Cooper didn’t stop talking once during the entire journey to Long Beach Island. Not once.
“…and then, my sister let out this blood-curdling scream and jumped from the water, and there was a crab attached to her big toe!”
He was laughing so hard that the others became worried he might pass out.
“Lovely,” Mr. C. said from his seat behind the wheel of the bookmobile—which, unfortunately for him, was also directly in front of the seat Cooper had taken. “Thank you for another great story about you and your family down the shore. But could you please tell us about the place we’re going?” Everyone else nodded and murmured in agreement.
“Okay, okay….” Cooper said, struggling to catch his breath. He sat up straight and wiped the tears from his cheeks. “Sorry, all right. We’re going to a lighthouse, the one that sits on the northern tip of Long Beach Island. It’s called ‘Old Barney’.”
“Why’s that?” Jamal asked.
“Because the northern tip of the island sits in the Barnegat Inlet, and ‘Barney’ is short for ‘Barnegat.’ In fact, its proper name is the ‘Barnegat Lighthouse,’ but most people use the nickname.”
As the bookmobile bumped and rocked its way along Long Beach Island’s main road, Old Barney came into view. It looked particularly majestic this day, with its simple white-on-the-bottom-half-red-on-the-top-half design, standing tall against the perfect blue of the afternoon sky.