Monday, November 19, 2007

My column!

My journey is long as I travel back to Ocracoke. The mode of transportation changes as I shift from cars and planes to ferries and bikes. It is good to be back with my island friends and settle into my other life, even if it is only for a few days.
The air feels cool and I am glad I tossed in my black cape and scarf for these events. It is refreshing after the heat of the summer. I am enveloped in the scent of the island…the junipers and cedars. They are strong this time of year. The colors are not vibrant like those back home in Indiana, but the slanting of the sun and the color of the ocean shows me deep Autumn is here as well.

This is, however, not a vacation nor just a wandering of my spirit…no, my mission is certain….a wedding and a murder. Not exactly in that order and neither events are mine personally… at least I hope not. Actually each event has nothing to do with the other except coincidences. First of all, it is the murder that takes me to Ocracoke. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so great either. The execution of a murder? OK, here’s the story. I plan and implement murder week ends….for fun. Folks can sign up for these, pay for the event, dress up and play act for three days. The events are always a Pink Panther Who-Dun-It event with the dead guy always showing up at the door as a traveling attorney. This one is full of mystery and intrigue involving pirates and a hurricane. (Well, we are on an island in the Atlantic!) The date is 1823 and the storm rages. (Luckily for me it is cold and the wind is blowing.)

It is Friday night and we meet for ghost stories. The Cove B & B where I am working is directly on the Sound side of the island and the wind is howling. The twenty guests are shy and the name tags have only character names. I am thinking that in less than twenty-four hours we will all be pretending it is 1823 and one of us (them!) will be dead. Our name tags are indicative of long ago times: Reuben, Liza Jane, Billy B. and the list goes on. After a tale from Poe I send them all shivering to their beds.

Saturday dawns cold and sunny with the wind still whipping across the Atlantic. The ferries are running as I hear their whistle, but they could be shut down any minute because of the wind and then we all become captives of the island. I meet with all the characters and dispel fears of acting. This is to be an improv evening. Everyone knows the synopsis of their character, but no lines have been written. It is live theatre. It is exciting. Most will spend the afternoon thinking about their character or walking around the village. It is too cold and windy for the beach.

Now I change out of murder clothes to attend the outdoor marriage of two islanders, born and bred on the island. This wedding is to be held outdoors and we, the guests, are bundled up for it in several layers as the wind howls. The trellises are decorated with Autumn leaves and the bridal party strolls through the pathway in the woods. The maid of honor is 103 years old. Her name is Muzel and she is the oldest living person that I have ever known. She actually stands for most of the ceremony even though she is held up by two young stout men. Ahhh, the marriage is complete, we all clap and cheer, hug and congratulate. I am happy to have been privy to this lovely ceremony. But now…off to the murder. I go and change back into my 1823 pirate’s dress, review my own notes. I play the town gossip and having written the show, I need to remember everything I have told my characters. The costumes are divine…some rented, some store bought and the murder begins. We play for five hours straight. The stories become entangled and I often think, did I write that????? The dead guy dies right on time and eventually the murder is solved. I hand out trophies to the best actor, actress and best costumes.

It is late, but all is well. A murder. A marriage. All in one cold windy week end on my island in the Atlantic.