The steel whale swallowed autos and people, clamped its hydraulic jaw shut and sailed from the dock. On shore a car horn blared. The ferry whistle shrieked, snubbed its plea. “Damn it,” stuck for the night on an island in the company of sheep and souls who spoke snatches of Gaelic.
Shrapnel scar over an eyebrow, he could clearly see across the narrow strait. His black and white timbered hotel reflected its gables and chimneys on water. So close, cattle escorted to market on the mainland could swim the channel in small groups tied nose to tail.
Gear and clothes were over there in a room with a comfortable bed. A bottle of scotch, on a table, begged to belt a shot down before a shower and shave, complementing the fine dining room. The photographer shouldn’t have lingered to click those low purple clouds tumbling over the wild Inner Hebrides, ruled by iron blades not long ago. Now he may have to spend his first night sleeping in the rented Ford, surrounded by sheep and eagles.
He drove into the village, one block long. A sign hung on a centuries old building, read, ‘Tavern.’ Under it ‘Missed the Ferry?’ nothing more. Rows of liquor bottles lined up on shelves behind a bar. Not a patron perched on a stool, an empty pub, except for a girl sitting behind a long slab of polished oak. Head bent over a notepad. She wrote furtively, back and forth bobbed a yellow pencil, its orange eraser trying to keep up.