The following is a piece of short fiction featuring some of the characters from my Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries. I hope that you find these to be a fun way to learn about my favourite island. They’re certainly a fun way for me to write about it. Enjoy!
Nancy’s Rail: Oak Bluffs Fiction
Chief Laurie Knickles stepped out of her squad car on New York Avenue in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. She checked the time on her iPhone; it was 11:55am. She also reread the text from her husband would-be author Charles Williams, “Nancy’s Rail, noon”. Seemed like a good idea to her. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in the office these days—it was still June—Detective Jack Burrell could look after things while she had lunch and watched the world go by.
Laurie walked toward the the restaurant. Gingerbread cottages lined the hill on her right, a happily coloured battalion standing guard over Oak Bluffs Harbor—the mercurial expanse of blue on her left. Even this early in the season, Oak Bluffs Harbor was busy. There were charter boats, pleasure boats, catboats, and the harbor launch, Hi Neighbor!, was busy shuttling everyone back and forth. The Hi Neighbor captain waved at her as he went by. Laurie stretched her hand high above her head, waved dramatically, and gave him a broad smile.
Laurie was not an islander, but she had lived there now for quite some time. These moments, these glimpses into summer with warm sun, blue skies, and the dancing silver light across the ocean, these moments will never get old. She knew that. They held the same magic for her now that they did when she had first arrived. She could see wonder alive in the eyes of octogenarians, who had lived on-island their entire lives. Some islanders grow up and leave. Some vacationers come and never leave. Laurie figured, you either get it or you don’t. Laurie got it.
Laurie looked up at the large, blue mako shark hanging on the wall outside Nancy’s Restaurant before she went inside. If Nancy’s didn’t have so many other qualities to recommend it, she firmly believed that Charles came here for the shark. Charles loved sharks. He was a huge JAWS fan, always had been. In fact, Laurie and Charles grew up together but they had lost touch. It was JAWSfest in 2012 that had reunited them. Now, they were married and living on East Chop. Laurie liked JAWS well enough, it was a good movie. The shark talk got a bit much sometimes though. Laurie really didn’t give two hoots that the epaulette shark could walk on land. She couldn’t even believe that she knew there was such a thing as an epaulette shark! One of the funniest things Laurie had ever seen was a text from Charles’ best friend telling him to call him around nine o’clock that night but he refused to talk about sharks. Laurie had taken a screen shot of it and threatened to put it on a t-shirt.
Laurie took the steps up into Nancy’s two at a time. She was hungry. Not only was the view perfect for people and harbour watching on Nancy’s deck, the food was good too. Charles would invariably get a lobster roll. He did order other things from time to time, but lobster roll was always where the safe money was. Laurie hadn’t decided what she was going to get yet. She had certainly been there enough times that she really didn’t need to see a menu. That’s what happened when you lived on a small island. Laurie was fond of their fried fish sandwich—she was always up for a fish sandwich—but lately she had a craving for fish and chips. It had been ages. That might be the direction that her stomach was headed.
The Deck and The Rail
Laurie walked across the dining room and through the sliding glass doors that lead out onto the deck. The sun was on full blast and all of the umbrellas were up. Laurie smiled at Christina behind the bar. Christina’s hair was pulled up in a casual bun and she smiled broadly when she saw Laurie. “He’s at the rail!” Christina said. She pointed across the deck. Laurie waved a thank you and walked toward Charles.
Charles straightened under the touch of Laurie’s hand gliding across his shoulders. “Well, hello there officer!” He smiled warmly at his wife. His happiness was written across his face every time he saw her.
“Hey Babe!” Laurie leaned in and kissed him. “Have you ordered?”
“No. I was waiting for you.” Charles took a sip of his Bad Martha’s. “What kind of a husband would I be if I ordered without you?”
“I should have told you what I wanted, so we could have tried to time it! I’m freaking starving!” Laurie sat down on the high stool beside Charles. She scanned the scenery. “This was a true stroke of genius. Did you just walk over?”
“Yep. Doesn’t take long and on a day like today? Who wants to rush?”
“No kidding.” Laurie turned around just as the waitress stepped up behind her.
“What can I get you Chief?” she asked. “Bad Martha?”
“Oh, I’d love one but I’m on duty. Club soda and lime, please?”
“You got it! Charles, do you want another?”
Laurie looked at his pint glass with mock concern. “You and Martha have been seeing a lot of each other lately. Should I be worried?”
Charles picked up his glass and looked at the naughty mermaid logo, “She is pretty cute.”
“Remind her that you’re married to the Chief of Police,” Laurie grinned and leaned back so that the waitress could set down their drinks.
“Are you ready to order your food?” she asked.
“Yes! I’m starving. Can I have the fish and chips please?” Laurie reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. She tapped the screen a few times and put it back where she’d found it.
“Absolutely!” The waitress smiled at them both. “I’ll be right back with your food.”
“Hey! You didn’t even ask me what I wanted!” said Charles.
“I wrote down lobster roll,” she winked at him.
Laurie laughed and picked up Charles’ beer. She took a sip.
“You’re on duty!” He exclaimed.
“I just texted Jack. Things are quiet. I’m talking the rest of the day off.”