They could hardly have been less alike.
David is striking, tanned, smooth, charismatic, blond with an ice melting smile, and possesses an unmistakable gift as a fiction writer, even at twenty-one. Wyatt looks as plain as paper, short by comparison, mildly hairy, white as a ghost, graceless, a celebrated oil painter. He is single and he is out. David, raised a strict evangelical fundamentalist, is embarrassed by his own virginity. Both men are sent to Puffin Island and, within days of their arrival a young woman washes ashore, frozen and unresponsive after her kayak crashes against the rocks.
David and Wyatt save her life. Days later, Wyatt is charged with rape. While the authorities investigate, the woman’s nineteen year old identical twin brothers paddle their way to Puffin to teach Wyatt a lesson. Their goal, to avenge their sister.
The bond between David and Wyatt increases during island duty, and just when things seem as good as they can get, David distances himself from Wyatt. During David’s absence, Wyatt meets a hometown computer whiz who makes it quite clear that he wants Wyatt for himself. But, David’s heart struggles with his imbedded childhood dogma and lethally homophobic parents, propelling him to establish an unthinkable bond of love with Wyatt, and, when the inthinkable happens, Wyatt is once more left alone and he moves forward because there is a lot at stake. He turns to the most unlikeliest of characters to fill the void, a person who will teach him an important lesson; that love is all about choice and on making a decision, he must sacrifice a need that had been created by his past with David.
Thayne wasn’t next to me.
Gradually, I awoke, the reality setting in that his side of the bed was empty.
I figured he’d simply crawled out to take a leak. I knew he needed to leave early, about seven my time, to be at work by eight-thirty his time. Minutes later I discovered the head vacant and that it wasn’t even four forty-five, yet. I could not find him anywhere in the apartment. I hoped to spot him on the balcony searching for dawn’s early lights, but no; still far too early even in this mid-August time frame.
My angst bubbled over when I saw his vehicle wasn’t in the car park.
“What the fuck?” I shouted.
Did he get a phone call in the night summoning him home? Upstairs I scrounged for my cell phone, searched for a hand written note, not that it would be like him to write one. But lo, tucked into the handle of the coffee pot, where I couldn’t miss it, I found one of my index cards.
My name is Thayne, not David. You ain’t near ready for me.
“What the fuck?”
I tried his cell phone, but he had turned it off, sending my pounding heart directly to his voice mailbox.
“Thayne, what happened? Call me. Please.” I prepared a pot of coffee and plopped onto the sofa. My deductive abilities prior to caffeine were near nil. Did I do something or say something during the night that offended him? I sipped on the hot black liquid as my head gradually drifted back into the game of life. I took my cell into the bathroom with the ringer volume on high, hoping he’d call while I showered. I needn’t have bothered. No call came in, so after dressing, I called him again. His phone remained off and being this hour on a Monday morning business calls were unlikely. I suspected it would remain off for hours. But why? What could I have said or done to cause such a dramatic reaction. I read his note again, and a thought came rushing over me like the cascading waters of Dickson Falls in Fundy National Park.
How do you fix something like that? Or could Thayne be spot on, that I wasn’t ready for him? I vaguely remembered kissing and cuddling him in the middle of the night.
I must have called him David, but what else did I say? What else did I do? Did I attempt sex with him thinking of him as David; telling “David” how much I loved him, and how thankful I was that he returned to me?
Oh, I could see that happening, but I had no independent recollection of such an event. I swallowed more coffee. Conversely, I also knew that in times of trouble my mind worked overtime creating a litany of worst possible scenarios like when they charged me with raping Brenda and I saw myself on a chain gang with a pick-axe.
So maybe I did none of those things, just like I never raped Brenda. Maybe I said something earlier in the day that stewed in his mind. Thayne’s inferiority complex could be an undetonated grenade in times of stress. I wondered what time he left and how far he had travelled toward home. Hopefully that’s where he was headed.
After making more coffee, I tried calling him again, this time while sitting on the pot. I might as well have been sitting on Neptune. The results were the same.
Standing on the veranda overlooking the bay I used the peaceful scenery to think. No, think is too strong a word. I stood there for an hour watching the lights, listening to the neighborhood birds protesting their predawn duties, filling the early morning airwaves with their unique and varied songs. I was in no mood for all that screeching and chirping and pecking and warbling and hooting this morning. Normally, I enjoyed the early avian sounds of nature, but I could find nothing in that cacophony to savor at this moment.
I reached for my wallet, car keys, and cell phone, pocketing them with a couple of pens, index cards and a handkerchief to help me deal with the allergies that fucked with my nose and throat this time of year, ragweed now coming into full bloom.
Seated in my parked car, I palmed my phone to try Thayne once again, spotting an inbound voice mail.
I knew who originated it without listening. I felt like a man with his hands tied behind his back, a hood over his head and a rope around his neck.
“Wyatt, do not call me no more. After your love affair with David last night I know you are too sweet on him to care about your ignorant hick even a little. I know I’s just a stand in for David. Nothing more. And it smarts so bad I can’t takes it.”
The trap door opened.
I fell into a deep and dark malaise, choking on my own conflict and phlegm.
My head crashed into the steering wheel.
Anyone walking past my vehicle in the darkness of that predawn hour would have thought I had escaped from the psychiatric ward.
I remembered David walking out on me once, too; that Sunday back in November, 2010, leaving me alone at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton; also because of another guy.
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About the Author
Kristopher Quentin has been writing for decades. He is a businessman and journalist by trade, a man up at 3:45 every weekday morning for a stint on the news desk; a little earlier on weekends to write fiction in his man cave.
An upstate New Yorker by birth, he now lives in the most rural area of far Maine, USA, on 54-acres of land: wooded, lawns, driveways, and a few buildings including his four thousand square foot home which he calls the white house; because it is.
His property is home to moose, deer, rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, fox, weasels, black bears, and one Bard owl. He loves reading gay romances among other forms of fiction; non-fiction; and memoirs most of which he considers to be fictional. Traveling, dining out, boat riding are among his passions; that and flying his own single engine airplane when he was younger.
Message from CoolDudes Publishing CEO:
When I first read The Island Keepers two years ago, I fell in love with the leviathan scope of the novel. It took me to places I have never been, it enthralled me and blew me away. The book has been five years in the making and during that time it has been through several edits. Without giving too much away, you have my assurance that the characters and the island itself will leave you with a lingering sense of joy, and above all hope. There is such a thing as true love.
Debut author Kristopher Quentin lives a quiet life close to this island.
You won’t want to miss this amazing book to be published on the 1st April. Available through Amazon, and the CoolDudes Publishing website.
Louis J Harris