I first read "The Winter of our Discontent" over 30 years ago. In my mind the protagonist completed the act he undertook.
This is the final Chapter of a book where a man had it all.
Lost it all.
And gained it all back.
The tide was on the rise. I waded into the warm bay water and clambered into the place. A slow ground swell moved into and out of the entrance, and flowed through my trousers. The bill fold swelled against my hips and grew thinner under my weight as it water soaked. The summer sea was crowded with little jelly fish the size of goose berries, dangling their little tendrils and their nettle cells. As they washed against my legs and belly, I felt them sting like bitter fires, and the slow wave breathed in and out of the place. The rain was only a thin mist now, and it accumulated all the stars and town lamps and spread them evenly.... a dark pewter colored sheen. I could see the third rock, but from the place it did not line up with the point over the the sunken keel of the Belle-adair. A stronger wave lifted my legs and made them feel separate from me, and an eager wind sprang from no where and drove the mist like sheep. Then I could see a star--late rising, too late rising over the edge. Some kind of craft came chugging in, a craft with sail, by the slow, solemn sound of her engine. I saw her mast light over the toothy tumble of the break water, but her red and green were below my range of sight.
My skin blazed under the lances of the jelly fish. I heard an anchor plunge and the mast lights went out.
Marullo's light still burned, and old captains light and aunt Debora's light.
It isn't true that there is a community of light, a bonfire of the world. Everyone carries his own, his lonely own.
A rustling school of tiny feeding fish flicked along the shore.
My light is out. There is nothing blacker than a wick.
Inward I said I want to go home--no not home, to the other side of home where the lights are given.
It's so much darker when a light go's out than it would have been if it had never shone. The world is full of dark derelicts.
The better way----the Marrulli of that old Rome would have known it.
There comes a time for decent honorable retirement, not dramatic, not punishment of self or family--just good bye, a warm bath and a razor blade.
The ground swell on the rising tide whished into the place and raised my hips and swung them to the side and carried my wet folded raincoat out
I rolled on one hip and reached in my side pocket for my razor blades and felt the lump. Then in wonder I remembered the caressing, stroking hands of the light bearer. For a moment it resisted coming out of my wet pocket. Then in my hand it gathered every bit of light there was and seemed red---dark red.
A surge of wave pushed me against the very back of the place. And the tempo of the sea speed-ed up. I had to fight the water to get out, and I had to get out. I rolled and scrambled and splashed chest deep in the surf and the brisking waves pushed me against the old sea wall.
I had to get out and return the talisman to a new owner.
Else another light might go out.