“With this, I reckon, sir,” one of the petty officers said, stepping from
the hut holding the Remington 12 gauge in her gloved left hand. In the
background the surf wheezed like . . . some massive injured animal.
Mike spoke in his familiar monotone: “We had just returned from
following a bear. Our first one. It swam in yesterday afternoon, paced
the perimeter of the island, and left. We came inside hungry, planning
to edit the video we’d shot of it after dinner. My night to cook, I was
digging through the pantry shelves. Leonard, I don’t why, had sat with
the gun upright between his knees. Blam. He must’ve caught the trigger
as he tugged off his boots.”
“But his boots were on.”
“I don’t know.”
“Was he new to guns?”
“Had he been depressed?”
“He’d had enough of the island, the both of us had, but . . . but that’s
“Talk of suicide?”
“You two got along? You don’t seem too broken up?”
“What I am . . . what I am is in shock.”
“And that’s why you waited eighteen hours to call out?”
Of course the Coast Guard captain had not been trained to examine
the scene of something like that, to conduct any kind of an investigation.
The lieutenant did film the inside of the hut, however, only whatever gore
there might have been was gone. “I had to . . . to clean it up.” Mike stared
into the distance. “I had to . . . live here. I didn’t know who would come
when.” Number 2 steel shot did pattern the wood paneling of the wall.
Not the ceiling. After wrapping the remains in the tarp and dragging it
outside, Mike had used Leonard’s own clothes out of his locker, shirts
and pants soaked in seawater, to mop the place up. Then he had burned
the saturated clothes on scrap lumber in a ring of rocks. “I wanted to be
respectful,” Mike said.
But . . . but but but. The evidence, if you can call it that. Leonard
Foster’s journal was found to contain several passages about tense exchanges between the two over research protocols. One night they came
to blows. “A couple of bloody noses. Hell, we’re both to blame,” the