Life’s a Beach
Another installment of Tales of the Supernatural
She held out her hand. He pulled her up.
“Honey, you’re strong.”
“I’m a macho man.”
A bird hovered then dove, grasping a fish in its talons. As the claws dug in, the fish surveyed the beach below, including the couple.
“Jesus, what a way to go,” he said, watching the silver squirm in the bird’s grip. “His little brain must be reeling from the view.”
“Fish eyes are adapted to the water, so I doubt it sees much.”
Squinting his eyes, he said, “I’m not sure that’s a fish.”
He helped her carry the lounge chair closer to the surf. (“I want to feel the spray of the ocean.”) As she settled in, he told her he was going for a walk and gave her a kiss.
“Where’s your hat?”
“I didn’t bring it.”
He headed south toward the rocks as he had done for the last six years. He would climb up and over the big tall rocks, across a tiny beach, over medium-sized rocks, across a bigger longer beach, and finally end up at the tourist-infested rock arch. The only change was that the Marisol was no longer the only resort on this strip of shore; others had sprung up.
The view from the top was spectacular. No resorts were visible—only sand, surf, and horizon. Remarkably no cruise ships. No people either. He got lucky and wished he’d brought his camera, then thought again: I have enough pictures.
He turned to descend, but a faint “Ayúdame…” calling out from a shadow in the rocks halted him. Turning towards the voice, he found an old man huddled in the shade, practically right under his nose, and apparently hurt.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
“Amigo,” the man’s breathing was labored, “you must…help me.”
“My journey…to the arch…was interrupted…”
“I’ll get help,” he said, but the old man stopped him:
“No…you…must help me…”
There comes a time in every man’s life when he encounters a mysterious stranger, someone who reveals to him another dimension of reality, one that shatters the illusions he has unknowingly clung to which have clouded his vision.
This experience comes at a cost.
So he would help the old man. He would help the unusually persuasive old man, whose voice seemed to echo inside his head. A voice that bore an uncanny resemblance to his recently-deceased father’s.
And he would tell no one, as the old man had requested, not even his wife. He would not tell that he met anyone. He would not tell that the old man took another form so that he could carry him. He would not tell that as he ran across the bigger longer beach he stumbled, accidentally flinging what was the old man into the sand, where he writhed and squirmed, coating himself as if in preparation to be fried for a evening’s meal while simultaneously digging his own grave.
He would also not tell that he made no attempt to save the old man from this stuggle and just watched.
As he descended the big tall rocks on his return, the voice of a bronzed bikini-clad Yoga instructor distracted him. He peered down to see her leading an elderly couple through several asanas at the base of the rocks. He nearly lost his footing rubbernecking when she downward dogged.
He lost this view further down and when his feet hit the sand, he felt invigorated and felt like running, so he removed his sandals, and he ran. He ran along the shore, intermittently splashing across the foam, occasionally aiming for footprints that had yet to be reclaimed, until his wife came into view, lounging where she had been and reading a book.
“Hi. You okay?” she asked. He was breathing heavily.
“Yeah…just a sec…” He pantomimed running and waited to catch his breath.
“I’m ready for lunch. How about you?” she asked, getting up. He nodded his head yes and said, “Shrimp tacos.”
“And blended margaritas!”
They walked back to the resort, back into the incessant, too-loud music played around the pool. It was midweek, so the faces of their fellow guests had changed. People were leaving; others were coming.
“If it weren’t for Cabo, I might never hear the Eagles,” he said.
“I like this song,” she said.
“Yeah,” he said, listening for a moment. “It is a good song.”
They found an umbrella over two chairs and ordered shrimp tacos and blended margaritas and talked about where to go for dinner. Their conversation was interrupted, though, when a young man informed him that he had a phone call waiting at the front desk.
He turned to his wife. “Who’s calling me in Cabo?”