Jesse Jarnow

the island, no. 4

(Short fiction in even shorter increments.)

The Island: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11

They left at dawn on Friday, David Mallis and Carlos Dias in the red lobster boat, with three guns and four knives between them. One of the knives — given to me by Carlos Dias’s sister, Mimi, after Carlos’s death and long a paperweight on my desk — returned with its blade entirely dulled.

We all had excuses to be near the dock when they departed. The island was as clear as it had ever been. Its trees were turning, orange dabs speckled across the green, like a detailed jigsaw puzzle. I was next to Suzanne Camer again. “I needed eggs,” she explained, showing me the carton. We sat on the grass overlook by the park with a half-dozen others. The cold dew seeped through my jeans.

They were out of meaningful sight within five minutes. Arnold Laning — who had donated his old war rifle to the cause — stayed with binoculars for three hours, only leaving when it was time to open the sporting goods store. When the island disappeared the next day, his store remained closed, and Arnold Laning sat vigil on the dock in his fatigues.

Following the departure of David Mallis and Carlos Dias, I returned home. Putting the beer in the refrigerator, I made coffee and breakfast for my father. I did not immediately notice that he had ceased speaking of the boats.