In ‘Night Vision’ Beulah spends a night in a boatyard, safely locked in her car, but a storm is raging outside and it is a night of utter despair and anguish.She has previously been to the boatyard, arriving there almost accidentally after driving at random following a row with her husband, so she knows the place which was somewhere she visited as a child.
When she visited before she came across an old wrecked boat, the Jennifer Rose, which may have looked like this poor craft, abandoned it seems in Uphill’s boatyard.
After the night of the storm, Beulah wanders from her car and bumps into somebody she has met before, a man who saved her life, and seems to appear in her life unexpectedly when she most needs a friendly face. The first time they had met at the boatyard, they had walked through eating ice-creams until they come across the Jennifer Rose.
“Oh no,” his voice was full of utter dismay.
He was staring at an abandoned boat, so dry and derelict that the planks of the hull gaped. It was supported by props but leaned dangerously to one side as if it was dying and about to lose its last vestiges of life.
“Oh no, look at this,” John was anguished.
It had been a graceful boat, now all that was left was the hull, the superstructure had collapsed into its wooden ribcage.
“What a terrible waste, it must have been so elegant,” Beulah was moved too, but John was quite distraught. He picked up the bowsprit.
“How could they,” he said. He put a hand upon its desiccated stem post and stroked down the bow.
Beulah was puzzled by him again. He was standing here, moved to tears at the site of this sorry wreck and yet he’d stood in the alley, barring Neil’s way, aggressive and ready to fight. There was something seriously strange about this man even though he’d saved her life.
The night after the storm Beulah meets him again, and once again they wander among the boats.
They wandered on. There was damage everywhere in the yard, metal masts bent, wooden ones broken, rubbish everywhere, strange things caught in the rigging. It was sad to see, a sorry sight.
“Jesus! Oh God, oh no!” John stopped so suddenly that Beulah bumped into him. “God no, oh no!”
He was looking at the old boat, the boat which had moved him almost to tears when they were last in the boatyard. It had collapsed, fallen in on itself, one of the props had gone straight through the rotten hull and was sticking up like a spear through the ribs of a skeletal creature.
“Oh godammit, this is awful,” John hurried to it and stood, as before, hands on the tumbled bow.
Beulah was too puzzled to say anything. She followed him as he walked round the other side of it, exclaiming tearfully as he followed the line of the old vessel. It was completely rotten, there could have been no way to save it. The stern had split so the boat lay like a spatchcocked creature, its body open and gaping.
Beulah stood beside him in silence, staring into the wreck. He bent and picked up an old timber and turned it over.
Now Beulah gave a gasp of shock. The paint was faded but it was still possible to make out the name of the old boat. ‘Jennifer Rose.’
There was a creak, then a groan then a cracking tearing noise and the remains of the old vessel tipped and crashed sideways completely overturning what was left of itself.
John dragged Beulah back and they stood clutching each other as the heap of shattered timber subsided in a cloud of damp dust.
“Are you alright?” he asked his face was white, his mouth very red against the pale skin and greying beard.
“Are you?” she said, her voice trembling.
“It’s like a dying beast,” he said shakily.
“Let’s go, I don’t like it here,” Beulah clung to his hand.
There were tears on his cheeks but he didn’t seem aware he was weeping. They picked their way cautiously past the wreck. Beulah glanced back, turned then looked back again and gave a suppressed shriek. “John, John look!” she pointed in horror.