Mid-September, red tide that created a stink straight from hell, dead fish, a positive reconfigurement of my less than ideal surroundings, as well as a hunger just to be alone was what my soul was reaching out for on that day. I opened my sand chair and tilted my head back to catch the late morning sun. This was not a good beach day for a sane person; however, to a hard core surf lover such as me, it was just fine.
An earthquake two-hundred miles out in the Gulf of Mexico measuring 6 on the Richter scale had invaded my dreams the night before and scared the devil out of everyone. They were all waiting for the tsunami that everyone said was not going to happen and decided unequivocally that this might not be the greatest day to sit on the tranquil white sands that covered the shore of Siesta Key. The sand was great. It was like baby powder. It slipped between toes and even managed to invade ones heart, if they stayed there long enough.
There she was. She was sitting alone on the shore; her athletic body could not be ignored as she occasionally jumped from her rusty beach chair and dove into the green waters of the gulf, swimming like a shark at feeding time. She created waves that encircled her in a frenzy, scaring off any of the other marine life that might dare approach. A force to be reckoned with, an oddity of humanity, an aberration at best
Then, back she would go to her sand chair, her rear-end falling through the ripped out netting that lapped the top of the hot sand beneath her She did not seem to notice. Adeptly cracking open a beer, she then proceeded to guzzle it in record time.
Closing my eyes, I suddenly became aware of a larger than life shadow that engulfed me and blocked the sun from my face.
" Hey there, I really hate to bother you," she said in a heavy, masculine voice. "But, I can't help but notice your great bathing suit. Hope you don't mind, but I would like to pick your brain for about a half an hour. I promise I won't be any longer than that, but I just need to run something by you."
Who was this woman? I was not pleased. She was interrupting my alone time, something I did not get enough of these days.
"Ya see," she began after quickly spritzing herself with lotion and motioning for me to rub it into her back, which was beginning to turn lobster pink. OK, I thought. I don't do this. I do not touch another persons back unless that back is related to me.
" I love this place. I mean, I think it is the most beautiful place on earth, and I have been around, if you know what I mean. Damn girl, I have been hanging around these parts for over twenty five years, and I have just about done it all in this paradise."
I sat there shaking my head, trying to understand her slurred speech and running through my somewhat startled mind, just how I could extricate myself from this situation without actually having to leave the beach.
"So . . . I am thinking of moving to Georgia, resuming my career as a teacher and personal trainer. The market here is glutted and the only people who are really interested in changing their bodies and minds these days are baby boomers. Ya know what I mean?"
Another shake of my head. I had yet to utter a word and I felt she must have wondered what my voice actually sounded like. She really did not seem to care.
"I mean, here it is Noon, and I am drunk again. I think I may need to move to Georgia. What do ya think? You see, something that I did not tell you is that I am a tired soul. I have no one in my life. My mother died from Alzheimer's last year. Left me the house which I will get a pretty penny for. I have no husband, nor do I want one. I have no children and only a few friends. Me and my friends, we are all pretty much drunk by noon. I've got a good reason though. I can tell you this. I was raped by several men by the time I turned twelve. Did I mention that? If I did, hey I'm sorry, man. I don't want to keep repeating myself. OH, forgot to tell you that I am a writer. I am currently working on a five page dissertation that is going to sell a million copies if I can get it out there. And ya know what it is about? It is all about what a person does when they find themselves on a beach in the very early morning hours and they have no idea how they got there and what to do. This is going to be a manual for all people who find themselves in just this situation. Ya know. . .hey! I've been there a few times, myself. You probably have too. You wake up, throw up, wonder where the hell you are and where your tooth brush is. Then you start looking around you to see if there is someone on the beach who can help you. Kind of like you just happened to be not far from me on this deserted beach. But, the main thing I need to know is, do ya think I should move to Georgia?"
OK, she obviously did not want to hear the sound of my voice because each time I tried to speak she simply raised her hand in front of me and continued on in her diatribe of monotonous queries, basically centered around moving to Georgia. I had never been to Georgia.
"Ya, I think we would make a good team. We obviously think alike, Are you a writer by any chance? I need a ghost-writer for my book. Sad thing, life. . .there are simply no guarantees, " she went on in what I was now picking up as a deep southern drawl "My mother passed away from Alzheimer's, last year. I think I told you that I wouldn't want to go through that with another person. No thank you! Not a pretty sight. Well, I gotta go." And with this, she was up from her worn out chair, quickly tucking it under her arm along with her beach bag which was overflowing and bursting at the seams.
"This whole thing was weird, ya know what I mean?" With this she offered me her fist and high-fived me. Quickly sprinting down the beach, she stopped abruptly and turned around. "Hey, one more thing I forgot to ask you. "What is the one thing in this life that would make you truly happy?"
I had not expected this last question and thought for a moment. But before I could speak, up came her hand "Nah . . . don't tell me. Think about it for a few days, but I am pretty sure I know the answer."
As quickly as she had arrived into my life that hot September day on the Gulf of Mexico, she had gone. I watched her disappear into the hot mist that hovered a few inches above the water's edge.
"Go to Georgia, hey, go to Georgia," I called down the beach. I didn't think she heard me but as I once again laid my head against the back of my sand chair, I saw her appear from the steamy coast one more time and wave her fist high in the air.
Damn! What was the one thing in life that would make me happy?
I bet she went to Georgia.
Published in Taj Mahal Review,
December, 2006Send us your comments on this article