Previously, in Island Wars… Donovan Graham, a young but ambitious journalist, has been sent to Grand Seal Island to cover the skirmish there between the United States and Canada. He spent a lot of time in the hedonistic Village on the south end of the island, but he’s finding the staid Town on the north less dull and stuffy than it first appeared.
Ben’s story about Lily the other day was peachy swell keen-o — or whatever the hell they said back then to indicate approval — but it didn’t explain how he ended up alone. So drawing on my vast well of tactful journalistic tools and tricks, I decided to opt for the world-famous, patented Donovan Graham Super-Subtle Sideways Slipstream Sneaky Suggestion approach.
“So how come you’re sitting here on your porch, all alone, watching the sun set and smelling like pee?” I suggested sneakily.
I had heard a lot about the Minots from the Coffin Underground, but I had only ever seen them from afar — a few of the young ones in Floyd’s, a few of the old ones down at the docks. But I hadn’t spoken to any of them, so I decided that it was time to bridge the Gulf and cross from Coffinland to MinotWorld.
Remember Summer? She’s the skinny, eternally stoned waif who wanders The Village looking for guys she can sleep with. Really. She’s relentless. It’s not that she’s a prostitute or anything. She doesn’t want much in exchange, except for maybe some decent company, some reasonably potent drugs, and some really great sex.
Lily was, it seems, not the prettiest girl that old Ben had ever met. Her hair was that awkward shade of carrot red. She was a bit too tall, which back then meant wearing low heels and stooping when you danced with a guy. These days, it means you get to suck in your cheeks and strut down a fashion-show runway with nothing but a billion-dollar wisp of sequins twinkling between you and an indecency charge. But back then, tall girls were considered gangly.
You have to sit on an old guy’s porch for a long time before he understands that you’re not just trying to humor him. I’d stopped by to sit on Ben Bow’s porch three or four times, each time spending a few hours reading or working on my next blog, and he always sat in that lawn chair on the west side of the screened-in box that seemed to serve as his living room, his bedroom, and his mausoleum.
Captain Randall Bergman of the USS Francisco is a no-nonsense kind of leader, the sort of gung-ho military man who shoots from the hip, doesn’t take no for an answer, and kicks butt first and asks questions later. I’m guessing that’s why the Francisco languished in a tough and aggressive manner for just four short days before any of the sailors came ashore to confront the little Canadian guy in the geranium shack.
Previously, in Island Wars… Grand Seal Island isn’t exactly the jungles of Borneo, but greenhorn journalist Donovan Graham is covering it anyway. He was sent to the island to write about a brewing International Showdown between the U.S. and Canada. But he’s also found time to commandeer a moldering shack for his home, walk barefoot across hot coals, party hard in the Village, and get to know some odd characters in the island’s Town.
Hanging with Ben Bow is not exactly like spending quality time with Eliza. For one thing, Ben is three hundred years old, all creaky and shaky, while Eliza is young and healthy and amazingly flexible. For another, Eliza smells like seawater and clay — earthy smells that inspire lusty thoughts. Ben smells like Depends. Comparing Ben with Eliza is like comparing a sun-slaughtered crustacean to Venus herself.
Coffins don’t usually come across as conniving and crafty. Neither kind does, really. One kind is stiff and heavy and somber, and the other kind holds dead people.
But earlier this evening, as I was walking past the Coffinhouse on my way to nowhere in particular, Henry and Cory were standing on their porch and snickering. Actually snickering. I thought briefly about notifying the media, but then I remembered that it was me.
Dauntless reporter that I am, I scaled the steps to the Coffin Cabana and inquired.