Tofino Timeless -
by Clodagh O'Connell, Tofino
Danny Cubit is in Tofino location-scouting a horror movie about Mer-people who breed with townsfolk and steal their souls. When local girl Shell Cohen asks why he's here he says he's come to "fulfill a prophecy." He's joking, he thinks, until strange things start to happen.
Shell introduces Danny to the unsettling Velella who lives in a floathouse in Wettening Cove and seems unusually keen to have the movie shot there. Shell also takes Danny to the Eik Tree where they discover the message "He is come to repossess" carved into the bark. Heading to meet the movie FX whiz Nash at the dock Danny's car is run off the road by a white Chevy and he narrowly escapes death. He has a second near miss when boat driver Mussel veers his craft suddenly causing Danny to lose his footing and plunge into the ocean.
He'd always liked the ocean. Its colour-shifting expanse gave him a peaceful feeling of melancholy and abstract loneliness, like listening to a Bright Eyes song or driving late at night. The freezing assault on his lungs that had sucked him under and fought to keep him there wasn't his ocean. That ocean was for mad men like Mussel who thought the world was supposed to bounce. He didn't need to get closer to that ocean. Nash could take it from here. His job was done.
At the dock Mussel helped him to his suv, apology still absent. In fact Danny thought he clocked contempt on the driver's face but it was hard to tell among the creases so he let it go. Shell said she'd drive him back to Long Beach Lodge as he was still shaking hard. He let her, hoping she'd stay a while when they got there and warm him up. But looking at her tense profile he thought he'd have to settle, once again, for the gift of his imagination. Shell hadn't spoken since they'd gotten in but she glanced at him now as she swung the car over to the side of the road a few meters past the Eik tree.
"I have to meet someone."
"Listen to the local. I'll be quick." Shell fiddled with the dial then jumped out before he could say anything. Bob Seger filled the car. It reminded Danny of stealing his dad's cigarette butts and sky the colour of dirty ice. Of his mum's hand too tight around his wrist pulling him away from Kamloops while his dad's anthem of freedom and loss blasted in the background. Life was short. Maybe this was a sign he needed to extend the olive branch to his dad. It must've been Velella's unsettling tarot reading that had done it. That combined with his two near misses. He hadn't thought of his dad for months.
Danny wondered what Velella had meant by "death in the outcome." Something played at the corner of his mind. The word "wettening", the writing on the tree. But it all faded together in the warmth of the car and the hum of the engine.
Danny woke up disoriented and sweating. The radio was playing African music and clock on the dash said it was past midnight. Shell was nowhere to be seen.
Danny got stiffly out of the suv. Had she just dumped him here? He remembered that absent look on her face after his near-drowning. Maybe this was her way of telling him how pissed off she was with Nash's desire to distort nature. But people weren't going to come to a movie about demon mer-people stealing souls for the cinematography. And anyway, movies were all about telling a lot of little lies for a bigger truth. Dances with Wolves was probably shot on a movie lot in west L.A.
He had tried to impress her with his love of the beauty. Even got caught up in it himself. That's what stung. He wasn't positive he'd been sincere in that but it seemed likely from the way he felt now. He been dumped in a few creative ways but it seemed particularly heartless to be left at the side of the road like an unpaid taxi fare.
As he looked around for signs of Shell he saw something silver glint in the moonlight near the base of the tree. It was a cell phone with Shell's name scratched into the metallic case. So much for the whole woman-of-the-coast thing. He was a location scout, no one knew better than him that local color was always more about shades than primaries. But still, Shell had seemed different. Who was it she'd met anyway? He should've looked. He called her name a couple times but the only sound was the soft swish of the ocean and wind. This whole town sounds like the inside of a shell, he thought.
In the tub at the lodge Danny clicked through Shell's recent calls. Most had Vancouver area codes. She hadn't mentioned knowing anyone in Vancouver. He'd assumed she didn't. But then he hadn't asked and she'd obviously just let him think what he wanted. As he got into bed he tried to work up anger at the way Shell had left him at the side of the road like an undelivered pizza. It wasn't a happy thought, but was better than the alternative which kept pushing into his mind every time indignation flagged.
He thought back to when he'd first met her in the Common Loaf. It was her eyes that got him then. And her smile. She'd been pretty. Or had she? He couldn't remember, and now it didn't matter. He realized, he'd been looking at her too long. He told himself even the Mona Lisa turned into a raving beauty if you stared long enough. But it was no comfort. He had to find her and talk to her. Either she'd dumped him in some symbolic statement that he was too dumb to get - or something else had happened.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Seven in the July issue of Tofino Time Magazine...
Previous chapters of Tofino Timeless are available online: