It’s 5:35 EDT on Thursday, September 27, 2018 in Munising, a small town on the southern shore of Lake Superior on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Perched upon a wooded hillside some 100 meters (328 feet) past the old Rear Range Lighthouse at the end of Hemlock Street, in a secluded restaurant named St. Martin’s Cloak, sits a late-60-something Caucasian American couple at a window table facing slate-gray South Bay. The bespectacled, thin, gray-haired, hazel-eyed lady is reading a newspaper.
“Oh dear, another fatality on the [Pictured Rocks] cliffs,” she informs her presumed spouse.
“Another leap for Pegasus?” the nearly bald, paunchy, blue-eyed man asks while eyeing Grand Island through the low clouds and sporadic mist. Wonder how cold this winter will be. / He must be off his meds.
“What in the world?!” she exclaims.
“Where exactly?” he asks, oblivious to her skeptical remark.
“Just a half-mile east of Grand Portal Point. [along the Lakeshore - North Country Trail] It says here that she was hiking alone. She was from Sunnyvale, California, and only 32. And going by her name, [Tu Thanh Nguyen] it appears that she was of Vietnamese ancestry.” Such a heartbreaking world this surely is.
“Those sheer cliffs are mortally unforgiving. Once you fall, you’re a goner. There are no tree limbs to grab on the way down. It’s over.”
“It says that she was taking a selfie when she slipped off.”
“A selfie?” Huh?
“You know, Harry – taking a photo of oneself.”
“Oh, yeah. So many new words to remember. These millennials have almost created a whole new language.”
Their drinks arrive. They both thank the mid-20-something, brown-haired, petite, smiling waitress. She sure seems happy about something – something other than work I bet. Perhaps she likes the cook. And vice versa.
The lady continues relaying the article to her man. “Her fall was witnessed by a pair of kayakers.” What bad luck.
“Jesus, what a horrific sight: a woman falling two hundred feet [61 meters] to her death. Bet they won’t ever forget that ghastly sequence.”
“Yes, they may be haunted for a long time,” she adds.
“Did she die upon impact with the water?” he asks. I bet so. Don’t know of anyone surviving.
“It says that the kayakers recovered her unconscious body and brought her ashore. The paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.” What a tragedy.
“Such a shame. When did that autistic boy run off the bluff by Miners Castle Rock?” Huh?
“Don’t think that I ever heard about that, Harry.”
“Maybe it was before you moved here, Anne.”
“Over twenty-eight years ago?” Pre-1990?
“Probably so. I was thirty-eight, I think.” He thinks? His memory is really getting bad now. Wonder if this ever even happened. Must research it later.
“I see,” Anne resigns.
The conversation ceases as an early-20-something, rusty-haired, white dude wanders in wearing a purple Alberto Aquilani #10 ACF Fiorentina jersey. What an odd choice for a Scotch-Irish-looking lad. Is his dad or mom from Italy? I bet that’s it; he must have an Italian parent. Too bad that Aquilani didn’t really pan out at Liverpool FC. [2009-10]
“That young man over there. His jersey selection is quite puzzling. Most of the guys his age are wearing [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo jerseys.”
“Maybe he got it at the thrift store,” Anne suggests.
“Yeah, maybe so.” Harry remains focused on the man’s back. Never thought I’d see that jersey – and in this remote outpost of all places. He has to be a tourist. Maybe he’s just wandering the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) before it gets cold. Who knows who he might become? / Why in the world is he so fixated on that purple jersey? Men and their football/soccer teams.
“Oh no, that same problem kid robbed another store over in Au Train,” Anne then conveys. “The female clerk was frightened for her life it says. She’s now afraid to go back to work.”
“He’s already out of jail again? Someone needs to throat-punch that punk-ass meth-head [methamphetamine addict] and set him straight. Where the hell are the parents?”
“Don’t rattle your tongue so loud, Harry.”
“Why, am I going to crack the plaster traps?” Plaster traps?
“What are you talking about, dear?” Anne asks with a not-that-surprised-to-hear-nonsense-from-him expression.
“I bet he’s one of the offspring of that primatal commune up in Powell. You know the one – that group that is always harping about survival of the species via clans in caves. Damn neo-Neanderthals. And yet, we get another one of their lovely wild childs [sic] from the woods to deal with in our towns.”
“I wonder if they still christen them in Ives Lake.” Christen them as a what? Urchinafarian? [sic]
“Oh, I’m sure, dear. Well, except when it’s frozen over.”
“How much snow do you think we’ll get this winter, Harry?”
“I’m thinking nine feet [2.74 meters] at most. [Munising’s annual average is 12.75 feet; 3.89 meters] Global warming. Plus, I think that I heard that this will be an El Niño winter. A lot of sleet I bet.”
“I just hope that we don’t have a bad ice storm like that one several years ago. Eleven days without power was no fun. Are you sure that we have enough firewood?”
“We’re all set for it, love. We’ve also got plenty of propane.”
“Should we just go ahead and buy a generator?” she asks, hoping for an answer in the affirmative.
“Do we really need one? A decent one will set us back $800. And then we’ll need to buy fifty gallons [189 litres] of diesel fuel and a tank. The things are so damn noisy. The food can be packed outside; I’m sure it will be cold enough for it to keep.” He’s so cheap now. Mr. Frugal.
“Just asking, dear.” Maybe I could get one myself.
“Ok, ok, I’ll get the smallest one to run the TV and charge the cell phones.”
“Now you’re making sense again, Harry.” Again?
“Why, were you thinking of having me taken away?”