taken aback by my outburst and Mary asked me to calm down as no offence was meant. Silence became addictive.
"I'm sorry, Tony. Maybe the last few days have finally gotten to me. What damage you see was done by extremely strong winds and huge waves. The water actually came in halfway up the stairs. The three cottages are completely destroyed, we have no power, and there is little to no food or water. Soda's the only fluids we've had. The second floor of the house was untouched, well most of it, other than some damage from the wind. Like I said, the storm hit about five days ago. There were a few injuries, non life threatening. Maybe this is Edward Hartman's way of saying this is my island, get off of it."
The man above looked down at what now resembled a battle ground. He had promised David his time would come. For David to live, have a new life, he had to be away from the torment that caused it. This island was his downfall and the death of him. His happiness would not be compromised again, at least not in this place.
Just at that moment Tony looked directly at the boy. "Tony, this is David. David, this is Tony, Tony Rourke" John said. Tony looked at John, then again at the boy.
Tony, a little bewildered and shocked, said, "David, where did you come from?"
"I lived here, Sir."
"But no one has lived on this island for decades. This island was buried in the past till Mr. Wright acquired it. How can you possibly have lived alone out here? You look no more than 10 years old?" His mind was taken aback going over the possibilities again and again. The boy had clearly said, I lived here, not I live here.
"Can you get us off out of here?" John said, wanting to see the last of this place. With little explanation needed, they took the path down to the sea. As they passed what was once a sturdy cruiser everything seemed to change - gone were the broken trees, branches, and debris that had lay at the entrance and probably all over the island. Within the trees the birds sang. The sound of the waves echoed as they collided with the shore. Two shocked adults made their way towards Tony Rourke's boat while David looked around with little or no concern.
The sea was calm and looked docile - a shoreline that was tranquillity itself. Tony got on the boat, Mary was helped on, then David, and finally John. Once on board, the three passengers were treated to a blaze of colour. Looking around the shoreline, John realized that it no longer resembled a war zone, but looked like someone had given it serenity.
Silence was apparent on their way back as they tried with all their wisdom to reassemble what they had just seen in their minds. David, again, just seemed to take it in his stride. Tony, still somewhat confused by their explanation, said nothing. Something had certainly happened, but what?
As they neared home, John asked Tony to keep what he had seen and heard between them, at least for the time being. Tony assured him he would, then let them off, so they could get cleaned up.
Sailing back, cruising at low knots, taking his time to think, Tony couldn't get the boy out of his mind. Not that he had ever seen the boy before, there was just something that kept nagging away within him.
David was led into one of the spare rooms to get cleaned up. Being somewhat out of the past, explanations were a necessity with all of the modern conveniences. So, after going through the ins and outs of the bathroom, David was left to his own devices. Mary didn't need any coaxing in that department, and John was more than glad to take a long soak in a warm bath.
After everyone had cleaned up, they went out to dinner. Now this was again something new to David. If driving and cars weren't in the know to him, neither were the towns, lights, shops, or even the restaurants. John couldn't help but raise a smile. "David, I promise I will explain all of this later." In the restaurant, that was another tale of looks, open mouth, and wide eyes. After bringing him back down to earth for what seemed the umpteenth time, he asked David to order whatever he wanted. He was sure David was about to have a heart attack. Confusion was rife. John had to order for him. So after a can of coke, which he was now used to from the island, the English favourite, fish, chips and peas, were ordered and they tucked in. David was in awe going through so many emotions, he looked like he was going into sensory overload.
Both adults watched at all the different reactions and emotions coming from David. Doubting the boy's story was just wrong. This was not an act, this was a boy in a different world. And from the fun, his looks and laughter it was apparent that David was enjoying this new world. Sometime after getting in the car, sleep took him over. Too much excitement? The boy looked at peace as he was carried inside. Again a glow seemed to wrap around his face showing his contentment. He was finally relaxed and at peace.
Even though the previous problems seemed to end for the boy, there were a new set of problems just beginning. Explaining all this new stuff being the main one.
Unknown to the man, David felt himself being picked him up and being carried from the car to the house. It felt so warm. He thought back to the storm and of the fear, which was not a new concept. But now, deep down, he felt at peace as he was carried, but he still refused to completely relax, not completely believing what was happening. At this moment he felt more alive than he'd ever been. He let himself drift at the warmth he felt inside. No more unease, no more questions. He knew that this would not always be the case, but he was enjoying the feeling, even if it didn't last. Changing bad experiences with a few nice words cannot be done. Sleep eventually won its battle... and David drifted into a restful sleep.
Tony Rourke sat at home, tea in hand. The discovery, no, the implications of what he'd seen and heard. The house destroyed, though the island itself looking untouched. No man alone could have the strength and/or capacity to do that much damage, at least not without the machinery to affect it. Then there were the other three buildings, the devastation of the trees, branches that lay scattered about and around the houses, front and back. Still confused, he sipped at his tea.
Then there was the boy David. Still troubled by the boy, why he didn't know. Putting his cup on the table, he relaxed back into his armchair. He couldn't deny the fact that he'd spent months on the island, seeing not one soul other than his workers. Other than stowing away, he couldn't see how the boy could have gotten there. But what was really troubling him? Was it as John had said, Edward Hartman gave his displeasure to them being there. Shaking his head, he didn't want to even contemplate that assumption.
It had been a long day, so bed would be a welcome relief. Tony made his way to his bed, thoughts still going through his head. As he lay his head down, his mind drifted to the old saying. "Whatever thought is hidden, it will come to the fore when forgotten." With that, sleep soon engulfed him.
Inside the house all slept late, that is except Mary. Early Thursday morning saw Mary getting groceries, as there wasn't much in the line of meals and snacks filling the cupboards. As they now had David, a different selection was needed, soft drinks being the main one. She doubted what John ate would come close to filling a growing boy. The thoughts of how he ended up on the island still apparent in her thoughts, with bags of plenty she walked out of the store with help to get all the groceries into the car.
David lay awake, looking up at a clear blue sky with not a hint of any clouds on the horizon. Closing his eyes to say a prayer a knock came on the door, putting that thought to rest. John entered the room, walked over towards David and, sitting on the corner of the bed, said, "Did you sleep well? You know we need to talk, son?"
"I know, Sir, but please believe me, I beg you, I am David Hartman." David again felt the fear build inside, but realized that what was actually the truth did sound like a hard to believe wild story.
"Okay, son, but you have to admit that it's hard to believe yourself?" The look John gave was not inspiring. "Also you said your second father promised you that, in effect, what was taken away would be given back?" John could see the upset at doubting him.
"And that second father would be God!"
"Yes, Sir." John tried to reconcile his thoughts to what was being said, but it was difficult.
"We are all human when all is said and done. I cannot read your mind or your thoughts, but I see no reason to doubt you." He saw a cautious smile adorn the boy's face. "In truth, God is someone I have heard of, but never spoken about or to. Not all in heaven and earth can we see, but we accept. So I see no reason not to accept what you say as truth. I am a simple man, son, but I know when help should be given, and I think you need allies and support right now."
With that, David scrambled over the bedding and hugged John with every ounce of energy and strength he had. "Thank you, Sir, oh thank you." The smile he radiated was both relief and happiness.
Mary stood at the door. "What do you call this... free time? Come on get to work."
The smile disappeared from David's face. But when he saw her grin, realising the humour, the smile he returned was with interest. "That's not fair," he said, failing miserably at looking upset.
"Well, who else is going to help me make breakfast?"
"Me? You'll let me help you?"
"Well, the old man sitting beside you would be too slow."
Looking at John, then Mary, he grinned. This humour he was going to have to get used too. He ran downstairs. "Looks like you've got a little helper," John said, grinning. Mary just turned and followed the boy.
Tony had been up since before 5 o'clock, had his breakfast and one or two cups of coffee. Since he finished what was the Hartman place he had gone back to his routine of being a retired gentleman of leisure. Most of the time, it was nice to have a carefree existence without the care, but there were times that it was very monotonous.
David was beside himself, being allowed to help without restrictions. Again his mind filled with the injustices of his father. He had stopped what he was doing when Mary called, "Are you alright, David?"
"Sorry, Ma'am. I sometimes think about my father when I do something that's different. My mother was a lot like you. She tried to be with me when she could. But it still hurts sometimes."
"From what I've have heard about your father, you are much better off without him." Tears rolled down his cheek, but he was trying not to cry.
Mary went to the boy and held him. "David, what's all this."
"My father hurt those people badly. I tried to help, honestly." Crying he couldn't stop this time.
"David, the people who live here will know that. What your father did you had no control over. I feel sorry for your father, he had everything he could ever want and threw it all away. Look at me, David! John, the man upstairs, is the pinnacle of any human being I've ever met. If there is a way to help you, he will."
John heard the conversation. "Stop right there. You're making me out to be a saint, and a saint I'm not. What kind of a person would I be if I left anyone on that island? Help I can give, miracles I can't."
"You listen to me. I have worked with you for over 10 years. If I don't know you now, who does?"
"Don't argue, please," David cried.
"David, we weren't arguing, just having a disagreement. Do you know the difference?" He gave a nod. "I just don't want you to think I can do miracles, because I can't."
"Sir, if I never live another day from this moment on, what you and this lady, Mary, have done for me is more than anyone ever cared to do before. Now that I know what happiness is, I could die in peace."
Both in unison, "Don't ever talk like that." John walked over, knelt down and hugged the boy.
"David, I know you might think this strange, but there is nothing worth dying for." The boy was a little upset at the comment; but as he thought about it, he gave a nod and returned the hug.
Over breakfast the boy was complimented on what the food tasted like, which got uncomfortable looks and smiles. Just up the coastline David was shown a cove where he could swim while Mary went off to buy their new guest clothing to get him up to date on all counts, shoes and trainers alike. David was in homemade heaven. His excitement, even his countenance shone like a beacon. To David's disgust, after a couple of hours of swimming, they went back home. Oh, the energy of youth.
Seeing all the new clothes and being told they belonged to him was too much. He sobbed. His heart was bursting with all that was happening. That brought out the motherly side of Mary and she hugged him gently, which no doubt he was enjoying to the fullest.
David helped Mary take all the new things upstairs and watched as all the new things were sorted into different piles. Some things he had never seen before, others were like what he was used to, but different...
John watched as what can only be described as a happy boy beamed at all the new thing around him. Clothing, shoes, even a different looking bed. "David, I never asked you, but do you want this room or another one. You can choose any of them that you like, you know."
David thought, then tried to give some humour back. Giving a pout, he said, "I could, but not sure I could handle it." John was about to comment on him being intelligent enough before he realised he was joking. "You're going to fit in beautifully here," which gained a playful smile and devious grin.
That evening over dinner, David talked more about his mother and father. That took till just before nine. Was it possible to talk mainly about one person for three hours? Mary and I were both shocked at the things that had gone on. The hardship the people and families had to endure. Despite all his woes, David not once felt sorry for himself. All of the stories he told concerned all that had happened to other people on the island. Sometime in the future, or when David was ready, I needed to hear about his troubled childhood. Not to judge, not even to sort or alter, just so, as we say, he could get it off his chest. Hopefully he could feel settled enough to relive all that he went through. My admiration for the boy was growing. Mary held him a few times when the strain began to overload him. He got upset on a few occasions, but never once cried. He shed a few tears, but never actually cried.
"So what you say, you trundle upstairs to bed? It's been a long day, yes?"
"Sir, why do you care what happens to me?" There was more than a little fear in the question. Needing to feel secure in himself, questions like these were to be expected.
"Well, maybe it's because you are a child? Maybe because I think you deserve better? Or maybe it's because I'm proud of you for standing up to everything that was thrown at you. You are a remarkable young man." A tear glistened, but something of a forced smile managed to show through. The boy was now emotional. He came over, grabbed me around the waist and leaned in. He sobbed for a short time. I shed as many tears as my young friend.
Not raising his head, he spoke. "Why did I have to die for someone to care?"
"A lot more people than you think cared! But I know it's not the same as having someone for yourself. Son, I don't know what will happen in the next few weeks ... next few months in fact. But I know you'll be safe and secure."
"Don't you want me?" A can of worms had just been opened.
"It's not that, son, believe me. I can't go to the authorities that deal with children - what answers could I give? What's his name? Where's he from? I can't tell them we found you on an island in a storm that seems no one else had or knew about. And what would they think if I told them you'd been a ghost for nearly a hundred years. They would surely add me to the asylum list ... send me to the funny farm."
That really wasn't what he wanted to hear, but what else could I tell him?