Guess Where We’re Going
Tad hears his parents calling his name over the crashing waves. After Jimmy told him to scram, he went back into the ocean where he could be alone with his sad thoughts. He didn’t do much wave diving this time, nor did he swim around; Tad just sat out there in the shallow waters, letting the cold waves topple over him. He got knocked down a few times, but it didn’t hurt. Not like Jimmy’s words did, anyway.
After being called a few times, Tad finally gets up and walks deeper into the ocean to get all the sand out of his trunks, then heads back for dry land. He can see the camp from the water, and his parents are back, but Jimmy seems to be gone. Did he go for a walk?
“Where’s Jimmy, dad?” Tad asks, but he doesn’t listen to the answer. His attention is grabbed by the glass bottle, the one he found with the painting of the little clown boy saying Oh Noooo, his pirate’s treasure. The cork is back in the top. There’s also a bit of white sand in the bottle, it’s about a quarter of the way full. ‘Why did Jimmy put sand in the bottle?’ Tad wonders to himself. ‘We could have put a message in it and thrown it into the sea, like the pirates did.’
The rest of the day is spent scouring the beach for Jimmy, but he’s never found. The elder Flannigans get the umbrella rental guy involved, and the loner with his dog – now that the guy is close, Tad can see he’s wearing a full business suit, like, with a fedora and everything, what the heck? And why didn’t he get his dog a matching suit? – comes up too when he notices all the commotion. The dog sniffs the sheet and gets Jimmy’s scent, but according to the dog’s sniffer, Jimmy never left camp. He just… vanished, like he was abducted by aliens or something, and he left only the bottle behind. Tad then tells his mom about the bottle and, in hopes that Jimmy is playing a trick on them, she pops the cork out and spills out the sand, but there’s no clue hidden within the chamber. It’s just plain old white sand. Tad wonders where Jimmy got the white sand from – Sandy Hook’s sand is sandy, not white – but doesn’t say anything. The adults probably noticed, anyway. He doesn’t want to annoy them like he annoys Jimmy. That’s probably why Jimmy ran away in the first place.
Tad doesn’t like seeing his parents freaking out like they are, and he’s starting to feel the want to be alone again, so he decides to go back into the ocean for a little while. He stays out there for a good long while, longer than he can keep track of, and nobody calls him back. When the sun starts to set, Tad finally drags his soggy butt out of the water and returns to his camp, but his parents are gone. He looks down the beach and almost all the beachgoers are gone, too, but there are a few police officers here and there. Probably looking for Jimmy. Tad almost goes to help them, but then he notices the bottle sitting on his dad’s chair, right next to his book. The bottle is corked again, and it’s three quarters of the way full.
Tad picks it up, the weight of the thing heavy in his tired hand. “Why would they put sand back into it?” He puts the bottle back on the chair and decides to take a walk up to the hook of Sandy Hook, maybe that’s where his parents went.
They didn’t, and although the hook is pretty cool, the sun is getting real low and the sky is starting to turn pink; Tad has to go home soon. He wishes the sandy hook of Sandy Hook a good night and returns to his family’s camp, but his parents still aren’t back yet. What’s taking them so long?
In a last-ditch attempt to run out the clock, Tad picks up the bottle and goes back to the jetty. He wants to return it to where he found it because that’s what his mom says he should do when he finds something that doesn’t belong to him, and as much as Tad likes his pirate’s treasure, it doesn’t rightfully belong to him. The seagulls fly away when he climbs up on the rocks, and he almost slips a few times on his way down to the end of the jetty, but he never falls.
Tad’s about to put the bottle back down, corked end first, just like he found it, but he hesitates. Why did his parents put so much sand in the bottle? Why did Jimmy only put a little bit? And where did they get the white sand? It just doesn’t make any sense, but Tad guesses it doesn’t matter. It was empty when he found it, so he uncorks it easily – it must have loosened up from being opened and closed so many times today – and empties the sand out into the water. He then tilts it up towards himself and peers into the mouth of the bottle, just for the heck of it, and the vile thing that looks back, the utter ghastly horror of what lurks in Tad’s pirate’s treasure, the soul-sucking, innocence-rotting, horrible putridity of the demented monstrous thing skulking past the narrow mouth of the glass bottle with the little clown painted on the side cannot be described with mere words; not those spoken by moral men, at least.
The glass bottle, now full of white sand and firmly corked, falls back to the rocks and lands with a clank in the very same crevice from which Tad pulled it earlier in the day. The Flannigans never pack up their camp, and when the police come back to report that they’ve found no trace of their son Jimmy, they have nobody to report it to. The umbrella guy comes over to get the umbrella when the cops are still there, and they let him keep all the stuff the Flannigans left behind to be rented out in the future.
“They must have found the boy and ran off,” says the umbrella man. “We get some weird folks out here, sometimes they like to stir up attention for no reason other than causing trouble.”
The cops shrug their shoulders, that sounds about right. The umbrella guy locks up all the Flannigan family’s stuff in his little shack and goes home with a new book to read (Stephen King’s It, a classic). The thought of the Flannigan family leaves his mind by the time the moon rises over the ocean’s crashing waves.
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth 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 OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~