Island Hideaway 21 - new boat same Eddie
Eddie returned one night about six weeks later. I rarely went down to the beach in the evenings any more, so I had no idea he was visiting until I heard a knock on my front door (fixing the bell never seemed a priority as I never have visitors).
"Eddie," I said. I didn't know you were coming.
"I couldn't risk phoning," he said. "You never know." Was he being paranoid. I thought about Mo, was she here in her comatose state because of some malicious plot involving an evil multinational company, or had Eddie flipped, become convinced by some mad conspiracy theory and stolen her body from hospital. I had, I realised, no way of knowing.
"How is she?" he asked.
"No change," I said.
"I've brought a fresh supply of intravenous fluid and a spare battery," Eddie said. "If you don't mind helping me carry them from the boat."
"Sure," I said. "I was just making spaghetti if you want to stay for supper."
"Why not," he said, "I've only managed a snack."
We walked down to the bay. "It's a different boat," I said.
"Yes," he said. "Can't be too careful. I can't risk using the same boat twice, you never know who's watching."
I thought again about the possibility that Eddie had just gone stark raving mad. "So who knows Mo is living here?" I said - it might seem presumptions of me to say 'living' rather than 'staying', but she'd shown no indication that she was about to leave.
"No-one," he said. "We can't take any chances like that, I was trusted with making her safe and I've borrowed boats of people who know nothing about Mo or the main project."
"The main project?"
"It's best you don't know anything."
"Just to say Mo isn't alone."
"I see. And is it worth my asking in what way she isn't alone?"
"It's best you don't know anything Terrence. Let’s just say there are others like her.”
“What, in a coma?”
“No, don’t be stupid. I mean others doing what she’s doing.”
“Only you can’t tell me what she was doing?”
I suggested we eat our spaghetti in Mo’s room, but Eddie looked disgusted at the thought. "She's in a coma."
"But some coma patients are 100% sentient, the aroma of the spaghetti, the sound of us eating, talking, it might stimulate her."
"If that were true Terrence hospitals would set up canteen facilities for relatives in coma patients' bedrooms. I think it's best we keep the food away from her."
I didn't mention that I'd been eating every meal with her since she arrived, better to just let him win the argument and change the subject.
We ate silently for a while, until halfway through when I realised I hadn't offered Eddie a drink.
"Yeah, why not," he said. "You have any wine?"
"No," I said. "I have beer, brewed locally."
"What, on the island?"
"No, on the mainland, but on a nearby bit of the mainland."
Sounds good. "So where do you go?" he asked, as I poured two glasses of the Save the Whale Pale Ale, for every bottle sold two pence went to saving whales. A good cause, of course, but to make enough to save the whale surely mankind was going to have to drink itself to extinction.
"For fun. To meet people."
"I didn't move to an isolated island miles from anywhere in order to meet people. I don't go anywhere. I'm the only resident."
“What's the nearest town? There must be a club or something."
"I draw your attention to my 'I didn't come here to meet people' answer. The boat only comes during the daytime, I can go to the mainland to shop, but I have to get the afternoon boat back or I'm stranded. To be honest I don't really go there at all these days, it's too much hassle, the Boatman brings me everything I need."
"Bloody hell. I knew you'd moved to the middle of nowhere, but I'd assumed you were still in some way attached to planet earth. Aren't you going mad stuck here alone."
"I'm not completely isolated. I'm a jobbing writer."
"Oh yeah, and there are no mad writers. Sitting in front of a computer all alone creating your own universe. You don't engage with people."
"I engage all the time. I work for editors, publishers, my profession is communication."
"Yeah. And when did you last talk to someone."
"I talk to Mo all the time."
"She's in a coma. When did you last talk to someone who could talk back."
"I had a Skype interview with a donkey farmer last week. For an article I was writing," I added as explanation when Eddie shot me a look.
"You're living in autistic denial of the outside world. I always worried you'd end up like this. Skyping donkey farmers and talking to coma patients."
"Well take me clubbing then," I said. "If you're so keen for me get partying. You have a boat, we can go anywhere, do anything."
"I can't," he said. "I have to get back. They might notice if I don't return home, I can't risk it, you never know who's watching. Or listening."
"I'd better be off actually. Thanks for the spaghetti. You've got everything you need for Mo."
"I think so."
"I'll be back in a few weeks. Don't ring me unless you have to."
"What if she comes to?" I said.
"It'll wait 'til I come. WE can't risk communication, whatever cautions I take there's always a risk. The stakes are too high. You can look after if she wakes can't you?"
I walked Eddie to his boat and we said our goodbyes. I wondered briefly what boat he'd bring next time, but realised that such speculation was futile, there were more boats in the world than one single human mind could imagine.
Eddie was wrong, I thought to myself as I walked home. I had a good life, and he was wrong to dismiss the donkey farmer just because he was a donkey farmer, he was a good laugh actually. People always get donkey farmers so wrong.