Monday, 11 March 2013

Finding friendship and warmth

Helmut got up from his seat and walked over to the fire, before saying, “Thank you for the kindness you have shown to a stranger.”
            The warmth of the fire flowed into Helmut’s tired and cold body as he stood by the hearth, his thoughts drifting between what had happened and what was to come. For now he was pleased to receive the warmth and friendship offered him at “The Pot.”
            The winds howled outside as they drove the waves inward onto the pebbled beach, the men at “The Pot” could hear the winds whistling down the chimney as the fire blazed in the hearth. Windows rattled in their old wooden frames and even the warm cable knit sweaters struggled to keep the effects of the harsh north wind out, as Jim said to Helmut, “I still can’t place your accent. When shall we know the answer, Helmut?”
            Helmut grinned and said, “I’ll tell you my story tomorrow. For tonight I need a warm meal and a hot drink and a bed, I was fighting the waves and the cold for so long I am worn out.”
            A call from the back door roused Helmut’s attention as Jannine called, “Helmut, your clothes are ready. I think the time has come to get you out of the wet clothes and dried off, before you catch your death of cold. The winds here can chill you to the bone in minutes, any of the men will testify to that, and it can take hours to get warm again. We’ll use the cycle path; at least it is shielded from the rain for part of the journey to Longland pier, but the last half a mile we will be lashed by the storms, the pier area itself is exposed to the elements.”
            Helmut went to the window and viewed for the last time today, the seas pounding the beach, as he muttered, “La Mer. She is a wonderful lady, sometimes charming and sometimes deadly, but sailors love her moods as much as any true lady.”
            Toby commented, “You are right, my friend, she is a true enchantress both alluring and deadly, which is why she is respected by the folks on the ships, and why we learnt all her moods.”
            Helmut glanced around the room, his eyes caught a puzzled look on Jannines’s face and he winked and grinned to her, “Mon Cher, you are puzzled, what is your dilemma?”
            Jannine watched as the men in the bar waited for her reply, “Helmut, you are the dilemma,” she replied, “I’m still puzzled as to your nationality.”
            “Once we get to the hut and I feel warm again, I will tell you a few things to keep your interest at ease, for now we shall have to bid my new friends a good night. The winds and rain are seeping through and the need to get warm is great. I bid you a good night, my friends,” Helmut waved his farewell and walked over to the back and walked out into the windy night, following the smaller figure of Jannine down the path.
            After ten minutes, Jannine and Helmut had passed out of sight of “The Pot” and he stopped and looked out to sea, for minutes Helmut stood on the path staring out at the wide expanses which brought him to this area of the coast. Without saying a word he crossed himself and re-joined Jannine on their journey.
            Jannine asked him, “Were you saying a prayer for your friends?”
            Helmut replied, “Yes, but not only for my friends; for all souls that have been lost at sea.”
Mismatched as they appeared to be, Helmut and Jannine were forming a solid friendship. The lone sailor lost on foreign shores and his young charge, watching as her friend walked behind her, with head bowed into the winds and weaving as the wind and rains hit his tired frame. Helmut struggled to make headway against the wind and could hardly hear Jannine’s tiny voice in the wind, when she called to him , “The hut is about a hundred yards ahead of us.”
When they arrived at the old seaman’s hut, with the paint washed off by winds and sands of time, the planking in need of repair and the window frames warped and splintered, he said, “This will do me well, thank you for showing it to me, Jannine.”
“I realise the hut isn’t much, but most of the guest houses are closed until Easter and those which are open will close in the next week or two and won’t be taking in anybody new.” The hut had seen better summers and the paint was showing its age, but to a frozen Helmut, this would be home for now, “We’ll need a rummage around to try and find things,” she said, “Not many people came down here since Ian Kitchener passed away.”
“Was this his hut?”
“People in the area say this area still is, they think the hut is haunted by his ghost.”
“What do you think, Jannine?”
“My mind is open as I haven’t seen him but I know people who claim they did.”

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