Scene 20 – Tuesday Morning
Su shakes John’s foot, ” wake up baby.”
” Wha?” John says, with his eyes still closed.
” You told me to get you up, that you wanted to go shelling early.”
” I did?” he asks.
” No, but I know you do.”
” Yes dear.”
” What was that?” she asks abruptly.
” My honey pie, my sweety, thank you. I wouldn’t miss it for, for.”
” For what?” she asks.
” All the coffee in the world.”
Su lays next to John who is half covered in the bed linens and gives him a hug and kiss, then gets back up. ” I’m going out to the beach now. Coffee is made. You don’t have to join me if you don’t want. I don’t want you to feel obligated. But you can if you want, it’s one of those days,” she says.
” Alright, I’ll be out there soon, I love you. Want me to bring something on my way down?”
” No, I got everything thanks and leave Lucky here,” she says.
John looks over at Lucky in the other bed and sees he is knocked out cold. He looks to make sure he is breathing and hears him snore a little.
John lays his head back on the pillow trying to wake up. ” Yeah, I don’t think he’s in the mood anyway.”
John hears the door close and lock.
Getting up he staggers into the kitchen in his boxers, pours a cup of coffee and makes a thermal cup to take out to the beach with him.
The computer is open and he sees his stooper beside it. He doesn’t remember it being there or placing it there. He is confused.
He walks up to the computer picking up the string of shells and jostles them in his hand trying to remember how they got there. He thinks Su may have found them in his pocket and left them there for him to find.
Hovering over the computer, he opens his story file and quickly types in the murder scenario at the cottage. He closes out and shuts the computer.
After sipping the first cup of coffee, he gets dressed and shoves a cold bottle of water into one of his shorts pockets. Won’t stay cold for long.
Coffee mug in hand, he heads down to the beach to meet Su in his sandals, camouflage shorts, gray shirt, fishing cap and amber lensed glasses.
The sky is blue and clear and the morning sun is starting to warm up.
Making his way through the sand he walks down the roped path and notices the shell he placed there is now gone.
Looking for Su along the beach he sees several people lounging on chairs facing the water. Two middle aged women lounging close to the water, a family of six playing in the water and several couples walking the beach.
John finds Su walking in the water looking for shells and walks up to her. ” Hey baby,” he says.
Su looks up and smiles. Walking over to him she gives him a hug and kiss. ” That was quick,” she says with a smile.
” Gotta get that Junonia ya know? You want me to hang out here or do you want to walk with me?” he asks.
” I’ll go with you for a while.”
” Cool. You didn’t happen to bring the sunscreen did ya?”
” Not the one you use, but I have some of the other.”
” That’ll do.”
They walk to the chair. Su pulls the sunscreen out of her beach bag and hands it to him.
” Put some on my back for me would you? I have a feeling it’s going to be a real scorcher today,” she asks.
Su turns around, pulls her straps from her shoulders and he slathers on the lotion. Su giggles and squirms ” Oh cold … hah!”
” Sorry. It smells good,” he says as he runs his finger over a scar on her back. ” That’s a really big scar that doctor left.”
” It was really bad, he said that it was close to wrapping around my spine, that I was really lucky it didn’t.”
” What’d they call it?” he asks.
” I don’t know the scientific name they used, but it was basically a cyst that got infected.”
” Nasty.” John says making a face.
” Yes it was. He said I was cystic or have cystic skin problems. That’s it “cystic.”
” Does it hurt?” he asks, as he applies more lotion.
” No, it itches from time to time, but doesn’t hurt.”
” That’s good, you ready?”
” Yep, let’s go.”
John wipes a heavy amount of lotion on his nose, face and ears. ” Don’t forget about the Alphabet Cone,” he says.
” What about it?” she asks.
” It’ll kill you.”
Su waves her hand at him.
” Just reminding you.”
” I know, I don’t want to think about it,” Su says.
” Just mind your alphabet, that’s all.”
They head down to the shoreline and up the beach looking for shells. Su stays on the hard sand as John makes his way through the ankle deep water stooping for hours looking for shells.
John finds many common Jingle, Calico and Fan Scallop shells, Slipper shells, Spiny Jewel Boxes, Calico Clam and Crossed-barred Venus shells.
” Hey, what do we do when we find all the shells?” he asks.
” Find bigger and prettier ones.” Su says without looking up.
Su is concentrating on finding larger, more colorful shells and picks up many Calico Scallop, Florida Fighting Conch, Turkey Wings and Alternate Tellin shells. She also finds several Augers, Ceriths, fragmented Shark’s Eyes and another small Lightning Whelk shell in superb condition.
Sitting down on the beach to rest, Su lets the waves roll over her legs and waist.
” Ready to go back?” John asks.
” No, just resting, but don’t know how much longer I’ve got in me.”
” I’m gonna see what’s out here in the water,” John says, pointing to an area in deeper water straight out from where Su is sitting.
Su watches John as he drags the dip net along the bottom of the beach under the water, pulls it out, rinses the sand out in the waves and check for shells, then dumps the excess back into the water, every once in a while sticking one in his pocket. Over and over he goes through the same process.
John pulls up the net and sees he’s caught a small needle fish. Pinching the bag so it doesn’t jump out he takes it over to Su. ” Hey, look at this one.” Opening the bag Su looks in the net expecting to see a shell when the fish jumps, scaring her.
” Oh!” she says as she leans back trying to dodge it.
” Dinner?” John asks jokingly.
Su gives him a funny look, ” Are you going to go fishing?”
” I just did, don’t even need a pole.”
” You know what I mean, didn’t you bring your pole?”
” Yes. I might go one of these nights. I don’t wanna be holding a rod with lightning going on,” he says.
Su raises her eyebrows and nods her head. ” True.”
” I don’t really want to just catch them for no reason. If I catch them, I’m gonna eat them or use ’em for bait.”
” You just caught that one.”
” And I’m putting it back in the water right now,” he says, as he walks close to the water and tosses the fish back in.
“ It’s not like hooking them, once you hook them, their mortality rate drops to twenty-five percent with a barbed hook,” he says.
” Yeah, it was a real bummer when I found out myself. You know how much I love fishing.”
” Yeah, but it’s just a fish,” she says.
” It’s a living thing, I don’t know … maybe I’m getting soft or something,” John says, feeling confused.
” Noo, you just care more I think.”
” Yep, that I do.”
” That’s another thing I love about you” she says.
” What , that I’m getting soft.”
” No. That you care. Brat!”
John chuckles and stares out at the water as the waves push foam onto the sand, moving back and forth. He is hoping his sacrifice really is making a difference and that it is a good thing and that one person can make a difference in such a small way. Butterfly effect.
” Yeah, well that’s part of why I try catching catfish,” he says.
” Why is that?” Su asks.
” If I’m fishing for it, I won’t throw it back and they’re fun to catch. Specially when you hook into a big ole hawg. Good eats, one of the best for you too.”
” Not me.”
” Well, if you did eat fish. I don’t know, I might take the kids out fishing one of these nights, hook into a good sized one and let them reel it in.”
Su smiles, ” That would be good. I think they would like that.”
” We’ll see how it goes. Remember the last time we took Justin to the lake.? He wanted nothing to do with it.”
” Well, it was really hot and we were right in the sun,” she says.
” True … I tried to get y’all to go in the shade.”
” You told us that that was where the fish were.”
” That was where the fish were, but we could have moved. I was just trying to give the best chances of catching fish so he had a good experience,” he says.
“ We caught fish, it was just way too hot for him, I think. I was sweating like crazy and I’ve lived here/there all my life basically. I am kind of use to it. He’s just a kid.”
” Yeah it was pretty hot. We’ll see how it goes. They’ll probably have their nose buried in the TV, playing video games anyhow.”
” They might, but it’s ok, they’re on vacation. Like you said, we’ll see how it goes.”
” I’m here for them if they want me to be,” John says.
” Don’t be like that.”
” Oh no, I didn’t mean it in a bad way. We were kids once too, we know how it goes.”
” Yeah ok. Well, I think I’m gonna head back.”
” Darn, I was kinda hoping to keep going,” he says.
” No, you can stay and keep going, but remember that thing I told you about … having to walk all the way back too.”
” Yeah, I got ya. Want me to walk you back?” he asks.
” No, it’s ok, I understand. I know you want to find a Junonia as bad as me but I can only go so far with this damn back.”
” You sure?”
” Yes, I’m ok with it. I’m just gonna go back inside for a while and take my medicine. Might take a nap too.”
” Yeah, I’m not ready to just sit around just yet. I love you babe.”
” I love you, don’t forget to keep putting on that lotion.”
” Yeah, definitely. Oh hey … Could you take these shells for me? I wanna have more room for more.”
John empties his pockets of shells and empties the shelling net into hers. “ Thank you baby,” he says.
” Pss, no problem. Good luck!”
John watches her. When she gets about twenty-five yards away she turns around and waves. John smiles and waves back.
Turning around he makes his way up the beach, determined to find her a Junonia shell.
Copyright © 2012 by John Edward Petersen