Gus woke to the smell of fishcakes burning. "Bunsy," he said before his eyes were open.
He opened his eyes. No Bunsy. Just burning fishcakes and roiling smoke. As he watched, a flame licked up the side of the pan, fed by the grease.
He rolled out of bed and lunged for the stove, turning off the propane as he dragged the cast-iron pan off the fire. Breakfast was still burning. "Rosy-eyed Jesus!" He looked around, but the lid was nowhere to be seen and Sil had borrowed the fire extinguisher and never brought it back.
Gus grabbed the nearest fabric--a plaid flannel shirt--and the pan. Shoving his feet into boots, but not bothering with any other clothes, he kicked open the door. Then it was easy enough to carry the pan across the greening grass of the mini-golf course and onto the pier, where he threw the contents, still fitfully spitting, into the harbor. A glob of grease seared his hand, and Gus dropped the pan. It landed on the planks rather than in the water. "Thank God for small mercies," Gus muttered.
Now that he was up and out, he looked around, breathing deeply. Wind from the east, off the water, the sun coming up. A clear day, always a mercy in April when there was so much repair work to be done...and there came Bunsy, back from answering a call of nature.
"Morning, Gus. What happened?"
"Breakfast. Stove fire. Wake me up next time you leave the stove on, would you?" Gus bent to pick up the pan, beginning to feel the cold. Even in summer, boxers weren't practical on Solomon Gundy. Not with nothing else on over them.
Before Gus'd straightened up, he heard Dempster Millard someplace behind him, saying "Solomon Gundy's unique and natural beauty. . ."
Gus stood quickly and turned, but not before he caught a glimpse of the stranger next to Dempster, checking out Gus' behind. The man smirked.
The man said, "Introduce me?" He wore a polo shirt and khakis, the fake-casual clothing of city people. His shoes, at least, were honest: old sneakers with fraying laces. His face, surprisingly, also looked honest.
"Ezekiel Bunsy, and our mayor," how it pained Dempster to say that, "Augustus Knickel." Dempster turned to the smirker. "This is Sam Seaborn, from the United States government."
"Mayor Knickel," Sam held out his hand to Bunsy.
"Ah, no, that would be me," Gus said, shifting the pan from right hand to left, and shaking. The hand was soft but the grip was firm. All else being equal, Gus was inclined to like this Sam Seaborn.
"Mayor Knickel," Sam repeated, taking the correction in stride. "I was just admiring your island." He grinned, keeping his eyes conspicuously on Gus' face, rather than farther down, "And its natural beauty." The innuendo was obvious. Gus' cock twitched.
"I'd like to talk to you," Sam was saying. "Maybe later this morning?"
Gus grinned back, aware that if he didn't get dressed soon, he'd have an even more embarrassing situation on hand. "Hold on a minute, and I'll take you to breakfast at Lydia's."
He stalked into the tar-paper shack, ignored the lingering smell of burning fish, and rooted for his clothes. For a moment, he considered leaving off his clerical collar, but no. If Sam really was flirting, he'd have to deal with Gus being a minister. If he wasn't interested, it'd be best to know that soon.
Gus smiled and fastened on his collar over the old suit.