The dank air of September loitered over shallow pre-dawn waves of the vacant beach. A deep-orange glow from the waiting sun colored the eastern sky. A solitary man walking the line between the wet and dry sand formed by the tide broke the still of the seascape. A bad hip that made any walking a struggle slowed him. The golf club that he used as a cane sat tucked away under his arm, as it did no good in the sand. The agony in his hip showed in the burning slivers of his eyes. He was a man of his early sixties and those dark red-brown eyes showed evidence they had been hard years. The eyes’ sockets sunk deep in to the tanned face’s wide wrinkles. The entire face showed a harshness. All underscored by a thick white Van Dyke beard accented with two black stripes travelling straight down from the corners of a savage mouth. Straight black hair, recently showing signs of male-pattern baldness, grew from the widow’s peak past his collar and was now slicked back into a short ponytail. A white Van Huesen crew-neck shirt could barely constrain the large, powerful frame of a former weightlifter, though the wide shoulders slumped much lower than they had in his youth. One constant was the man’s incontestable presence, the presence of an angry, tortured man.
He created an erratic track in the sand as his endeavor led him alongside the incoming tide toward where the old, sunken shrimp boat peered from the beach. Decades earlier, one could just make out the upper riggings above the water approximately 300 feet off shore, but thanks to the sands shifted by the East Coast’s largest tides, the boat was now buried halfway out the long, extended beach. He planned to turn back once he had reached the wreck. It would be enough exercise for the hip today and should give him the best view of the sunrise after he turned back homeward.
Jekyll Island, the jewel of Georgia’s Golden Isles, seemed to always provide perfect sunrises on the ocean side for his morning walks. The beaches were empty at daybreak as long as he stayed far enough from the public access. The island had turned out to be the perfect place to retire. In fact he had little complaints about the East Coast island besides the bugs. He had often referred to Jekyll as Eden with insects. This morning so far had been insect free, free of those damned biting gnats, the no-see-’ems that didn’t live up to their name. Dawn had become his favorite time of day since settling on the island, a time he spent alone with his thoughts. Right now, as usual, his thoughts were on death.
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