I woke this morning with the need to write. Or just type. Were on our annual beach vacation so I decided to go that direction. If I find time, and the hang overs don’t cloud my mornings, I’ll add a little bit each day.
Nothing inspires me more to put words down than mindless relaxation, running, and having a few mind numbing drinks. And since that’s all I plan on doing all week, I thought-why not.
I don’t plan on editing, who want to do that shit while on vacation. So you’ll find mistakes, and I’ll curse myself for not having a brain, but, its vacation. Also, I have to copy and paste it from a different program that I do some writing in so don’t hold it against me if it comes out mostly unreadable. Because frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ….
When he arrived at the Sunset Palace he knew it would be a beach vacation like no other. Usually, in the last 5 years he’d brought his family to the Sunset Palace, he would take the kids down to the water while Jill unpacked. This year, there was no Jill. Joey and Sam looked at the Palace from the back seat. “It’ll be a little different this time, but..” Tony’s words disappeared into an empty back seat. The two kids were already half way up the crumbled walk, heading toward the sand. Tony could hear the waves from Lake Michigan crashing on the other side of the Palace. Probably be a good day for body surfing, he thought. He looked over at the empty passenger seat. Six years they had been coming here together.
The waves were indeed rolling three footers crashing white against the sand bar that was 50 yards from the shore. Joey, his 6 year old, caught a good wave and rode it until it ran out of gas. He smiled at Tony from his board.
It’ll be different alright, Tony thought. He set up the umbrella and the chairs. When he opened the garage he notice that Rita had replaced all the beach stuff for the Palace. A nice surprise. Last summer the chairs were rusted and the umbrellas were tattered from the Lake Michigan wind. Sam waded out to her waist and then came back in and covered herself with a towel. Her floppy hat and sunglasses hid her face. A face that had become more the face of a young woman than the face of his little girl. She would be starting high school in a few weeks and Tony had no shortage of anxiety of what that would bring. “I’m gonna go for a walk.” Her walks had become longer and longer with each passing year. Tony suspected they would be even longer during this vacation.
Joey caught another wave and rode it without taking his eyes off his dad. Tony flashed him a thumbs up then reached in the cooler for a cold beer. He needed it after the three hour drive west across the state. It was an easy drive this year. Traffic was light and the kids were tuned into their pads and pods. Far different than the days when Tony and Jill had to stop every 50 miles for pee breaks. But, as easy as the drive was, it was still three hours and Tony’s mind required booze.
He sat back in the chair and dug his feet in the warm sand. He kept his eye on Joey but his mind drifted vacations past. The first year Jill and him had come to Grand Haven they stayed in a Motel 6 up on the highway. Sam was three. Tony watched his little girl splash in the shallow water and dig in the sand while Jill read Cosmo and darkened her tan. He was still amazed that he had such a beautiful wife. And that she could still wear a bikini and catch the looks of guys 15 years younger than her. They made love in the double bed every night that first year, stopping often to make sure Sam was still sound asleep on the next bed over.
He sipped his beer, let the lemon flavor tingle in his mouth before swallowing it. Sam was nearly out of sight, still walking along the shore. She’s gonna break a heart or two in her day, just like her mom, Tony thought. Joey walked up holding his board.
“Man, dad, you gotta go ride a couple. They’re great.” He took a blue Gatorade from the cooler and drank half of it down.
“I’ll come out in a little bit.” Before Tony finished his sentence the boy was back in the water. He layed his head back and let his mind disappear again. This time it went to Joey’s first beach vacation. That was the first year the rented the Palace. Jill spent most of the week in the home with the baby while Sam and Tony played on the beach. Tony would look up at the deck and see Jill holding the boy in her sun dress. Her skin on her legs and shoulders was dark even thought she spend most of the summer inside with the newborn. How did I get so lucky? He thought that day.
“Hey Tony, I was wondering if I would see you guys this year.” The words snapped him out of his memories and back to the present. He recognized the female voice immediately.
“Shawna, how are you?” He stood up and gave her a hug and a small kiss on her cheek.
“I’m great. I mean, as great as one can be with the loss.”
“The loss?” Joey’s face turned to concern and he took off his sunglasses.
“I lost Hoss in June.” She said.
“I’m so sorry, Shawna. I had no idea or I would have came over.”
“It’s quite alright. He went suddenly. In his sleep. He was peaceful.” Tony couldn’t see her eyes because of her huge designer sunglasses but he suspected they were wet. He hugged her again. His arms wrapping her lithe body completely. He held her for a beat, “Tonight, your family, dinner at my place.”
“Please, Shawna, that sounds great, but we don’t want you…”
“No no. I insist. Seven o’clock.”
“I’ll bring the wine.” Tony smiled at her. They had shared many a bottle of wine during Tony and Jill’s visits. And after a bottle or two were empty, Shawna would begin subtly flirting with Tony. Tony and Jill would laugh about it the next day. Jill figured Shawna was flirted with by every man she ever drank with. All super models must get that. But it had been a decade since Shawna last walked the European catwalks and, the way Jill had it figured, she craved the attention of men her own age.
“Sounds great.” Shawna said, her smile flashing, revealing perfect teeth. She turned and walked away. Her practiced catwalk steps barely affected by the soft sand.
She didn’t ask about Jill, or the kids. It was classic Shawna. All about her.
Sam returned. Joey stretched out on the blanked with his pod blaring his brand of unmentionable music. Tony continued to watch the waves.
It would be a different vacation this year, much different. But on this day, the day they arrived, no one knew just how different it would be.