The call came into our lil cabin on the island after midnight. it was the hospital on the mainland. they had said that around 11 the EMTs had found my wife and our son in culver's gulch,the car must have lost traction in the storm and slipped off the road in exactly the wrong spot. the previous week the D.O.T. construction guys had removed a piece of the side wall barrier that hugs that infamous curve high above the icy canyon. The worst thoughts begin to go through your mind when your loved ones are hurt, and you have no control over the situation, or the end result.
As if that wasn't enough of a shock, I called the mechanic who was fixing our family boat only to hear him say, apologetically, it wouldnt be ready untill next week. I slammed the phone down. Panic starts to set in through stages. I jumped in my truck and headed for tom's house. Tom is a cranky son of a bitch. The only ferry boat driver on the island. He said at the cafe just the other day, that if i needed anything, call him anytime.
"Your a good family man Chris." he said, all gravelly voiced.
"A man that doesn't spend time with his family, well fuck! He aint much of a fuckin man is he?"
Tom was an old salt and I knew the circumstances were acceptable to wake him from the shed floor where he probably passed out a few hours before. When I arrived at the bottom of his long dirt driveway, there he was. Only his feet sticking out of his small workshop shed where he fixed small outboard motors and lawn mowers on the weekends. I couldn't wake him. The alcohol induced coma was too much for that old man to get together.
I started to go into a "figure it out myself" mode as I often do when I panic. Better that than a "shit my drawers" mode, I guess.
I looked around this shed for any ideas and saw a little out board motor hangin on the rack, ready for small engine diagnostics, by the sleeping professor at my feet. I hope it works.
I flipped the desk over and all the empty McGillicuddy's bottles smashed on the floor. I dragged the desk down towards the beach......
It was only 15 miles. On shear fire and will alone, I think I could have swam it. Nothing was going to stop me from being with my wife and son.
-Christian Hayden Wallace age 27
October 10, 1932
5th generation Dermit Island, Maine resident
excerpts from his book of short stories titled
"just a few things that happened to me this year"
tales of a humble boatman in Maine.