It began to rain, and still he stood gazing out at the ocean, until the wind grew so harsh he had to retreat inside. The power went out a few minutes after he switched the lights on, and he sat in the dimness and listened to the wind scream. Rain slapped the roof overhead, and now and then a gust tossed it against the windows like flung gravel. He kept thinking of the last time he'd sat out such a bad storm, waiting for the winds to die down.
He rose and paced, trying to shake off thoughts of that night. They kept coming back, slipping up on him in the shadows. Sealed up, the house smelled faintly musty, with none of the clean, salt smell it usually had. The stairs creaked under his feet, and he hesitated at the door to his father's room. The worst of the odor came from there; he'd shut the windows and door and never gone in there again. He couldn't make himself do so now. Instead, he stepped into the bedroom he'd had since he was a boy.
A picture of Lisa still stood on his dresser by the bed, as if she might some day come back, walking out of the surf to stand at his side again. He turned away and collapsed face down on the bed, trying to sleep. Probably he dozed fitfully, but the images kept coming. Gordon supposed, after what he had done, his father must be haunting him. He could hear rocks grinding along the shore, churned by the incredible power of the waves.
Sometime around midnight, the eye passed overhead. The house was still undamaged. Gordon stepped outside. The whole world was hushed, still in shock at the recent violence. He stood there in the silence until the wind began to build again, rapidly, then ran inside and secured the door. He struck a match, touching it to the wick of the same lamp he'd used that night twenty years ago. He sat in the kitchen, everything gilded by the glow of the flame, seeing it all as it had looked then.
Finally he managed to doze in his chair for a few hours. When he woke, it was a little past dawn, and the storm had passed over. He stepped outside, intending to walk around the house to check for minor damage. Instead, he halted on the front steps with one foot in the air. He'd finally found his father and Lisa. There, driven onto a spit of rock by the pounding waves, the blackened, ruined silhouette of his father's boat perched in plain sight.
He raced to the beach, hopped from one rock to the next, and worked his way out alongside the Sea Witch. He stared in horror. He knew a fireball had been sighted offshore just before the storm hit, but seeing the soggy, charred wood and distorted fiberglass made it all too real. All of a sudden, a memory surfaced, as his dad's boat had done. He clearly recalled hauling cans of gas aboard, tipping them out into the cockpit and through the door of the cabin.
He doubled over and was sick. Jack Szymanski had been right after all! He'd wondered, now and then. A dry chuckle near his ear almost made him lose his footing and slide off into the still churning water. When he looked over and wondered if his thought had conjured the man up, he wished he had.
"Speak of the Devil. Or, in this case, think of the Devil."
"The Devil? I'm not the devil, Gordy, old boy. How you can look at your own handiwork and then say I'm the Devil..."
"Shut up, Jack! Just once, leave me alone!" He remembered avoiding looking through the cabin door. He wondered if any of their bones were still inside.
"You killed my daughter, you mangy, worthless..."
"I loved Lisa." Gordon's voice was flat with warning. Standing here, next to the wreck, all the old wounds stung as if fresh.
"Yes, you loved her, and when you found her with your father, you were so jealous you couldn't think of anything but killing them. Isn't that so, Gordy, old boy?"
"Lisa wouldn't have done anything like that. Don't lie about her!"
"Well, why did you kill her, then?"
Gordon opened his mouth, but no answer came. He'd burned the boat, he remembered that much, and it was pretty clear they were dead already. So why had he killed her?
The older man gave another dry chuckle. "Well, we won't worry about that now, will we? The police are bound to notice soon enough, and then they'll get interested in the case again. In fact, I think they'll get so interested, my fee has just gone up."
"You believe I killed Lisa and you're willing to settle for cash!? And you wonder why I think you're the Devil!"
"Why, Gordy, old boy, I should think you'd be grateful. After all, I could do much worse..."
"I deserve much worse!"
Jack paused to peer at him. "You remember something, don't you? How much do you remember about that day?"
Something in his tone warned Gordon. In his mind, he struggled to open the doors he'd sealed so long ago. Suddenly, a flood of memories rushed into his head.
"You foul old pervert, you're the one who killed her! You're the one who was jealous!" He lunged to shove Jack back, off the rocks, but the other man stepped back too quickly.
"So you do remember, now. That's a pity. It was so useful, having my own, ah, private banker as it were..."
"You knew all along I never did it, and you let me think I did!"
"Don't you remember that part? After I stumbled upon Lisa, with your father, I couldn't have that, you know, so I shot her and I shot him for defiling my pretty little daughter. Then you walked in."
Gordon's eyes widened. "I wasn't even there, then? I still can't remember everything."
"Perhaps, but you still remember too much. There's always a chance someone might listen to you."
"You're going to kill me, now?"
"I think it will look very natural. The remorseful son kills himself when his father's boat rises from a watery grave to confront him."
Gordon thought he heard a slight noise behind him, but didn't dare look back. He wondered if perhaps his father was planning to haunt someone else. "What happened? You owe me that much, you bastard!"
Jack sighed. "I suppose it won't do any harm. We're all alone out here, and everyone else will be too busy dealing with the aftermath of the storm to come this way for a few hours at least." He chuckled. "It was easy. You were just eighteen, and it wasn't hard to convince you I'd planned things so I could pin the whole thing on you."
Hearing the story, Gordon began to recall pleading with his father and his girlfriend's murderer not to send him to prison. He'd been naive then, and when Jack told him the only way out was to help him conceal the evidence, he could see no other answer. Being forced to take some small part in the killings, to take up his father's and Lisa's nude bodies, already growing cold and stiff, dump them into the Sea Witch, then burn it, had all been too much for him. He'd collapsed.
When he recovered, he could remember nothing about that day but what others told him. Jack had defended him publicly at the time, claiming the wait and uncertainty had overwhelmed him, and until the first demand for money came, Gordon really believed the man was his friend. He heard a slight scrape behind him, from the burned out hull. Before he could react, a voice rang out.
"Freeze, Szymanski! I've got you covered!"
Gordon slowly turned, gaping when he saw the current sherriff alongside the man who'd held that office twenty years before.
"You see, it's like this. I always suspected Gordon. There were rumours, you know. I'm sorry, Gordon."
Gordon shrugged. "Even I didn't know if I did it or not, so I can't really blame you for wondering."
"Yes, well, I suspect the same person planted the idea in both our minds. Anyway, I came by just a bit before dawn, and saw her up on the rocks. The breakers weren't getting any stronger, so I brought Doug out here and we both hid inside her. We were hoping you'd come out and say or do something to give yourself away. Instead, I'm happy to say, we managed to catch the real killer!"
Jack grunted. "I'm too old for prison." Before any of them could grab him, he leaped out into the water. As they watched, a wave lifted him and slammed him, head first, into the base of a jagged rock.