|Methodist Campgrounds dee|
Life on the Methodist Campgrounds requires a willingness to overlook small transgressions. Neighbors are within an arm’s reach of each other. Sometimes, houses touch -- a brush by rather than a caress. Our bedroom is on the second floor. To get to it, we pass through first Julian’s, then Marshall’s rooms. The front stair case is steep; the back staircase, next to the kitchen is steeper. It resembles a ladder. Our house rule, your head has to reach the fifth step before you are allowed to use it. The upstairs rooms get most of their air from the double French doors that open onto a small porch outside of our room. Julia never lets the boys on the porch because the rail is somewhat rotted. Exuberance of any nature would likely result in death. As we have already discovered,death lurks around every corner. We are more cautious than many, maybe most, parents.
I stretch the blue sheep sheets onto the bottom bunk in Marshall’s room. I know enough that it is sheep for Marshall and Batman for Julian. I know enough not to mention their preferences for childish sheets in front of any of their friends. It would be an embarrassment. I know enough to enjoy this moment. Marshall is downstairs, practicing Brahm’s Waltz Op. 30 No. 2. The entire house vibrates when the one hundred year old spinet spits out a melody. Julian is playing with hard-earned action figures; each one represents a week of “good” behavior -- no back-talking, no whining.
I glance out the front balcony. From my perch up in the knotted oaks, I see that, even though it is still mid-June, the flags are starting to go up on all of the houses. The Fourth is just around the corner.
Julia was planning to join me tomorrow. She called just as I walked in from Circuit Ave.
in Oak Bluffs. I let the boys “Stay Together” (in my firmest authoritarian tone) to linger in store fronts and play in the game room with a promise they would be home in half an hour. Her call came when I was alone. Julia’s words were succinct and factual. Someone had knocked down her uncle’s, Gile’s, tombstone. She was concerned that it might have been more than a random act. She had entreated the Head of Security at Whately Prep to look into it. Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper when she added, “I didn’t tell him about the letters I have been getting. Do you think I should have?”
“julia, I honestly don’t know if Cole is the brightest bulb in the tree. I’m definitely not convinced he’s your guy if you want to figure out what those weird letter mean and whether they are relevant to the tombstone. Why don’t you just put it all behind you and come out to the Island. You only have a week here.”
“I can’t come with this hanging over me, Declan. You know I would never willingly put our children in harm’s way. What if the mysterious letter-writer follows through on any one of his threats? It seems so much more real now. I am glad you are there and the boys are with you. I will deal with things at this end so we can be together -- without a cloud over our heads --- as soon as possible.”
I met her suggestion with silence. I was at a loss what to say. I knew she was right, but I didn’t like it.
Now I am busy cleaning out the tool shed. It’s a rite of the summer season. I oil tools, toss hard glue, congealed paint and sweep out the 4 x 6 foot shed. Marshall asked if he could make it over into a room for himself. I have been thinking about letting him. I could convert one empty wall in the pantry into a space to hang the tools. A few new shelves, some hooks and some nails and presto! a tool shed. He could drag down the bed from the middle room. The middle room, at 8 x 9 feet isn’t much bigger. It has a twin, a bureau and a floor lamp. No closet.
Maybe that’s just the thing for us to do on this overcast, muggy June day. Create a bachelor pad for Marshall with the added bonus of being attached to our house and having a door that locks from the inside.
I am missing Julia and wishing she could be here.
I will call the Ratkins, our next door neighbors, to come over for a barbecue tonight.
Julia will do what she has to do to settle things in Whately. She’ll be here soon.