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Dead Man's Whistle
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by Eric Ellert

Jimmy the Hayseed skipped another oyster into the surf. The tops of the waves glistened at the edges as they struck the boulder breakwater at the seaward end of Rock Point, a spit of land jutting out into Jamaica Bay. It mirrored the Rockaways, another mile long, half mile wide sandbar that sat about 2000 yards across the bay.

The second to last ferry whistle blew. The sky kept getting darker, though it hadn’t rained yet. Everybody had been warned to evacuate the coming hurricane.

Geanie wandered over, lifting her wide skirts. Her baby-blue dress with the white, lace ruffles called just enough attention to her. She lifted her boots, which had sunk up to her ankles in the sand. "Why the beach doing that? Think I was standing in the surf."

"Dunno, Geanie," Jimmie said as he helped her up on the rocks.

It took her a moment to figure out what he was doing. "Now that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard." She tossed one of the oysters into the bay anyway. Her hat blew into the surf. A wave came up over the breakwater and up to their calves.

"Just figured them oysters were just gonna go to waste sitting behind the bar. It kind of sounds like drowning."

"I know a thing or two about oysters," Geanie said.

Geanie knew a thing or two about everything and would talk about anything just to get out of talking about herself.

"I know kid. They don’t belong in that kinda' water. But it beats drowning." Jimmie had almost drowned in a pond once. He figured moving so close to the ocean, one might trick the water gods. He'd almost drowned under the watch of a big oak tree which grew on the island in the center of a pond back home. It had looked just like the one across the inlet, though that one was now hidden in the mist. But somehow, it was the same tree, and it knew what he had done.

The air pressure dropped as if some crack in the sky had opened, and clouds from the top of the sky had poured down. Geanie leaned forward theatrically and kissed him on the cheek. "So when are you taking me to San Francisco ?"

Every day, Geanie asked him that question; every day he lied and said next season; not that Geanie wasn’t something. She just didn't understand; Jimmie had come here to die.

Geanie looked at him with smokey-blue eyes that knew everything and nothing at all. Sometimes he thought she could read his mind.

She put on her practiced good-humor as they walked back toward Doc's, a little gambling establishment Jimmie had bought six months ago. Geanie had come with the place. She was the magnet girl, there to help the house cheat a little now and then on the roulette wheel. But she wouldn't do it.