The Beach Boy

December 28, 2015 - accent chair

The friends met for dinner, as they did a second Sunday of any month, during a small Italian grill on a Upper East Side. There were 3 couples: Marty and Barbara, Jerry and Maureen, and John and Marcia, who had recently returned from a weeklong island getaway to applaud their twenty-ninth marriage anniversary. “Were a beaches beautiful? How was a hotel? Was it safe? Was it memorable? Was it value a money?” a friends asked.

Marcia said, “You had to see it to trust it. The sea was like bathwater. The sunsets? Better than any painting. But a domestic situation, don’t get me started. All a beggars!” She put a palm over her heart and sipped her wine. “Who knows who’s in charge? It’s finish chaos. Meanwhile, a people all pronounce English! ” The vestiges of colonialism, a poverty, a corruption—it had all vexed her. “And we were harassed,” she told a friends. “By prostitutes. Male ones. They followed us down a beach like cats. The strangest thing. But a beach was positively gorgeous. Right, John?”

John sat opposite a table, swirling his spaghetti. He glanced adult during Marcia, nodded, winked.

The friends wanted to know what a prostitutes had looked like, how they’d dressed, what they’d said. They wanted details.

“They looked like normal people,” Marcia said, shrugging. “You know, customarily young, bad people, locals. But they were unequivocally complimentary. They kept saying, ‘Hello, good people. Massage? Nice massage for good people?’ ”

“Little did they know!” John joked, furrowing his eyebrows like a maniac. The friends laughed.

“We’d review about it in a guidebook,” Marcia said. “You’re not ostensible to acknowledge them during all. You don’t even demeanour them in a eye. If we do, they’ll never leave we alone. The beach boys. The masculine prostitutes, we mean. It’s sad,” she added. “Tragic. And, really, one wonders how anybody can starve in a place like that. There was food everywhere. Fruit on any tree. we customarily don’t know it. And a city was abundant with garbage. Rife! ” she proclaimed. She put down her fork. “Wouldn’t we say, hon?”

“I wouldn’t contend ‘rife,’ ” John answered, wiping a corners of his mouth with his cloth napkin. “Fragrant, some-more like.”

The waiter collected a unprepared plates of pasta, afterwards returned and took their orders of cheesecake and cake and decaffeinated coffee. John was quiet. He corkscrew by photos on his dungeon phone, looking for a design he’d taken of a gorilla seated on a conduct of a Virgin Mary statue. The statue was embellished in splendid colors, and a nose was chipped, arrangement a white, bleached allegation underneath a paint. The gorilla was black and skinny, with wide-spaced, highly-strung eyes. Its tail twisted underneath Mary’s chin. John incited a shade of his phone toward a table.

“This small guy,” he said.

“Aw!” a friends cried. They wanted to know, “Were a monkeys feral? Were they smelly? Are a people Catholic? Are they all unequivocally eremite there?”

“Catholic,” Marcia said, nodding. “And a monkeys were everywhere. Cute yet unequivocally sneaky. One of them stole John’s coop right out of his pocket.” She rattled off whatever contribution she could remember from a inlet debate they’d taken. “I consider there are laws about eating a monkeys. I’m not so sure. They all spoke English,” she repeated, “but infrequently it was tough to know them. The guides, we mean, not a monkeys.” She chuckled.

“The monkeys spoke Russian, naturally,” John said, and put divided his phone.

The list speak altered on to skeleton for renovating kitchens, summer shares, friends’ divorces, new movies, books, politics, sodium, and cholesterol. They drank a coffees, ate a desserts. John peeled a coupling off a hurl of antacids. Marcia showed off her new wristwatch, that she’d purchased duty-free during a airport. Then she reapplied her lipstick in a thoughtfulness in her H2O glass. When a check came, they all did a math, divvying adult a cost. Finally, they paid and went out onto a travel and a women hugged and a organisation shook hands.

“Welcome home,” Jerry said. “Back to civilization.”

“Ooh-ooh ah-ah!” John cried, imitating a monkey.

“Jesus, John,” Marcia whispered, embarressed and batting a atmosphere with her palm as if shooing a fly.

Each integrate went off in a opposite direction. John was a bit drunk. He’d finished Marcia’s second potion of booze given she’d pronounced it was giving her a headache. He took her arm as they incited a dilemma onto East Eighty-second Street toward a Park. The streets were scarcely empty, late as it was. The whole city felt hushed, focussed, like a immature dancer counting her steps.

Marcia fussed with her silk scarf, also purchased duty-free during a airport. The settlement was a paisley imitation in red and black and emerald immature and had reminded her of a colourful colors she’d seen a locals wearing on a island. Now she regretted shopping a scarf. The tassels were brief and fuzzy, and she suspicion they finished a silk demeanour cheap. She could give a headband divided as a gift, she supposed, yet to whom? It had been so expensive, and her closest friends—the customarily people she would ever spend so most income on—had customarily seen her wearing it. She sighed and looked adult during a moon as they entered a Park.

“Thank God Jerry and Maureen are removing along again,” Marcia said. “It was burdensome when they weren’t.”

“Marty was humorous about a wine, wasn’t he?” John said. “I told him we was excellent with Syrah. What does it matter? Que sera, sera.” He unhooked his arm from Marcia’s bend and put it around her shoulder.

“It gave me such a headache,” Marcia complained. “Should we cut opposite a field, or go around?”

“Let’s be bold.”

They stepped off a silt onto a grass. It was a dark, transparent night in a Park, still solely for a sound of apart automobile horns and ripping motors echoing faintly by a trees. John attempted for a impulse to forget that a city was right there, surrounding them. He’d been unhappy by how fast his life had returned to normal after a vacation. As before, he woke adult in a morning, saw patients all day long, returned home to eat cooking with Marcia, watched a dusk news, bathed, and went to bed. It was a good life, of course. He wasn’t pang from a grave illness; he wasn’t starving; he wasn’t being exploited or enslaved. But, gazing out a window of a debate train on a island, he had felt hostile of a locals, of their ability to do whatever was in their nature. His possess struggles seemed like sparse complications, incomprehensible snags in a lifeless channel that was his life. Why couldn’t he live by instinct and appetite, be primitive, be free?

At a rest stop, John had watched a dog lonesome in mange and draining pustules massage itself opposite a ragged wooden signpost. He was lucky, he thought, not to be that dog. And afterwards he felt ashamed of his payoff and his discontentedness. “I should be happy,” he told himself. “Marcia is.” Even a beggars drumming on automobile windows, vagrant for pennies, were smiling. “Hello, good people,” a beach boys had said. John had wanted to lapse their salutations and ask what it was that they had to offer. He’d been curious. But Marcia had shushed him, taken his hand, and plodded down a beach with her eyes bound on a vacant sand.

Crossing a grass in Central Park, John now attempted to remember a accurate stroke of a crashing waves on a beach on a island, a smell of a ocean, a sorcery and a risk he’d sensed brewing underneath a aspect of things. But it was impossible. This was New York City. When he was in it, it was a customarily place on earth. He looked up. The moon was customarily a sliver, a comma, a singular eyelash in a dark, starless sky.

“I forgot to call Lenore,” Marcia was observant as they walked. “Remind me tomorrow. She’ll be dissapoint if we don’t call. She’s so uptight.”

They reached a dilemma of a grass and stepped onto a paved trail that led them adult to a overpass over a plaza, where people were dancing in pairs to normal Chinese music. John and Marcia stopped to watch a low shapes relocating in a soothing light of lanterns. A immature masculine on a skateboard rumbled past them.

“Home honeyed home,” Marcia said.

John yawned and tightened his arm around her shoulder. The silk of Marcia’s headband was slippery, like cold H2O rippling between his fingers. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. There she was, his mother of scarcely thirty years. As they walked on, he suspicion of how flattering she’d been when they were initial married. In all their years together, he had never been meddlesome in other women, had never strayed, had even refused a advances of a co-worker one night, a few years ago, during a discussion in Baltimore. The lady had been twenty years his junior, and when she invited him adult to her room John had blushed and finished a stuttering apology, afterwards spent a rest of a dusk on a phone with Marcia. “What did she design from me?” he’d asked. “Some kind of sex adventure?”

“We can watch that film when we get home,” Marcia pronounced as they reached a dilemma of a Park. “The one about a jazz musician.”

“Whatever we like,” John said. He yawned again.

“Maureen pronounced it was value watching.”

“It’s excessive what they are doing to you, Eduardo,” Marcia pronounced to a doorman in a run of their building. The doormen were petitioning government to yield a correct chair for them to lay in. All they had now was a high loll with no back. “To have to mount for that many hours, doesn’t that consecrate torture? John is going to have a word with them. They’ll do something. They have to.” Marcia pulled a silk headband from her neck and folded it in her hands.

Eduardo leaned on his small podium, propped his chin in his hand. “How was a vacation?” he asked.

“Oh, it was wonderful, wonderful. Everything. we mean, a seafood was customarily over compare! The sea was like bathwater,” Marcia answered. “And now we’re definitely exhausted.”

“Jet-lagged,” John said.

Eduardo tapped his coop on a podium. “When we go home to my country, it’s a same. we don’t sleep.”

“Yes, it’s rough. Well, good night,” Marcia sang.

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She and John climbed a far-reaching marble stairs to their second-floor apartment. They’d lived in a building for twenty-six years. They could have navigated their approach by a run and adult a stairs in finish darkness, and had, in fact, finished so during a trance one summer when all of Manhattan mislaid energy for a night. Marcia had enjoyed it. They’d illuminated candles, eaten a ice cream that was going to warp anyway, and talked.

Now they walked down a bright, wallpapered hallway, and John unbarred a doorway to their apartment. Inside, there was still a smoke-stack of unopened mail on a front table, a blinking red light on a responding machine, a smell of mothballs from a closet where Marcia had been looking for her squish pole progressing that day. “I wish to get it restrung now,” she’d insisted, “before it’s too late.”

“Too late for what?” John had asked.

“For when someone asks me to play.”

John had stood and watched his wife’s bottom shake as she stooped down into a inlet of a closet. She was in conspicuous figure for a lady in her fifties. She mostly teased John that he indispensable to start holding improved caring of himself. “I’m going to make it to a hundred and five. You don’t wish me to have to reinstate you, do you?”

“You’d have no problem, I’m sure,” John answered.

It was true. People favourite Marcia. All of John and Marcia’s friends were unequivocally friends of hers. John infrequently felt as if he were customarily a weird member to his wife. Surely she could have finished better—a mind surgeon, a lawyer, a physicist. Had he given her a life she deserved? They did take a outing any year, customarily in late summer to applaud their anniversary, yet that was all. They’d never had children. John had never won any awards.

“I’m going to take a Tylenol for my headache,” Marcia said. “Want to get a film set up?” She tighten a closet doorway and ran her fingers opposite a squish racket, that now lay on a list in a hallway.

“Will we eat popcorn?” John asked.

“I unequivocally shouldn’t. But if you’re creation some . . .” Her voice trailed off as she walked down a corridor to a bathroom, flicking on a lights and rubbing her temples.

John went to a kitchen and got a jar of popcorn kernels down from a cupboard. He favourite to make popcorn a out-of-date way, in a vast steel pot with a prolonged steel arm that influenced a kernels. He illuminated a stove, melted a margarine, poured a popcorn in, and stood over a pot with his eyes closed, branch a hoop solemnly and feeling a comfortable atmosphere arise toward him, remembering moments on a island when a object on his face had struck him as so hot, so intimate, it was like Marcia’s exhale on his cheek.

As a kernels began to pop, he brought his ear to a lid of a pot, closer to a feverishness and a noise. The weird staccato finished his kick speed up. The heart preoccupied him. Sometimes he favourite to put his ear to Marcia’s chest and listen. Her heartbeat was light and chatty, a stroke that finished we wish to strut around a kitchen. John could have been a cardiologist, yet he’d followed dermatology instead. At parties, he wowed people with descriptions of boils and rashes and growths, weird hair patterns, nasty scars, pus-filled cysts, weird freckles, cancers, moles. “Within 6 feet of this fellow, we could detect a graphic smell of porcini risotto,” he’d say. “His armpit was filled with fungus.” At a stove, John righted himself, continued to stir a popcorn with one hand, and took his possess kick with dual fingers of a other, dire on his throat and respirating solemnly until his heart rate returned to normal.

Meanwhile, Marcia took dual extra-strength Tylenol, splashed some cold H2O on her face, brushed her teeth, and went to lay on a leather loll in front of a radio in a vital room. A remarkable agonizing pain in her conduct finished her prophesy blurry. It was as if she’d been plunged underwater, a room ghastly and muffled, and she couldn’t breathe. She attempted to call out to John. “Honey? John?” She could customarily gasp. Her throat gurgled, her hands trembled, and afterwards she died. It was that simple. She was gone.

When all was quiet, John incited off a stove and poured a popcorn into a wooden salad bowl. He carried a play and a saltshaker into a vital room, sat down subsequent to Marcia’s upheld body, pickled a popcorn, ate several handfuls, and incited on a television. “Which film did we say?” he asked her, scrolling by a pay-per-view listings. He looked during her downturned face. Her conduct hung to one side, resting on her shoulder. John smoothed her hair, put a palm on her knee for a moment, altered a channel to a ball game, lowered a volume, ate a rest of a popcorn, afterwards fell defunct beside her.

“I’m sorry, Mr. John,” Eduardo pronounced in a lobby, as a physique was wheeled out early a subsequent morning. John nodded, still in shock, carrying woken adult and detected Marcia, cold and limp, slumped opposite a cot beside him. He followed a E.M.T.s out onto a travel and watched them bucket her into a behind of a ambulance and expostulate away, a summons blaring—but for what? “She’s already dead!” John cried out after them. Eduardo took him by a arm and led him behind inside and adult to a apartment. A neighbor brought him some H2O from a kitchen. The glass, a commemoration from a journey that he and Marcia had taken by a fjords of Norway, defended a gloomy allegation of her berry-colored lipstick on a rim. John put his mouth on it and sipped.

The commemorative use was a week later. The chapel roof during St. Ignatius was vaulted and embellished a cornflower blue with spiky white stars. The runner was low red, with a angled bullion settlement that reminded John of burst glass. Marcia’s friends filled a pews. They moaned and wept. Maureen and Barbara embraced John and reason his hands and babbled all during once, drowning out a few difference he had to contend as he took his chair in a front pew. He dabbed during his eyes with aged tissues he found squirrelled divided in a breast slot of his suit.

Several friends told stories, braggadocio about how most Marcia had meant to them, how deeply she’d overwhelmed their lives. Marcia would have favourite it, John thought—all these people deliberating her, indicating out her best qualities, remembering her excellent moments. She’d have eaten it up. But what did these people unequivocally know about her? What could one know about a person? John had famous her best of all, had been means to envision her any move, a arc of her sighs, her laughs, a twists of her shade as it crossed a room. In a days given her death, he’d felt her flapping by a apartment. He’d finished double takes a approach we do when we consider we see your possess cat or dog vagrant for food underneath a list during a restaurant. Nobody would understand, John thought, how good he knew a sound of Marcia’s coffee ladle attack a saucer, how a sheets rustled around her when she incited over in bed. But were those things poignant enough, he wondered, to exaggerate about?

When it was his spin to get up, John spoke of their new outing to a island. “She was so happy there,” he said. “So alive.” He paused, watchful for a laugh, yet there was none. He looked out during a crowd, all those drawn, wrinkled faces soppy with emotion. He could suppose Marcia sitting among them, already component her opinion of a debate he was giving. “He was terribly overcome,” he illusory her observant to her friends over coffee and cake during a reception. “You could see him unequivocally straining to get something across. To no avail, I’m afraid. Well, that’s John. Not a best talker. But that’s because we got along so well.”

John leaned opposite a pulpit for balance, perplexing to consider of engaging memories to relate. “The seafood,” he began to say, yet stopped himself. It all seemed so trite. “Why tell stories?” he wondered aloud. “As shortly as something is over, that’s it. Why revitalise it constantly? Things happen, and afterwards some-more things, inevitably, occur next. So?” He shrugged. His hands trembled. He attempted to smile, yet he was now, indeed, terribly overcome. He left a lectern, tripping down a shoal steps. He felt as he did when he was gassed during a dentist’s office—disoriented, befuddled. “Eduardo?” John called out. He staggered drunkenly. His secretary came adult and guided him behind to his seat.

Maureen took a theatre subsequent and shouted what she claimed was one of Marcia’s favorite poems. John pulled a final crumpled hankie from his breast pocket. He found a small wishbone wrapped adult inside it. He private a dermatology-conference dinner, where cower had been served, a few years earlier. He’d designed on bringing a wishbone home so that he and Marcia could make a wish together. John always wished for whatever Marcia wished for. “This way, we both win,” he said. Now he pulled a bone from a hankie and reason it in his palm as he dusty his tears. Poor Marcia, he thought. She could have wished for secure life.

“We upheld a fields of gazing grain, we upheld a environment sun,” Maureen was saying, her voice flourishing and jolt in a approach that she contingency have rehearsed for days, John thought. He’d always personally hated Maureen. Her untiring mania with rain-forest assign astonished him. The lady was from White Plains, for Christ’s sake. He would not skip Maureen, or any of Marcia’s friends, for that matter. “Poor Marcia, she unequivocally desired you, we know,” Barbara had told him before a memorial. Of march he knew that Marcia desired him. They’d been married for scarcely thirty years. People feel so special, so wise, when somebody they know drops dead. “We’d customarily seen her during dinner,” he’d listened Maureen revelation someone. “And to think, customarily a few hours later, she was left forever. Isn’t life strange?”

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But life wasn’t weird during all. Marcia’s remarkable genocide was a strangest thing that had ever happened to John. And even that wasn’t unequivocally strange. People died all a time, in fact. As he dejected a small wishbone in his fist, it burst into pointy shards that poked into a skin of his palm like needles. “Since afterwards ’tis centuries; yet any feels shorter than a day,” Maureen continued. John shook his conduct during this nonsense. Listening to a foolish lady revelry in a spotlight finished him ill. He reason his draining palm over his heart, feeling it bruise like an mattock by a thick wooden door. His throat clenched with what—sorrow? Was that all it was? He scoffed during how small that seemed. Then something seemed to mangle inside him. His exhale caught. He choked and coughed. The furious thumping of his heart stopped. He belched loudly, from a inlet of his gut, as yet releasing some low suggestion that had been lodged down there his whole life. His secretary laid a palm on his shoulder. “Excuse me,” John said, wiping separate from his mouth. When he looked adult again, Maureen’s poem was over. He straightened in his chair and felt his heart start behind up. Its kick was now soothing and aimless, like a baby’s babbling. He was calm, he thought. He was fine.

Next, Marcia’s choir organisation took a theatre and began to sing an aged Negro spiritual. They sang lifelessly, as yet a strain didn’t meant anything to them. Perhaps it didn’t. John rose and walked adult a aisle to a lavatory during a behind of a chapel. He blew his nose for a while in a stall, urinated, defecated, afterwards burning a damaged wishbone down a toilet.

A week later, John still had not returned to work. He spent his days in silence, eating duty-free Ferrero Rocher chocolates and bouncing a strings of Marcia’s squish pole opposite his skull. He paced a apartment, his mind lifeless yet for a pieces of strain he listened from cars flitting on a travel outside. Or he sat on a leather loll in front of a pale television, that was arrangement back-to-back episodes of true-crime docudramas. People favourite to kill one another, it seemed, on speedboats. Aliases, disguises, offshore bank accounts—these notions began to peppers John’s mind. With Marcia gone, maybe he could fill his remaining years with rapist pursuits, he thought. He was too awkward to be a cat burglar. But couldn’t he petiole someone? Or vandalize something? Library books? The behind seats of taxis? Easiest would be to send genocide threats to someone he despised—Maureen, perhaps. He could do that yet even withdrawal a apartment. He winced during his cowardice. At any theatre of his life he’d been reasonable, dutiful. He’d prescribed creams, lanced cysts, cut plantar warts out of a rubbery soles of sharp feet. Once, he’d pulled a seven-foot curl of ingrown hair from an pustule on a tip of a patient’s tailbone. That was as furious as it got for John. He’d never been in a fight. His physique gimlet no scars. The hands now folded in his trail were bland, beige, wrinkled in all a predicted ways.

The symbol he’d comparison for a vessel of Marcia’s remains was on a shelf in a kitchen, subsequent to a coffee millstone and a mini food processor that she had used specifically for guacamole. “The tip is to solidify it first,” he private her saying. Or was that something else? John didn’t care. He’d had adequate of what people said, tips and tales, theories, tidbits. If he could have it his way, nobody would ever contend anything again. The whole universe would go silent. Even a clocks wouldn’t tick. All that mattered would be a violence of hearts, a widening and squeezing of pupils, a whirling of ties and lax strands of hair in a wind—nothing voluntary, zero false. He non-stop a fridge and peeled behind a tinfoil from a plate one of a friends had brought over. Fat from a duck had congealed into a dun-colored jelly. He stranded his finger in it, customarily to feel a cold gunk.

Then a phone rang.

“And?” is how John answered. The voice on a line was a recording from a internal preference store. Marcia’s photos had been printed and were prepared to be picked up. She’d used a disposable camera on their outing to a island. John hung adult a phone. Marcia’s purse was where she’d left it, on a list in a hallway. He rifled by and found a explain stub in her wallet. Without changing out of his pajamas, he put on a coupler and boots and went down to a lobby.

“How are you, Mr. John?” Eduardo asked. He followed John to a doorway and non-stop it, his black rubber boots squeaking on a discriminating marble floor.

John didn’t answer. He had zero to say. He let his conduct hang and plodded solemnly down a block. He didn’t caring if people suspicion he looked unequaled or deranged. Let them judge. Let them perform themselves with their stories, he thought.

At a preference store, he went to a opposite and pulled out a explain stub. When a shopgirl asked for his final name, he handed over his business card.

“Can we endorse a home address?” she asked.

John shook his head.

The lady rolled her eyes. “Are we deaf or something?” she asked.

“Maaa, haa,” John said. He belligerent his jaws and forked to his ears.

“O.K.,” a lady said, softening. She reason adult a finger. “One minute.”

John nodded. Why would she need to endorse his address, anyway? What kind of impostor would wish someone else’s photographs? Someone with a speedboat, perhaps. John laughed during himself. “Maaa, haa,” he pronounced again.

“I’m sorry, sir. we can’t know you,” a lady said. She slid a parcel of photos opposite a opposite and forked to a intense numbers on a income register’s arrangement screen. She reason adult her forefinger and ride and burnished them together. “Money,” she said. “Dinero.”

“Gaaah,” John said. He handed her a cash, afterwards grunted. The lady waved goodbye cheerfully. If Marcia could see him now, behaving like some kind of Frankenstein, she’d laugh, John thought.

He pulled a photos from their sleeve and shuffled by them on a approach home. There were half a dozen shots of sea waves, a horizon, and several travel scenes, any interrupted by a splatter of bird shit on a automobile window by that they’d been taken. Nothing looked as pleasing as it had in genuine life. The people, a buildings, a beach—it was all prosaic and dull, notwithstanding a silken finish of a imitation paper. There was a closeup of cocktails served in coconuts and flashy with toothpick-speared chunks of pineapple and orange slices and Maraschino cherries, colorful paper umbrellas, curlicue straws. On possibly side of a support were a brown, deeply lined hands of a server holding a raffia tray. There was a shot of Marcia’s ankles, her feet plunged low into a pale-gray sand. It had been gritty, soft, dry volcanic ash, like what was left of Marcia in a vessel in a kitchen, John supposed. There were a few photos of a pool snapped from a patio of their hotel room, a becloud shot of John on his dungeon phone in a lobby, one of John jolt hands with a small gorilla in a forest, John jolt hands with a inlet guide, John eating a platter of crabs. There was customarily one imitation of Marcia, a self-portrait taken in a thoughtfulness of a self-centredness counterpart in a hotel bathroom. She smiled coquettishly in her berry-colored lipstick, her face a floating facade above a white universe of a flash.

The final imitation in a set seemed to be an extra, a half-exposure during a finish of a roll. The right side of a design was gray, empty. A red line went down a core like a bake mark. The left side showed a grainy landscape of a beach during night, and, in a bottom corner, a tip half of a face. It belonged to a local, a native. A beach boy, John presumed, one of those masculine prostitutes. The low skin seemed roughly black in a obscurity of a picture. Only a whites of a eyes glistened, roughly yellow, like unresolved lanterns. Marcia had taken a imitation by accident, John supposed. But when had she come so tighten to a beach boy? She’d finished such a bitch about gripping her distance. During that initial walk, when a beach boys had followed them, Marcia had brisk behind to a hotel drift and insisted vehemently that John demeanour away. “If we make eye contact, it’s like an invitation,” she’d said.

“To what?” John had asked.

“To a celebration we wouldn’t like,” she’d answered, “and that you’d have to compensate for.”

“Would you like it?” he’d asked. He’d been joking, of course. Marcia had pronounced nothing.

“Hello, good people? Hello?”

At home, John found Marcia’s magnifying potion in her bedside drawer. He sat down, incited on a lamp, and reason a magnifying potion over a beach boy’s eyes, anticipating he competence find some kind of reason reflected in them. Had Marcia been unfaithful? Had she been pretending, as prolonged as John had famous her, to be a prude? He craned his neck and brought his possess eye closer and closer to a photo, squinting, straining any flesh until he found something he took to be a sign, an invitation—a singular red pixel in a low of a boy’s right pupil.

Back on a island, John stood once again in a hotel lobby. The overnight moody had been bumpy. He hadn’t slept during all. The radio in a hotel convey from a airfield had warned of hurricane-force gales, probable flooding, thunder, lightning. A ghastly bank of clouds crept solemnly yet usually opposite a sky.

“Will we have to evacuate?” John asked.

The list attendant burnished her eyes. “Maybe, sir. They don’t tell us anything.” She slid John’s room pivotal opposite a counter. Behind a check-in desk, a office were articulate and yawning and pity small cookies from a grease-soaked paper bag. John remembered a cookies from a debate of a marketplace on a other side of a island. The beam had explained to him and Marcia that a cookies were finished not from flour yet from some internal base vegetable, molasses, and butter that came from goat’s milk. A pouch of twenty cookies cost reduction than a dollar.

“Can we imagine?” Marcia had whispered.

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John had hoped that a beam would arrange for them to try some, yet they’d simply idled by a vender’s cart, Marcia covering her mouth and nose with a tissue, while a beam chatted with a passerby in a internal patois. Rife, John private now. The sights and sounds and smells of a marketplace came behind to him. There were bowls of spices and beans of any hue, prohibited goat’s divert poured from unwashed steel teapots atop colourless briquettes into small cosmetic cups like a ones John used during a dentist’s to rinse and spit. Hot fume from cauldrons of roasting beef roiled opposite baskets of nuts and fruits, stacks of woven shawls that a women used as slings to lift their babies on their backs, pyramids of pastel-colored toilet-paper rolls. In a low dilemma of a market, they’d upheld an aged man, his eyes sky blue with cataracts. He sat behind a list full of lifeless Coke bottles and tin cans. Beside him was a precarious chest of drawers. When John asked what a masculine was selling, a beam answered “spiritual medicine,” twirled his finger in a air, and widened his eyes, as yet to make fun of a crazy aged man. “People in a villages trust in that nonsense,” a beam said. “They trust in magic. Evil.” He crossed himself and laughed, afterwards yelled during a immature lady who had splashed unwashed H2O on his boots while rolling her bike by a reservoir on a path. One of Marcia’s photos had been of that market. The royal-blue cosmetic tarps covering a stalls seemed scarcely black, like wake shrouds. Recalling that picture now gave John a chills. He’d told everybody behind home that he was going to a island to separate Marcia’s ashes. That was a forgive he gave.

As John unbarred a doorway of his hotel room, a family upheld by him in a hall—parents with 3 tired children.

“Last moody behind to a mainland,” a father pronounced with a British accent, his arms full of gape-mouthed, plush fondle monkeys.

John wasn’t unequivocally worried. The beach boys would not get swept divided in any flood, he knew. He had speckled a few of them already on a expostulate from a hotel. For prostitutes, he thought, they seemed so loose walking along a road, so infrequent in their sun-bleached striped T-shirts, their rubber sandals harsh over a gray dirt. His devise was to find a child from Marcia’s imitation and do whatever she had finished with him off in a dunes during night while he was sleeping. That would be punish adequate to set his heart during ease, he thought. It would be a weird thing that gave his life some definition during last. It would be his life’s one adventure.

He legalised his hotel room, commendatory of a sole queen-size bed, a flat-screen mounted on a wall, a small window that looked out onto a beach. The sky had an eerie, lifeless whiteness. John could see a red-tiled roof of a hotel’s al-fresco dining area and one dilemma of a blockade that partitioned a beach. To get to a private symbol where he could dump a remains in a water, he’d have to go over that fence. A few beach boys sat perched in a dunes over a hotel, like outlandish birds in their bright-colored shorts. Even with no object to simulate off their frozen dark-brown skin, their unclothed backs gleamed. If customarily he had Marcia’s show glasses, John thought, he could see their faces.

The heavy-duty black cosmetic bag containing Marcia’s remains had upheld by etiquette undetected. Of course, John had left a steel vessel during home. He figured that if anyone asked what a bag contained he’d contend that it was medicinal bath ipecac to soak his feet in. But nobody questioned him. He took Marcia’s remains out of his suitcase, carried a bag down to a lifeless dining room, comparison a seared hurl from a breakfast-buffet table, sat and ate it, and pocketed a blade from a place setting. He nodded and smiled during a hotel workers, who were bustling shuttering a windows in credentials for a storm.

Outside, a breeze churned during John’s face, forcing him to representation his conduct brazen as he walked along a fence. Sand pricked during his skin like needles. As he approached a waves, a sky flashed. A impulse later, rumble pealed prolonged and deep, and a few cold drops of sleet fell on his back. He crouched by a H2O and took out a knife. It was a inexpensive knife, with dull, far-reaching serrations. The cosmetic of a bag was so thick that he had to place it on a sand, reason it down with one hand, and gash during it repeatedly. To keep a silt out of his eyes, he tighten them. He suspicion one final time of Marcia, graphic her clucking her tongue during this aberrant ceremony. He suspicion of all a wishbone wishes he’d squandered on her sparse desires: good seats during a movies, a outing to Vermont to see a foliage, a sale on cashmere sweaters or towels. And, secretly, all along she’d been a whore, he thought, a deviant, a pervert, partying with prostitutes right underneath his nose! Meanwhile, she’d shushed him any time he’d pronounced anything remotely off-color, as if anyone were profitable attention, as if it even mattered. John tore during a hole he’d finished in a cosmetic bag, crawled over a silt on his knees, felt for a water, and dumped a remains out.

A small hour later, a assign was over. The sky was gray, yet a sleet had stopped. Little repairs had been finished to a island, yet a hotel had mislaid electricity. John’s room was dim. From his window, he watched a sea pulsation a beach in tall, floating waves, as a breeze howled like a animation spook in a condemned house, comically persistent. He stood and uselessly pulpy a buttons on a TV remote, afterwards stared during his thoughtfulness in a rectilinear black screen. He was still wearing what he’d ragged on a overnight flight: his gray summer-weight nap trousers and a white linen dress shirt. The shirt was now dejected and wrinkled, a collar mangled around his neck. His face was swollen, his ears full of sand. His graying hair lay in slick tendrils around his face. He laughed during his untidy coming and attempted to well-spoken his hair back, yet a sleet and a salt atmosphere had dusty it into straw. He didn’t care. Marcia was left for good now, and he felt like celebrating.

Downstairs in a lifeless restaurant, John took a chair on a barstool. Outside, workers were maturation a shutters from a dining-room windows. The clouds over a sea were paler and thinner than before. He systematic a Glenfiddich, saluted a bartender, and drank. “How most for a whole bottle?” John asked. “No, don’t tell me. Just assign it to my room.” He flashed a series on his key. A whole bottle customarily for him, out from underneath Marcia’s degrading gaze. Why had he let her control him like that? He’d lived his whole life on his best behavior, a worker to decorum. For what? John shook his conduct and poured himself some-more whiskey. He could do whatever he wanted now. He could buy a hundred goat-butter cookies. He could make all a pretentious jokes he liked. Through a windows, he saw a clouds partial and a object shine. The staff began to drag a loll chairs and tables and umbrellas behind onto a deck. A few vast gulls coasted behind and forth, low opposite a beach. John smacked his lips, slid off his barstool, and took a bottle of Glenfiddich down to a sand, weakly kicking off his salt-stained leather loafers and bark off his hosiery on a way. He walked around a hotel blockade and along a shoreline for several minutes, good past a symbol where he’d dumped Marcia’s ashes.

The silt was cold and tough underneath his feet. The waves were high and frothy still, yet he could swim, he thought, chugging from a bottle. He looked around to see if anyone was watching. The beach was empty. He stranded a Glenfiddich in a sand, fast private his pants, and started sloshing into a warm, churning water. He waded in waist high, stiffening his physique opposite a violent gushes, that seemed somehow peaceful and absolute during once. He looked out during a horizon. This was what a beach was good for: staring out during a sea gave one a feeling of infinity. But it was an illusion, John thought. The sea wasn’t infinite. There was land on a other side. Wasn’t that always a law about things? That they ended? How many some-more years did he have, during this point? Ten? Twenty? A absolute call knocked him down, and when he righted himself and found his balance he was confronting a shore. A beach child in tiny, bright-red shorts stood on a sand, examination him. John waved and hollered “Hello!” customarily before a subsequent call pulled him under.

A few weeks later, revelation a story over dinner, John would explain that a assign had kept him cooped adult for days. “It hardly finished a dent, that storm. But all tighten down. You know these bad countries—there’s no infrastructure. Even if we did try to meddle and make some order, a people are all so superstitious, it would take a hundred years, with all their spells and blessings.”

“Well, we consider it’s pleasing of you,” Maureen said, “to go behind there, with Marcia.”

“She pronounced it was heaven, after all,” Barbara said. “Didn’t she contend that? That it was heaven?”

“She did contend that, yes,” Maureen answered.

John put a palm over his heart, that was now damaged by something he found distant some-more engaging than a upheld wife. His inebriated journey on a beach had finished strangely. The beach boy, yet not a one who’d seemed in Marcia’s photograph, had indeed been immature and beautiful, his eyes yellow, his lips thick and glossy. He’d speckled John flailing in a undertow, pulled him from a water, and dragged him to shore. John had rolled onto his side, sputtering and gagging on a salt H2O he’d swallowed. The child stood over him, his clever brownish-red legs customarily inches from John’s exposed body. “You saved me,” John managed to say. As he reached a palm out to hold a boy’s ankle, his fingers trembled. Some kind of force margin seemed to approximate a boy. He couldn’t be touched. When John reason his palm over a boy’s foot, he could feel feverishness rising up. The child took a step away. Perhaps he isn’t even real, John thought. But there he was. “Come here,” John demanded. “I need to ask we something.” He got onto his hands and knees, attempted to stand, yet he was too exhausted. He was drunk. He collapsed on a sand. The child stood and stared for a while, afterwards yawned, turned, and walked away. It was transparent to him and to a other beach boys examination from their roost in a dunes that a aged masculine wasn’t carrying any money. 

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