Image of Coralie Hughes Jensen

Labrador Coast

 

Passup Point

 

Everyone has secrets . . .

 

 

Jonah Devlin arrives in an isolated fishing village in Labrador to serve as pastor of a community church that the Anglicans had abandoned years earlier. He meets Gabrielle Pye, a young waitress struggling to raise her two brothers in the depressed economy of maritime Canada. When the Trans Labrador Highway opens the tiny town to the outside world, Gabriell's crime of forgery, committed when she was just thirteen, makes her a target of the Canadian Police.

 

Just as Devlin attempts to help her, reports of his troubled past reach Passup. Newpaper stories allege that as a Catholic priest in the States he had committed unspeakable crimes, forcing him to defend his position to his new community. While Devlin grapples to make sense of Catholic doctrine and endeavors to apply it to his new congregation, the often quirky citizens of Passup and the surrounding villages educate him on the real purpose of faith.

 

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Jason sat on the pier, tying and untying an overhand knot automatically, like flipping a coin. He looked out over the calm water, squinting his eyes to see the approaching launch. The sparkle off the undulating bay blinded him. The dazzling sun exposed stars that had reflected off the vast surface the night before, leaving a permanent print on the bright blue sea. Rising from the seething water, vapors warped the boat and the specters that inhabited it. Noisy gulls circled overhead, checking out the pier for scraps from the daily catch. And the sun silently pulsed, extending its rays to the ever-cold wavelets but never appreciably succeeding in warming them.

 

The boy inhaled the salty air, always tinged with the pungent odor of fish. Jason loved that scent—that of centuries of sustanance. The threat of its

Battle Harbour

extinction was forever present. Jason had never known it any other way, but the peril lingered under the surface—a time bomb, erasing the species along with a beloved livelihood.

 

“Jason, gimme me an ‘and ‘ere,” said the fisherman on the pier. “Dis net’s all tangled. Gimme an ‘and luh on dat corner dere.”

 

Jason walked over and grabbed it but turned again to
look out over the water. The phantasm loomed, the vision of an old whaleboat, rising out of its watery grave, or a battleship bent on assailing their small seaside community.

 

“Jason, bring it over ‘ere!” came the voice, summoning him from his reverie. “Not dat way, omalloor! Stay where you’re at, and I’ll come where you’re to.”

 

The boy ignored the reference to his dexterity and listened to the hum as he pulled the net tight on the other side.

 

“What be wid you, Jas?” the frustrated fisherman asked. He followed the boy’s eyes, looking out over the water. “Dat’s just Cain, you know, ferryin’ someone ‘cross from Newfoundland. Aye, Cain!” he yelled, waving.


The ferryman revved his engine in reply.

 

“Who’s that with him?” Jason asked.

 

“Who knows? Give us a bitta dat, luh,” he answered, holding out his hand for Jason’s corner. “Picked an ‘eck of a day for a visit, eh? Aye, Cain, watch out! Dere’s a sinker over ‘ere bye!”

 

Red Bay

The captain deftly maneuvered his coaster, turning sharply starboard, letting his stern slide up to the side of the pier and tossing his rope to Jason. Grabbing the other end, Cain hopped onto the deck and looped it around the cleat, finally disappearing below deck.

 

“Dese ‘ere are yours, Mr. Davis, aye?” he yelled from below, pushing some cases up onto the deck.

 

“Devlin,” he corrected. “Yes, there are four of them, I believe.”

 

Cain hoisted the last package onto the deck and started back up himself. “Funny luh ‘ow we dink on ourselves by de number of bags ‘oldin’our lives to, you know?”

 

“Pardon?”

 

“You say you’re stayin’, dat you won’t be goin’ back come da ice, right?”

 

“Ah, yes.”

 

“So dis is all your stuff, Mr. Dooley, you say, do you?”

 

“Mr. Devlin. Yes. Yes,” he nodded, finally understanding what the man said and looking over at Jason on the dock. “Boy, can you help me with these?”

 

Jason eyed the stranger suspiciously but walked over and grabbed a bag. Devlin turned to shake Cain’s hand, but the captain had disappeared below again.

 

“Uh—where’s Bleckett’s?” he asked Jason.

 

Jason pointed to the coffee shop across the dirt road. “The place next door is Bleckett's too. It's the store. Which do you want?"

Cover of Passup Point

 

Devlin stopped, seemingly tired from lifting the bags. “Bleckett,” he said simply.

 

“He could be there or not. I don’t really watch where he goes.”

 

“Ah,” the visitor replied, eyeing the large church with the tall steeple. “Is that the church?” He took off his cap and wiped his brow.

 

The boy noted his thinning brown hair. “Yeah, St. Paul’s. It’s Anglican.”

 

“Yes. So—” he mumbled, turning to face the boy. He placed a U.S. dollar bill in the boy’s hand. “Hey, think you can watch these for me for a few minutes?”


“What’s this?”

 

“Money.”

 

“Right. Where can I spend it?”

 

But Devlin had already started walking toward the shop, stopping only to look both ways on the deserted gravel road.

 

 

 

 

Copyright Coralie Hughes Jensen