|View from the main building...and me setting up a barbecue just out from the bar area...I've posted these photos previously|
Warning: If some straight-forward, to-the-point words upset you (it’s nothing you don’t hear every day in TV shows or in movies or elsewhere)…my advice is for you to read no further…but this is a true story…and I’m telling it as it was….as it happened.
The majority of times Pushkin and Rimsky chose to stay well clear of my island guests. They, my two furry rascals, spent most of their days and nights - those nights when they weren’t downstairs chatting with the white-tailed bush rats; the nights when no humans were present - upstairs in my living quarters. Both cats liked to stay within easy purr, miaow and reach to me. Sometimes Rimsky was known to sneak downstairs during the day. A few times he’d lie curled up on shelf of a cane hutch against one of the walls in the dining/bar area. The hutch held knick-knacks and books…and, at the odd time, Rimsky, (course of 'cos - my own private joke for those of you who don't get it)! His presence usually went by unnoticed. One day, a guest, in surprise, said to me she, at initial glance, had thought he was a ceramic work of art sitting on the shelf. Rimsky gave himself away when he stirred in his slumber. It was then she realised he wasn’t made out of clay! He was a work of art, all right…but a furry, mobile, living one!
Both cats had ample room to move about, at will, upstairs. They also had access to the outside through the always open windows that faced towards the hill at the rear. However, they did prefer the indoors. Why lie on the ground where there were a couple of comfortable beds made up especially for them?
The building had been constructed almost flush to the rise with only a fairly narrow gap between its outer wall and nature. Pushkin and Rimsky had their own personal, private au naturale ablutions’ block with, perhaps, only a koala passing by at infrequent intervals. Politely, they, the koalas, I’m sure, cast their eyes elsewhere when doing so.
Of course, in the evenings when I set up the barbecue ready to cook a fresh seafood feast, Pushkin and Rimsky ventured downstairs. They would sit discreetly and patiently off to the side of the gas barbecue in the shadows, but close enough to be within easy reach as they waited for their fair share of what was on offer – a menu always filled with prawns, fish, oysters and crabs. They manners were always perfect. What a life they had. It’s little wonder they showed no interest in the bird life or the various animals wandering around our island paradise. Why would my two furry rascals hunt for themselves, when fresh bounty from the ocean was regularly brought to their doorstep; when they had the trawler men do their hunting for them? Once they’d had their fill they scampered back upstairs and let the humans be.
Mostly the same group of trawlers called into the island after spending three to four weeks out at sea. They became my “regulars”; and they spent a lot of money over the bar after being so long at sea. I never had any trouble from them. I was always able to “nip it in the bud” if I noticed someone looking cross-eyed at another.
Sometimes, not often, a fishing-prawn trawler – a stranger to my shore paid a visit; not one of my regular boats, but rarely did that occur as far as the trawlers were concerned. Most of the faces and names were familiar to me.
The island was the last port of call for many of the trawlers before they returned to Mackay to off-load their catches. As I’ve written in previous posts I never paid for any seafood I received. Our trading deals – the exchanges between the trawlers and me – were conducted by the barter system…a carton of beer for a bucketful or two of prawns, fresh fish and/or oysters; or a bottle of bourbon, rum or scotch etc. etc, in other instances. I always had ample supplies of fresh seafood. It was a very healthy existence…not only for my guests and me, but for Pushkin and Rimsky, too.
One bright, sunny, clear blue sky day, along with a couple of other guests, a family of five came to stay on the island; a mother, father and their three children; the oldest of whom was a girl of around 14 years. Her siblings were a couple of years younger. The teenager was still very young for her years; an innocent. Developmentally she belied her years, mentally, but her body was blossoming into that of a young woman. She was an attractive young girl who was at ease playing with her younger brothers.
Earlier in the day I’d picked the family up from the boat ramp at Victor Creek and ferried them across to the island for the start of their three-day holiday. Every member of the family was filled with excitement, particularly the three children. Immediately upon arriving at Newry, I walked with them to their cabin so they could settle in. The kids hurriedly changed into their swimming togs; they were eager to get to the beach. By the time I arrived back to the main building they were already on the beach, or in the water playing gaily.
In the meantime a trawler had anchored up out in the channel between my island and Outer Newry Island.
A little while later, the skipper along with a couple of his crew motored across to the resort. I knew the skipper from his previous visits. He was a quiet, well-mannered fellow. With him on this particular visit he brought along his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law was a temporary member of his crew. The fellow had never been out on a trawler before, let alone for a three-week stint. His brother-in-law was on holidays from his usual workplace and had decided it would be a good way to spend his time off – to help his wife’s brother on the trawler.
The children were still playing around on the beach and in the water, having a whale of a time. They were clearly enjoying a perfect day. Their parents spent time wandering leisurely back and forth from their cabin, in between sitting on the foreshore relishing the balmy day as they talked between each other while watching their children at play.
I wandered down to the beach…everything was under control up in the bar area. No one needed my attention there. For a while I'd noticed one of the crew from the trawler had been hanging around in the water, at about knee-high depth; near where the young lass was frolicking. It was the brother-in-law of the skipper; the guy I’d not met before that morning.
Something about him caused the hairs on my back to stand on end, to coin a much-used phrase. An ominous feeling stirred in my gut – a warning. I moved closer to the water’s edge, closer to where he was, to be within earshot. I watched and listened awhile. My antennae was up on high alert. It came time for me to make my move; to put a full stop to what he had in mind. I believed in no time at all he would have persuaded the young girl to go for a walk with him…or for her to go for a walk, and he, just by accident or coincidence would catch up with her. The scenario was so clear in my mind I could’ve written the script!
He was “grooming” the young 14 year old; and as I said, she was very young mentally for her years. In her innocence she was lapping up his attention; his flattering, soft words. She giggled and squirmed. To me it was obvious she wasn’t used to receiving such attention. She had no idea what he was up to; what evil thoughts he had in mind.
He did…and so did I. The young girl’s parents were unaware what was transpiring, and I wanted to keep it that way, if I could. I’d handle it, my way.
There are a few things in this world I abhor. Snakes are one of those things, but I abhor paedophiles - sexual predators even more. I abhor domestic violence; but most of all, I abhor paedophiles...with vengeance.
Calmly wading through the water, I came to a standstill at the fellow’s left side. He hardly noticed my presence. After all, I was too old; and too smart to attract his attention. Why, for goodness sake, would he notice me?
I said to him: “I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re up to. I also know at this point in time the father of that young girl is unaware of your motives; your intentions, and I’d rather keep it that way if I can because I don’t want to have bloodshed on this island.”
He looked at me with a smug, half-smart ‘I-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about' look on his face. His feigned innocence didn’t fool me. My instincts usually serve me well, and they were in perfect working order that day.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he responded. My skin crawled.
“Yes, you do. I suggest you leave this island right now; go back out to the trawler; stay there, and don’t come back. If you do, I won’t be held responsible for what I’ll do. I’m probably your worst nightmare…worse than that young girl’s father if he finds out.” I looked him squarely in the eye.
“Who do you think you are?” He sneered. “The police…”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, on this island I am the police. I’m in charge, and what I say goes…so fuck off right now. This is your last and only warning. Get off my island. If you set even a toe back on this island, I’ll fucking well knock your head off. You can be guaranteed of that!”
The timbre of my voice, my whole demeanour showed him I wasn’t fooling around. Without fuss or further argument from him, I escorted the despicable creature towards the dinghy in which he’d arrived to the island. In a quiet, but threatening voice, I ordered him to remain there; to not move even a hair until I returned with the skipper. I was livid. Rage burned within me. I went up to the bar area where I took the skipper aside and quietly told him to take his new crew member off the island, and that, he, the skipper was welcome to return if he so wished, but in no way was the idiot he’d brought with him welcome. The skipper had been oblivious to what had gone on, as had everyone else. At that point in time, I didn’t go into minute details. I wanted to keep a lid on everything.
Once the problem was removed, I relaxed a little. However, I still kept a keen eye on the trawler anchored out in the channel. It’s always good to be a couple of steps ahead of the game.
The children remained playing in the ocean and on the beach until their parents beckoned that it was time to return to their cabin for lunch and whatever other plans they’d made to fill the afternoon. The tide was on its way out, so swimming wouldn’t be an afternoon pastime. The tide went out a long way to the drop-off at the edge of the channel between the two islands.
A seafood barbecue was on the evening agenda. I’d finished preparation by late afternoon. Everything was ready for whenever my guests were. Around dusk, shortly before 6 pm, daylight still lingered, but was fading. My guests had not yet arrived to the main building, but I knew they were due at any minute.
I looked out to sea…the tide was at its lowest. I saw a dinghy, the tender from the trawler with one body aboard heading towards the island. My heart began to pound. It felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.
On the island I had a heavy-duty marine flashlight, not dissimilar to the one pictured above. It was a necessity for island living. I always kept it within easy reach at the bar. Grabbing the flashlight - I didn’t need it for light as there was still enough daylight for me to see clearly – it made for a good weapon if the need arose. In haste, I walked down to the beach. As I passed my little red dinghy that was securely tied to a tree on the foreshore, I picked up one of its oars.
In one hand I had the oar; in the other I held the large flashlight. Worthy weapons, I believed. As I said the tide was well out. I had the mudflats to cross before I reached the water’s edge. As I drew closer, I recognized who was in the dinghy. I’d assumed correctly as soon as I’d noticed it coming towards the island – it was the fellow I’d banished earlier in the day. He was coming back for a second shot. Some people never learn....
Over my dead body he was going to set foot on the island…but in the black mood I was in, the more likely scenario was it would be over his dead body.
I knew I had the advantage, even though the ground below me was soft, muddy sand, it was still “ground”, and both my feet were firmly planted on it. He, on the other hand was at a disadvantage by being in the dinghy. And for him to attempt to alight from it, a fair amount of uncertain, unsteady movement would be caused.
Just as he reached the water’s edge, simultaneously I reached the dinghy and him.
He had a sneering, smirk on his face, but I soon wiped it off.
“You don’t fucking listen, do you?” I said to him. “You’ve got shit for brains! I told you earlier you’re not welcome here. So, I’ll tell you again - one more time. Turn this boat around, right now, and row back out to the trawler. If you dare even make an attempt of getting out; if you dare set one fucking foot out of the boat, I’ll knock your fucking head off! Don’t fool yourself, mate; don’t think that I won’t! Get the fuck out of here now, and don’t ever come back!”
I was absolutely furious. It’s not often I’ve felt anger like I felt at that moment. It was a steely anger; a burning, and yet, cold rage. I didn’t shake; I stood firm. I meant every word I said. I had the upper hand. If he’d made one movement, the slightest movement towards getting out of the dinghy I would’ve let fly with the oar. I was ready. The flashlight would’ve been quickly dropped to the ground, and with both my hands grasped tightly on the oar I would have struck out at his head with the full force of my being. He would’ve been minus a head; either that or he would’ve ended up with a very sore, broken head. And I would have given no apologies. I have no doubts whatsoever about what would have happened.
From my words, my stance and the look on my face, he immediately had no doubts, either. He knew I was serious. It wasn’t a time for jokes.
I stood my ground. I didn't back off, nor did I take my eyes off him. He turned and left, without even an attempt at rising, let alone setting a foot out of the boat. He went back from whence he came.
I waited at the water’s edge until he’d reached the trawler; tied up and climbed on board. Then I returned to the resort’s main building. By that time the few guests staying on the island had begun to meander down for pre-dinner drinks; the family included.
Everyone was totally unaware what had occurred. I intended to keep it that way.
The next morning the skipper of the trawler rowed across to the island to see me. I told him what had transpired. He’d heard one side of the story. It was my turn to tell him the other – the truth. He listened without interrupting. I said to him that he would continue to be welcome on the island, but his brother-in-law wasn’t; that he was never to bring him to the island again; and if he did, he, too, would be banned for as long as I was the manager of Newry Island. The skipper apologised profusely for the behaviour of his brother-in-law. I just listened. He never did bring his brother-in-law back to the island. He never again had him as a member of his crew on the trawler.
The family had a wonderful, carefree, three-day holiday on the island; and left unaware of what could have transpired. And that’s how I wanted it to be.