Guess Where We’re Going
The Flannigans got the SUV loaded and hit the road before the sun came up. They had their chairs, their towels, a fitted sheet, a cooler full of goodies, four five-gallon pails, and a whole mess of plastic beach toys. They didn’t take a beach umbrella because they don’t own one, plus, usually there’s a guy with a permanent suntan chillin’ on the beach who rents them out. Tad’s dad just got a pay raise, after all – they can afford it.
The traffic is kind of terrible during the first leg of the drive because of rush hour, but after the sun comes up and they hit the highways, it’s all smooth sailing. That doesn’t make the drive go by quickly, though – Tad doesn’t have anyone to talk to the whole time. Jimmy brought his headphones (even though their parents have the classic rock station cranked on the radio) and he’s totally unresponsive. Maybe he’s just tired from Tad waking him up last night, little Tad and his stupid games.
Only three other cars are parked in the Sandy Hook parking lot when they pull in – Poppa Flannigan was right, they have the whole darn beach to themselves! Well, more or less; there’s a few sunbathing couples here too, one of which should not be wearing the bathing suits they are wearing, and down on the far end there’s a lone guy with his dog, but the ocean is clear (well, the water is green) and prime for swimming, and that’s just what Tad does. Before his family even sets foot on the beach, Tad rips his shirt off and takes off in a mad dash towards the water. Tad is the very definition of a water rat (that’s what his dad likes to call him), and he spends the entire morning diving into the crashing waves and flopping around like a baby dolphin. When he finally comes back to shore, his hands are dried prunes and his hair feels like seaweed, but he doesn’t mind. It’s all part of the fun.
The Flannigans have their camp all set up. While Tad was out swimming, Jimmy filled the four fivers up with sand and put them down in the corners of the fitted sheet, creating a little sandproof arena for him to lay in and listen to his headphones while he stares at his phone through his one eye his hair doesn’t cover. Momma Flannigan is catching rays sprawled out on a towel, and Tad’s dad is propped up in a beach chair reading a fat paperback underneath the umbrella they rented. Could the day be any more perfect?
After lunch, Tad’s parents decide to go on a walk down to the hook of Sandy Hook, and while they’re gone, they leave Jimmy in charge. Tad watches them go, and he can’t help but smile at the way they’re holding hands. Tad wants to have a girlfriend one day – not yet, definitely not yet, but one day after the cooties have all died off – and he wants to hold hands with her just like that. In the meantime, though, Tad is just a little boy in a big ol’ world, and he has a whole gaggle of beach toys to play with. He tries to get Jimmy to leave the fitted sheet, but Jimmy doesn’t want to build sandcastles, he doesn’t want to play frisbee or toss a foam ball around, he doesn’t want to go wave hopping like they used to, he doesn’t even want to go hunting for sand fleas! He just wants to lay on the sheet and stare at his phone and hide in his headphones, but Tad understands. Jimmy is too old for little kid games. Maybe Tad is getting too old, too.
“I’m gonna go for a walk, Jimmy. Wanna come?”
“Nah. Don’t go too far, I don’t want to have to chase after you if you get abducted by some creepy kid-sniffer.”
So Tad goes for his walk alone, but in the opposite direction of his parents because most of the other beach-goers are stationed down there. Tad wants to be alone for a little while, anyway.
He follows the shore all the way down to the big black jetty, and when he gets there, he totally ignores the warning signs and climbs up on the soaked, slippery rocks. There were a few seagulls perched down near the ocean end, but they all took off when Tad mounted the jetty, even though he wasn’t gonna try to catch ‘em. Honest, he really wasn’t! He looks for crabs in between the rocks though, and he does find a couple of the little shelly buddies, but they all disappear underneath the sand before he can grab ‘em. Tad guesses the crabs don’t want to play any games with him either… but that’s all right. Tad can keep himself entertained by playing pretend, and on this lovely beach day, Tad pretends to be a pirate with a hook on his hand like the hook of Sandy Hook, and the jetty is his mighty pirate ship.
“Avast, ye matey!” Tad shouts to the wind with one leg up on a boulder that’s slightly taller than the rest. His right hand is curled into a fist, except for his pointer finger, which he holds in a curve. “I’m Captain Flannigan, and I’m goin’ ter get me berried treasure! Arr!”
Tad walks up and down the salty black jetty at least four times, miraculously staying on his feet all the while, until his game of pretend abruptly comes to an end. As it turns out, there was some treasure left behind to be found on this pirate ship of slick rocks; out on the ocean end of the jetty, it’s smooth bottom sticking up from a crevice and reflecting the sun’s rays like a diamond in the rough, is a little glass bottle. Tad yanks it out and sees there’s a painting on the side of it, a little boy who actually kind of looks like Tad if Tad was a clown, with the words Noooo and Oh painted beside the boy’s head, not in that order. There’s an old cork stuffed in the bottle’s mouth too, but Tad can’t get it out. He’s not quite strong enough.
But you know who might be? Jimmy, Tad’s older and more mature brother. Bottle in hand, Tad hops into the water, swims to the beach, and runs all the way back to their little camp, his blue eyes glimmering with excitement.
“What the hell is that thing?” Jimmy demands as soon as Tad returns with the bottle.
“It’s my pirate’s treasure!” Tad exclaims, his smile stretching for miles. “I found it in the rocks! Neat, huh? I can’t get the cork out, though.”
“Gimme that,” as Jimmy snatches the bottle out of his stupid little brother’s hand. Pop, the cork comes out with ease. “Wow, you must be really weak, dude.”
Tad’s smile fades. “Nuh-uh, maybe my hands were just a little wet. Give it back!”
Tad reaches but Jimmy holds the bottle up over his head, too high for Tad to get, even when he jumps.
“Buzz off dude, this is mine now. I gotta send a picture of it to my girlfriend and I don’t want you in the background.”
“Wait, you have a girlfriend?!” Tad gasps, his voice engulfed in envious disbelief. How come Jimmy gets a girl to hold hands with? Is it because his hair covers one of his eyes?
And so Tad scrams, and no, those aren’t tears coming out of his eyes. His face is just a little wet from swimming in the ocean is all. Honest.
Hello Commons, this has been the third subchapter of the third story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~