Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dead Mann installment #4


Flames were covering the upper decks as Richard tried to get over to see in the port of the lounge and he saw his mother adding up her line scores on the gin game she likely just won. He knocked on the window and yelled to them to get out. His father turned and smiled and waved Richard forward. He mouthed, ‘Come on in we can play hearts.” Richard watched the flames turn the settee to ashes and the cards were burning on the tabletop. He wanted to go in there, but could not find the hatchway. His head seemed to be moving and his mind struggled to find a reason why. He bolted awake and grabbed the life-ring as it slipped up out from under his head.

A gasp and yelp reached his ears. He turned to find an older man backing up in the loose sand with wild eyes.

“I thought you were dead, honest!” The man said as he stepped back one more step and stopped, a full six feet from Richard as he still laid there.

“It’s okay. I just took a long swim and had to rest. Thanks for waking me, I did not like that dream anyway.” Richard said with a smile on his face. As he thought that all in all it was really true, he needed no nightmares to make the day any harder.
“With all your clothes on?” The man looked sideways at Richard and made a, ‘Yeah right!’ frown on his face very noticeable even in the light of late dusk.

“Okay, I needed a bath and to wash my clothes at once, seemed the best way.” Richard shrugged.

“Heh! Yeah I know how that can be. You got to watch it around here. They petrol, about this time of night looking, for us bums and riff raff picking the beach clean of leftovers. You must be new around these parts!”

Richard laughed, and sat up to stretch and get a lay of the land around him. “As a matter of fact I am, just arrived on the evening tide.”

The man winced and looked around just to be looking elsewhere as his face changed to doubt and suspicion.

Slowly Richard got up and stretched his back and legs and picked up the life-ring turning the letters toward himself and bending to get the towel. Shaking it out he saw a set of keys fall to the ground with some shells. He bent to pick the shells up and palmed the keys, looking at the shells he blew off one and smelled another. Sure that the other man had not noticed he stuck one shell in his pocket and threw the other out to where the water was receding.

“So anyways nice meeting you and Good Night.” Richard said, as he turned to the north to walk toward the condos.

“Ah! You don’t want to go that way!” The man said.

“I am afraid yes I do.” Richard said.

“Your night in jail. They don’t cotton to bums near those timeshares. Get yourself a nice set of dry duds and you might pass for a Weeker, but not like you are looking.”

Richard looked at his pants, three hours of seawater and they were just about as nice of a set of beach bums clothes as he could have hoped for, his shirt was almost as nice looking.

“They look fine for what I am. Beach Bum on the run, hired for one night only.” Richard intoned in his best Irish lilt.
“Man you sure think you are funny! I don’t think you are, but you can do whatever you like. I am out of here.” With that he turned and walked up toward the sand dunes and a bit south.

“Bye, bye good luck, have fun and God Bless!” Richard called to the departing Hobo.

Making sure he had not missed anything else from the towel. Richard walked on toward the condos. Even though he was not heading toward them really. Giving the impression that he did not care and would go on anyway no matter the risk was exactly what he wanted the other to think.

The beach in this whole section was a long and wide and flat stretch of white sand found to be great for sunbathers as well as for swimmers. Surprising that this was the kind of beach that made just such a place the prefect playground for thousands of others the world over. Richard could be anywhere in the world. But here he was not a citizen, here he was just another lost homeless person like the hobo or some such person that wanted a good find in his life-ring just minutes ago. He paused as if to stretch again and while moving his arms in motions to loosen them from the swim in, he looked back and the other was still below the plant line but far up the beach heading the other direction. At least that was just as it had seemed and not anything that could have been deadly. New world indeed, another fun filled paradise complete with all the lost souls too. He had been to many such places over the course of his travels.

Where to go was the question at hand. He could not get to close to the condos just yet. His only possessions were the Life-ring, the beach towel and set of keys he had picked up. He dug them out and looked at them. A car key one of the ones with a chip in it, marked any number of current models, but he thought it was not an American make. A house key, a lock box key and several that looked like suitcase keys, and one he could not puzzle out. He wondered had he just taken some swimmer’s towel from them? He looked at his watch. No! He had been asleep to long for this to have been, another swimmer’s towel. Another tiny mystery, one he would more easily find an answer to than his own.

Just the sort of items a late night swimmer would have he could pass for anyone, except for the lack of shoes, an easy explanation and a funny one to boot. Don’t you just hate it when you come back to your towel and someone has taken your shoes and walked off with them? Kids these days and parents that don’t make an effort to correct them, what a great bit of line this will make. The bits of logic that solves the puzzles of others and makes you fit in anywhere just another person. Not a man that just watched his only home blow up and sink and his parents blink away from his life in a hot flash. He smiled. It was a sad and mad and crazy smile all rolled into one and he wondered what someone would think seeing it. He wondered for a brief moment how he could smile and knew what had been was not funny but ironic. His parents had instilled in him over the years the ironies of life at times. After all they did live on the fringes, world-class beach bums and vagabonds Robinhoods all. Swiss passports, neutral the world over, they could travel almost anywhere. He could get another, or change his name if he had too, but somehow even now slipping out of the living into the dead he was still ‘Little Richard’ child spy.

Where to go?

Think he told himself there are needs right now as his stomach gurgled loud and with fierce animal hunger. He plodded up to the nearest condo’s beach wall and found the path to the public parking lot for the beach. Several cars of all makes and models, none of them looked like they fit the car key on his ring. He walked on up to the road beyond, a wide road with light traffic on it. There were several large houses and what looked like a few hotels set off the street further up toward the north. Then the food district a little beyond that. That was where he walked. Food was needed living off the land was taking on a whole new meaning just about now.


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