John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

When he rolled up onto his right elbow and looked down into her large dark eyes in her small face, the nape of her neck fitted his forearm with a preordained perfection. He bent slowly and kissed her lips. Her small breasts were ivory in the moonlight, the nipples shadowed by their own darkness. He bent again and kissed her right breast, touching the nipple with his tongue, feeling it respond. He had lost his awkwardness with her, his fears and his hesitations. He felt as if he could do nothing clumsy with her, nothing wrong.

A little while later he moved over her, holding his weight on his knees, and once again marveled at the mysterious abundance of her. She was such a small girl, quick and light and narrow of waist and hip. But in love she opened to him a great white warmth of thighs and belly, and took him into heated depths, enfolding, encasing, containing, giving a little grunt and sigh of pleasure at the joining, holding him still for a little while to savor that feeling of being one before the slow and gentle and steady movements began, working inevitably to the same climax as before, to the same crescendo of joy.


“I love you, Tod,” she said.

“I love you too, Lois.”

“No, don’t go away from me yet.”

“I’ll stay right here. Forever.”

“Why do you give me the feeling my father has forgiven me.-‘

“Maybe he has.”

“I couldn’t feel like this if he hadn’t. I know I couldn’t.”

‘n that same night Mike Wasser came in through Ship Island Pass, out of the long roll of the Gulf through the tidal current in the Pass and into the relative calm of the Sound. He pushed the throttles forward and brought the Thelma III up to cruising speed. Once he got his bearings by identifying the blobs of urban light on the northern horizon, he adjusted course to head for West Bay. He set the automatic pilot and then, with a flashlight, carefully checked the cabin and the cockpit deck. In the scuppers he found a leather eyeglass case with a pair of sunglasses in it that had golden brown lenses. He flipped them over the side.

He went back and sat at the wheel, watching it make its small turns to left and right as the compass corrected it. It felt good to him, being out on the water at night. It made more sense than other kinds of life. He wondered if he could go back to oystering. A hired hand. It was a different life these days. A hard life at the best of times. A half hour later he pulled the motors back down, took it off pilot and went into the bay, followed the markers to the mouth of the Alden and went up the river to Parklands. It was past one o’clock and the area was quiet. After he made the boat fast, he walked over to the dockmaster’s office and once again checked the room behind it where Jack Simms had lived. Every personal thing and everything of any value had been packed and removed.

He went out and around to the side and got into Jack’s Torino, and drove down to the gate. He slowed and gave the night man a look at the windshield medallion. New man on the gate.

Wasser headed north to I-io, turned west and drove to New Orleans. He turned off at the airport interchange, found the long-term parking area, took his ticket out of the dispenser, drove in and parked. He wiped the steering wheel, shift lever, headlight control, rear-vision mirror and door handle. He locked the car and on the way to the terminal he dropped the torn-up ticket and the keys into a trash container.

He took a four-fifteen a.m. Greyhound back to West Bay. At seven-thirty on Wednesday morning he was back in his small ground-floor garden apartment near the club, in the only condo structure Mr. Loomis had permitted to be built at Parklands. He took a long scalding shower and then sat with a half tumbler of vodka and ice in front of his small television set until it was nine o’clock.

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