Scene 8 Night One
Shuffling through the refrigerator John pushes things around on the shelves. ” Ah, whipped cream. Gonna make truffles with this, ” he says with a bit of excitement in his voice. Su nods.
John keeps looking and finds a package of sliced pork. ” We didn’t bring mayo?” he asks. “No, didn’t think it would make the trip, ” Su says tapping hard on the keyboard. ” Damn, the “M” key is stuck.”
John lays the sandwich meat down, pulls out his small three bladed pocket knife, pops the “M” key off and cleans a tiny piece of what looks like a potato chip or corn chip from the area, then snaps the key back on, holding it down in the chat box causing it to repeat a line of the letter. mmmmmmmmmm ” There ya go.”
” Thank you baby.”
John smiles and pats himself on the back with one hand jokingly, ” I did good huh?”
” You did good baby.”
John makes a sandwich and stares around the cottage taking in the environment. He wants to take in more of the natural environment outside. He puts his sandwich on a napkin, grabs one of the bar stools and goes to sit out on the porch.
” Whatcha doing?” Su asks as she stares at the computer. ” Gonna sit outside for a while.” he says heading out the door.
” Ok, I’ll be out there in a minute. I’m having problems with the internet,”
Lucky watches him walk out but doesn’t get up.
Placing the bar stool near the leaning rail, John takes a seat and leans against the railing with his forearms eating his sandwich. Staring out into the darkness of the warm humid stormy night he can see lightning flicker in the sky over the water. He sees the outline of large clouds that seem to be threatening to rain.
He remembers something about timing a storm to tell if it’s coming at you by counting from the time you see the lightning until you hear the thunder. The closer in time between when you see the lightning and when you hear the thunder, the closer it is to you. He remembers the weatherman saying that lightning can strike 20 miles outside of a storm. He thinks he’s safe from the rain for the moment.
Su steps outside and stands beside him. ” How are the bugs?”
” Got a few bites, but not too bad so far.”
” How do you like that meat?”
” It tastes kinda watered down, but it’s ok.”
” We’ll go grocery shopping when the kids get here.”
John swallows his bite of sandwich. “I wanna get some of those “Mudpie” fudge pie” things from that store, what’s it called?”
” Bailey’s!,” she says, remembering distinctly.
” That place with the hardware store connected…” he says tapping on the hand rail with his knuckles.
” Yeah, I love that place,” Su replies. “ So many things to look at, which reminds me … remind me to get shelling nets while we’re there. The shells are getting heavy carrying them around in my pockets and they’re getting all broken.”
” Yeah, ok. Probably be real good for dragging through the drop line.”
” Drop Line!?… Look at you! I didn’t know you knew what that was called” she exclaims.
John chuckles a little. ” I learn fast — actually I kinda cheated, I saw it on that pamphlet you picked up, it had it on there.”
” Yeah, where is that?”
” I think it’s in the camera bag, or somewhere near there, in the closet in the bedroom,” he says.
Su goes inside to the bedroom and looks for the camera bag. She spots it and opens it. Right on top is John’s Stooper. Many times she has seen him hold these in his hands and when he does she knows he is thinking about the calm, peaceful serene feeling he gets thinking of this place.
She picks up the stooper and rubs the shells together in her hands and they make the sound of the shells on the beach tumbling against one another.
She puts them down, looks through the camera bag and can’t find the pamphlet. She looks in an orange bag and doesn’t see it there either. She takes a breath and is about to stand up when she sees a piece of it sticking out of one of the side pockets on the bag. She grabs it and tries to stand up like normal, when her back catches and pain shoots all the way down her legs. ” Ohhh, Damnit!”
She drops to her knees almost in tears from pain and pounds on the closet door taking a minute for the pain to subside a little bit. ” Not now!” Grabbing the butt end of the closet door, she slowly pulls herself to her feet and limps over to her night bag taking out her pain medicine and muscle relaxers.
Limping into the living room she takes her medicine and sips her soda from a plastic sweatless glass that has an embroidered Sanibel patch inside the hallow walls of the cup and makes her way to the bathroom. ” Sorry baby, not tonite. Too much pain. I wanted to, I really did.” She says in the mirror as if she were talking to John. She knows he’ll understand. She doesn’t have to say a word and it seems he knows. She loves that he is understanding in this way.
Su makes her way back outside to where John is still sitting on the bar stool staring out into the dark and takes a seat at the table where the shells are on the table and opens the pamphlet that has a lot of pictures of shells and their descriptions on one side.
John turns to Su. ” Found it huh?”
” Yeah, sorry it took so long, I had to take my medicine. It crinked up on me.”
” You ok?”
” Yeah. But you know what that medicine does to me.”
” Yeah, well at least we’re here together, on Sanibel!”
” That’s right, Sanibel baby.”
Both of them smile at one another. Su looks down at the pamphlet and tries to compare shells they have collected so far to the shells on the pamphlet.
John turns and listens to the howling wind and stares into the darkness as if looking for something. “ You know while you were inside I saw something strange.”
” Strange?” Su asks looking up at him.
” Well, not really strange but odd to look at.”
Su cocks her head to the side slightly, ” I’m not following.”
” I was munchin’ on my sandwich, listening to the wind and the Gulf and trying to tune into the waves pushing the shells around and it lightninged.”
” Lightninged?” she asks with a smirk.
” Yeah, a flash of lightning was real bright and I saw someone out there on the beach. It lightninged again and they weren’t there.”
Su looks down at her shells and looks back up at him remembering what she saw earlier. “Really? That’s weird, I saw a woman earlier that did something like that, actually did the same thing but in broad day light. I just blew it off.”
” Well it’s real dark and there are a lot of things that get in the way of certain views. Could be my mind playing tricks on me,” he says.
” Not much, maybe the dunes or those bushes or whatever they’re called. — Sea oats.”
” Yeah maybe. That’s weird though you saw someone do that too. Maybe there are ghosts,” he says, waving his hands and wiggling his fingers.
” I wouldn’t doubt it a bit.” She replies.
” Maybe there’s a skunkape out there?”
” Skunkape? Are you kidding?” Su says with a half grin.
” Oh no, I’m dead serious. Have you ever heard the story about the Calusa Indians that used to live on these islands?”
” A little bit.”
” Well I came up with a theory,” he says raising his eyebrows.
” A theory? A Calusa Indian skunkape theory?”
John clears his throat ” Ahem, yeah, kinda.”
Su looks down at her shells. ” Alright, let’s hear it.”
” Let me get my “alcoholic beverage,” he says as he stands up.
John goes inside and grabs a bottle of liquor off the counter, fixes himself a cup of coffee and goes back out to tell Su the story.
Sitting on the bar stool he swigs from the bottle and sips from his coffee cup.
Su points to a picture on the shell guide. ” Hey look — those are the shells I like, the little orangish ones. They’re called ” Common Jingles” and is a common found.”
” Common?” John asks.
” Yeah, there are Common shells, Good finds and Rare treasures.”
” Which is the Junonia?”
Fingering her way through the pictures and their descriptions she finds it. ” Oh, says here “Rare treasures”… there are people who live here and shell every day and they don’t find one.”
” Gonna be one hell of a treasure hunt then. My goal is to find you one.”
” Yep that’s the goal,” she says.
John shifts on the stool a little bit ” Soo … The South Florida Skunkape Theory.”
“Oh yes, the Calusa Skunkape Theory, let’s hear it.”
John takes another swig from the bottle and sips his coffee again and gets ready to tell the story when a noise in the sea oats startles him making him turn around. Su hears it too and stands up from her chair and walks over standing close to John. He puts his arm around her. ” You hear that?” she asks. ” Yeah,” he says staring out into the dark.
Both of them stare out to where the sound came from. They hear nothing but the wind howling and the Gulf waves coming on shore. They continue to listen intently. John thinks he hears footsteps. He looks at Su with his head cocked so his ear is pointing in the direction of the footsteps. ” You hear that?” he asks. ” I hear something,” she replies trying to see what may be out there.
” What do you hear?”
” Footsteps I think … very faint like they are over there in the sand, but it’s too dark to see.”
John’s eyes widen. ” Where?” he asks in a whisper.
Su points to an area very close to where he heard the same sound and he looks deep into the darkness but can’t see anything. ” Hehehe, look at us, we’re freaking ourselves out talking about all this ghost stuff. It’s probably a couple or a fisherman or some drunk person out there.”
” I’m not worried, if something happens we get to stay here forever and ever and ever.”
John looks at her in disbelief ” You surprise me with something new all the time, I didn’t know you thought like that.”
” Sure, why not?” she asks.
” I don’t know, you don’t really talk about that stuff.”
” Doesn’t mean I don’t believe though.”
” I like your idea of heaven. Walking the beaches of Sanibel forever … I can deal with that…..”
Su nods her head and stares out at the Sanibel night, unafraid. ” If anything ever happens to me, I want you to bring the kids here.”
John stares at her. ” Don’t talk like that.”
” No, really. if something happens I want you to bring them here so I can see them again. And you.”
“…Alright, will do…..” John says, feeling a little sad.
Su hugs John.
Feeling very uncomfortable with the conversation he agrees. ” I promise so long as we don’t have to talk about this anymore — and here I thought I was going to scare you with my skunkape story,” he says, trying to lighten the mood.
” You promise?” she asks in a more serious tone.
” Yes, I promise,” John replies in earnest.
They hold one another in each other’s arms and kiss.
A crashing sound comes from the bushes scaring them both, they look but don’t see anything. Su grabs John tight. ” I’m going inside, I’m not afraid of dying but I do want to live to 100.”
John is standing very still waiting to see something and starts laughing. “ A hundred sounds good. These bugs are tearing me up anyhow. I’ll be in there in a minute. I’m gonna smoke a cigarette and come in. It’s starting to get late anyways — I think.”
” I’m gonna take Lucky out for his pee first,” she says.
Su goes in and gets Lucky and goes back outside. ” Guess what time it is?” she asks.
” Hmm?” John asks staring at them.
” Come on, guess.”
” I don’t know, bout 1 am?”
” Oh no, it’s only 11pm” she says.
” That’s it!? It feels so late.”
” Yes, an extremely long day. Way past my bedtime.”
” Bedtime? We’re on Island time, there is no bedtime.”
” I’m so tired, and the medicine is kicking in,” she says petting Lucky.
” Yeah, it has been a long day. A great day though,” he replies with tired looking eyes.
” Yes,” she says with a nod.
Lucky sniffs around doing his little squat, pee, sniffing the air, looking around thing.
” He doesn’t seem to be picking up anything on his radar,” John says.
” That makes it all the more strange.”
” Why’s that?” he asks.
” Well, when I take him out in the mornings he usually can smell a cat or squirrel all the way around the house and he pulls me, barking or growling at it.”
John looks at her ” Yeah, and I don’t get it.”
” He picks up on animals and people. We heard something.”
” Ohhh, the ghost thing. Well, what you doing way out there then?”
With a nervousness in her voice, ” believe me, I’m nervous, but he’s gotta pee and not all ghosts are mean or bad.”
” You freak me out sometimes. I think he can’t pick them up because of the sound of the wind and the wind pushing smells away.”
” Maybe — maybe not,” she says with a shrug.
John laughs nervously.
” Pick this up for me?”
John walks over to Su and she hands him a poop bag from a poop bag carrier that’s attached the handle of Lucky’s leash. Su shines the light on his pile and John scoops it up and throws the bag in a nearby trash can.
Su shines the light in the direction of where they heard the noises and sees nothing but the sea oats gently swaying. ” I’m done, I can’t take it any longer.”
“Done for the night huh?”
“Yes, medicine is really kicking in now.”
John gives her a kiss and goes inside with her to wash his hands while Su heads into the bathroom.
Filling his coffee mug again, he grabs a couple of Lucky treats to throw to Lucky and notices he isn’t on the blanket in the front room. John walks into the bedroom and sees Lucky standing with his front paws on one of the beds and starts laughing. Lucky starts wagging his tail.
” A creature of habit,” John says shaking his head.
Su comes out of the bathroom and sees Lucky and John and starts laughing. ” Awe buddy, I don’t think you can get up there.” She walks over beside him and sits on the bed rubbing his face.
Lucky looks around the bed with one leg kicking a little trying to find something to grip onto so he can pull himself up onto the bed.
” Think you can make it up here buddy? It’s not like at home, there’s no step huh?” Su asks in her nice voice. ” Can you help get him up here?”
” I didn’t see a step of any kind,” he replies.
” Can you pick him up?” She asks.
” Um, probably, but I don’t wanna hurt him, his hips y’know.”
John looks around the room and doesn’t see anything he can use, then steps out of the room looking around the living room and still doesn’t see anything. Walking into the kitchen he sees the cooler.” “That’ll do.”
Rolling the cooler into the room next to the bed, John taps on the lid. ” Up here buddy, come on.”
After a few minutes of coaxing, Lucky figures out the situation and climbs over the cooler, slipping a little bit on the smooth lid and up to the bed where he lays down with mom.
” There you go buddy,” Su says petting him.
Lucky seems happy, wagging his tail, panting with his long tongue hanging out and laying there like ” King of the Bed.”
” We’ll have to figure out something for when he gets down,” John says.
” Yeah, we’ll figure that out when the time comes, he’s not going anywhere soon.”
John nods and jams a pair of shoes near the wheels of the cooler to keep it from moving, then goes outside and grabs the front door doormat. Going back into the bedroom he places it on top of the cooler so Lucky doesn’t slide on the lid when coming down off the bed. “ Just yell if he tries getting down, I’ll help, ” he tells her.
” I love you. Good nite” She says with a smile.
” Love you baby, nite… Nite buddy…..” he says pointing to Lucky and smiling at her.
“ Get the light on your way out?” she asks.
John leans over the bed and gives Su a kiss and pats Lucky.
Grabbing his weather band radio that has a flashlight built in from one of the bags and exiting the room he looks around for the light switch on the wall and heads to the kitchen to get his cup of coffee.
Looking around the cottage contemplating what to do next, he takes a few sips of his coffee, winds up the radio with it’s crank to charge the batteries and turns it on. The flashlight works and the radio works … SHE”S A WEEKI WACHI MERMAID by Treble Hook comes over the radio, but the weather band is not coming in. I thought I programmed Sanibel into this thing. He looks at it, gives a shake and sits it down. He steps outside onto the deck and tries to relax sitting on the bar stool.
It’s warm and a light breeze is blowing, no-see-ums bite him in several places, but that doesn’t matter to him at the moment. He just wants to experience all Sanibel has to offer. He only wants to sleep when he has to.
Adjusting himself on the stool he tries to tune into Sanibel’s energy. Sort of meditating, but not a full on meditation. More like a channeling of it.
He wants to go sit on the beach where the water meets the shell shoreline and look for shells, but doesn’t want to leave Su and Lucky alone sleeping unprotected. He is comfortable with, that he wants to be near them. Besides, it’s all right here in front of me anyways. I’m just not getting my feet wet and I can’t see the shells in the dark anyway.
He knows there’s no real planning for the next day, they just go with the flow, whatever the flow is at the moment. So he listens to the howling wind tunnel that is directly in front of him and watches the lightning over the gulf that sometimes lights up enough of the dark sky for him to see the outline of the storm clouds.
No worries, no problems, no complaints, absolutely nothing bothering them.
” Ouch! You little shits!” John exclaims in pain.
Except for the bugs.
Copyright © 2012 by John Edward Petersen