Jack Evans Boat Harbour
You gaze out over the wide expanse of grass and water at Jack Evans Boat Harbour. You must find Grandpa. Grandma and Soldier Boy are looking way too cosy, even with you throwing random geo-politicial confusion into the mix. They’re probably cuddling up at the Porpoise Pools right now. Come on, Grandpa, where are you?
You walk to the water’s edge and crouch down to run a hand across its surface, watching the ripples trail from your fingertips. What did Sharky Jack Evans do to get both a porpoise pool and a boat harbor named after him? You’d be happy just to have your physical existence assured, let alone any public monuments in your honour.
You spot a figure seated on the grass to your left and realize it’s Grandpa, slumped forward with his head in his hands. You shuffle closer to initiate a conversation.
“Things can’t be as bad as all that,” you offer.
Grandpa looks up at you with a haunted expression. “I’m sorry kid, I just don’t think I can do this.”
Kid? That’s what Grandpa always calls you. Does he know?
“What do you mean?”
“This. All this. The whole thing. Your grandma’s one hell of a lady and I’d be a lucky fella I know, but don’t you sometimes just wanna ….” Grandpa pauses, weighing his words carefully, “shuffle the deck?”
“SHUFFLE THE DECK?” you nearly yell. “What do you mean, shuffle the deck? I didn’t travel back in time to play cards. I’m here to make sure you and Grandma get together.”
Crap! You pull yourself to a stop. “You know?” you ask.
“Yeah, I know, I worked it all out the moment I spotted you, but kid, I gotta tell you, my sense of it is life with Grandma ain’t exactly going to be a bed of roses,” he says.
How can he be saying this!? The doddery old couple are besotted. You try and calm yourself.
“What life is?” you ask him. “You two raise a family, holiday at Rainbow Bay every year, have big messy extended family Christmases at your place. You can’t throw all that away. And what about me, you just going to cast me into some kind of purgatory? So you don’t get bored?”
Grandpa shrugs. “We’ll always be connected. There’ll be another life, maybe something grander, less mapped out. You’ll see. I’d love me one of them little hire businesses on the beach, renting out surfboards and spray tanning the tourists.”
You can’t believe this. You bow your head, knead your brow, desperate to conjure another convincing argument. You’re struggling to hold back great gulping sobs, but when you look up Grandpa’s already gone. As you gaze around you realize with a start that you are back in the present.
Across the harbour you can see a stand of Australian flags, half a dozen or more, fluttering in the breeze as if a politician is about to make an important announcement. You get up and begin walking around the harbour, past the monolithic Twin Town Services Club, to investigate.
You find Big Trev, proprietor of Big Trev’s Water Sports, reclined in his favourite camping chair, with an array of standup paddleboards, kayaks and those pedal-powered watercraft for hire. Big Trev’s a loud, jocular character, the modern incarnation of those early beach hire entrepreneurs.
“G’day kid,” he barks, in a familiar tone.
“See, I told you kid. We’ll always be connected. I just wanted to shuffle the deck and see where we ended up. Anyway, I could do with another pair of hands here if you’re looking for some part-time work. Everyone you meet’s on holidays. No one’s having a bad day. It’s not a bad life working by the water dispensing joy to the masses, I can tell you that much.”
And suddenly you can think of nothing you’d rather do than spend your days seated beneath a pandanus tree hiring out watercraft to tourists.