Rory, Allen, and a Good Ghost (33)

The boat ride back to Tangier Island was a race against time. The Chupacabra seemed to be busy with sheep instead of goats and the way the guys figured they had about two weeks before the goat sucker would be done with Cleveland and Philly. That did not leave Rory and Allen much time to figure out a way to keep the bay from claiming the island. Fortunately, Allen had been schooled in the art of pouring concrete and Rory was willing to do whatever to save this important piece of land.

“If that cemetery goes under and those souls are washed up, there is going to be a terrible cost,” said Rory.

“You think?” asked Allen.

Poodle was steering the boat and in total fear of what was happening. He could hear the dark voices more clearly. “They are restless,” he said, “We aren’t going to make it.”

“Take another drink of that Sea Grass and get us there?” yelled Allen.

Poodle did and he drifted into the haze of the life changing drink. The boat’s engine began to roar with a renewed strength. Within an hour they made it to the island.

Rory jumped into the water first, “There’s no time to waste. I’ll get the goats taken care of. You guys get everything set up here and we will begin building a sea wall.”

“I just hope there is time to get the pumps running,” said Allen.

“I’ll get the boat out of the way in case we need to make a beer run or something.”

“Thanks, Poodle,” said Allen.

The three got to work. When the goats were safely on dry land, Rory returned and helped Allen construct concrete molds like they had seen on Alone In the Wilderness. Their plan was to fill the molds with concrete and drop the slabs into the water. They would work in small sections and pump the water out of each section as they went along. They started near the cemetery since it was the most important part of the island to save. The whole time they knew the Chupacabra was infusing every bit of anger into the souls of people that he could. He had speech writers stealing from other speech writers. He led the FBI to erroneous conclusions about potential world leaders. He had people so angry that they were willing to shoot, shout, or smear in an effort to get ahead. The idea that people had the potential to develop maturity, forgiveness, or resilience to face uncomfortable situations was being usurped by the Chupacabra’s reliance on people’s willingness to micromanage the drama in every situation instead of seeing the big picture. Evil, in the forms of politics, race, and economic status, were blanketing goodness and bringing the end of everything more quickly than even the Doomsday experts could predict.

“I bet the world is over by November,” said Allen.

“At least I wouldn’t have to vote, then,” said Rory.

On the eighth day, a large fog bank moved into the bay. Poodle was totally freaked out because he remembered seeing The Fog at Martin Cinema. “Scared the hell out of me,” he thought. Rory and Allen kept working, but they were beginning to see the futility of their efforts. They had been able to build a small wall around the cemetery, but the rest of the island could never be saved without a massive effort. The fog was making the work more difficult.

“We’ll never make it,” said Allen.

“Did the Bandit and Snowman make it? Was it over when the German’s bombed pearl harbor?” said Rory.

“Movies, Rory.”

“I know, but the point is that we must keep going. The fog will break and we will keep trying. Allen, there is a lot riding on this island.”

And the fog did break. It pulled away to an incredible sight. There were hundreds of boats circling the island. Poodle fainted at the sight of colonial ships, canoes, and paddle boats from the basin in the nation’s capital. One small boat taxied up to the where Rory and Allen were working. The captain leaned over the railing and said, “Springsteen or Matthews?”

“Champ?” asked Rory.

“Yep, what’s your working music?”

“Before I answer, how do I know you are not some kind of evil imposter?” asked Rory.

“Because you sat in my house and watched rodeo on ESPN.”

“Good enough for me. You are who I think you are, but I’m not sure how you got here.”

“I’m here because there is plenty of good in the world and some of us who have moved on have decided to come back and help restore what makes people great.”

“And what is that?” asked Allen.

“The ability to think,” said Champ.

“Springsteen, then.” said Rory.

With that, the Ghost of Tom Joad blasted through unseen speakers. Champ yelled, “More south side.” The music got louder on the other side of the island. “I hope you guys are ready, this is going to be something else.” Champ had been a major league engineer. He had arranged the boats in a way that made a tight ring around the island. “Fill in the gaps with your concrete,” he said to Allen.

Rory and Allen went into automation mode. The mixed, poured, and set concrete between each boat. The people, more correctly the good spirits that had been on the boats, were now in the water scooping with whatever containers they had. They used buckets, spoons, and their hands to toss water over the boats. The guys never looked up and kept working until they could go no more. They crawled back into Poodle’s boat, The Contributor, and passed out.

The sun came up and horse flies used their bite to wake the trio. Rory could not believe what he saw. The boats were gone and concrete circled the island. They had temporarily saved Tangier Island, but were no closer to the origin of the Chupacabra.

“We need more help,” said Rory.

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