tagRomanceMary and Alvin Ch. 01

Mary and Alvin Ch. 01

byMelissaBaby©

The Girl On The Bike

Mary Winslow went for a bicycle ride. It had been almost a month since she had transferred to the small city of Londonderry, Maine, but with unpacking and setting up her new apartment and acclimating herself to her new workplace, there had been little time to get to know the town.

The weather forecast for Memorial Day weekend was perfect, sunny and warm. It would be a great opportunity for her to explore.

The bank had found her a cozy one bedroom flat on Main Street, above the hardware store. She thumped her bike down the back stairs and into the parking lot. Across the lot, a steep decline, sprinkled with pink and purple lupines, dropped to Front Street and the harbor. A cool breeze caressed her bare legs and she considered going back inside and swapping her shorts for jeans. But as she stepped into the sun, she decided the shorts would be fine.

Mary looked out over the bay. Sunlight sparkled on the water and she saw a line of kayaks, red and green and yellow, paddling out from the shore. She was a big city girl and adjusting to small town life was proving difficult, but she could not deny that she was enchanted by the beauty of her new home.

She walked her bike around the building to the sidewalk, then climbed on. The shops and restaurants along Main Street were just opening for the day. It delighted her that people waved and said hello as she rode by. Turning at the Post Office, she pedaled down Court Street, past the stately houses, once the homes of sea captains, now divided into apartments.

She rode by the elementary school and the Congregational Church.There was an antique charm to the town that was so different from what she had known in California. There was a sense of history. Mary wondered if she would ever fit in.

On she rode, and the houses grew further apart. Soon she was passing patches of woods and pastures where dairy cows grazed. Coming around a bend in the road, she slowed when she saw a bridge ahead and heard the sound of falling water. She parked her bike on the side of the road. The bridge crossed a rushing stream. There was a trail running alongside it, and she followed it into the trees. The land rose and she found herself on a small hill, looking down at a shady pool where the stream widened. She gazed around her and up into the canopy and felt like she had never seen so much green before. She carefully stepped down to the edge of the water. A pair of mallards glided across the pool. She sat down on a large rock and watched them for a while as they swam together on the far side.

It grew chilly in the shady woods, so she walked back out to the road to resume her ride. She wasn't sure how far she'd ridden, but felt afraid that if she went much further from town she might get lost, so she headed back the way she came. When a road veered off to her right, she turned on impulse. It took a long downward slope and her bike picked up speed. The wind whipped her shoulder length auburn hair.

There was a general store at a crossroads ahead. Mary glided into the parking lot of a small general store. An elderly man behind the counter nodded to her as she entered.

"Good morning," she said, "Where is the bathroom?"

"If your buying something, it's back that away", he said in a thick Maine accent as he gestured to the far corner, "If you ain't, it's down to the main highway."

"I'm going to get something to drink," she replied, feeling a bit chastised. He nodded and returned to reading his newspaper.

After Mary used the bathroom, she purchased a bottle of iced tea and stepped outside. A pair of horses were cavorting in a field behind the store, and she watched them as she drank her tea. When she finished, she headed back towards town.

Before long, the road merged into the highway and she rode along the shoulder as fields gave way to gas stations and fast food restaurants. Eventually she reached the place where Front Street veered from the highway and along the shore. Waterfront cottages, many of them summer homes, lined the bay, blue water flashing between them.

She came to City Park and rode down to the edge of the water. Leaning her bike against a tree, she sat down on a stone bench that overlooked the rocky beach. She had not ridden so long since the previous summer and her legs were starting to ache. She hated to end her day of exploration early, but did not think she could ride much more.

Out on the bay she saw a flash of color. Shading her eyes, she saw the kayakers she'd noticed earlier. She didn't know much about kayaks or boats of any kind. But it looked awfully easy to paddle the little craft, and it couldn't take much leg work. She decided she'd like to try it.

She got on her bike and continued down Front Street to the public landing. She stopped at the Harbor Master's office and asked where she could rent a kayak. The young man working the counter directed her further down Front Street to Faulkner's Wharf. As she rode there, she looked up the hill and saw the back of her building, realizing that her bedroom window looked right down at the wharf.

Along the roadside there was a carry out diner, painted a bright red. On the front there were a row of service windows, and above them, a sign listing all the usual items common to carry out joints along the coast; lobster rolls, fried clams, hot dogs, burgers. To the right of the building, a driveway sloped down, past a deck filled with picnic tables, into the boatyard. A boardwalk ran along the right side of the yard, and extended into a long L shaped dock. To the left there stood a large boathouse. Mary saw a rack alongside it, half filled with kayaks and canoes, and rode toward it.

Alvin Faulkner had been at work since six o'clock. As expected, it had been busy all morning. He had worked on the wharf every Memorial Day weekend since he was thirteen. So far today, he had already helped guide four boats into the water, rented out a half dozen kayaks, gave two people directions to the Harbor Master's office and rescued a little girl from a flock of gulls determined to steal her doughnut. If this Saturday went like they usually did, there would be a lull now, as lunchtime approached. The diner would get busy, but he'd get a little down time in the yard. He took the opportunity to wash up in the boathouse rest room, then cracked open a can of soda and stepped back out into the sun.

He look up the driveway and saw the girl on the bike. He thought he was looking at the nicest pair of legs he had ever seen. He watched her as she stopped and dismounted. You're too old to be checking out the young girls like this, he thought, but he could not help himself. She had a beautiful bottom as well, and as she turned to face him, he saw she had a slim waist and small but shapely breast. When she smiled at him, however, he forgot all that. All he could see was her shining brown eyes. There was something about them that almost made him catch his breath.

Mary smiled at the man as he approached her. The sun was behind him and she saw his silhouetted shape before she could make out his features. He was tall, broad in the shoulders. As she caught a better look at him, she saw that he was quite handsome. He had probably sported a boyish look in his youth, but years of working around the water had added some grit to his features. There were a few flecks of gray in his dark hair.

"Hi," she said, stammering a little, "I was thinking about renting a kayak."

"Alright," he said, with just a touch of Down East in his voice. "Have you ever been in a kayak, miss?"

He stood next to her and she couldn't help looking him up and down. His waist was a bit thicker than it had probably been in his youth, but his arms looked taut and strong.

"No, but...is it hard to do?"

He looked down at her and scratched his chin. He kept looking at her eyes, wondering what it was that made them so mesmerizing.

"Well, it's not hard but it takes a while to get used to. A bit difficult to handle at first. Were you thinking about going out by yourself?
 "Yes, I'm new in town and just getting to know my way around. I thought, well, if you are going to live where you can see the water, you ought to take advantage of being so close."

"You say you live right by?"

"Yes, right up there," she gestured up the hill, "over the hardware store."

He nodded. "You must work up to the bank."

"Yes, I just transferred here a few weeks ago. From California."

"Well, opening that data center, call center, whatever you call it, was damn good for the town. We are glad to have you."

Mary blushed, as if the compliment was directed towards her personally.

Alvin placed his hands on his hips, looking around in thought. How old was this girl? Mid twenties, he figured. He would look like a fool if he asked her out. A lot of good looking women passed through the yard, and over the years, he'd had more than his share of encounters, but there was something about Mary that drew him in a way he had not felt in years.

He shook his head at her. "I'm sorry, miss, I didn't get your name."

"Mary. Mary Winslow." She held out her hand, and he shook it, holding it just a few seconds longer than she expected.

"Alvin Faulkner," he responded. "As in Faulkner's Wharf. Been the family business now for three generations."

"That's impressive."

"Yep, my grandfather won it in a poker game."

"Really?"

He scowled. "No, not really, but that's what we tell the tourists. They like the local color, don't ya know."

Mary laughed.

"You see those lobster traps?" he asked, gesturing to a stack of what looked to Mary like wooden crates, "There ain't been a lobster man work from this wharf in twenty years. They all use the town landing. And none of them use wooden traps anymore anyway."

"I'm not a tourist," Mary said, "I live here now."

"Well, dearie, I got to tell you, to these old time Mainers, you can be brought here when you're a week old, and eighty years later at your funeral, they'll say you were a nice girl, considering you were from away."

Mary realized that she'd been swaying from side to side while she listened to him. It felt girlish and she hoped he hadn't noticed.

Alvin looked down at his feet and kicked at the dirt.

"Well, Miss Mary, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to say no to you."

"Say no?" She was puzzled. She had forgotten all about renting a kayak.

"I'm not going to let an inexperienced person take a kayak out alone. Wouldn't be safe."

"Oh. I guess that makes sense."

"But. I'll tell you what. You can't see much from a kayak. Low to the water, don't ya know. No, what you want is to get out there in a sailboat."

She laughed. "Well, I certainly don't know anything about sailing."

"No, didn't think so. But I do, been sailing these waters since I was a wee thing. And, if you are free tomorrow, I'd be pleased to take you out for a sail."

Mary hesitated, and instinctively checked his hand for a ring. He saw her do it, and laughed. He held up his hand. "The ring's at home, in a case, along with the wife's. Been there since she passed, almost ten years now."

"Oh," Mary blushed, "I'm sorry."

Alvin shook his head. "Thank you, you're kind. But you haven't answered me."

"Well, this would be, like a date?"

"I suppose it would be," he nodded.

"You won't have to work?"

"Not on Sunday, I take it off and my cousin covers the yard."

"I'm not sure I feel right about going out with someone, no offense, but someone twenty years older than me."

"How old are you?" he asked.

"Twenty seven."

"Well, I'm only forty six."

Mary laughed. "You lucky bastard," she said.

Alvin threw his head back in a hearty laugh.

"I suppose I am that," he said. "but I'm chatting away with you through my lunch break. Have you had lunch?"

"No, I haven't."

"Well, we make a great lobster roll."

"I've been wanting to try one, I hear so much about them."

"Oh, yeah, Faulkner's lobster rolls been written up in all the gourmet magazines."

"I meant, generally."

"You haven't had any lobster rolls? You been in Maine for weeks! I suppose you haven't had a whoopee pie or taken to Moxie, either."

"I did try a Moxie," she said with feigned indignity, "it was awful."

He leaned close to her and said in a stage whisper, "Don't tell anyone, but I agree." He took hold of her bike and began rolling it towards the diner. "Well, come along, Miss Mary, lunch is on me."

Mary sat at one of the picnic tables while Alvin went inside to get their food. She had been lonely since before she moved, but she wondered if she would be wise to go sailing with this older man. But she had to admit that he was attractive, and it would be a rather informal date. She had not yet said yes, although she expected she would.

Alvin watched her from the kitchen window while the staff whipped up their lunch. He looked at her long legs. He wanted to touch them, to part them, to lower himself between them. But more than that, he wanted to spend more time gazing into her eyes.

Mary looked at him as he carried the food to the table. There was something in the way he walked that she found charming. He sort of rolled a little from side to side with each step. She wondered if that was the effect of a lifetime of sailing. He set two baskets on the table. Each contained an overflowing lobster roll and a pile of french fries. He took two cans of Pepsi from the crook of his arm and handed her one.

"Oh no," she teased him, "no Moxie!"

"Last thing I want to do is chase you off, dear. Now let me watch you take your first bite of lobster roll."

"Lobsta," she thought, he actually says "lobsta." She took a big bite. It was delicious, and the look on her face made that obvious.

"Ayuh," he said, exaggerating his accent, "Maine's got her hooks in you now."

They made small talk over lunch and bit by bit, got to know more about each other. She remarked at how different their childhoods must have been, one in a picturesque coastal town, the other in the endless suburbs of Southern California. He gave her tips on places to go and things to see in the area. She described her long cross country drive to her new home, he told her that in his younger days, he had done a bit of roaming himself.

He gently poked around the edges of her past. She was hesitant to be too open so soon, but he did learn that she had been married, and he surmised that the ending of that marriage likely had something to do with her taking the position in Londonderry. He casually dropped the fact that he had two daughters into the conversation. She asked him if he would tell her a bit about them.

"Well, Charlotte is down in Portland. She's twenty three, just out of college. Working as a sort of gofer at a big law firm, trying to make up her mind about law school. Engaged to a nice fella. Name's Jake. He's a hockey player."

"Professionally?"

"Well, minor league. Don't know if he'll make it, but if you don't follow dreams, why have them?"

"And the other girl?"

His face lit up. "Jennifer. Going to U-Maine. Wants to be a farmer. Going to college to be a farmer, how about that? A young girl. Who would have thought of that years ago?"

"Sounds like you are very proud of them both."

"Wait till you meet them, you'll see why." Mary took notice that he was already assuming that she would meet his daughters. That they were almost as old as she was did not seem to have occurred to him, but listening to him voice his pride in them, she was liking him more and more.

"Can I ask you, and please, you don't have to talk about it, but I was wondering about your wife."

Alvin gazed off over the water. "Bonnie Pierce. From down in Rockland. She was a good woman, bighearted. Anything in this town, planting flowers in the parks, cooking for families having hard times, anything..."

He stared off in silence for a moment. "She had a garden, she loved her garden. Big garden, she had a real green thumb. One day I come home at lunch time and found her there, lying on the ground."

"Oh no, what happened?" Mary reached across the table and touched his hand.

"Aneurysm in her brain. Something just popped. Doctors said it was instantaneous. Just like somebody flipped a switch and turned her off. Thirty five years old."

Mary saw traces of tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Alvin, I didn't mean to upset you."

"That's alright, it was a long time ago. But there's a lesson there, Mary. Life is short and can end in a snap."

"That's very true," she nodded. She was thinking of her father, who had been diagnosed with cancer when she was in high school, and had died in a matter of weeks.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Alvin stacked their empty baskets and stood up. "I've got to get back to work, dear. Now I'm going to be right down on that dock tomorrow morning at eight a.m. I hope to see you there. If not, well, at least I can tell people I had lunch with the prettiest girl in town."

She looked up at him and nodded. She wasn't sure what to say. He winked and turned away.

"Alvin!" she cried after him. He turned back to her. "What should I wear?"

"Dress warm," he said, "be colder on the water."

He dropped off the trash in the kitchen, then, with a wave, sauntered back towards the dock.

Mary rode her bike home. When she got there, she went to her bedroom window and looked down at the wharf. She could see figures working on a boat alongside the dock. It was too far to tell if one of them was Alvin, but she watched them for a long time.

Mary walked from her apartment to the wharf, enjoying the quiet of the morning. There was a chill in the air and she hoped she had dressed warmly enough in her jeans, t-shirt and cable knit sweater. She stopped and watched Alvin as he worked on the sailboat's rigging. She had no idea what he was doing, but she enjoyed watching him work. There was a gracefulness in his movement, the self confidence of a man who knew what he was doing. He looked good too, in his jeans and work shirt, so different from the men in suits and ties that she worked alongside every day.

He looked over and saw her. He waved and smiled, and hopped from the sailboat to the dock.

"It's bigger than I expected," she remarked as she looked over the boat.

"She, not it, dear. She's a thirty six footer."

"And you can sail it by yourself?"

"I've handled eighty footers alone. What I'm going to need help with is docking when we get back. I'll show you what to do."

She looked at the back of the boat. The stern, she thought, unsure. Black cursive letters spelled out "Sea Jay" and underneath, "Londonderry Maine."

"Why Sea Jay?" she asked.

"Charlotte and Jennifer," he smiled, "my daughters."

He climbed back on the boat and raised his hand to Mary. She took it and stepped over to the deck. He put his other hand on her waist and steadied her. For just a moment, she leaned her body into his, before he guided her to a seat at the stern.

"You sit tight there till I get us clear," he told her. He untied the boat from the dock and pushed off .Mary was surprised to see how much the boat moved from a simple shove. Alvin moved to the wheel and slowly steered away from the dock and out into the channel.

As they moved over the still water, Mary watched the town glide by. She could see up Main Street all the way to the Post Office, then the trees of the park blocked her view. Dozens of boats were tied to moorings in the harbor, but Alvin slipped past them, seemingly without effort. The harbor widened and Mary's focus shifted from the scenery onshore to the open water ahead. She had been nervous about going out on the small boat, but Alvin's skill and confidence calmed her.

"Alright," Alvin said," You can help me out here a bit." He stood up and gestured for Mary to slide behind the wheel. "All you need to do is hold on to it and don't let it turn. No harder than keeping your car on the road."

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byMelissaBaby© 11 comments/ 10879 views/ 21 favorites

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