Scen 18 Mon.Day 3
Stepping inside Su hears her cell phone ringing.
She goes into the bedroom, pulls the cellphone out of her purse and the ringing stops. She checks the caller ID and sees Christine ***-***-****
Su doesn’t understand why the numbers are asterisks. She hits redial and it rings several times connecting her to a message center.
” Hi this is Christine and this is Justin and Peyton! Leave a message.”
Su smiles listening to all three of their voices. She especially liked the craziness of Peyton’s voice and hearing Justin.
” Just returning your call, bye,” Su says into the phone.
Su takes the phone into the kitchen with her as she fills her cup with ice. The phone rings again, ” Hello?” Su answers.
” Hi mom, how is Sanibel?” Christine asks.
” Loving it. Just came in from the beach. It’s hot out there I tell ya.”
” It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Christine asks staring at Peyton.
” Yes. So how’s it going? Are you getting ready?” Su asks.
” Justin and Peyton are excited, they want to go right now,” Christine says.
Su laughs … ” Awe Peyton, how is Justin doing?”
Christine hands the phone to Peyton, ” hi gramma,” he says in his cute little voice.
” Hi Peyton, are you being good,” Su asks.
“ Uh huh,” he responds with a smile.
Christine gives Brent a strange look.
“ I love you Peyton. Are you being nice to your brother?” Su asks smiling.
“ I love you too gramma,” Peyton says handing the phone to Justin.
Justin takes the phone looking at his mother and puts it to his ear. “ Hello?”
“ Hi Justin, how are you?” Su asks him.
Justin starts crying. “ I miss you grandma …”
“ Awwe, Don’t cry honey. It’s ok, you’re coming to see me and John soon.”
Justin doesn’t say anything. He just cries.
Su thinks he might have gotten into some kind of trouble again, school work maybe. “ It’ll be ok honey, I’ll see you when you get here,” Su says, trying to comfort him.
Christine motions for Justin to give her the phone.
“ Let me talk to your mom,” Su tells him.
Suddenly the phone loses its connection as he hands it to his mother.
Justin hugs Christine and cries as she holds the phone to her ear shaking her head at Brent. Brent shrugs. Peyton joins in on the hug and starts crying too. Their sadness makes Christine cry. “ It’s ok, we’re on our way. Time to see gramma,” Christine says, looking at Brent while trying to comfort them.
Su looks at her phone and it is completely powered down. “ Damn phone!” she says. Su presses buttons on the phone thinking maybe I hit a button or something. “ Damn it!”
She stares at the phone trying to find the end call button. Pressing it and closing the phone, she tries dialing the number again. The phone doesn’t respond. “ What the hell?”
She reaches into her night bag and pulls out the charger. Plugging the charger into the wall and the phone to it, to charge it. She waits a minute and the phone still doesn’t respond. Be patient. Let it charge. I’ll call’em back later. “ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 … No, didn’t work this time.”
Aggravated, Su walks into the kitchen, pours her soda over the ice and sips it carrying it over to the couch, turning on the TV. She flips through the channels to see what channels they have and leaves it on a game show station.
Outside, John is relaxing in one of the lawn chairs in the shade of the table umbrella and Lucky is laying in the sun looking out between the wooden spindles of the lean rail. John hears music and listens to see if he can identify it. ” Banjo,” he says aloud.
He hears a few more notes and recognizes that someone is practicing scales. The sound makes him want to practice a little bit on his own guitar.
” You dry yet buddy?” John asks Lucky.
John reaches down and feels Lucky’s coat. It’s still too wet to let him in the cottage. John sits back, closes his eyes and tries to tune into the music when it suddenly stops.
” Nice clean notes. Better than me,” John says, opening his eyes, looking over at the smaller cottage next to them to see if he can get a glimpse of who was playing, but sees nothing.
Looking around the porch he finds the bottle he left out from the other night.
” You don’t mind, do you Lucky?”
Lucky looks up at him. John opens the bottle and takes a sip from it. ” Smooth.” Sitting on the porch he drinks until he has a good buzz going. ” That is goood … So what do you think Lucky?” Lucky looks up at him and wags his tail thumping it on the deck then slowly gets up, sitting at attention. ” Oh I said the magic words huh? Alright I’m not gonna tease ya.”
Standing up, John finds the leash and clips the collar around Lucky’s neck. He moves the chairs blocking the entrance to the deck that they placed there to keep Lucky in and watches to make sure Lucky doesn’t fall and hurt himself going down the steps.
Walking around the Palm tree along the bushes, Lucky sniffs around.
John looks around the large open area and sees their new neighbors, a couple in their late fifties, maybe early sixties. He has a gray beard, is short and heavy set. She is thin, has blonde hair and is a little taller than her husband. They have their pet with them also, a shepherd mix that is several years younger than Lucky.
John waves to them and they reciprocate by waving back.
Turning around and walking the edge of the bushes to a corner, John looks for critters or anything unusual in the dense plants. He sees sand and sun bleached shells and some weeds. Nothing in the way of wildlife or even trash to pick up.
Turning around, Lucky takes the lead and heads towards the Palm tree he has been sniffing on since they got here and starts working his way around the tree, making his nose run. ” The Sanibel sniffing post, huh?”
Lucky keeps sniffing as John stands in the shade of the Palm tree, listening to the wind cut through the bushes and the sounds of the waves coming from the beach shore. The seagulls are sounding off. ” Alright buddy, you about ready?” John asks him.
Lucky keeps sniffing, then slowly steps away from the tree crouching down letting out a little dribble of pee. John leads Lucky back to the cottage and inside where the air is much cooler.
“ Wooh! Much cooler in here. Man, you get used to hanging out in that heat then come in to an a/c’d room and it feels like walking into a frigi-gator.”
” It’s so hot out there. Nice and cool in here. Oh crap!” Su says and exclaims.
” What?” John asks with widened eyes.
” I forgot to put the taters in.”
Su begins to get up and John stops her. ” I’ll get it, you relax.”
“ Thank you baby.”
” Welcome, what temperature?” he asks.
John nods and walks into the kitchen, reaching under the counter to get a couple of Lucky treats. Throwing them to him, he pulls four potatoes from the refrigerator.
” Ew, red ones. Fancy smancy!” John says with delight.
” These are big ones. You want’em baked or that one way I made them with the hot sauce that one time.”
” Which one is faster?” she asks.
” Hot sauce, because they are split in half.”
” Ok, let’s go with that, I like those. Just don’t use that really hot, hot sauce. A little heat is ok, I just can’t take that other kind of heat, way too hot for me.”
” The Florida sauce it is. I think the hottest pepper in it is cayenne and it’s not real hot. Well below a habanero and still below a tabasco, just above a serrano.”
” Come to think of it, can you put everything else on it but hot sauce?” she asks.
” That’s where most of the flavor comes from, but yeah I can do that.”
” Did you bring any of your herbs?”
” Of course, how about fish tails and John’s house seasoning.”
” Fish tails?”
John laughs, ” Oh you don’t remember huh?” Su shakes her head no.
John pulls out a small mason jar with herbs in it, opens the jar and hands her a dried tip of the herb. ” Look, it looks like a dolphin tail,” he points out.
Su holds it up and sees that it does resemble the shape of a dolphin’s tail, then sniffs it. “That’s neat. Mmm and smells so good too. That’ll do. Which one is it?”
” The secret ingredient. That’s the one basil plant we’ve been domesticating, generation 5. I’ve been picking just the tips of the plants specially for this trip. I picked them because when you dry them out they are shaped like a dolphin’s tail. Fitting huh?”
” Pretty Sanibelly.”
” Sanibelly”. That’s a good one considering it’s for dinner,” he remarks.
” That’s why I said it. Instead of ” Sanibel like.”
” Or Sanibel-ish, or Santa belly.”
” You’re weird,” she says.
” Alright so how about fish tails, John’s house seasoning, minced garlic, then dribbled with olive oil and baked?”
” Sound delicious.”
” On the grill.”
” Alright, one steak dinner with the fixin’s coming right up,” he says.
” Want me to do anything?” she asks.
” No, but I do need to start the grill first, these taters don’t take that long to cook.”
” How long?”
” ‘Bout thirty-five minutes.”
” Can you do them on the grill?”
” Yeah, but don’t know if they’ll cook right, they might turn out all mushy out there.”
” Even if you wrap them in foil?”
” Not really sure. Haven’t cooked them on the grill that way yet. I just want to make sure they turn out right for my honey pie and they will if we do them in the oven,” he says with a smile.
” Well while you’re getting the grill going I’ll season the meat,” she says.
Su gets up and moves towards the kitchen. John grabs the bag of charcoal and kisses Su as she walks by.
With charcoal, aluminum foil, and olive oil in hand, John goes out to the grill, pulls off the cover and lid, cleans the cooking grid with a balled up piece of aluminum foil and olive oil.
” Already pretty clean. I was expecting it to be dirty,” he says inspecting the grid.
Walking over to the hose, he turns it on and wets the ground around the grill. In case an ember falls
Pouring in the charcoal, he wipes off the grid with the paper towel then rolls it up like a large cigar placing it between several pieces of charcoal. Lighting his Zippo pipe lighter, he ignites the paper towel and the flame comes to life gently, spreading from charcoal to charcoal.
John watches to make sure no lit paper towel embers float up and away starting a fire in the brush, or anywhere else.
Guarding the fire until its stable with a low flame, he goes back inside to start the rest of dinner.
” You watching that fire?” Su asks.
” Yeah, watching it from here. Made sure nothing was floating, no popping or cracking and wet the area around it.”
” Well, we need to keep an eye on it.”
” Could you help me with that, I’m gonna be slicing and dicing and all that. I’ll watch it from here, but I have to look away to get this done. The hose is right out there in case something happens.”
” You know how afraid of fire I am,” she reminds him.
” It’s under control baby, you can watch it from the couch,” he says trying to reassure her.
” I can’t see it from here,” she says, looking around.
” I can see it from where I’m standing … sit on that other couch.”
Su gets up looks out the window and locates the grill. Moving around in the living room to find a good place to watch it from inside, she sits on the other couch. ” Oh ok, I see now.”
” Alright here we go,” John says, looking up at her for a brief moment.
John slices onions, red and yellow bell peppers, then minces garlic, leaving some in large chunks. He places them on two sheets of aluminum foil, drizzles them with olive oil, shakes his house seasoning on them and wraps them up in an aluminum foil tent.
Slicing the potatoes in half, he shakes his house seasoning all over them, shakes some parmesan cheese on them, and adds the minced fish tail basil to them, making sure they are thoroughly coated.
Placing minced garlic in small piles on an oiled aluminum lined cookie sheet, he places each potato half over the garlic then only drizzles the hot sauce over some of the potato halves. Covering the potatoes with another sheet of aluminum he puts them in the oven to cook at 425 for 35 minutes.
John looks at the steaks and they aren’t cut evenly, ” um, baby?” he says.
” We might not get the steaks to cook proper like, they’re a bit uneven.”
” Yeah, I was trying to help you by cutting the steaks but it didn’t go so well, you’re much better at that than I am.”
” They’re not all like that are they?” he asks hopefully.
” No, just those two. I left the rest of it for you to cut later.”
” Oh ok, yeah, no problem. Well, these might not turn out real well, just warning you.”
” I’m ok with that, it’s that one roast you can’t really do anything wrong to.”
” Alright, yeah, that is good meat and you’re right, it does seem like no matter how you cook it, it comes out good, even if you overcook it.”
” I could eat those every night of the week,” she says.
” Did you put John’s on it?” he asks.
” Yes, they’re all ready, how long?”
” I don’t know, about thirty minutes I’m guessing.”
” Good I’m getting hungry,” she says.
John fixes himself a cup of coffee, stares at the computer and thinks about the horror story he is writing. ” You know….”
” Know what?” she replies, staring out at the grill.
” Oh good you are listening … Y’know, I was just thinking. You know how no one, not even the cleaning lady comes into the cottage while someone is here…..?”
” What if someone got murdered here? No one would even know it until it’s check out time.”
” What made you think of that?” she asks, looking over her shoulder.
” Just wasting time thinking about the story I’m working on while waiting on the taters. Thinking it might be something interesting to add to it.”
” To the taters?”
” Very funny smartass.”
They both laugh.
” Someone could lure someone here on vacation, kill them and they could practically get away with murder,” he says as he thinks.
” They keep records in the office,” Su says.
” Only of the person who paid for it and who checked in. Their guests don’t have to give their names.”
” Why would someone check in with their own name to kill someone and think they can get away with it?”
” No, the other way around. The guest would be the killer who convinces the person who checks in and pays for the room/cottage.”
” What?” she asks, confused.
” The killer would be the guest of the person whose name is on record.”
” Well, I’m sure the police would figure it out if you killed me.”
” Yes, but not everybody is in our situation. Some people invite guests who don’t live with them.”
” Yeah, I guess it’s possible.”
” It’s very possible,” John states.
” You scare me sometimes.”
” Baby, you know I wouldn’t harm a single hair on your head.”
” Is it time yet?” she asks.
Lucky looks up.
” Uh oh!” Su says.
” I said the magic words by accident.”
John chuckles, ” I did that earlier, had to take him for a short walk. Oh! We got new neighbors in case you didn’t know.”
” Yeah I waved to them on the way up from the beach,” Su reminds him.
” Oh yeah, you did, didn’t you?” I could have sworn those were two women, he thinks.
” Yes. I’ll take him out while you are cooking the steak,” she tells him.
” Alright, the bugs shouldn’t be so bad with the grill going.”
” They usually aren’t bad when the sun is out, but as soon as it starts getting dark, they are awful.”
” What time is it?” he asks.
” Only about 5:30.”
John grabs the plate of steaks, a fork and the tongs and walks toward the door as Su puts Lucky’s leash on and follows him.
Lucky and Su walk towards Lucky’s tree and he begins sniffing while John checks the charcoals and puts the steaks on.
The fire flares up from the oil on the steaks when John places them on the grill with a fork. Quickly placing the lid over the grill John grabs a bottle of water from Su’s beach bag through the lean fence posts, pops a few holes in the top with his knife, lifts the lid with smoke bellowing out and sprays water on the fire to cool the charcoal down some. Smoke bellows up.
” Be careful baby,” Su says, watching him yank his hand from the steam.
” Pretty typical, does that at home too,” he says.
” What about the veggies?”
John puts the lid back on the grill and adjusts the vents to let the smoke out and quickly walks limping inside, grabbing the veggie pack then comes back out. ” These are gonna be good.”
“ Those steaks are smelling good,” she mentions.
John sniffs the air before lifting the lid and places the vegetables on the grill.
” Oh yeah, those TV cooks would be proud,” John says.
“ Let’s not go that far.”
” It smells pretty good … I bet it’ll be better than what we had when we went to that barbeque fest when we visited Julie and Rick that one time,” he says.
” I had so much fun. I loved that the kids were with us,” she says.
” Medium or well?” John asks.
” No blood.”
” Just over medium then.”
” I’ll check it when it’s time,” she says, watching Lucky.
John sits on the reclining pool chair that’s out on the ground near the grill. Su joins him and Lucky stands looking around while the food cooks. John puts his arm around her and she lays her head on his shoulder as smoke rises from the top of the grill. ” Tell me how much you love me,” she says.
” I love you more than a fat kid loves chocolate frosting on a cake,” he says with a grin.
Su ribs him with her elbow, “be serious.”
” I love you more than anything, I’d give you Sanibel in a ring,” he tells her, looking for the moon in the sky.
” I love you,” she says as she twists to face him and gives him a kiss. He turns and kisses her back.
Struggling to get up, John braces his back with his hand and Su tries to get up but can’t and sits back down putting her hand out for help.
” Two ninety years old gimps,” she says, trying to make fun, but there’s nothing funny about it to either of them.
John helps Su up from the low chair ” Three … Lucky,” John says.
” I think he’s doing better than us. Isn’t that right buddy?” she says, pinching Lucky’s cheek. Lucky looks at her and wags his tail and pants hard with his doggy smile.
” You might be right. He seems to be doing a lot better here than at home. Ponce de Leon may have found the River Jordan … Right here. Maybe it has something to do with the healing properties of the Junonia.”
” He never found the Fountain of Youth,” she tells him.
” Maybe he did and that’s why they killed him.”
” Noo. Time to flip the steaks,” she says.
John walks over to the grill, opens the lid and flips the steaks with the tongs then closes the lid.
” Don’t forget my juice,” Su says.
John holds up the tongs as if to say ” Oh yeah, I forgot”, grabs the dish that held her steak and pours the juices over her steak, then covers the grill with the lid again.
” Six minutes,” he says.
” Oh good, I’m starving. The smell of the grill and the steak with the veggies cooking is num num good,” she says, smacking her lips.
Lucky sniffs towards the grill.
” You don’t wanna sniff too close buddy, you’ll burn your cute nose,” Su says, warning Lucky.
” Yeah that would suck.”
” Yeah we’re looking out for the pup,” she says, leaning over rubbing Lucky’s face.
” Why did they kill him?” John asks.
” I suppose they got tired of being invaded, I don’t know.”
” That was the Calusa Indians, right?”
” Oh, I don’t know anything about that.”
” I know a little bit about it, did a little research on Sanibel before we came. This place has quite a history,” he says.
” Oh, I’m sure it does. Are the steaks ready yet?”
John hands her the tongs and his knife and uncovers the steaks.
Su looks at the steaks and smells them, ” they look ready and smell great! Which one is mine?”
John points to the thicker darker one. Su cuts into it. ” No blood and not too well done. This is going to be scrump-deli-umptious,” she says excitedly.
John removes the steaks to a clean plate and grabs the tinfoil full of veggies and they go inside.
John places the plate of steaks on the counter as Su loads the plates at the counter. John removes the potatoes from the oven and sticks a fork into them checking them, ” alright, good timing, they’re done.”
John starts removing the potatoes from the foil, ” they stuck a little bit but not too bad.”
Su looks up and sees that the potatoes are only losing the crispy skin that was face down on the foil, “ they’ll be fine, a little skin off the nose never hurt anyone.”
John points to his nose, ” unless it’s skin cancer,” he says.
” You can hardly even tell, don’t be so self-conscious about it.”
” Yeah from one side, but from the other side it looks like a little dick head,” he says.
Su shakes her head, ” no it doesn’t.”
” Yes it does, you’re just being prejudice.”
” Maybe a little, but it’s fine, I hardly ever notice it. Ok, here is your plate.”
John places the potatoes in a bowl with a large spoon and sets it on the counter. “Let’s eat,” he says.
Su takes a bite of her steak, ” Oh my God!, that is so good.”
They sit down at the counter and enjoy their meal together.
Copyright © 2013 by John Edward Petersen