Gold Beach Thanksgiving (Part 9)

The feast was dished up and dished out at around 5:00. Max carved the turkey with a Bowie knife. Darkness descend. The revelers heaped their food onto paper plates and gathered around a bonfire. They sat down on rounds and logs. The dogs joined them. One of the women gathered rosemary and threw it into the flames. It immediately crackled and sparked. She quietly chanted a spell as the sweet smoke curled around the gathering.

Dave thought Max might ask him to give a blessing. Thankfully he did not. The ocean was doing the blessing anyway.

Aerosmith gave way to Metallica. Everyone began to eat, drink and smoke.

They also talked. Dave listened to stories of outrageous debauchery, hunting and fishing exploits, and the greatest concerts attended (e.g. Garth Brooks and Red Hot Chili Peppers). All the men seemed to have once held decent jobs in a trade and had intact families. At Dave’s prompting, several of the men mentioned that times got really tough a couple years after the Great Recession of 2008-09. No one talked about ending their current life.

There was a brief fight but Max smoothed it over. One man fell into edges of the fire but somehow escaped injury. Another man approached the gathering and wanted to join but was denied for some prior offense. He backed away without saying a word.

Night reigned. Cloud cover rolled in. The music died. The crowd was drunk and stoned but mellowing out as the digested turkey made its way into their systems. A few nodded off with the dogs.

Dave knew he’d have a hangover in the morning. So what? It was damn well worth it. He figured Kari was with her new boyfriend drinking a $200 bottle of Chianti in a Palermo villa at the same moment he was drinking jug wine with homeless people around an Oregon Coast beach fire. He chuckled at the absurdity of the comparison.

What would Dave do the day after Thanksgiving? He considered staying in Gold Beach, in the motel, negotiating a cheaper month-long rate, and getting a job. HELP WANTED signs were plastered all over town. None of the jobs required any experience.

Maybe some construction outfit would take him on even though he’d never worked construction in his life. A memory care facility was paying $20 an hour. A sawmill in Brookings was paying $30 an hour! Every motel in town was hiring. Several were even offering a free room. The animal shelter needed an overnight attendant. An RV park was looking for an assistant manager, whatever that entailed. They offered free rent in an onsite trailer. The county bus wanted a driver and the view along the Highway 101 route was probably the most spectacular in North America. That gig even had health insurance!

Something might turn up if Dave put himself out there. You never know who you’ll meet if you go to work and then work hard. People still notice that ethic in action and want to help you.

Dave lost track of time. Fog continued to roll in and started thickening. They could no longer see the ocean and its sound dissipated to a whisper.

At one point, one of the women said to Dave, “Are you really a reverend, a preacher?”

“I was.”

“How about telling us a story from the Bible?”

“Here? On Thanksgiving?”

A round of FUCK YEAHS! exploded around the fire.

Dave hesitated for a second, then said, “Okay, well Max and you guys have been so friendly. Why not?”

A round of cheers went up.

Dave took a swig from the jug. He petted one of the dogs. “Anyone know who Jonah was?” he said.

The woman’s hand shot up. The fire popped.

“It’s a story about trying to run away from your problems and finding out you can’t. It goes like this…”