Jacob Reecher

On the Rocks  

        Farther north on the beach little waves spilled over and turned like rock tumblers, but from the boardwalk all the way south to the jetty the surf was calm.  The beach was crowded because it was hot and bright and the East looked very blue.  Kevin worried that the rock by the lobster pots would be surrounded by hyper little boys whose flip-flops would snag on the boulders and whose tears and gasp-broken cries for help would bring adults, iron-chested life guards, men who patrolled the beach in golf carts, police, or even tell Mom.  He looked down to make sure the bulge of the Jack Daniel’s bottle in his zipper pocket was completely but casually hidden by the green-and-blue striped towel that hung over his arm.  He was very skinny with only the smallest pouch of folded skin at his belly-button.

        “Slow down, Kevin!” called Mom from almost all the way down the boardwalk, near the concession stand.

        Kevin looked back, lifting up his gas-station sunglasses and squinting, and wished Mom hadn’t insisted on towing Daisy along.  Whatever the relationship between Mom and her little Welsh terrier, Mom wasn’t the master.  The little dog barked constantly, and always pulled on its leather collar to smell this grain of sand or that one.  Mom gave Daisy biscuits to keep quiet and behave, but as soon as the treat disappeared behind the dog’s white little mustache, the barking and pulling started right up again.  What was worse was that Kevin and Mom would get thrown off the beach if they didn’t set up camp in the “DOGS ALLOWED” section on the south end of the beach, which meant Kevin would be staring at retired ladies in stretched-out halter-tops and stepping in poop of infinite variety in size and consistency.  It also meant that Mom would be closer to the rock, and this would make it harder to hide.

        When Mom and Daisy caught up with Kevin, he stared at the “NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES” sign and pretended not to notice them.  Kevin’s brother Josh was much older, 22, and said he would buy the Jack for Kevin at a 50-percent markup.  Kevin didn’t know what that meant but gave Josh ten dollars because it seemed about right.  On the way to the beach Mom bought Kevin lunch at Stevie’s Pizza (they left Daisy in the car), and then went to a nearby package store to buy Camel cigarettes where Kevin saw fifths of Jack on sale for five dollars.

        “You see a good spot?” Mom said, straightening her sunglasses and straw bonnet.  “Daisy!” she said to the yipping pup, “Shut up!”

        Kevin gazed north.  “The rocks will be better over by the waves, because of the erosion.”

        “Kevin, we have Daisy-”

        “I know, I know,” Kevin interrupted.  He sighed.  The high school girls would be there too.  He didn’t fantasize about talking to them.  He didn’t want to.  He only wanted to watch these girls who didn’t have flat chests or pimply faces, to become         comfortable with their round butts loosening and firming up and their smiling boobs that made their swimsuits bulge, not sag.

        “There’s a spot,” Kevin said without really seeing one, and walked toward the other dog-owners with great awareness of where his feet landed.

        Kevin threw down his beach chair and sat – making sure his towel still covered the whiskey bulge – in the shade of a rainbow umbrella under which a middle aged woman slept, the newest issue of The Improper Bostonian hanging onto her belly that peeked out of her modest two-piece.  Her dog, a black mutt that must have outweighed Kevin’s 105 lbs., and on it’s hind legs was probably taller than his 5’4”, said hello to Daisy the way dog do.  Daisy barked.

        The Improper Bostonian reader woke up with a frown, and picked up her damp magazine from her stomach.

        “I’m sorry!” said Mom with a slight wave and smile as she dug in her bag for Daisy’s treats.

        She found the biscuits and held one out for Daisy, but the mutt snapped at her hand first.  Mom shrieked and threw the bag of treats.

        The biscuits landed on Kevin’s balls with an instant but vague soreness.  He took only one short sharp breath before the lab’s coaster-sized paw landed squarely on his left nut.  His hand flew to the dog’s legs to push it off and at the same time he barrel-rolled towards the woman under the umbrella, who got up as quickly as she could after marking her spot in her magazine and pulled the black beast off of Kevin, yelling “Baxter!  Baxter, no!”

        “Oh my God, Kevin, are you all right?” said Mom, running over ready to hug.

        Kevin held up one hand to stop Mom and cradled his balls with the other.  He didn’t say anything.

        “I’m so sorry,” said Baxter’s owner.  “Are you okay?”

        Kevin said nothing, but nodded.

        Mom put her hands together in front of her mouth.  “Are you sure?”

        Kevin nodded again and started limping towards the ocean.

        “Okay, well did you put sunscreen on?”

        Kevin looked at Mom.

        “All right, well come back soon and put some on.”

        Kevin nodded a lie and turned his back.

        “Are you going to look for some rocks?”

        Kevin nodded without turning around.  His balls hurt terribly, as if a vacuum was sucking them back up inside him, but he knew it would pass.  Thanks to poor adult supervision during recess, he had learned by week three of middle school how to deal with floaters: just breathe deep and slow and walk with your legs spread like a cowboy for a minute or two.  He would also avoid the cold water for a minute.

        Now he was away from Mom and as long as Baxter was around had an excuse not to return.  He looked south to the jetty and could see the lobster pots but not the rock nor any odd haircuts poking above the jetty’s jagged line of boulders.  He wanted to check out the rock now but the Jack was in his right zipper pocket so he moved north to keep the fifth’s bulge out of sight from Mom or the life gaurds.

        He kept his eye on the beach looking for rocks to add to his current collection of 47.

        By the time he got to the waves and volleyball-playing teenagers, Kevin was walking almost normally, his legs just barely spread to avoid nudging back the dying pain in his nuts.   He moved into waist deep water near the volleyball pits, where he watched the older girls from the cold water to keep his penis from standing up, or to hide it if it did.  His reasons for watching the older girls weren’t perverted or even sexually driven, and instead these swims on the north end of the beach functioned for Kevin as a type of social research.

        His collection mostly consisting of alaskite, quartz diorite and monzodiorite, marble, slate, peraluminous metaluminous and subaluminous granite, and coal.

        Kevin used the cover of the deep water to move the Jack Daniel’s from his right to his left zipper pocket, concealing it for the walk south to the jetty.  Josh once told Kevin that the only possible way to figure out women is observation.  Josh also said to watch the guys with the girls, because understanding a woman’s man was part of understanding the woman.  So Kevin observed the teenagers playing volleyball.

        Kevin’s favorite was a sharp triangular piece of an extrusive igneous rock called obsidian which he claimed was once used as a         Wamponaug arrowhead and which looked like black glass.

        It was a four-on-four match, girls against boys.  There were two girls in bikinis, one skinny and one chubby.  A third girl was tall and athletic, and another wore a one-piece swimsuit.  Of the boys, three were shirtless.  One had defined tan lines, another was well-muscled, and the third had a doughy torso.  One boy wore a cutoff t-shirt.

        Some minerals Kevin’s collection lacked for one reason or another.

        The girl wearing the one piece was serving.  She served underhand, and the ball hit the net squarely.

        “Net!” announced Cutoff.

        One-Piece shrugged and distractedly said to her team, “We should get matching t-shirts.”

        “That’s a good idea,” said Skinny Bikini, pinching the skin of her stomach.  “I don’t like swearing a swimsuit when I’m out of shape.”  Mica schist, for example, was a cool mineral Kevin had seen in several science classes and even acquired once or twice.  It was very brittle a flaky and always broke apart and turned to dust in Kevin’s rock box.

        “My serve,” said Muscles, pushing down his swim trunks just a bit to reveal his chiseled navel.

        Tall-and-Athletic tossed the volleyball over the net to Muscles.

        “Under the net, please,” said Tan Lines.  “Courtesy.  Be a good sport.”

        “Twenty serving nineteen,” said Muscles.

        “No,” said Chubby Bikini.  “We have twenty, you have nineteen.”

        “No-” Muscles began to protest.  Then, “Wait, you’re right.  Nineteen serving twenty.”

        Muscles crouched with the ball held out in front of him.  He threw the ball up in the air and jumped to hit it as it fell, stretching his stomach and chest tight and propelling the ball over the net.

        “I got it!” yelled Tall-and-Athletic.

        Tall-and-Athletic bumped the ball, but a gust of wind blew it backwards towards Chubby Bikini.  Chubby Bikini sprawled in the sand barely hitting the ball towards One-Piece.  One-Piece saw the ball and slid into a splits to try and reach it.  She missed and the ball spun in the sand.

        “Good job men,” said Doughboy.

        “You didn’t do anything,” said Skinny Bikini.

        “Neither did you,” said Chubby Bikini, tossing the ball to Muscles.  For a rock collector to look twice at limestone would be like flower-presser to save a dandelion.  It was everywhere and just made a mess because the more you handled limestone, the more it seemed to sweat dirt.

        “Under the net, please,” said Tan Lines.

        “This wind makes it interesting,” said Cutoff.  Kevin had been offered Fool’s Gold at impromptu swaps in friends’ basements, but always passed.  Most times the offer was made legitimately, with no pretensions of actual gold.  The trades would have been fair.  But Fool’s Gold was too sparkly for a worthless mineral.

        “Twenty serving twenty.”

        Muscles jump served again.  Chubby Bikini threw out her leg at the last minute and kicked the ball back over the net.

        “It counts!” she yelled as she fell into the sand again.

        Muscles left his position and dove for the ball, hitting it towards Tan Lines.  Tan Lines reached but didn’t move his feet.  The ball landed out of bounds and rolled toward a man reading under an umbrella.

        “Out!” announced Cutoff.

        “I’ve got it!” said Doughboy, jogging after the ball.

        “Come on!” Muscles yelled at Tan Lines.

        “I didn’t stretch today,” said Tan Lines.  Mercury would be fun to have a bit of.  Liquid that rolls in your palm.  Metal impossible to grab hold of at room temperature.  Of course it was poisonous, and Kevin wasn’t allowed to have any.  He’d told Mom over and over he wouldn’t chew on it like the hatters, but she always said no.

        The man reading felt the ball hit his chair, and threw it to Cutoff just as Doughboy arrived to retrieve it.

        “Your turn,” said Tall-and-Athletic to Skinny Bikini.

        “You take it,” said Skinny Bikini.  “I can’t serve in this wind.”

        Tall-and-Athletic prepared to serve.  “Twenty-twenty.”

        She served with a confident overhand to the back left corner, and hit Doughboy squarely in the face.  Everybody laughed, even Doughboy.  Chubby Bikini high-fived Tall-and-Athletic and said, “Ace!”

        “Twenty-one to twenty,” said Tall-and-Athletic, before serving the ball once again straight to Doughboy.  Doughboy punched the ball back over the net, over the four girls, and well out of bounds.

        “Out,” muttered Cutoff.

        Tall-and-Athletic took off after the ball.

        “You got the power, that’s for damn sure,” said Tan Lines.

        “I wanted to kill it,” Doughboy said, his face either red with embarrassment or from being hit a minute earlier with the volleyball.  “And the wind took it.” Obviously it would be silly to include clay in a rock collection.  First of all, it’s everywhere.  Second, it has no standards for its shape.  Other rocks needed mountains laid on top of them for millennia to shift or contort a millimeter.  Clay will move to any form for a backrub.

        “Any more excuses?” Muscles said.

        Tall-and-Athletic returned with the ball.  “Game point,” she said.

        “No pressure,” said One-Piece.

        Tall-and-Athletic served across the pit.

        “Sideout!” yelled Cutoff.

        Tan Lines watched the ball land just inside the boundary rope.  “Damn,” he said with a shrug.  “Guess not.”

        Muscles said, “God damn it!”

        After the game the teenagers left a trail of sweat to their chairs and umbrella and cooler, where they shared two liters of Coca-Cola.  They drank from red cups, slightly shivering.

        Kevin waded out of the water to look for rocks on the beach while he walked south to the jetty.  Near an old man so hairy it looked like he always wore a sweater, Kevin found a piece of quartz.  As he passed a woman with tattoos on her legs and arms and neck pushing a stroller he picked up a bit of granite.  He reached under a beach wheelchair made of PVC pipe to grab some marble.  The woman in the big-wheeled chair glared at him.  He ended up throwing all these away.  He wanted something new for his collection.  He considered picking up sea glass, but decided against it, because his interest was in naturally occurring rocks and minerals, not sea-washed shards of broken beer bottles, and anyway he didn’t like the girls in his grade who collected sea glass.  He found a brittle red rock with black and grey speckles.  Unsure what it was, he decided to look it up in his geology handbook once he got back from the jetty, and put it into his hip pocket.

        As he passed the dog section of the beach, Mom called to him over the barks of the other dogs and the shouted commands to shut up from their owners.

        “Kevin!”  Mom waved.  “Daisy, be quiet!  Kevin!  Come put on some sunscreen!”

        Kevin pretended not to hear her and only waved back.  He climbed onto the boulders of the jetty and stretched from one rock         to the next toward the light house at the end.  There were men fishing off the other side with long poles and children hopping across the uneven plane of boulders.  Women told children they did not know to slow down.

        He could see the lobster pots near the rock from a distance.  To the pilot of the bi-plane dragging a car insurance advertisement overhead they must have looked like people floating in life preservers.  Kevin stopped and looked toward the beach.  A group of maybe forty kids in matching maroon t-shirts were being led along the boardwalk to the beach, probably a field trip from the Y daycare.  He hoped the slouching counselors in matching neon green would keep them away from the jetty.

        As Kevin approached the rock, the crowd of children and nail-biting parents thinned.  Two fat teenagers held hands on the concrete steps of the lighthouse, but they ignored Kevin as he passed.  He heard a splash from up ahead.  As he jumped down onto a pink quartz boulder he saw the rock on the edge of the water, covered with wet moss.  Rings swam in every direction from a point in the water nearby.  Small ripples in the ocean imperfected the rings before they even reached the lobster pots.  On a boulder between Kevin and the rock was a white tote bag.

        Suddenly wet red hair pushed up from under the water where the rings began.  The girl gasped for air and treaded water for a moment, then saw Kevin and waved.

Kevin waved back.

        The girls swam to the rock and pulled her incredibly long and thin body out of the ocean.  She was totally breastless, had braces with blue rubber bands and freckles all over her nose and under her eyes.  She sat on the rock and looked at Kevin.

        “What’s yoah name?” she asked.

        “Kevin.  What’s yours?”

        “Sydney.”  Sydney got up and stepped over the incredible gap to the boulder her tote bag sat on.  Her legs were skinny and long.  “Ah ya gonna jump off the rock?” she asked, pulling a towel from the bag.

        “I might.”  Kevin said, unsure if he should stay, if this girl would be scared if he drank in front of her.  “My mom might be waiting-”

        “You smoke?” Sydney interrupted, drying herself off.

        “Umm…sure,” Kevin lied.  “Yeah.  What kind of cigarettes do you have?” he asked, as if it mattered.

        “Pall Malls,” said Sydney, grabbing a pack from her tote bag.  “The box matches my hayah.  You want one?”

        Kevin laughed when he saw the pack, because it really was the same shade as her hair.  “Sure,” he said, stepping a boulder closer and accepting the cigarette.  “You drink?”  he asked.

        “You brought lickah?  What kind?” said Sydney, her smile crooked and a little stained.

        “Jack Daniels.”

        Sydney fist-pumped.  “Pissah!  My favorite.  Bust it out, let’s have a swig.”

        Kevin unzipped his pocket and took out the Jack.  He opened and sipped it as Sydney lit her cigarette.  He swallowed fast and traded the bottle for Sydney’s Bic.

        “Ahhh,” Sydney breathed after taking a short pull.

        Kevin was considering drinking seawater to wash out the taste of the liquor.  He shook away the bitterness and put the Pall Mall in his mouth.  He tried but couldn’t light it.

        Sydney cupped her hands over the lighter, shielding it from the sea breeze.  “Try again.”

        Kevin sucked, and the cigarette lit up.  He coughed.

        “You from Plymouth?” Sydney asked, sitting Indian style on the boulder.

        Kevin sat down next to her.  “Bridgewater.”

        “I’m from Plymouth.”

        “You like it there?”

        “It’s all right.  You like Bridgewatah?”

        “It’s okay.  Boring.”

        “Tell me about it.  Gimme some moah of that Jack.  How old ah you?”

        “Thirteen.  You?”

        “Twelve.  I saw you uhlier.  Ahn’t you the one that got sack-tapped by the dog?”

        Kevin blushed.  “You saw that?”

        “Yeah.”  Sydney laughed.

        “It’s not funny.  That shit hurts you know.”

        “I’m suah it does,” she said.

        Kevin drank more whiskey sulkily and said nothing.

        Sydney patted Kevin on the shoulder.  “I’m sorry.  I hope yo’ah okay.”

        Kevin shrugged and took another sip.  “It’s all right, I’m fine.  Getting hit in the balls is something you have to get used to.”

        “What?”  Sydney looked stunned.  She took the bottle from Kevin.

        “Don’t the guys you know hit each other in the balls?”

        “No, not evah.”

        “Maybe it’s different in Plymouth.”

        “Maybe the guys you hang with ah fuckin’ assholes.”

        “Maybe.”  Kevin took the bottle back and took a long pull – more than he could swallow.  He choked and whiskey came out his nose.

        Sydney laughed.

        “Shut up,” Kevin said.  His nostrils burned.

        Sydney dragged her cigarette.  It was almost gone.  “Cheeah up, it’s funny.”

        “I guess.”  Kevin took a few puffs of his own Pall Mall to catch up with Sydney.  The sun was hot.  He wished he’d put on sunscreen.  “Do you have any suntan lotion in that bag?” he asked Sydney.

        “Nah,” she said, flicking her butt into the ocean and sipping the whiskey.  “I prefah buhning to smellin’ like that shit.  Heah,” she handed the bottle back to Kevin.  “Finish this off.”

        Kevin drank the last of the Jack.  He puffed his own cigarette once more and flicked it.

        “You gonna jump off the rock oah what?”  Sydney asked.

        “Yeah,” Kevin said, though he didn’t really want to get up.  He felt dizzy and heavy.  His arms couldn’t hold his body steady.  He laid down flat and closed his eyes.  “Just gimme a minute.”

        “What’s in yoah pocket?” Sydney asked.

        “A rock,” Kevin said without opening his eyes.

        “You collect rocks?”

        “Yeah.”

        “Well, lemme see it.”

        Kevin lifted his head barely and cracked open his eyes to find his pocket.  He pulled out the rock and held it up in the air, closing his eyes again.  The sun was so bright.

        Sydney took the rock out of his hands.  “What kind is it?”

        “I dunno.”  He took a breath.  “I’ma gonna look’t up when get back to Mom.  Geelgy book.”

        “I think I’m gonna throw it.”

        “What!”  Kevin sat up, and thought for a moment he would pass out he was so dizzy.

        “Unless you jump off the rock right now I’m gonna throw it in the ocean.”

        “Com’n, Syney,” Kevin moaned.

        Sydney stood up, stepped to an out-of-reach boulder and cocked her frail arm.  “You have ten seconds.”

        “Sydney-”

        “One.”

        “Giv’t back.”

        “Two.”

        “Giv’t back!”

        “Don’t be a baby, jump off the rock.  You’ll feel better.  Three.”

        Kevin groaned and put his feet under him.

        “Four.”

        From his crouch Kevin stood up, still bent over double to hold a boulder for support.

        “Five.”

        Kevin stood up straight, wobbling on his feet.  “Jesus,” he said.

        Sydney laughed.  “Six.”

        Kevin tottered to the edge of the boulder.  The rock was a small hop or a big step away.

        “Seven.”

        He opted for the small hop and steadied himself.

        “Eight.”

        He made the hop, but his feet slipped on the wet moss.  His side hit the rock and he slid into the water.

        When he surfaced Sydney was staring at him with worried dilated pupils.

        “Oh my god, Kevin!  Are you all right?”  She held out her hand to help him.

        Kevin knocked her hand away and floundered out of the water.  He flopped on a boulder and rolled onto his back.  He looked at his side.  It was badly scraped and green from the moss, but he would live.

        “I’m so sorry Kevin,” Sydney said.

        “Oh, fuck you.”

        “I’m sorry!” Sydney said.

        Kevin opened his eyes and saw Sydney had started to cry.

        “Hey, it’s okay,” he said.  “I’ll be all right.  Don’t cry.”

        Sydney sniffled and wiped away a tear.  “You suah yo’ah okay?

        Kevin touched his side and gasped.  “Well, it hurts.  But I’m okay.  Can I have my rock back please?”

        “Suah…oh shit.”

        “What?”

        Sydney looked at him and tried not to smile.  “I think I dropped it when you fell in.”

        “Jesus Christ,” Kevin said, but he wasn’t really angry.

        Sydney’s smile broke into a short laugh.  “I’m sorry.”

        Kevin laughed too.  “It’s all right,” he said.  “There are other rocks on the beach.”

        “What are you kids doing out here?” came a deep voice from behind Kevin and Sydney.

        Looking behind them, they saw a thick mustached man in hiking boots, khaki shorts, and a tucked-in polo shirt.  His large black sunglasses gazed down at them from the boulders above, over his inflated belly.

        “Nothin’,” said Kevin and Sydney.

        “What’s that?” said the man, pointing to the empty bottle and the pack of cigarettes lying by Sydney’s tote bag.

        “That was theyah when we got heeah,” said Sydney.

        “Sure they were,” said the man, taking authoritative steps towards the two kids.  “Give them to me.”

        Sydney handed the bottle and Pall Malls to the man.

        “Come with me.”

        “I’m not feeling too well,” said Kevin.  “I’d like to stay here for a little while.  I think it was something I ate.”

        “More like something you drank,” said the man.  He bent over and picked Kevin up.  “If you’re gonna act like a baby, I’ll carry you like one.”

        The man turned to Sydney.  “Can you walk?”

        “Yeah,” said Sydney with her eyes on the ground.

        “All right, follow me, and no funny stuff.”

        No one spoke as the mustached man carried Kevin back to the beach, where a golf cart was waiting.  Kevin was embarrassed about being carried, and wondered whether the man was also embarrassed.  When he looked at the man he thought he was.  This was funny to him, but he did not laugh because he knew that would make things worse.

        “Here’s what will happen,” said the man once they had reached the sand and the golf cart.  “I’m going to drive you both up the beach.  You will tell me where your parents are so I can tell them myself exactly what happened.  If you don’t tell me where your parents are, I will drive you to the parking lot and call the police.  Understood?”

        “Yeah,” said Kevin and Sydney.

        As the golf cart passed the dog section, Kevin couldn’t see Mom, but told the man to stop the cart anyway.  They both got out.  Kevin was walking on his own now, but still felt a bit sick and very tired.

        “Where are your parents?” asked the man.

        “This way.  Bye Sydney,” said Kevin.

        “Bye Kevin.  I hope yoah side is okay.”

        “Thanks.”

        “Which way, son?” repeated the man.

        Kevin walked toward his spot, but Mom was still nowhere in sight.  He came closer to his chair and noticed the woman with the lab and the rainbow umbrella and the Improper Bostonian was still there, and asleep again.  Baxter looked up lazily as they approached.

        “Hi Baxter,” said Kevin.

        “Is that your dog?” said the mustached man.

        Kevin hesitated.  “Yeah.  Mom, wake up,” he said to the sleeping woman.

        Baxter barked.

        The woman woke up.

        “Ma’am,” said the mustached man, stepping in front of Kevin.  “Is this young man your son?”

        The woman looked confused.  From behind the mustached man, Kevin held his hands together to plead for her help.

        “Yes,” said the woman slowly.

        The mustached man looked at Kevin, who had put his hands behind his back and was again looking at the ground remorsefully.

        The man looked back at Baxter’s owner.  “Ma’am, I found your sun at the end of the jetty drinking and smoking with a young lady.  Aside from their being minors, it is against the law to have alcohol on the beach.  There’s no need to get police involved this time, but if I catch your son breaking the rules of the beach again, there will be.”

        “Of course, sir,” said the woman solemnly.  “Son, sit down,” she said to Kevin.  “We’re going to have a little chat.”

        Kevin sat down and crossed his arms.

        The mustached man gave one last glare to Kevin, then nodded to Baxter’s owner.  “Have a nice day, ma’am.”

        “Thank you,” she said.  “You too.”

        When the mustached man was far enough away, the woman put down her magazine and grabbed a sandwich from the cooler next to her.  “Here,” she said.  “Eat this before your mom comes back.”  She also gave him a Coke.  “And drink this.”

        “Where is she?”  Kevin took the sandwich gratefully and cracked open the soda.

        “I don’t know.  Down the beach, maybe in the bathroom.  Just worry about sobering up.  How much did you drink?”

        “That girl and I split a bottle,” Kevin said with his mouth full.

        “What girl?”

        Kevin pointed to the golf cart, which was driving north up the beach.  Sydney waved from the backseat, and Kevin waved back.

        “She’s cute,” said the woman with a smile.

        Kevin swallowed, and sipped the Coke.  It tasted so sweet after the whiskey and the saltwater he swallowed.  After a minute he looked at the woman, who was again reading her magazine and nodding off.  “Thanks for your help,” he said.  “And for the food.”

        “Hmm?  Oh it was nothing.  Our little secret.”

        By the time Mom got back with Daisy, the woman was asleep again.

        “What happened to your side?” Mom said with alarm.

        “Oh, nothing,” Kevin said.  “I slipped on a rock on the jetty.  It’s fine.”

        “I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time over there.  I was just buying a bottled water and I saw a girl get taken away by the  police.  I guess she was drinking and smoking at the end of the jetty.  I hope you know better than to do that.”

Kevin said nothing.  Daisy started barking.

        “Daisy, shut up.”  Mom fished in her purse and gave Kevin a ten-dollar bill.  “Go get some lunch if you want,” she said.

        Kevin took the money.  “Maybe later,” he said.

        “Did you find any cool rocks on the beach?” Mom asked.

        Kevin looked north at the waves and the teenagers tripping over themselves in the volleyball pits.

 

Jacob Reecher recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in professional writing. He is currently reading something and writing something else. bio-jacob