Every few years I come back to the island. But never that beach, the pier where it happened.
A white plastic container – inside, still a golden swish of diesel from somebody's father's boat – that Sunday it was our wicket. The bat, a coconut branch Joey had shaved clean of its fronds. The ball was new, bright green and still furry. I had just caught Rufus out, at the boundary, near the road.
Whining engine. Gravel crunching. The white-man drove up in a small red jeep, with a big black camera. He put his hands on his hips, looked down at the beach and nodded, like he was God and he had made it and it was good. He snapped the melting sun. He snapped us. He slid down from the road.
He kicked waves, picked stones--stuffed them greedily in his khaki pockets. Then he sat on the sand and watched our game. Every time one of us glanced his way, he shouted words we didn't understand.
"Retired! Divorced too! Imma see the world now!"
Over and over, he sang a song we didn't know; something about a "lost shaker of salt."
Afterwards, we stripped off our sweaty t-shirts and raced down the pier. A new game: who could jump into the water first, who could jump highest, who could jump furthest. We were boys: loud, lean, invincible.
Nobody saw the fat white-man peel off his khaki shirt. Nobody saw him bounding down the pier. But we heard him yell, "Wheee! Cannonball!" Then we saw him go down in a big, awkward splash.
And when he didn't come up, we dove to find him. Elbows level with shoulders, head hanging. As if staring over a wall at something far below, something beyond us boys, in the blackest blue of our sea.