Azuton Island Adventure
Drifters Diner was literally in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but highway road for a hundred or more miles on either side of the diner, gas station, convenience store combination.
The quaint and rustic café looked like a wood cabin in the country. It had a large front porch, on it two adirondack chairs and a giant horseshoe shaped ashtray. Inside the diner, the tables were covered with red and white checkered table cloths, clear plastic and heavy metal napkin holders.
Against one wall there were a couple of extra large booths. The red leather seats looked worn but were still really comfortable. There was a giant jukebox filled with songs sung by all the country music greats.
Behind the cash register there were a few shelves that held some basic sundries that a worn out traveler might need. The gas station was self-serve but most people came inside to use the washroom, grab a coffee and freshen up.
Caroline Bennett had worked at
Drifters Diner as a server for a very long time. She worked hard and both customers and coworkers adored her. She had a warm, generous smile and easy going personality.
The diner was extremely inconvenient for staff to get to. No one wanted to commute since the place was so out of the way.
The solution was to allow the staff to live on-site in one of six studio apartments. Each was fully furnished and included cable television. There was a small laundry room that was available for the employees to use for their personal clothing as well as to keep up with the diners' linens and staff uniforms.
One of the rooms was occupied by Caroline. Another was occupied by Helen and George Belfour, they were the main caretakers of the rustic rest stop.
George did most of the cooking in the diner. And he was a jack of all trades, so he frequently helped the customers who needed some basic car repairs. He would fill your tires or top off your oil if you needed. Anyone who met him found him to be so gentle and helpful.
Helen ran all the errands the diner required. She was a fantastic baker and kept the diner stocked with the most wonderful pies and desserts. She made lovely "to go" packages for the weary travellers and the lonely trucker's the diner attracted.
One evening, around dusk a cute young couple popped into the diner. They were friendly, played a couple of songs on the jukebox and ate dinner.
After they left Caroline discovered a twenty dollar bill along with a travel brochure on
the table. She quickly ran outside and thankfully caught up to the girl who was pumping gas into their little green convertible.
"Miss, you forgot your brochure and some money" the out of breath Caroline said as she ran toward the sun kissed blonde. She reached out to hand the girl both the twenty and the brochure. "Oh, the money is for you to keep" laughed the girl. "And the brochure is just a pipe dream. You can just throw it away". "Really?" said Caroline "Are you sure?. "Yes," said the girl. "I am sure." She laughed again and continued on "Put the money towards your pipe dream"
By this time she had finished pumping the gas and had jumped into the car. The couple smiled and waved to Caroline as they sped off down the road.
Caroline stood in front of the gas station for a second and then she folded the twenty and the brochure in half and put them into the pocket of her apron. She jogged back to the diner and forgot about the interaction until the next morning.
When she woke up the next day Caroline was grateful for two things. First, the sun was shining and two it was her day off. Caroline had an extra long shower, threw a sundress on and poured herself a piping hot cup of coffee into an extra large mug. Then she remembered the huge tip that young couple had left for her.
Caroline began to count out the night's take and it turned out she had made $58.70. Then she picked up the brochure that the girl had told Caroline to throw away.
The Grotto getaway resort on
Azuton island was the vacation spot featured in the brochure and Caroline could see why the young couple thought this vacation spot would be a pipe dream.
It looked so exotic and exciting. The hotel was designed to look like a real grotto with water running through the faux caves. The glossy pictures were of white sandy beaches and clear blue water. Everything about it seemed perfect.
Caroline had never heard of Azuton Island before but the more she studied the discarded brochure the more she began to fall in love with the mysterious vacation destination.
As she was pouring her third cup of coffee Caroline couldn't help but feel unsettled when she recalled the words of her generous tipper. " Use the money to put toward your pipe dream".......the girl had said. Well, just what was Caroline's pipe dream?. The truth was she didn't have one.
She had settled into her life at the diner years ago and didn't. really think of the future. She lived day to day. After, every shift she stuffed her tips into an empty peanut butter jar. Once a month she would hitch a ride into town with Helen and make a bank deposit.
Over the years Caroline had accumulated a little bit of a nest egg. If she needed something she could buy it. Although, she spent very little. Since she lived at the diner she never wanted for food or drink. She lived a simple and very content life.
After studying the travel brochure Caroline made the out of character decision that she wanted to go there. She was hypnotized by the mystery and beauty of this seemingly isolated vacation destination.
The next opportunity she had Caroline hitched a ride with Helen into town and headed straight to the local travel agency brochure in hand. Thirty minutes later she exited the agency. She was booked for a six week all inclusive vacation on the Island of Azuton.
As luck would have it travel packages staying at the Grotto Getaway Resort were on special right now because the resort was being renovated.
Caroline wasn't too concerned about the renovations. The travel agent had called the resort directly and they assured her that Caroline's stay would be unforgettable and they would take great care of her.
Three weeks later Caroline was on the first of two flights that would plummet the simple server straight into paradise. And nine hours after that she was standing in front of Bella the concierge of the Grotto Getaway.
Bella greeted Caroline with a flower necklace and air kissed each of her cheeks. "Caroline, luv welcome to the Grotto Getaway" Bella said in a booming voice. "You are home, my luv". For a few moments Caroline felt so happy and loved.
Caroline's elation turned to complete devastation when Bella gently broke the news to her that there had been a terrible mistake and the resort was behind on the renovations. Her room was not inhabitable and she would have to share her room.
"Oh, luv, it will be an adventure" Bella said while placing a large glass of champagne into Caroline's trembling hand. Caroline really could not process this information. She wanted a long luxurious, relaxing vacation. Not a weird slumber party with a complete stranger.
Bella hurriedly ushered Caroline toward the hotel's spa. Bella gave strict instructions to the staff to give her a hydrating facial and hot stone massage. Then Bella gave strict instructions to Caroline to relax and to come back to the lobby when she was finished.
During the three hour spa treatment Caroline managed to come to terms with the bizarre situation as best as she could. She had gotten a really good deal on the trip and she really wanted to stay. How bad could a roommate be??
Back in the lobby Bella was waiting and ready to escort Caroline to her room. "C'mon luv, this will all work out" Bella said. She took Caroline by the arm and they went to Caroline's room. Bella used her swipe key and opened the door.
The room was everything Caroline hoped it would be. There were two big floral bedspreads covering two queen beds, plush orange carpet and wicker furniture with pink and yellow cushions. Everything in the room was bright and fun.
Bella had explained to Caroline that her roommate was another young female. Her name was Rachel and she was currently out exploring the island. Bella gave Caroline a room key and told her "go on about your day, luv. Everything will work out".
Caroline decided to take Bella's advice. She was going to enjoy this trip starting with a shower. After her shower Caroline went looking for one of the local restaurants.
The evening progressed wonderfully. Caroline found a restaurant, had some dinner and a couple of drinks. She walked around the resort exploring the gift shops. There were some parts of the hotel that were off limits because of the renovations but the parts she did see she liked a lot.
After a wonderful evening Caroline decided to go back to her room and meet Rachel. To her surprise Rachel wasn't in the room. She had some belongings in the room but that was it.
It had been such a long and exhausting day Caroline climbed into bed and fell asleep within seconds. When she awoke nine hours later she saw Rachel was on the other side of the room gathering up some things. It seemed like she was getting ready to leave.
"Good morning, I am Caroline" the still sleepy traveler said. "Good morning, my name is Rachel. Ummm gotta go". Rachel said as she opened the hotel room door and left the room.
For the next week or so Caroline only saw her roomie in passing. Rachel left early in the morning and came back to the room late at night.
At first Caroline didn't pay too much attention to the pretty brunette's comings and goings. She was settling into her own routine.
Caroline had coffee and fresh island fruit every morning. She read magazines and books by the pool. She had found a great reading spot by one of the grottoes that she loved. In the afternoons she would go for a walk, check in with Bella back at the hotel and then have dinner. After that she would walk the beach at sunset and retire for the evening.
During the day Caroline never ran into Rachel, and she began to wonder what the girl did from early in the morning until late into the night. It seemed like odd behaviour.
That afternoon back in the room Caroline couldn't help herself and she began to snoop through Rachels drawers and luggage.
She came across a couple of headlamps and a few digging tools. Not regular beach stuff that's for sure. Now Caroline's interest was really piqued. Why on earth would Rachel need those things?
The next day Caroline made it a point to stop and talk to Bella longer than usual. She casually asked Bella if she knew where Rachel went during the day. She was met with this response " Oh luv, everyone here is searching for something, including you my sweet".
That night Caroline didn't sleep very well. Part of her wanted to stay awake and try to speak to Rachel and part of her wanted to sleep. Eventually the latter won out and she fell asleep missing her opportunity to see Rachel when she came back to the room.
When Caroline woke up the next morning she decided she was going to do some exploring of her own. Why not? Maybe, she would run into Rachel. So, she packed up her backpack with some snacks, water and sunscreen and off she went.
First she stopped and spoke with Bella again except this time Caroline asked her some direct questions. She found out that there was a path behind the gardeners shed that let out into the grounds behind the hotel. That seemed like a great place to start.
For the next two days Caroline spent the afternoons walking the path behind the hotel. It was a beautiful walk for sure but there was no sign of Rachel or anything out of the ordinary.
That all changed on day three when Caroline spotted a woman through the foliage. Her heart was beating through her chest as she followed the woman. She couldn't quite tell if it was Rachel or not but she sure hoped so. Caroline kept her distance and continued to follow the young woman.
After about ten minutes the woman stopped and began to walk off the beaten path. Then she came to a stop and pulled out a piece of paper. It appeared like she was reading it and as she got closer Caroline could see it was Rachel.
Caroline came up behind Rachel and startled her when she said "Hello". "God, Caroline what the hell are you doing here??. "Oh, I am sorry" stammered Caroline. "I wanted to see where you were going everyday".
"I don't see how that is any of your business" said Rachel angrily. She stuffed the paper into her backpack and then she continued on "Please go away. I am busy and don't really want you around"
"Yes, of course" Caroline said apologetically. "I didn't mean to bother you. I was just curious that's all". As she turned to leave Caroline tripped and fell over some of the overgrown brush.
She lay there breathless for a moment and then she saw Rachel standing over top of her with her hand outstretched. "Look, I am sorry" said Rachael "I didn't mean to snap at you. Let me help you up!"
Caroline took Rachel's hand and stood up. Then she followed Rachel a few paces toward a small waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall there was a small pool of water. "Here sit down" Rachel gestured to the ground beside the pool of water. She took the bandanna off her head and dipped it into the water. Then she gently dabbed the moist bandanna on a few scratches Caroline had on her arms and legs from the fall.
She wasn't seriously hurt or anything. Just a few scrapes and bruises. The cool water felt good against her skin. Caroline tried again to apologize to her new nursemaid slash roommate. But, Rachel just brushed her off.
"Look, it's pretty much lunchtime" said Rachel "Let's just have some lunch and then you can head back to the resort".
Rachel pulled out some bottled water and some fruit and a couple of danish.
For a few minutes the two young women ate in silence. Then Rachel broke the silence. "Look, if I told you what I was doing you would think I was crazy. So, it's better if you don't know". Caroline said she understood and then she explained "This is my first vacation and I guess I was just looking for a little adventure, that is all". She carried on "You are right it's not my business but if you want some help I would be happy to
give you a hand"
Rachel gazed off into the sky for a few minutes. Then she began to speak. "I found a letter in my Grandfather's belongings when he passed away a few months ago. The brunette continued in a steady voice. "The letter said that years ago my Grandfather had come here on vacation with my Grandmother. The two of them had been on vacation and were exploring one day when they found a drawstring bag with some jewelry in it." Rachel paused for a moment and then continued to speak. "He said they weren't sure what to do with the jewelry so they buried it. They were scared the jewelry was stolen and they didn't want to get into trouble. They talked about coming back years later but never did".
Caroline interrupted her and said "And you are here looking for the bag?". "Yes, I am," replied Rachel. "My Grandfather left me some details and encouraged me to come to Azuton island and try to find the bag of jewelry. I know it sounds silly but I can't seem to let it go"
Caroline reached out and put her hand on top of Rachel's hand. "I will help you, don't worry we will find it" She smiled reassuringly at Rachel. Rachel wiped her brow and looked at Caroline and said "Really?, that would be great. I have felt so alone out here looking for a needle in a haystack.". Caroline jumped to her feet "C,mon then let's get to it" she said excitedly.
And that was how the two strangers ended up together on this Azuton Island adventure.
Three months later at the Drifters diner Helen opened up the daily newspaper. The headline read: Young woman finds bag of jewels. Underneath was an interesting article about a single young woman who had found a bunch of jewelry on Azuton Island. The young brunette in the picture was grinning from ear to ear.
"George, look there's an article here about that Island Caroline went to". Helen rushed over to show her husband the paper. "Let me see," he said. "Gosh, I wonder what ever happened to Caroline" his voice cracking.
Helen didn't answer him. She blinked back tears as she recalled how she had gone to the airport to pick their young friend up weeks ago but the girl hadn't been on the plane. And when she called Grotto Getaway someone named Bella told her she had never heard of anyone named Caroline Bennett.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This was a fun story! I like how you introduced how Caroline ended up at the vacation and how you slowly introduced Rachel. I also just really loved Bella's character and just how jolly and loving she seems. I can't help but wonder what happened to Caroline, though, to make her disappear with no one having any memory of her aside from Helen and George?
Thanks so much,,,,I appreciate it.
Hi Kim, I thought this was a great story. You did an excellent job writing it. I hope you keep writing ;)
Amazing. Amazing! You are a great writer! Keep going!