I HAD TO GO HOME, if home is the place where you lived when you attended high school. I was down by the village green at dusk, at that forested intersection of Old Stone Street and Welsh Tract Run, where the constable usually sits in his car eating donuts and waiting to catch a speeder or two. That’s when I saw the tugboat pulling the distressed oil tanker into Sowassetville Harbor. I ran down to the pebble beach and began to walk along it, among the high reeds and tangy stink of rotting clams and seaweed. You could see the stars in the purple sky already, and I noticed the faded writing on the bow of the tugboat that read, SS Jimmy Carter. I didn’t realize that the bay here was deep enough to accommodate a tanker of that size. Maybe it had been dredged? It went right by the Smiths’ place, and then a moment or two later was off Dead Indian Point. I followed that tanker toward the opening to the port, which was where my family still lived, only to learn that Hannah and Lewis had started living with them. These were two high school friends who had married and, basically, disowned me for having abandoned them by not living on the same continent. “You ran away from America,” they had always said. This time they were happy to see me though, while reminding me that I owed them about $700, which I didn’t remember borrowing. They had become proper suburban liberals in the meantime. Lewis, with his graying black beard, had even taken to smoking and gesturing with a pipe. Hannah had made a small fortune advising others on what was wrong with their lives. They lived comfortably and had no worries. The children were being battle trained in lacrosse. All food in the pantry had been certified organic. They wanted the money repaid though. “Pay us half up front, the other half in a month,” said Lewis. O’Mara, another high school friend, was there too. In my time away he had been admitted to the bar and remade as the family attorney. He came out to speak with me briefly, playing with a pocket watch from time to time. He wore a three-piece suit. The family was not ready to meet with me. First we had to reach a binding agreement. O’Mara was also disappointed to see that there was a woman with me, Rakel, who was a psychologist from Denmark. Don’t even ask me how we met or what she was doing there. O’Mara the attorney toyed with his pocket watch some more and studied the strange blonde girl in her tight red sweater. He squinted at her through pince-nez glasses. “Officially, she is not welcome at the coming legal proceedings,” he said. “But she seems nice enough. We might be able to make an exception.” After he went back inside, Rakel and I walked down to the Sowassetville seaport. We admired the rusty oil tanker, and that proud little red tugboat, the SS Jimmy Carter. It was a fine ship, and it had helped this tiny New England maritime enclave avoid an environmental disaster. The crew was being celebrated in port. Someone brought out champagne and the captain was waving his hat. Maybe he could smuggle us out.

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