The next morning I was up early, again. I was a little later than yesterday,
but even this morning I was sore from the rag tag game of the previous day.
Quietly, I dressed and slipped out of the house, closing the door softly,
rather than letting it go with my usual bang. I grabbed a dry minnow pail,
and walked off to the west side of the beach, where most of the fireworks
activity had been.
I had barely gone 20 feet when I spotted my first treasure, an unopened box
of sparklers. Poking around the area, I found a few firecrackers, a
half-used box of "Snakes" and a bottle rocket that hadn't gone off. Kicking
at the sand, just to see if anything else had somehow gotten buried, I found
about 40 cents in change. And I nearly broke my toe on a buried horseshoe.
It seems a game had gone on in this area, and one of the horseshoes had gone
missing. Well, I found it at my toe's regret. I picked it up and hung it on
the fence, knowing that the owner would claim it later.
My first destination was the swing set. Finding a couple of cherry bombs
really made my morning. Then, I spotted something half buried under a rock-
a piece of paper, a full page. Muttering profanities about polluters, I
picked it up, and was going to crumple it, but I noted it had my name on it.
So, I read the note.
"Mike: I will see you about 6:15 on the 5th." That was all the note had on
it. No signature. It could have been meant for anyone named Mike.
"Mysteries!" I snarled. "One thing I do not need is another mystery!" I
checked my watch. It was barely 5:35 A.M. That was a lot of time to continue
my search. I added a dozen firecrackers, two sparklers, and a roman candle
to my pail. It was filling up fast. My next destination was the end of the
The end of the beach was a firecracker hunter's dream. I felt like a kid in
a candy shop, one who had a $20.00 bill in his pocket, and the candy was
just 10 cents. It took only a few minutes to add two unexploded bottle
rockets, another roman candle, and two spinners. I picked up a whole package
of firecrackers. I noticed more money, too. I grabbed about $1.25 in loose
change, picked up a car key, a ring, and two pens. My pail was nearly 3/4ths
full now. I paused for a few moments at the Beach Rules sign, noticing the
area which I had figured would be best for fishing. Oars would be used. No
need to spook the fish.
A shadow appeared in front of me, as I faced west. I turned, expecting Karl.
But it was Diane who stood in front of me.
"Good Morning, Mikey!" she said, as she approached me. Her voice pealed like
a bell. It was still early and nobody else was up yet, that I could see.
I immediately noticed that she had changed her hair style again. Yesterday
morning, it hung loosely. Last night, it was more page-boy style. Today, it
was braided. Her hair was longer than I had originally thought it was. She
was wearing pink shorts and a "Montana" T-shirt, which I thought was a bit
too tight. She wore no shoes. I thought I detected a scent of perfume, too,
but I wasn't sure.
Again, her angelic voice sounded. "Karl wasn't feeling too well this morning
I hope it doesn't cancel our fishing trip." She placed a very odd emphasis
on the word "our." She took a step closer, and gazed into my pail. "You've
got quite a haul there, honey."
I thought: Honey? This is the second time you've called me that! Why? Why
are you calling me that? But what I said was, "Yes. This is going to last a
while. I've never had such a good search after the 4th of July."
Diane stepped closer to me. I wasn't wrong; there was a scent of perfume. It
wasn't overwhelming. In fact, it was very pleasing. And the scent fit her
perfectly. Then, she whispered to me. "Take the pail back to the cabin, then
let's go for a walk, Mike. I'd like for you to get to know me better."
Huh? I wondered. It seemed that I had heard these words before. Then I
realized that I had heard them, in that whispered voice yesterday. It was
the one that somehow came to me when nobody else was even around. My vision
began to grow hazy, and I felt weak.
"Diane, I. . . ." I said, but she stopped me with a shake of her head. Then,
she took another step closer to me. She was less than a foot from me, and
now the perfume began to envelop me. I became dizzy, but managed to stand by
leaning against the signpost.
"Please, walk with me for a while, " she said.
"But. . . . What about our, uh, the fishing trip?" I asked. Then, the
dizziness overcame me, and I felt myself sinking to the ground. Then things
Thoughts, ideas, memories; they all flowed at me with the speed of light.
How long was I out? A minute? Maybe two? I felt a cold spot on my forehead,
and my eyes slowly opened. I found a washcloth on my head, and Diane leaning
over me. She appeared concerned, and a bit frightened. I just lay there,
taking in what appeared to be a vision of an angel. Then she spoke in a
fearful voice. "Are you all right? Mike, What's wrong?"
I sat up slowly. Then, I lied through my teeth. "Blood sugar, maybe. I
didn't have a lot to eat yesterday, and that might have caught up with me.
Or, maybe I just haven't recovered from all that sun I got yesterday."
I pulled myself up using the sign post. "I think I better go back up. Having
breakfast may help." She took my arm. "No. I'm all right. You don't need to
help me." But she stayed with me for the walk, until I reached the cabin. I
went in, and Diane walked back to her house.
At that point, I left a quick note to my parents. Then, having recovered, I
took off, taking a hidden shortcut up to a vacant house up on the hill.
My lips were dry, and I moistened them. Strange. They seemed to have a
glossy feel. Had Diane tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? I didn't know.
Even now, I don't know. My feet seemed to have a life of their own as I
seemed to fly up the hill to my secluded spot.
At a normal pace it would have taken me 15 minutes to reach my hiding place.
Today, it took only 5 minutes. I sat on the step of the house, and began to
think. What was going on? Was this some sort of flirt game? Why was I
feeling so weird? I just had to think things through. I wouldn't move from
the steps for a long while. I simply had to figure this out.
As the bits and pieces of yesterday came back at me, I began to realize what
was going on. I was attracted to Diane. I didn't even know her, really. Yet,
I had a feeling that I was falling for her. What was she really thinking? I
would have to find out. But the problem was that she was affecting me in a
way that I couldn't control. I would have to protect myself, somehow. I
would need something to hold against her, some sort of a grudge. I could not
allow myself to become infatuated. It was a fact that girls were trouble.
Two of my friends were my proof. One of them committed suicide when his girl
broke up with him. He had been so shocked that he simply couldn't go on. The
other had started using drugs. He was currently in juvenile prison, and in
treatment for heroin addiction. He had been with his girl only 6 months when
she ended the relationship. I had resolved to stay away from girls for those
reasons. But would I be able to stay away from Diane? I would have to play
the game if I wanted to find out what Diane was really thinking. Was this
real, or was it just a game of hers?
Two hours passed, and I headed back toward the cabin. It was a slow walk
down the hill, taking me my normal 15 minutes.
I knew what had happened to me on the beach. I had fainted. Why was obvious.
Diane had been too close to me, and I wasn't used to such closeness,
especially not from a girl. And to make it worse, she was affecting me with
her unpredictability as well as her...Beauty? Could that be it? Was she so
beautiful as to be affecting me in such a way?
I had a couple of donuts when I got home. It was 9:00, now, and the boats
were already out. I decided to play a round of mini-golf. I went out, and
Karl came out. Then he gave me what I would need to play the game with Diane
on my own terms.
"What happened to you this morning?" he asked as he picked up a club. "I
waited by the boat for 15 minutes, then went to your place, but you weren't
Hmmm. I realized the truth was best spoken here, but better not the whole
story. So, I said, "Diane came out early, and said you weren't feeling well.
She didn't say exactly what was wrong. But I thought it meant our trip was
Karl gave me a poker face. I tell you, I would never have bet on a game if
his face would tell me nothing. Then he said, "I see." That was it. He hit
the ball. The ball hit the hole, and bounced off to the left.
"What? You don't believe it?" I asked, annoyed at such a simple answer, as
well as his luck on the course. I really expected more than an "I see."
Karl looked at me. I could not pin a name on the look. Pity? "I believe you.
Diane does this from time-to-time. I'm concerned. She's going to get herself
into big trouble." Then, he added, "I know what you are thinking. I don't
know if it's a game, or not. If it is, she's playing with fire!"
My eyes widened. Karl had put up with this before. But this was what I
needed; it was the grudge I was looking for. Diane had lied. I now had my
protection. I would play the game.
"Karl," I said, "I have a confession to make. But, you must not tell Diane."
I knew that statement would be impossible to keep secret, especially
considering what I was about to say. I could tell that Karl was very close
to his sister. They apparently didn't keep secrets from each other.
Karl looked at me, apparently confused. I continued. "I have known Diane for
less than a full day. Yet, I find myself strangely attracted to her. I find
her very pretty, very kind. I find myself wondering about the future, and
picturing her in it. I am wondering if there is a future for us."
I could have kicked myself, right then. What was I saying? My inner voice
spoke: "You've said way too much, you fool!" But, like the cartoons with a
little devil" voice and "little angel" voice, I silenced that voice with
But I cannot pass up a challenge like this. I have to find out what is going
Karl looked at me again. I could tell, right then. The message would go
through, right to Diane. It was what I wanted. The game had begun in earnest
"Well, since we didn't get out fishing today, shall we make it tomorrow?" I
asked. The door banged. Diane was coming over. I had made the right decision
to change the topic. "I do know another place, where we can slip through to
another lake nearby."
Diane came up to us. "What's up, you two? Mikey, are you feeling better now?
I looked at her suspiciously, but nodded. Karl shot her that same Knock if
off! look, but she ignored it, again. "Can I join the game?" she asked,
picking up a club. She hit a ball, topping it. It rolled a foot, maybe two.
Then again.…" she muttered, her voice fading into silence.
"Mulligan!" I shouted. She knew the meaning, put the ball back, then hit
again. Too hard. It hit a tree, bounced left, and landed behind a root. Karl
hit next, putting it down nicely, and it rolled down the course, and stopped
a foot short of the hole. This guy was good, no matter what he said! I hit,
and to my surprise, and as much to everyone else's surprise, it rolled up to
the hole, circled it, and then dropped. Hole-in-one. Not my first, but the
first they had seen! Diane hit again, it went a little long, and she took a
5 for the hole. Karl shot a two.
Karl spoke up about fishing. "We could go tomorrow. Same time? And where's
this second lake?"
I pointed to the west, again. "It's over there. You don't normally see it
unless you really are looking for it, but it's there. There's a channel that
runs between the two, but it's too shallow for fishing. You can't even use a
motor through it. Rowing is needed."
Diane muttered something that I didn't catch. Karl did, however, and shot
her a nasty look. He then spoke to her, in a language I didn't understand,
or recognize. She responded in kind, and laughed. I didn't know what was
being said, but it was obvious that Karl was angered and Diane was enjoying
his tantrum. I knew a little Latin, a smattering of Spanish, and a few words
of French. The language they were using was completely unfamiliar. I couldn
t step in to stop the argument if I didn't know what was being said.
As the words lost their obvious heat, I said "So, are we on for the trip, or
not?" Diane just started laughing, and Karl took his club and smashed the
ball. It traveled further than I could imagine, and it disappeared from
sight, into the water of the lake.
"Do I take that as a 'No', Karl?" I asked. Diane giggled.
Karl said "Tomorrow, we'll try again."
I simply said "Ok. 7 tomorrow."
Diane looked out over the water at the raft. "I think I see Steve and Adam.
Rag tag, anyone?" She turned, ran off to the cabin. Karl looked at me.
"I'm tempted to let her go on her own, this time. I hope you want to
continue the game." I nodded, and we continued for 9 holes, Karl and I tying
at the end of 9, 24 each. Tenth hole, I put one right up to the hole and
said "This game is mine."
That it was, until Karl put the ball into the hole, his first "Eagle" on the
course. "Your match. Want to get wet?" We put our clubs down, and went in to
Adam and Steve were already out there. Diane was just hitting the water. I
did a cannonball into the water, Karl did a graceful dive and we went out to
the raft. When I got there, Steve tossed a golf ball at me. "This yours?" I
gave the ball to Diane, who put it into her pocket. The game was about to
begin again. Who had the rag? Nobody, it appeared. I jumped into the water,
went down and grabbed the rag off the anchor. Then I broke the surface, but
stayed under the raft. I grabbed a beam, and hung there. A couple of
splashes, I supposed I had better get going up. Just then, Diane broke the
surface, and grabbed the same beam. Then, to my complete surprise, she put
her legs around my waist. "You are trapped, honey."
I dropped from the beam, in total shock. I surfaced on the ladder side of
the raft, threw the rag at Steve, just nicking him. He was fast, hit Adam
before Adam had a chance to think.
I climbed, calling a time-out, and sitting down on the deck. Diane came up
shortly thereafter. The look on her face was that of disappointment, mixed
with a touch of sorrow. I couldn't think, I couldn't understand what was
going on. I was in shock at what Diane had just done. I would have to call
on my grudge to get myself back in the game.
It took me a couple of minutes to call upon my grudge factor to get me back
to stable ground. I had no sooner than stood when I found myself in the
water, Steve close behind. Steve had pushed me, Diane pushed Steve, Karl
pushed Diane--a chain reaction. Then Karl did a cannonball, just missing me,
and causing Steve to swallow a mouthful of water and start coughing. The
game continued until the ringing of the lunch bell, at which time we all
went our separate ways. Steve and Adam would not return to the beach that
day. I went in for lunch, and settled down with my book.
I decided that I'd put up one last chapter, anyway. At least, it's my last
unless someone requests more. If that's the case, I'll continue. DM me at
Twitter if you want more.
Once again, I had received too much sun. I dozed off.
It was about 3 when I was awakened. Mom stood beside me, saying, "Michael?
Michael? You have a visitor."
I went to the door. Karl was there, and as I went out, he was joined by
Diane. The look on her face told me that my message of earlier had gotten
through. But it was Karl who spoke. And I noticed a police car next door.
Karl looked at me sadly. "It looks as if our trip is off for tomorrow. We've
had a family emergency, and have to leave soon. We could be gone for a few
days, up to a couple of weeks."
"The emergency is a death in the family, Mikey," said Diane. Truthfully, it
wasn't entirely unexpected, but it was sooner than we had figured it would
be. We'll be in town, but don't have to leave the state."
I spoke up, now. "Could I get your address and phone? I'd like to be able to
contact you, if that is okay by you." I grabbed my address book, a small
piece of paper and a pen. Diane grabbed the book.
"Oh, let me!" she exclaimed. She signed the whole thing. Name, address, and
phone were added in the "L" section. Karl's name was listed, but above Diane
s name was a little heart with an arrow through it. "Turn about fair play,
Mikey. We need yours, too." I complied swiftly, and gave the paper to Diane.
She put it in her pocket, and removed the golf ball that she had in her
pocket since the game. "Oh, this is yours."
"Well, I will see you when you get back. Since you don't really know how
long, I'll call if I can. You know that neither of us have phones up here!"
John Lester, Golf pro, wandered over and said "Come on, you two. We must get
moving. We have a long trip ahead."
I sighed. It was apparently going to be a lonely week. That's when Dad came to me and said "We must pack, too. I've been called to go out-of-town for a week." I grabbed my books, the address book, and headed for the car. Yes, it was going to be a long week.