The beach was empty, streams of sand drifted away before my feet. The sea was angry and noisy, not the best day for a walk near the tide line perhaps, as it started to rain as well. I hesitated to go on, then I saw him, out of nowhere there he went, a tall skinny man with a bar over his shoulder. He approached me and I recognized him by his seamans hat. His name was Jan W., a notorios beach hunter. Deep lines in his tanned face showed he had spent all his live outdoors, looking for valuables that the sea had brought to his beach.
“Nice piece of wood,” I nodded. He silently looked at me, with eyes that went right through me.
“From that ship that stranded recently?” I asked. I was starting to regret my walk as the rain got worse.
“Hundreds are there,” he said. “Hundreds.”
I thought he meant the bars.
“That is good?” I know beach hunters love wood. They can use it for all sorts of things.
“And they call me,” he continued, still looking through me in the direction of the waves. “They want me to join them.”
I lost him. They only thing I heard, was the sea. Who was there, who wanted him to join?
“Well, good day then,” I said and walked on. After a minute I turned around, but he had already gone. The beach was empty again. I walked on for a bit, found a bottle with no message in it and returned home ten minutes later.
The next day I heard Jan W, the old beach hunter, had died. And then I realized what he must have meant…
His grave is a sober one, as he had no family. Sometimes the western wind hauls over the graveyard, and it is like voices whisper a sort of peacefull goodbye.