Scene 21 – John’s Walk
John looks back one more time as Su makes her way down the beach. ” I love you babe,” he says and immediately turns his attention from her to finding a Junonia for her.
Taking a few sips of water he takes his hat off and wipes the sweat from his face. ” Wow, that feels good.”
John looks out at the light green water with the reflection of the bright white sun shining on its surface and notices white low lying clouds slowly drifting over the water. It worked for her.
He applies more sunscreen to his nose, puts his cap back on and sets out up the beach searching for the Junonia.
Sewing the beach by walking into the water, then back up to the sand, up the beach, then back into the shallow water, he searches methodically, scanning the ground for that one specific shell.
He finds many rocks, which surprises him. They remind him of large river stones. Very smooth on the outside, some flat, some round , all of them gray to dark gray in color. Some of them are pitted like they may have come from molten rock. Some of them look like they have been broken off of a larger piece, not sharp edged but more square in shape with smoothed edges from being tumbled in the waves. Some of them are flattened and elongated, with smooth edges all the way around them.
One rust colored rock has a fossilized shell on it. The shell is fused to the rock, it is dark and the shell resembles a Cross Barred Venus in shape except that the deep lines on the outer surface of the shell only run in one direction vertically. He isn’t surprised by this find as he has found many fossilized shells in the past on larger rocks but decides to keep it anyway, being it came from Sanibel.
Continuing to sew the beach he finds several rocks that look like pestles, bulbed at the bottom much like the shape of a light bulb, ranging in sizes from 2 inches to 4 inches. I wonder if this would work for grinding herbs?
Using a large clam shell as a mortar he places sand in it and grinds using the pestle shaped stone. He can hear the sand grinding as he scrapes. The fine sand grinds into an even finer powder. ” Nice! I’m gonna try this on the herbs.”
Looking up the beach, he stops sewing the tide due to fatigue and walks on the more compact sands of the shore looking for larger shells that are easier to see.
He follows the beach with his eyes further and yet further out and sees a man quite a ways in front of him walking down the beach alone.
Beyond the man, the beach seems to recess into the land in a long wide bow and come to a point back out in the water much further up the beach. ” There’s no way I’m gonna make it all the way over there. I’m way too tired.”
Continuing to comb the beach looking for shells, he finds a very large Conch shell that isn’t in very good condition and decides to leave it.
Looking up he sees the man who was walking alone and a man in a suit not far from one another. The man in the suit seems to be watching the man walking down the beach. John notices the man walking down the beach is wearing what he calls ” tighty whities”, a skimpy white tight fitting bathing suit that many divers and athletes wear and feels a bit uncomfortable. The man is large with a very dark copper tan.
He may not be. John always seems to attract the attention of gay men. Even though he doesn’t have a problem with members of the gay community, today he doesn’t want to be confronted by one trying to pick him up. He isn’t sure if the man wearing the tighty whities is or isn’t gay, but has a very uncomfortable feeling about him.
” It’s time to get going anyway, maybe I’ll find something on the way back.” John looks inland and sees man-made bird nests on poles in the thick brush. “ That’s cool, now, where am I?”
Looking down the beach he doesn’t see anything he recognizes that hints at how far he has to go to get back to the cottage. ” Where is that point at?”
Looking for the Junonia as he walks back, the sun continues to move from overhead, to over the water. Oh that’s not a good sign, wish I brought my watch with me now, I sure don’t want it to get dark and walk right by the cottage.
Shoving the net handle in the sand, he looks at the shadow. I think that’s North, so it would be about … 4:30, 5:30. Plenty of time.
Looking up, the white clouds have darkened, the blue sky is going gray. John picks up his pace.
” Oh oww!” Getting a cramp in his calf, he sits down trying to rub it out. He still doesn’t know how far he has to go, nothing but the beach looks familiar to him.
He looks down the beach and sees the large Conch shell he didn’t pick up earlier, it is quite a ways in front of him. John bows his heads Oh man, I might make it back before the sun sets. Let’s see, where am I? That bow was about two miles long and went up into a point. The bridge to Captiva is just beyond that point, so I’m probably a mile or so away from the cottage. 2 miles per hour. “ Crap! 1 or 2 hours?!” he exclaims.
John looks down the beach and sees people far away in the distance. Looking up the beach, the man in the white swimming trunks and the man in the suit aren’t on the beach any more.
He pulls out his cigarette case admiring the Junonia design he burned into the case. ” Quite elusive you are.”
Calves still hurting, he gets up with a wobble and fights back his light-headedness.
” Poor guy, gotta walk back to his cottage on the beach,” John says, laughing at himself and continues to walk in the hot sun.
He passes the conch shell.
Almost to the point, he notices something making a straight line under the sand as a wave recedes and the clear shallow water washes over it.
Dropping to his knees, digging in the sand with his hands, he feels something hard and large with a square profile to it. ” What is that?
He keeps digging around the object for several minutes, finally pulling it out. It’s large and rough.
For an instant the hope of finding something valuable flashed through his mind. A bar of lost gold ” That would be crazy!”
He rinses it off real quick in the water, looking at it. He sees one side of it is covered in a thin smooth hard white substance. On the other side is a four or five inch thick layer of compact shells. Kinda looks like a brick, maybe Su will know.
Placing and carrying the rock brick in the shell net, he gets to the point where Su and he sat talking earlier. He looks up and sees the chopped top trees and is relieved. ” Finally!” he says in a grunt of relief.
His hip, back, legs and neck are killing him. His skin is burnt from being in the direct sun and from getting sun reflected back at him from the water and white sand all day. Sorry Doc
He looks to see if Su is on the beach. Her chair is there but does not see her. There are still quite a few people swimming, sunbathing and shelling the beach in that area.
Making his way between the dunes to the cottage, he plops down in a patio chair, laying his head back in the shade of the table umbrella, taking off his cap. ” Oh God I hurt so bad, ooh!”
John closes his eyes resting, letting his heart rate drop and his breathing become easy and comfortable. He feels himself cooling off.
After a few moments he takes a deep breath and exhales looking around, wondering where Su is.
Emptying his pockets, placing the brick, rocks and shells on the table, he knocks the dry sand off of his body with a dry towel.
Having a little difficulty unlocking the door, he goes inside. Lucky is laying on his blanket. He lifts his head to see who came in.
Turning the corner into the bedroom John doesn’t see Su in bed. The bathroom door is wide open with no one in it.
Turning around he looks on the couch thinking he might have overlooked her napping there. But she is not there either.
” Where’s Mom, buddy?” John asks Lucky. Lucky looks at him, then lays his head down.
Opening the front door, he sees that the car is still there. She must’ve been swimming at the beach.
John pours a cup of coffee, heats it up in the microwave, fixing it the way he normally fixes it, with one sugar, plus one creamer, sits on the couch relaxing and cooling off.
Putting a throw pillow behind him to support his back, he leans back on the couch closing his eyes and rests.
Copyright © 2013 by John Edward Petersen