I made it safely to Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod after being offered a job designing a traveling exhibition about a pirate ship.
At the airport, I dumped myself in the back of a taxi for the last leg and wondered what the people I was about to meet would be like?
The driver seemed happy to talk.
“Come far?” She asked, checking me out in the mirror. (She had a pin through her eyebrow, I thought what a handy place to keep notes).
“Yes, “ I said, “from England, today!”
“No, further North.” I said.
“I went to London.” She said.
“There’s more to England than London.” I said, as we drove down a winding road between scrubby trees.
“Really?” She said, flicking her cigarette out of the window.“London’s expensive dude!”
“What’s going on in town?” I asked looking over my shoulder waiting for the forest to burst into flames.
“It’s quiet now, thank you JESUS!” She punched the air, “ Season’s over, just the weekend specials, till November’s out.”
“Specials?” I said, glad we’d made the bend.
“Yeah you know; the transies, the bears and the dyke-bikers, the usual”.
I thought, gosh it doesn’t sound like Kirkbymoorside, nothing like it. Mindst you if she’d added “And the sheep-shaggers”, I’d have felt at home!
We traveled on about a mile or so without seeing another soul. Above us the sky turned salmon as the afternoon ebbed away, a bit like me. I closed my eyes.
“Jet lag?” She asked.
“Yes s’pose so.” I looked at my watch, “It’s eleven for me. I was up at five and the flight from Boston, wow!” I said with a hint of wimpish fear.
“Who was the pilot?”
“ Brian?” I said.
“Did he know which way he was going?” She asked with a smirk I could feel through the back of her shaved head.
“Not at first.” I laughed.
“Could never make it as a cab driver man, there’s only two roads here he’d still get lost. Now on that point, where are we going?”
We pulled up at a crossroads with traffic lights hanging overhead.
There were no cars, just us.
“It’s quiet”. I said, looking along the empty roads to distant sand dunes.
“Just the way we like it! Everyone works their asses off all summer; winter-we chill baby…”
The lights changed and she drove straight over, the car bouncing on a dip.
“How long’s the season?” I asked, suddenly awake, looking out the window at the first buildings since the airport.
“Twelve weeks man, twelve l o n g weeks. Now’s the time to start the big chilleroony! Yeah lay back, stay down, roll-over man.”
“Is that what you do all winter?” I wondered who picked the turnips.
“Well let’s say we hibernate; you know smoke a little, love a little, watch movies, yeah and heal our hellbent souls.” She shouted that last bit, actually the way she shouted I found rather alarming.
Then we passed a place painted in bright colours with signs in hand-painted style, which read, ‘LOBSTERS ! All you can eat!” The placed looked closed.
I thought; it’s not that different from Kirkbymoorside really. There was a sign on the moor road just up from Gillamoor that read, ‘Potatoes turn left".
“So this is it- Provincetown, where’d you say?” She turned round.
“Erm,” I looked at the address, fumbling for a slip of paper from my wallet, ‘Billy Bones?’A bar, on a wharf? Could that be right, MacMillan’s Wharf?”
“Can’t take you down there man.” She said shaking her head solemnly. “Gotta drop you at the town end, you’ll have to walk down there.”
“Is it far?" I said, "I’ve got a bag?”
“Well, depends,” She said, turning the wheel, “On what you call far.”
Installment 4 of
Pirates of a different hue.