Tofino Timeless - Chapter Three
by Jacqueline Windh, Tofino
Danny Cubit has come to Clayoquot Sound to scout locations for a horror flick about Mer-people: submarine demons who breed with the locals and steal their souls. On his first morning in town, he meets Shell Cohen, who takes him down to the Fourth Street Dock. Shell negotiates a price with a silent boatdriver named Mussel. He takes them to the floathome of an enigmatic woman named Vellela, who does a Tarot reading for Danny and then mysteriously vanishes.
The skiff was still moving as Shell leapt lithely to the dock, rope in hand. "I think we could call this rain now, hey Mussel?" and she leaned back hard on the rope, using all of her scant weight to pull the boat in against the current.
Mussel shot her a sideways smile as he cut the motor and picked up the stern rope.
Danny stood up, then fell right back down as Mussel tugged the stern rope tight. He wanted to leap confidently up to the dock, as they both had, but he didn't dare. Shell offered a slender hand.
The drizzle shrouded them like a veil as they walked up the ramp together. Shell seemed to vanish the minute they stepped on shore. Danny called plaintively, "Where can I find you? Do you have a phone?"
Her laugh tinkled like a bell from the mist. "It's a small town!"
Mussel had vanished into the fog as well. Danny trudged up the hill alone. Every person he'd met so far had somehow disappeared. What the heck?
Water flowed everywhere: from the slick broad stream sliding down the road itself, to the steady cold drip oozing from his nylon tuque and down the back of his neck. Mussel had finally relented and donned a sou'wester for the return trip, but Shell... had she even worn a hat at all?
He clutched at her memory, but her image had faded from his mind as completely as she herself had disappeared into the mist.
He wanted to look at his watch, but his hands were numb, drawn far up into his sleeves. Gotta buy gloves, he thought. It was getting dark. Must be getting close to five, better phone Simon soon.
Finally back in the SUV, Danny started the motor and set the heat on high. He reached into his pocket for his cell phone. It was soaked through. Shit. He looked at his watch. Only 4:00 - at least he had time. Geez it's dark. He remembered he'd noticed a pay phone at the Bakery this morning.
"I think you need some rain gear" said the girl behind the counter as she pointed to the coffee cups. "Self-serve."
Ha, she's lecturing me about rain gear! He wondered how her nose ring handled the dripping rain; he wondered if she could even fit a rainhat over that hair. But he just poured his coffee and sat down.
Huddled at the little table by the door, he held the mug tight with both hands. "That's the guy," a voice said, and he looked over his shoulder.
Three men and a woman sat at a table, a great heap of wet rubber and Goretex piled on the bench beside them. The hum of their conversation had stopped. One looked out the window, one studied the newspaper, and two just stared back at him with a so what? kind of look. Over by the window, a woman with waves of grey hair escaping wildly from under a crimson velvet hat sat alone, looking off to one side and smiling absently.
Whatever, said Danny to himself. His hands were getting warm and the coffee was getting cold, so he gulped it down and stepped towards the pay phone.
"Simon. Simon! Yeah, Danny. I've just - "
"Danny! Where the hell have you been? Have you checked your messages?"
"Simon, my cell's dead. Bugger of a place, raining, it got wet, I'm calling from the Bakery."
Danny shifted his weight to one leg and looked around. "Umm, just a place here, it doesn't matter. My cell's dead. Look, I found this place, a bit hard to get to but it's got it all, forest, rocks, seaweed and stuff, even some local character we could maybe use, this wild woman..."
"Danny wait, wait. There's been a development. We've secured Clinton Nash, he -"
"Nash? The set design guy? The, like... the artificial forest guy?"
"Precisely! Yes, that Nash, The Nash! And he's bringing an underwater guy. To be honest, I've never heard of him, but they say he's a rising star, worked on Devils from the Depths."
"But Simon, umm, this place has got all that. It's got... it's got a real forest. And, umm, there's all this seaweed around. Already. Like the Mer-people could be living in it. It's like, real seaweed."
"I'm sure it's great Danny. I trust you, you're my boy. So let's just go ahead. I'll send Nash and his buddy up there and we can work out where to build the forest, and we can start clearing that stuff, that seaweed, so his guy, what's-his-name, anyway the underwater guy, so he can work his magic. And what were you saying about local characters, you got some leads on extras?"
Danny swallowed. He saw Shell's soft gaze. Trust me she had said. "Umm, look Simon I've only been here a day, umm, give me some time on that."
"Right-o. And get your cell fixed. Or just pick up a new one. Getting Nash on board changes a lot, we've gotta move the whole production ahead.
"Oh, and by the way Danny? Try to keep this all low-key. I don't know who you've been talking to, but we've been fielding calls all day, wannabe actors, environmentalists concerned about animal rights, town council inquiring about permits. It's hush-hush for now, ok?"
"All right, Simon." Danny had only spoken to Shell. And she'd been with him all day. "Umm... I was thinking... umm, Simon?" But Simon was already gone.
A black and red shape swirled past him. The lady in the velvet hat. She made a quick stab at the bulletin board and swirled right out the door. A napkin, with a message written neatly in blue ballpoint ink, fluttered there in her wake.
MOVIE coming to town.
Don't miss out.
ACTING classes by exp. prof. ACTOR
The door opened again, and Danny shivered as a gust of cold rain hit him. A figure clad in glistening yellow rubber stood in front of Danny. "You the movie guy?" His eyes were hooded by the brim of the yellow sou'wester, but his beard hung out over the raincoat and wagged up and down as he spoke.
Danny stared back. "No! Umm. Yes!"
"My dog, check him out." He nodded to the sodden black mop, rivulets streaming off his mini-dreads, peering hopefully through the glass. "Smarter than Lassie, just waiting for his big break."
Danny turned away and sat down, resting his damp chin on his damp hands. What the hell! He closed his eyes. Shell's face returned to him immediately, her impish chin and her sweet dark eyes, raindrops sparkling like little diamonds on her eyelashes. He could almost smell her. Then suddenly she grew pale and white. Her image faded, and he found himself staring straight into Vellela's firm and frosty gaze.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Four in the April issue of Tofino Time Magazine...
Previous chapters of Tofino Timeless are available online:
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by members of the Clayoquot Writers Group. Here is Chapter 3 by Jacqueline Windh.