Before advancing the story I want to talk about the image. The base is is the lighthouse at Summerville Lake in West Virginia. The background is a manipulation of one of those surprises you find on your camera roll when you have accidentally hit the shutter button .
The storyline started out as a was of featuring the lighthouse images but has seemed to take on a life of its own. As fitting images and inspiration allow I will continue to advance the the story of the beacon.
On the following evening the storm came back with a vengeance. The old caretaker gestured for the younger man to help him carry a fresh supply of oil to the lamp at the top of the lighthouse. They each took a canister into a hand and began to climb the spiral staircase. In spite of his years the caretaker seemed to make the ascension with ease. The caretaker’s large hands kept a tight grip on the precious liquid during the climb. When they reach the top of the tower the first order of business is to fill the reservoir. The young man finished pouring his oil and paused to look out at the pitch black sea. The occasional flash of lightning revealed the angry sea below. He could see the broken hull of his one man vessel still hung up in rocks just beyond the beach. Judging by the number of oil canisters in the supply it could be months before he would be found. “At least I’m not alone.” He thought to himself as the caretaker pulled a striker from his vest pocket and lit the wick. The caretaker motioned him to move back down the stairs and he took one last look at his boat before descending back to the cottage. They entered the kitchen and soon the caretaker sat two more bowls of soup on the table. As they ate the younger man noticed that the caretaker’s bowl was only half full while his bowl was almost spilling out. There was sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. While there was plenty of oil to last a certain number of nights the rocky island only held enough food for one person to last the same span of time. The caretaker was rationing himself and sacrificing for the benefit of his guest. If the boat wasn’t washed away by the latest storm the younger man would have find a way to retrieve any supplies from the hold. Why had the caretaker not tried to make him understand about the food supplies? He would have understood. Was it pride or a sense of duty? The young man stopped eating at a half bowl thinking he could save the other half for breakfast. This resulted in a stern look from the caretaker as well as a gesture to finish eating. The young man recognized only one word of what the caretaker spoke during the exchange. “Wasted”. It was clear that the caretaker was insulted by any refusal of food. “Pride it is then” the young man thought as he finished the soup and began to formulate a plan to get to his boat.
As he tried to sleep the young man’s mind mused about what it would take to reach the boat. He had noticed a damaged sail in the storeroom of the lighthouse. If he could find something to use as framework he could fashion the sail into a skin boat. Another problem would trying to communicate his plan to the caretaker. As he finally drifted off to sleep he decided to present a sketch of his plan to the caretaker first thing in the morning just before the caretaker would be ending the night shift.
The morning sun broke through the clouds and the young man sprang from the bed and headed to the top of the lighthouse. The caretaker was just putting out the lamp to conserve the oil when the younger person reached the top. Out of breath he handed the caretaker the sketches detailing the construction of the skin boat. The caretaker looked at plan and smiled. He stepped onto the balcony at the top of the lighthouse and pointed towards the beach. There in front of the young man’s eyes was his boat fully beached.
The young man rushed out to his boat. By some miracle the water had not entered the large hole near the bow. He managed to get in through the cabin window and even though everything was tossed about nothing seemed to be missing. He began to gather his possessions into blankets starting with the canned goods. By the time he made it back to the cottage the caretaker was taking his turn in the bed. The young man started stacking supplies and replenished the pantry. His journey would have been three months between ports. The pantry now held more than enough food for two men to eat well until the next supply drop.