Pelican PointBy: Irene Hannon
He’d inherited a lighthouse?
Ben Garrison stared at the dark-haired attorney, inhaled a lungful of the tangy, salt-laced air drifting in through the open window, and wiped a hand down his face.
Skip wouldn’t do that to him.
It must be jet lag playing tricks on him. After all the flights he’d taken through multiple time zones to reach the Oregon coast, he was definitely in zombie land. And frequent changes in air pressure could mess with a person’s ears, distort words.
At least he hoped that was the explanation.
Otherwise, this say-goodbye-and-take-a-few-weeks-to-decompress trip was going to turn into one gigantic headache.
Gripping his mug of coffee, he gave the view from the window a sweep. Usually the peaceful scene of bobbing boats in Hope Harbor’s protected marina had a calming effect.
Bracing, he refocused on the man across from him. “Tell me you didn’t say lighthouse.”
“Sorry.” Eric Nash folded his hands on the round conference table and gave him a commiserating grimace. “I wish I could.”
Ben closed his eyes and stifled a groan.
“I take it you weren’t aware of this . . . unique . . . asset in your grandfather’s estate.”
“No.” Ben took a long slug of his coffee, willing the caffeine to kick in.
Too bad this brew wasn’t as potent as the stuff they chugged in the forward operating base hospitals where he’d spent his days for the past seven years. He could have used a high-octane boost about now.
“It’s the one on Pelican Point.” The man motioned toward the north. “You might remember it from your visits. Your grandfather said the two of you used to walk up there in the evening.”
An image of the fifty-foot-high weather-beaten lighthouse dating back to 1872 flashed through his mind—and despite the ache beginning to pulse in his temples, the corners of his lips rose.
Yeah, he remembered those walks. They’d been a nightly ritual during the summer visits of his youth. Fair skies or foul, they’d trekked from Skip’s small house in town up the winding, rocky path to the lighthouse after dinner. The view was amazing, and the stories Skip had told about shipwrecks and danger and the steady beacon of light that guided frightened sailors home on stormy nights had stirred his youthful imagination.
But his grandfather hadn’t owned the place.
And in the almost two decades since his last summer-break stay at age sixteen, Ben couldn’t recall Skip ever mentioning it. Nor had the subject come up during any of his whirlwind visits through the years.
So what was going on?
“I have clear memories of the lighthouse—but how did he end up owning it?” Ben held tight to the ceramic mug, letting the warmth seep into his fingers.
“After it was deactivated and decommissioned by the Coast Guard three years ago, the government offered it to Hope Harbor. But the cost of restoring and maintaining the property was too high and the town declined. In the end, it was put up for auction.”
Ben knew where this was heading. Skip had loved that lighthouse—and all it symbolized. Light in the darkness. Guidance through turbulent waters. Salvation for the floundering. Hope for lost souls.
“I’m assuming my grandfather offered the highest bid.”
“He offered the only bid. It’s been his baby for the past two years. The price was reasonable—as lighthouses go—and from what I gathered, restoring it was a labor of love. However, it was also a money suck. I’m afraid there isn’t much of an estate left, other than his house and personal possessions.”
“I didn’t expect a lot, even without the lighthouse expenses.” No one who spent his life mining the sea for Dungeness crabs got rich—except the big operators. And if the cost of restoring and maintaining the structure was too high for a town, it was surprising Skip had anything left at all.
Other than the lighthouse.
An albatross that now belonged to him.
The throbbing in his temples intensified, giving the pounding bass beat of a rock band serious competition.
What in tarnation was he supposed to do with the thing?
“I’m afraid the lighthouse isn’t in the best shape, either—despite your grandfather’s efforts to restore it. After his knee issues began, he wasn’t able to do much physical labor, and contractors charge a lot for that kind of work. Some people in town lent a hand on occasion, but progress was slow.”