Portfolio of Work

Present

The following is a collection of my current published novel and a sample of the story I am currently writing.  Each story is unique and represents a distinct part of my imagination.  I hope you enjoy my work and I invite you to contact me with any questions.

 

North Brother Island

To be published in the future

Chapter 1

“Ain’t nobody listen to an old man”, Rufus slowly complained, “specially an old black man.” Rufus sat back in the booth, sipping his coffee. His weathered hands tightly cradling the warm cup as if gathering strength from the heat.

     The reporter from the local newspaper was seated across from him, intently listening to the Island’s caretaker. “Rufus, uh, Mr. Jones, I am listening to you now,” he assured him. “I think everyone who ignored you in the past will be hearing you now. How about you go ahead and tell me your story?”

     Nodding his head, Rufus without looking up slowly began his story. “I told them people from the university this camping trip was a bad idea. Nobody listen. You know, I’ve been the caretaker for that Island for a long time. I know that Island,” he spoke so softly it was almost a whisper.

     The reporter quickly interrupted. “North Brother Island?

     Visibly annoyed, Rufus continued loudly, “That’s what I said, the Island! Now you know I’m talking about North Brother Island! Don’t you go interrupting me! You want me to tell my story? Said you’d listen, now shut up and listen! Ask me questions when I’m done!” 

     The reporter nodded his head in understanding.

     He let out a long sigh before continuing. “I’ve watched that Island. Yes sir, I watched it go from a busy place where people worked, patients and prisoners alike taken care of to the place it is now. I watched it go from a place to be revered to a place no one talks about, a place forgotten.” Rufus gestured his dismay with his hands. “Even with the plants growing everywhere, the buildings falling apart, it’s still there. It’s never gonna leave.”

     The reporter had been taking notes and when Rufus stopped talking, he was hesitate to ask him a question for fear the story would stop. He waited and when it was clear Rufus wasn’t going to speak, he carefully urged him to continue. “What isn’t going to leave?”

     Inhaling deeply, he ignored the question but continued talking. “Once, I thought as busy a place as it was, it’d be okay, maybe it’d be happy to have the company, but I was wrong.” 

     Rufus nodded at the reporter as if giving him permission to speak. “Are you saying there is something on the Island?” He cautiously asked.

     “Maybe, I’ll let you decide. I don’t rightly know. I’m not a learned man. Never went to college, barely finished the 5th grade. All I know is the island is alive, and its evil that keep it alive. I’ve been asked… even threatened and bribed over the years to take people to that Island. Most, I just ignored, laughed in their faces at their stupid demands, but I never took nobody there, nope never. I protected it. Kept it as it always was. Still do. I didn’t forget.”

     “Mr. Jones, did you tell anyone that you believed the island to be possessed of haunted? Maybe warn someone something was there?” The reporter carefully asked.

     Rufus still staring into his coffee cup didn’t acknowledge the questions. “You know, I was hired by The State of New York.” Rufus proudly said. “The first black man to be a caretaker of any state-owned project or property. Yes, sir! I was just 24, not married, but I was focused. I was proud of that job and I took care of that Island. I followed the rules. I know they hired me because I was a big man, hell, I still am a big man.”

     He wasn’t just a large man, he was strangely large at 6’5”, and body builder strong, even though he never lifted weights. He really didn’t do anything other than ensure people stayed off the island unless they were approved by the State. With his size he rarely had trouble from trespassers. As the years passed, the buildings fell into disrepair, weeds, bushes and trees quickly overtook the roads and walkways and fewer people showed an interest in the old island.

     He wasn’t a young man anymore. But he still had an imposing presence. He was older now, still very large in stature, with thick wavy graying hair and a long full beard. Rufus had been with the island for more years than it was abandoned. There wasn’t anything on the island or about the island he didn’t know. When the city of New York notified him of Professor Boyd’s request for a group of overeducated teachers to go exploring on the island, he scoffed at the image of the intellectuals roughing it without the comforts of home.   

     “I got the island ready. I saw to it, the caretaker’s cabin… my old cabin had electricity, running water. Hell, it still does. I got it ready. I even nailed the generator instructions on the door. Never know when the powers gonna go out.” Rufus stammered, “I, uh, I just couldn’t get there the morning before they were to come.” He paused before saying, “I sent my grandson.”

     “You sent your grandson?” The reporter surprisingly asked.

     Rufus sat solemnly back in the booth. He wore a yellowed stained t-shirt under and long sleeve shirt like jacket. It too looked old. The faded thin jean material jacket hung loosely around his shoulders. The buttons looked like they had long ago fallen off. He suddenly looked small and broken. His eyes welled up as he nodded his head and continued with his story. “God help me, I sent him. All he had to do was stock the cabin and leave. I told him, “Brandon, you stock that cabin and you leave!” I told him, “don’t you stay,” I said, “don’t look around. Just get in and get out!” Hell, I had already put the supplies in the boat. Loaded it myself, yes, I did. Toilet paper, bottled water and few cans of meat. All he had to do was put it in the cabin and go.” Whispering softly and tugging at his jacket, Rufus finished with, “that’s all he had to do.”

     Clearing his throat, the reporter put his pen down and leaned forward, and tried to coax Rufus to keep talking. “Mr. Jones, where did they find his body.?”

©2020 by T.K. Walls, Author.