Garret’s Cove is named after Mom’s great-great-great-great grandfather. Or was it uncle? Whoever he was, he’s deader than nails.
But there are still plenty of live Garrets on the north part of Cape Mary. Granddad likes to say they give rabbits a run for their money. I asked him what that meant and he said that Garrets were Lutheran in their religion and Catholic in their habits. Sometimes Granddad doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
In the early days, there were so many Garrets that the city named the town after them. Mom grew up in Garretville, bought milk at Garret’s General Store, and swam in Garret’s Quarry. You can’t throw a snowball without hitting a Garret in the head. Mom told me she married Da because he was off-island and not likely to be her second cousin.
I used to go back with Mom to see her house and jump off Flat Rocks, but once she left Dad, those trips kinda stopped. So I was happy to see the old breakwater again.
Have you ever encountered a breakwater? It’s a ginormous seawall built with granite blocks. These blocks are huge—six feet tall and eight feet wide. Granddad says each one weighs more than five tons.
You pile hundreds of granite stones like that from one end of a harbor to the other—with a gap in the middle for the boats to run through—and you’ve got a flipping big barrier against the sea.
When I was little, that’s what I imagined family was like. You start with a few codgers as your foundation and you keep on adding generations. The blocks below support the kids above, and the kids above protect the old and worn. You build a wall like that with love and faith and hard yards, and it can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
So you can imagine my surprise when I came up close to the breakwater’s entrance. Over the winter, the ocean had pounded away half of the right-hand side. The top was a heap of rubble and the bottom was saggier than an old man’s butt.
But the left-hand side was still in good shape. I mention this because a breakwater is not a bad place to fish for stripers. You’ve gotta have enough line—that wall is thirty feet up—but once you do, you’re pretty much set. You can sit on those sun-warmed rocks for hours. Especially on a June afternoon.
As I expected, there were plenty of kids who were having the same train of thought. There must have been ten bodies up there on the wall. Some I think I was related to.
“Hey, Slim, where you been?”
“I want my baseball glove back.”
“Look everybody, it’s Jim Tucker, the Fisher King!”
That last one was me. I didn’t mind the teasing. It was the naming that was making me nervous.
A couple of the kids tittered. The biggest boy—who I think was Mom’s third nephew twice removed—tipped his Red Sox hat up.
“You in trouble again?”
I nodded my head and flapped my hands to tell everyone to keep it down. To give ‘em credit, they shut up pretty quick.
I brought the Rita Anne as close as I could to the breakwater without fouling their fishing lines and whispered up at the nearest girl. I think she was called Meredith.
“Is my Da or Granddad in the harbor?”
She twisted round to look behind her. Then she turned back.
She twisted round again.
“Anybody who’d wanna arrest me?”
She twisted round a third time.
“Nope. Just Garrets.”
That was okay. Garret blood is thicker than molasses. Mom used to say you could be drooling, muddy, and covered in festering chicken pox and you’d still find a Garret to feed you dinner.
I jimmied up the Rita Anne and ran her through the gap in the breakwater. Garret’s Cove is one of the smallest harbors you’re likely to encounter, but it’s exactly the right size for me. The seawall gives it this tight, snug kinda feeling—a bit like being inside a massive granite sink. There’s a big red fishing shack, full of oars and gear, and some blue and yellow houses skirting the sides. It’s very homey.
Meredith was right about the coast being clear. There were a few Garrets stacking lobster pots, five or so boats, and a couple of ducks. Plus one man in jeans on the pier.
“Hail the conquering hero comes!”
That Garret I knew. His name was Danny and he was the grandson of a cousin of a great aunt. Danny has two things going for him: he’s a champion bluefish stalker and a Cape Mary poet. When he isn’t on the water, he’s over at Harbor Rest making up odes. Danny I could trust.
“Hey, Danny. I’m in a jam.”
“Throw me a bone, me fine fellow, and regale me with your troubles.”
I chucked him my painter and clambered up next to his beach chair. It felt a little funny to have my feet back on dry land. All the bushes kept moving.
“I got Da and Granddad on my tail. And the Harbormaster. And the Coasties. And I’m starving.”
Danny pressed his thumb to his lips and nodded.
“Yes, I comprehend your conundrum.” He thought for a second while I tied up the Rita Anne. Then he smiled. “Have you considered camouflage? There is safety, after all, en masse.”
I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. But that was pretty typical with Danny. The best thing to do was agree.
“Sure. Sounds good.”
“Ripping. Let me consult with my colleagues.” Danny reared his head. “HEY, WILLY!’
I’d forgotten that the bowlegged Garret by the lobster pots was called Willy.
“Grab your tarp. We need to hide Jim’s skiff.”
Willy and his twin brother Billy ran over to their truck. Then they hauled a tarp out of the back and started schlepping it towards us.
Danny turned to me.
“I have a plan. Firstly, James of the mighty Fisher, would you please assemble your tackle, rod, and line.”
I reached over and began pulling the stuff he wanted out of the Rita Anne.
“Secondly, place this chapeau upon your head.”
He swapped my fishing hat for his Red Sox cap. All the kids on the breakwater had swung their feet over the inner side to watch. Ten tan kids with ten Red Sox hats and ten striper rods.
The perfect cover.
But Danny wasn’t looking at the kids. He was looking up the road.
“Finally, my ancestral friend, I believe you’ll need to get a move on. For unless I’m very much mistaken, I spy with my little eye Jerry Block headed down the street.”