Piano Island is populated by an assortment of misfits and miscasts along with a number of long established families with Mennonite, Quaker and Swedish backgrounds. This is an island with more pianos than there are households and there are, at the MOST, five televisions, if that. No cable, of course. And reception is poor.
When everyone knows everyone else, and their grandparents, and knows their children, only one or two phrases are needed, which is great if you are a laconic Swede. “Turn the veel the other vay!” exclaimed in an exasperated tone with a Swedish accent by anyone on Piano Island, instantly refers to the infamous incident where Emery Johnson, Elvita’s husband, was on the dock, directing traffic. Eighty years ago. Everyone knows that.
You wait a lot on Piano Island. Mostly for boats. Sometimes for the mail. Sometimes for the fog to lift. If you happen to be at the post office on a foggy Monday morning, you might find yourself waiting for all three. With a couple of logger-men of Swedish decent.
Did you hear about Mike’s kids the other day? Yeah, you know he’s pretty careful with those kids. I don’t know what the story is, he adopted them or something when he was stationed in the Philippines. He doesn’t talk about it much, but he’s real careful with those boys. You KNOW it’s a big deal when he lets them go out rowing in the dinghy by themselves. Well, it was low tide, so. Not like anything could happen to them. There’s like two feet of water in the bay, and they’re all bundled up with fancy yellow life jackets, just in case. State of the art yellow life jackets, look like yellow jackets. Hornets. And Mike’s hovering around on the beach, pretending to collect seaweed for the garden, but keeping an eye on the boys. Yeah, well. Mitchell came over the hill there – HA! With his goats on a FRIGGEN LEASH! He was taking his goats out for an evening stroll! Drunk of course. Stumbling around – basically, the goats were holding him up. Yep. I know. Four goats on leashes, each one headed in a different direction. Cuz that’s what goats do. Yeah.
You know Judy’s white dog, Sasha? She was running loose, as usual. That dog. John E. says that’s the dog that killed his chickens. Said he would shoot the bitch if he finds it on his property again – I think he DOES have a gun, I dunno. Yeah. But anyway – there’s Sasha running loose and she sees the goats. Goes after them. Begins barking and chasing Goats on a Leash! Heee!!! YEAH! The goats are running. They go in all directions! Yes! He’s got four goats all going in different directions, RUNNING in four directions! They are about to pull his arms out of their sockets and Sasha’s chasing them and the goats are FREAKING OUT! Mitchell is shouting but you know, slur-shouting, at the top of his lungs “SHUT the fuck UP! You fucking dog, go HOME, go the FUCK HOME. Off! OFF!!!”
The kids are out in the bay in two feet of water just watching the movie, mouths hanging open like little O’s. Best fun they’ve had all week! Then Mitchell trips on that big rock over there, just falls on his face. He’s laying there moaning and cursing and bleeding and the goats take off down the beach. They bound and leap, you know the way they do? Like gazelles sometimes. And they go pronk, pronk, pronk across the bay and INTO the fucking boat with the kids! Goats in a boat!
The dinghy tips over – of course – and the kids fall in the bay. They are paddling around in two feet of water, but screaming their heads off. Mike is running through knee high water to save his kids. The kids don’t need saving, they’re FINE, it’s not like you even could drown in one of those yellow life jackets. But still. Mike worries about them. He takes good care of them, he does.
The goats are leaping out of the water onto the boat. You know how they do. They’re jousting with each other to see who gets to balance on the upturned dinghy, sliding off the bottom of the boat, jumping back on, tipping it over and falling off again and again. It’s the greatest game they’ve ever played! And Mitchell is still on shore screaming at the goats, at the dog, at Mike, at the kids, who have paddled in to the beach – What a fuckin movie!
Oh, look. Looks like the mail boat coming around the point. Finally. About time.