by L. H. Hall
Man on the Beach
Without warning, the sun was shining in my eyes. I had fallen
asleep, and slept through the night. I jumped up. Oh! I was
stiff! And the cut on my thigh hurt so badly. It was all red like
it was infected. "Oh, God," I prayed, "I've seen you heal others.
Please make my leg well. I've got all these kids to take care of."
I got into the cave as quickly as possible, and there was my family,
I had not been up long. I had just had time to take care of the
morning necessities, and to rinse off in the stream, when there it
was again. "Grrrrrrrrr, Grrrrrrrrr."
I was too far from my club. I just stood still and watched her.
Her bags were heavy, which meant she had puppies somewhere, probably
in the back of the cave. She had a smallish animal in her mouth.
"Hello, girl, have you got some breakfast for your babies? Come
here. I won't hurt you, I'd like to pet you." I held my hand out
to her, but I did not move. She watched me for a minute or two;
then, she whined, dropped the animal, trotted through cave and
disappeared into the east opening.
I looked at the animal for a few minutes; then, ventured over to
examine it, keeping an eye on the cave for the dog. I was not sure
what it was, but it was dead. It had not been dead long. It was
still quite warm and limber. I got the machete, out of the cave and
scrapped it on a rock to clean and sharpen it. Then I started to
clean the animal. I had never done anything like that before, but I
could remember seeing a man in the Philippines skin one. In a few
minutes I had an animal, whatever it was, ready to cook, but,
Lord, how do I cook it?
I started a fire on the fire rock, and set up rocks to hold the
barbecue spit--which I made using a thin green stick--with the
animal on it. I watched it for a long time, turning it every few
minutes. I was so busy; I had forgotten all about the dog, but I
remembered my mess, and decided to clean it up, before the girls saw
As I turned, "Grrrrrrrrrr." I stopped, and watched the dog eating
the refuse. When she had it all cleaned up, except for the head and
skin, she picked that up and ran back into the cave. "Thank you
for the meat, Ring. It sure smells good."
"C'mon. Get up. Breakfast is almost ready."
"Mmmm! That smells good. What is it?" Sarah got up, stretching.
"Meat, but don't ask me what kind."
"Where did you get it?"
"Ring brought it."
"Who is Ring?"
"Remember the big dog we saw last night? She brought it up, dropped
it, and went into the cave. Then, after I had dressed it, she came
out and ate the part I discarded. She took the skin and head back
into the cave. I think she has puppies in there."
"Why would she do that?"
"God! I told you He would take care of us."
"Do you really think so?"
"I'm sure of it. That's the only explanation I can offer. Why else
would a wild dog leave meat for us to eat? Wake the kids. By the
time you go to the bathroom and take your baths breakfast will be
"Take a bath?"
"Sure. You've got a bathtub right here. I've already had mine."
"What about soap and a towel?"
"You can't have everything. The sun will dry you in three minutes."
"I sure wish I had a comb and brush. My hair is so snarled, and so
are the girls'."
"I may have to cut it short."
"With the machete. Now, get the others up."
After yawns and stretches and taking a minute to remember what had
happened, and where they were, they all came out of the cave moaning
about this pain or that hurt or, "I wish I had my mommy," or, "I
wanna go home."
"If I gotta take a bath," Debbie sat down in the middle of the
stream. "I'm just going to sit right here and pee my pants. They're
all wet anyway, and I won't have to squat."
"Me too! I don't like to squat." Julie dropped down beside her.
The others did not say anything, but they must have thought it a
good idea. They went immediately to their baths. "Oh, this is
colder than it was last night" Sarah lay back in the stream. "It
sure feels good on my sore body."
"The sun hasn't been shining on it all day." I decided the meat was
I got a piece of my old pants' leg, dipped it into the stream above
where the others were bathing, and washed off the rock where I had
skinned the animal. Then, I cut the meat into pieces we could
handle easily. "Breakfast is ready." I thanked God for the meat,
and asked Him to bless it.
"What are we going to do today?" Jamie asked.
"We have to go down to the beach to get sand to clean some pots and
pans," I answered. "After that I don't know. We might come back up
here and take it easy for a few days until our bruises heal. We
need to find some fruit and vegies to eat. While we are on the
beach, we might walk a little to see if we can find any other
people. There are lots of things we need to do, but I hurt worse
today than I did yesterday, especially my leg. It feels like it's
on fire. I can hardly walk."
"Me too!" declared Julie, and the others made it unanimous. None
of us felt like doing very much.
When breakfast was over, I started toward the cave. "I want to
check the view from the exit of that other room. There may be a
better trail to the beach." The others followed. We saw a fairly
steep, partially rocky, descent to the beach with what appeared to
be, an easy trail angling southward. "This is the way we'll go
down." I looked up and down the beach to see if there were any
signs of life. I saw something. It looked like a man, sleeping on
the beach. Maybe he can help us. I didn't say anything to
the others. He could be dead.
The trail was not as easy as it had looked from the cave. Some
places we had to climb through or over rocks, and down ledges.
Other places the under growth was so thick I had to hack our way
through with the machete, but after about a half hour, we were on
I took a pan to the shoreline and scoured it with the wet sand.
"See how the sand cleans it up. I'd like for all of you to stay
here and clean these things. I saw something up the beach I need to
check out alone. I won't be very long. I'll be able to hear you.
If you need me, call, and I will come as soon as I can."
"Can't we come too?" Julie asked.
"No, I have to do this by myself."
Sarah looked at me with questions in her eyes, but apparently
trusted me, "C'mon, kids. Let's get these all clean before he gets
"Give me that little frying pan with the floppy handle, I can't
imagine why anyone would make such a thing, but I might need it."
Sarah handed me the pan, and I started north. Each step was an
effort; my leg hurt so badly. It was a little farther than I had
thought. Sometimes I wondered if I would make it, but after about
ten minutes, I came to the thing I had seen from the cave. It was a
man all right, a dead man. He had been washed up by the tide. He
was dressed in some kind of uniform. Maybe he was a pilot or
something. He might even have been one of our pilots. I did not
know. His clothes were in pretty good condition. Strapped to one
leg was a hunting knife. We can sure use that. Maybe he has
something else we can use. Searching a dead man's pockets
bothered me, at first; but before I was through, I decided we might
have use for his coveralls, and undressed him down to his shorts.
Finally, using the pan, I dug a hole almost three feet deep, to the
water level, and buried him.
Before I started back, I searched the pockets again and took
inventory. Besides the hunting knife, I had a pocket knife, a comb,
That will make Sarah happy. a billfold with sixty-three
American dollars and the man's identification. He was James
Sorensen, of Ann Arbor Michigan. I wonder what he was doing so
far from home., I thought. Maybe there'll be a search for
him, and they'll find us. I decided to keep everything in the
billfold, just in case. There was nothing in it that would do us
any good. There were also three pencils, a fountain pen, a
handkerchief, a soggy New Testament, and thirty-seven cents in
change. I put that into the billfold. He had been wearing a
wristwatch. We surely could have used that, but it was full of
water. I buried it with him.
"What have you got?" Jamie asked, when I approached.
"I got something to make Sarah love me, but Debbie and Julie will
"What is it?" Sarah's eyes brightened.
"I ain't gonna tell you, 'til we get back to the cave."
"Oh, come on," Sarah begged.
"All right. I'm rich. I found sixty-three dollars and thirty-seven
"You're lying," Jamie doubted. "You ain't got no money."
"I got it," I contended, "but it won't do us any good. If somebody
finds us, I gotta give it back."
"What else you got," Debbie asked.
"I got two knives, three pencils, a fountain pen, and some other
"Where'dja get'em?" Julie queried. "What's that blue thing?"
"It's something to cover you up with, if you get cold."
"What about the guy who owned them?" Sarah wanted to know.
"He can't use them any more, so we might as well."
"Where'dja get'em?" Julie asked again.
"They were just lying on the beach, up there."
"What have you got to make me happy? Did he have a comb?"
"Let me have it!"
"It's all wrapped up in the bundle. I'll give it to you at the
cave. Let's see if we can dig some clams, and start back up the
mountain. My leg hurts! Bad! I don't even know if I can make it
back to the cave."
"We already got a whole bunch." Debbie pointed to a bucketful of
clams. "You were gone a long time. You said you would only be gone
a few minutes."
"I know. It took longer than I thought it would. Let's fill the
buckets with sand. We'll need some at the cave." I stuck the
machete into the sand several times to remove some of the rust, and
we started up the mountain.
Just as we entered the jungle, I saw Ring standing in some brush
several yards away, watching us. "Did you see that, Sarah?" I
whispered. We had not told the others about the dog. I did not
want to scare them; neither did I want them trying to get too close
"What?" Jamie had overheard me.
"It's a secret. Don't you know moms and dads always have secrets?
We'll tell you someday."
"But I wanna know now." Jamie demanded.
"No!" Sarah had a finality in her voice that did not get an
"Be careful." I looked at Sarah, "I don't want any of you falling
down and getting hurt worse than you are already."
Sarah gave a slight nod. I knew she had gotten the message, and we
proceeded on up the mountain without incident. I wonder if she
was looking out for us. She surely did not mean to do us any
harm. We did not see her again, but I knew she was out there
following us. I could hear her sometimes.
It was still mid-morning when we got back to the cave. I unwrapped
the bundle, and let them all see our bounty. Sarah gave a little
scream of glee when she saw the man's tee shirt, and laid claim to
it, wanting to put it right on. I shook my head. "That's for the
person with the worst sunburn."
"C'mon, girls. It's time to get some of the snarls out of your
hair." Sarah grabbed the comb from the bundle. "You first, Debbie,
I think yours is the worst."
"I don't want my hair combed! You hurt!"
"I'll be careful. I have to be, or this comb will break."
"If you don't get the snarls out of your hair, I'll have to cut it
all off with this." I picked up the machete.
"Huh! Uh!" Debbie followed Sarah to the patio, crying.
I also went out. My leg was getting worse. It hurt so badly; I
could hardly walk. I sat in the stream, and let the cold water flow
into the cut. It was soothing. I sat there for a long time; then,
I lay back in the water and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.