The Mast-Head: Strangers on the Beach

Things on the beach have seemed different in the past couple of summers

Brock, or Brick, or something like that, I think he said his name was, but it was difficult to pay attention the other day because I was on the beach chasing friends’ children in a runaway kayak as they drifted down the bay in the direction of Promised Land. He seemed a nice enough guy, probably in his late 20s or early 30s. He introduced me to his companion, a woman about his age, and said he was renting the house next door.

Things on the beach have seemed different in the past couple of summers. New and unfamiliar people walk past our place. Last year, the house next door was rented in August to some youngish tenants who were low-key until the end of the season, when they threw a jungle-themed pool party complete with thickset bouncers and a catered spread.

They were nice enough, though my wife was itching to call the police one night when they turned the music up way too loud. Heading off her grab for the phone, I pulled on a pair of paint-covered jeans and the muck boots I use to tend the chickens and headed over for a chat. They agreed to turn the thumping disco down and invited me for a shot of spiced rum. I declined and went home to get back in bed.

As we learned later from the neighbor who owned the house, the jungle party had left the house a shambles. Rooms that were supposed to remain off-limits had been the scene of apparent debauchery and so on. She vowed to better vet her tenants next time. We said we would help keep an eye on things.

So far, the guy whose name I didn’t quite get and his friends have hardly been a nuisance next door. We hear them occasionally carrying on around the pool. It seems that they gather for dinner and an early drink, then go out on the town after we have gotten our kids into bed. They have had one party, and the catering gear hung around on the beach for a few days, but so far, that has been about it.

More interesting, really, was the extended family that rented a place a couple of houses to the west for a weekend at the end of June. Out walking the dogs one evening, I stopped to try to chat with a guy wearing a camouflage trucker’s hat who was baiting a line for a small child.

He had little to say, which surprised me; most of the time, people on the beach here like to get acquainted. A little while later, as I walked back the other way, the rest of the family had emerged, two more men in camouflage hats, a couple of women, and a few more children. They acknowledged my hello with a nod and a wan smile, but did not engage. I have not seen them in the weeks since, but I wonder who they were each time I go by.