ome high school kids were drawing on the sand as he walked along the beach, nonsense squiggles and shapes arranged like words. Their voices carried to him, wordless, but rising and falling as they talked about what they had drawn. The clouds had broken slightly, and the setting sun stabbed eastward over the Sound and painted the underside of the clouds pale red and pink. The beach was about a quarter mile wide and ran to the foot of a mossy cliff; about half of that was small round rocks that rolled underneath him as he walked and hurt his feet through his thin soled shoes.
There was a rusty railroad that followed the face of the cliff northward. He had followed the railroad north to this beach. He peeled his shoes off with his feet, stooped, tied the laces together, and slung them over his neck, rubbing wet sand into his already filthy shirt. A tall white structure stood next to the railroad track with a little platform and a chair at the top. It was a signalman’s perch, he thought, and then wondered. He climbed the iron ladder, white paint flaking off onto his hands, and stared out over the water. The sun was nearly directly across from him, and even though he shaded his eyes, he was dazzled for a few moments.
The high schoolers were walking south on the wet sand. One of them waved to him as they crossed in front of him. He stared at the kid for a second, then waved energetically, face creased in a wide grin. Some trick of the currents had twisted the Sound into a vast eye that seemed to be watching him, and he shivered under its scrutiny, the ineffable regard of some aquatic god.