Jesse Jarnow

the island, no. 7

(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

It wasn’t until the rain died down, Tuesday morning, that anybody realized David Mallis and Carlos Dias had returned. Arnold Laning had looked through binoculars from his upstairs window at the island, and noticed smoke rising from the beach. Arriving at the dock, he discovered David Mallis’s lobster boat tied in its usual spot.

Carlos Dias never told anybody what he saw. It was said that the transition from a tropical climate back to our own was too great. Three days later, he was dead. David Mallis’s wounds were more obvious: the deep cut on his forehead, burns on both elbows, and an even series of puncture marks across his upper back. Whenever he spoke of his time on the island, he never once mentioned the injuries.

Several years after my father died, Elizabeth and I had David Mallis and Suzanne Camer — briefly reconciled — over for dinner. “We woke up in the sun,” he said suddenly, admiring my father’s sketch of a strange bird that then hung in the kitchen (and which I took with me). “The woods — the animals, I mean — were just crying,” he said, sipping his Scotch.

I had found the sketch in a portfolio in my father’s bag, which he refused to unpack for a week after the island disappeared. “Took me a whole goddamn day to get everything in there, and fuck if you’re going to empty it now,” he declared. My father was rarely an angry man.