It’s morning. The beach at Sea Gate is made gently golden by the sun. The first beachgoers, young mothers dragging beach bags and umbrellas, push their way through the fence gate. Kids run toward the water. Lifeguards in bright red shorts and distinguishing jackets sit in their towers already. Whistles hang on the chests of the rescuers; though they haven’t yet sounded, these unassuming whistles will very soon turn into trumpets of Jericho.
The sand is soft and rippled; a machine the night before has cleared the debris and evened the shore. The waves of the ocean completed the task, having smoothed yesterday’s sandcastles, ramparts, and bridges of twigs from the gently sloping bank.
The ocean breathes lazily, the glare on its surface flickering. Seagulls and albatrosses stand on dark boulders, and if not for the faint tremor of their grey feathers and their occasional peeps, the birds could be mistaken for stuffed museum pieces placed there many years ago.
Loading cranes at Red Hook port, where dry cargo ships are moored and from where ocean liners depart, are visible on the far away cape. Magnificent floating cities stretch out in a line, leaving behind the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the Verrazano Bridge, the port, and the bay, heading to some terrifying great expanse.
This view reminded Roy for some reason of the far northern natural landscapes he had never been to but liked to watch on TV often since he was young. Michelle said she was simply fascinated by this view of the ocean liners and the statue-like gulls on the rocks.
As for Nick, when mom and dad stretched their hand into the distance—telling him, “Look, what a beautiful ship!”—he thought little of beauty, but instead tried to look at things from a practical point of view. First, he asked his parents if they could buy him a ship like that. Nick wasn’t too upset when his request was firmly denied, and dad had even laughed. Nick wasn’t so little anymore, and could understand that such a ship would be too big for the bathtub in their apartment. Then he wished that he could take a perilous journey on a ship like that the next summer. He agreed to take his mother with him, even though she would prohibit him from playing on the computer.