Title: Inquiring Neighbors Want to Know
Subtext: The third person.
Date: 04 Nov 15 (Wednesday in the AM)
Time: 2 minutes
Replies: 5
Revisions: 16
Publicity: Workshop

Apart from the police, fire and cost guard launching land and water rescue from both Quincy and Weymouth shores, a search helicopter was deployed over the point, circling the area from George Lane Beach to Webb State Park, casting eerie shadows over quiet homes as it struggled to keep its light on the dark low tide where Hingham Bay meets the Fore River at Rosecliff. Neighbors on the peninsula were roused from a typically still night by sirens and the chopper.

A family, living by the water, first heard screams around 9 p.m. They gathered at the sea wall, a tall barrier between water and road, listening as the channel carried desperation to their ears. The family’s patriarch jumped in his kayak and took to the water, while others called police. It was reported by witnesses that official rescue efforts took nearly an hour to arrive and had to be called multiple times. The patriarch was able to pull a drowning pair out of the water onto his kayak, keeping them warm while paddling to safety.

As the chopper kept circling and search boats continued cutting back-and-forth through the glassy water, rumor spread that a third person was still in the water.

Moments later, the brave kayaker, dressed head-to-toe in blaze orange coveralls, marched past the crowd of neighbors to the waiting arms of his family and into his home, triumphantly declaring “we got him!” Official search efforts suddenly ceased and the retreat behind shut doors began. The neighborhood went back to its private evening routine: brush teeth; wash face; take handful of pills; dress for bed; watch American Idol on the DVR.

One neighbor, who stuck around in the dwindling crowd for a few extra moments, expressed what many were no doubt thinking but didn’t say: the circumstances prompting the heroic efforts were suspicious.

The prevailing rumor was that a boat sank leaving its occupants in the cool fall waters and that at least one person in distress could not swim. If this were true, what were they doing out there on a boat in the middle of the night? Why were safety measures not taken and no one wearing a life vest? Did they hit a rock exposed by the valley of low tide? Did they take on water too quickly to reach safety? Was the boat in fact a dingy that wasn’t plugged?

How did people, at the pitch of a November night, nearly drown in these seemingly innocuous waters, popularly recreational in summer when neighbors venture out of seclusion?


Fox » Authorship
Fox » 6:32 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 6:31 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 6:26 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 6:25 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 6:01 PM 04 Nov 15
Horse » 5:53 PM 04 Nov 15
Horse » 5:52 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 1:32 PM 04 Nov 15
Elk » 12:36 PM 04 Nov 15
Elk » 12:34 PM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 11:55 AM 04 Nov 15
Elk » 11:28 AM 04 Nov 15
Fox » 11:23 AM 04 Nov 15

The Thread (5)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. I love this so much!

    I love how procedural it is in the beginning. Even though I’m not familiar with the geography, the place names create the illusion that I am — and, really, illusion is all a reader needs to feel engaged. The specificity is absolutely gorgeous. And the action of the piece is smart and exciting. The end is wonderful and unexpected. That flurry of questions, each of which suggests a dozen new pieces, followed by the question-mark stamp of that last interrogation? Fantastic. I love how perplexed the piece seems about itself.

    There are quite a few typos scattered throughout the piece. And I’d look at controlling the tone. For me, there’s a power in slowly moving the piece from the objectivity of the beginning to the subjectivity of the ending. Phrases like “The real heroes of this tale” and “our good samaritan” undermine that evolution.

    I’m showing my ignorance, but where does this take place? George Lane Beach and Rosecliff are my favorites.

  2. I’m considering a co-authorship to extend on Mako’s constructive observations.

  3. Smart read, @mako — the objectivity to subjectivity evolution. I had corrected a bunch of the typos and tried for a little touch-up paint here and there, but it looks like @fox reverted. Always the author’s prerogative to accept or revert, in whole or in part.

  4. Fixing typos as I upgrade the story, was originally written quickly on my phone; did not intentionally revert needed fixes, likely was parallel editing with Elk. Hope this version catches most. Pushed the piece a bit further but maybe ventured too much into commentary.

  5. Wait @horse, I did the same to you! I’ve been re-working this on paper and in the edit window since 5:30pm and must have tramped over your efforts at co-authorship. Want to keep the integrity of the original piece and post a new vignette with your take, a la parent pieces?

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