The lighthouse was one of the oldest working lighthouses in the country. It had been in the same family since the first day it shone over the water at the end of the stone pier. Jasper was the last of that line, now. He walked along the stone wall with short measured steps doing his best to keep clear of the wet and icy patches. When he reached the door at the base of the lighthouse he stopped, turned, and looked out over the water for a long moment. The comfort he usually found in the place was gone tonight. Tonight it felt as if something was coming for him. Trouble he wouldn’t be able to get away from.
Jasper shook his head to clear the thoughts. He turned back and unlocked the door, letting himself in for the night. The evening routine was easy, make sure the door was locked then go up and light the lamp at the top of the lighthouse. Tonight the wind cut through his jacket as he pushed the door at the top of the stairs open. He figured soon they would change the lighthouse over to an electric light from the old gas one, but he hoped it wouldn’t be until after he retired. He loved the light the old gas one cast over the water. It was so much more welcoming than the blinding brightness of the electric ones.
After lighting the lamp and making sure the guards and mirrors were in their proper place he headed back downstairs locking the upper door after himself. Back in his little office on the ground floor of the building, Jasper turned on the radio to begin his shift. As it was a Thursday night he didn’t expect anyone to be out on the water anywhere near the lighthouse.
It wasn’t more than a half-hour later a voice crackled through the speakers of the old radio. “Keep at Cove Lighthouse. Can you read?”
He reached forward and picked up the mic. Pushing the button he said, “this is Cove Lighthouse. Go ahead.”
The radio crackled to life again. “Is the light lit? We can’t see the beacon. Over.”
Jasper looked out the window of his office and watched the sweep of light. “Aye. What’s your course? Over.”
He listened as they told him where they were and he checked the maps. Not only should they have been able to see the light but he should have been able to see them. He sat there for a moment wondering if someone was playing a rotten trick on him when the air in the lighthouse seemed to grow cold. Cold enough he could see his breath as he exhaled. He grabbed the mic and keyed it to speak. “What was the name of your vessel, Sir?”
“I am Captain Lamar of the Royal Anne. Is there a problem?” The broken voice came through the speaker of the radio and Jasper’s blood ran cold.
“Understood, Captain.” Jasper replied knowing there was nothing he could do to help them. They were going to crash on the rocks and go down before anyone could get to them. Just as they had more than fifty years before when his father was the one manning the lighthouse.
“What should we do Keeper?” The voice was sounding fainter now. The fear he could hear in it was still a powerful emotion.
“Not to worry, Captain. You are steady on course. The clouds must be blocking the light. You will be home before you know it.” Jasper told the man over the radio. “If it makes you more comfortable you can talk to me as you come in. I will be a voice in the dark for you.”
“Thank you sir. This night is darker than a grave and has us all spooked.”
“Moon dark nights can do that. I’m here and all is well.” He sat in his chair and continued to talk to the captain knowing there was nothing else he could do. The conversation lasted a little more than thirty minutes for a loud crackle made him push back from the radio and all went silent. The temperature raised back to normal and his nerves calmed.
Jasper stood and climbed back to the top of the lighthouse. Standing on the walkway that surrounded the light he looked out at the ocean for a long time. His father and grandfather had told him about nights like this and how they would forever be a part of the lighthouse. He guessed it was his turn to comfort the lost sailors who never made it home. A smile graced his lips as he went back downstairs and settled in for the rest of the night. It was a good life.