Monday, October 3, 2011

Life And Death On Little Torch

Joy Williams' guidebook to the Florida Keys, my favorite such publication describes Little Torch (in my 2003 edition) as a rather off color secretive place filled with wild parties and several unsolved murders.

Which may or may not still be the case but this was the island where a walker such as myself, earlier this year found the clothed, skeletal remains of a man in the mangroves.

The mystery was solved soon enough and far from being a murder this time, it was a very sad story of lost love. The skeleton, after decades of marriage became a widower and upon the death of his wife the man just disappeared according to neighbors.

A pause in the story here while we contemplate these guardians of privacy who came storming down the drive when they saw me loitering in the street.

I told them I was innocent, that I was just waiting for my dog who was taking a mud bath and drinking the waters in the bushes nearby but they kept barking until a cheerful woman stumbled down the drive telling her guardians they were mad there was no one there and to go home.

Not so, I said, not enough people trust their dogs when they hear them barking. And they don't. You'd be amazed how many dogs get yelled at by blind owners when they bark wildly to warn them of our passing and because the humans can't see us they take it out on their dogs who are just doing their job, and doing it well. On the rare occasions Cheyenne barks I always go outside and check under the house.

Anyway, back to the skeleton found fully dressed in a rough campsite in the mangroves around here. He had been missing for months, and dead long enough for his remains to decompose and his bones to get gnawed by wild animals according to the story in the paper.

He was in his late sixties as I recall and he just gave up and died, unwilling to continue living after his wife died. We should all be so devoted.

So aside from it's reputation, Little Torch is just one more island off the great big Highway that runs straight through the Lower Keys leading tourists past these idle backwaters guiding them directly to the fleshpots of Duval Street 30 miles away.

I much prefer living in the Lower Keys than in the city of Key West. I enjoy the silence during the day as well as at night.

These islands represent to me the sort of living that used to attract people to the Keys, the luxury of privacy, hidden little streets with nothing to attract outsiders except weirdo explorers like me. There's easy access to the water and lots of wildlife.

The three Torch Keys, Little, Middle and Big are named for the torch wood tree which Williams says is extremely hard and burns with a green light. Might as well name three islands after something so peculiar.

Here's the challenge: who wants to find the big bad wolf in the dark wooded recesses of the Torch Keys? I promise it's a lot safer than being on Duval Street at two in the morning surrounded by people who have lost their minds to alcohol. It's a lot more peaceful too, and you'll only meet locals, some that bark and some that don't.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


blameitonbuffett said...

Secretive...filled with wild parties...murder? I think I need to look into that sort of living arrangement.

Unknown said...


Odd place.

This reminds me of a song - an old couple are married for many years, when the man dies, the woman sticks around for a couple of days and lets go. Sad and beautiful.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Anonymous said...

Sounds so inviting. We are going to get our first big snow storm on Thursday above 6000 feet. Winter is on its way, ugh!

No wonder Key West/Southern Florida is home to so many talented mystery writers like Tom Corcoran and Michael Haskins.

Can't wait to visit KW in 27 1/2 days!

Bob from Livingston Montana

Conchscooter said...

There's more to the Keys than Duval Street!