Location: marengo, il, United States

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Several times during the night, a complaining voice from somewhere outside the tent keeps waking us.

“Knock it off!”

“Stop it! Go away!”

“Are you crazy? Scram, I told you!”

Around daybreak, she and I both suppress a laugh after hearing,

“For the last time, stay out of my ear, you little freak!”

Alicia and I emerge from our tent just as the morning sky begins to lighten. When I stand upright, Alicia points to where a form lays huddled on the sand several yards away, fast asleep under a blanket. It’s her brother’s pal, Modge. She holds a finger up to her lips and she takes my hand as we both walk quietly toward the beach where her car is parked. She spies her brother Martin before I do.

“Why is he laying there?”

Martin is sprawled out across the hood of her Opal, flat on his back but sound asleep.

Several feet away, the dome tent floats in a large pool of water, and the thing has partially collapsed.

“Oh my gosh!”

She breaks into a trot so I follow along quickly.

“Martin! Martin, are you okay?”

The boy sits up, stares at us tiredly and yawns. He is shirtless and barefoot.

“What happened to our tent?”

He rubs both eyes before looking at the buckled dome.

“A wave got me, I guess.”

He begins to describe his rough night just as Modge approaches.

“I turned over, and thought I was dreaming about swimming. I could feel the water with my feet, but then it went away so I must have went back to sleep.”

As Martin is telling his story, I realize too late that last night was a full moon, which means we had a higher than normal tide. I can only stand by quietly and listen.

“Then the next thing I know, the tent fills up again and I’m floating around on my air mattress in the dark inside.”

He points to a gash in the screen door.

“I was scared I'd get washed out to sea, so I guess I panicked, and I had to rip a hole to escape.”

From the scowl on the boy’s face, Modge looks even unhappier than Martin.

“I hardly slept. All night long, some crab kept trying to crawl inside my ears.”

Relieved that Martin survived his ordeal, and while laughing about the tiny ghost crab Modge had met, we go to removing all of the wet clothing from inside the tent. Then after laying things across the car to dry, we walk up the beach to the pavilion to get something to eat. By the time we return, everyone seems to be in a much better mood.

My trio of new friends had left Southern Illinois to visit Padre Island, but their plan was to stay for one day only before heading back. I must somehow convince them to stick around longer.

“We could ride in to Corpus today, and I could show you guys around the city for awhile.”

Neither of the boys acts too excited over my idea, but Alicia does, and she even asks me to drive.

After a long day in town, and on the way back to the beach that afternoon, the car begins to sputter. By the time we reach Malaquite, the engine is sounding terrible, but it’s too late in the day to do much of anything. Tomorrow is Sunday, so the garages will all be closed.

This is not exactly what I had in mind, but I have now been given at least two additional days and nights to spend with her.



Blogger Gone Away said...

Hmmm, you sure you didn't have that planned, Harry? Sounds very convenient to me... ;)

3:19 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

The tarbaby, he don't say nothing. And Brer Fox, he jus' lay low in de bushes.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Harry, I can't remember if I visited your blog already or not. It looks familiar. I think it's great and plan on coming back.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Thanks back at you, Dana. And you are welcomed to stop by the cave often.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Ned said...

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Wm. Shakespeare

Timing is everything, Harry.

Great tale, keep it up. I just love a day at the beach.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

How excellent I would have felt, had I known of that poem, Ned.

(Don't you love the way sand gets into everything?)

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Ned said...

There is nothing like the ocean, the sand, the salt, the air. The smell of suntan lotion and the wafting of a Marlboro burning somewhere down the beach, mixing the smoke with the salty breeze and just barely reaching your nose. To spend the day, covered head to toe in all of it, and the wonderful sense, tight and astringent, of salt water drying on your skin. If I were not near an ocean, I would wither.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Have I mentioned I'm enjoying this tale? I am...

Life is funny... had you not induced them to take that ride into town... they could have been in the middle of nowhere when that car died....

Then... the bonus from the universe for your good turn, a couple more days with your new lady friend...

It continues to be a good story!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Jodie said...

When we visit Padre, we go to the beach in the moonlight and throw bits of bread to the hundreds of ghost crabs roaming over the sand...the first time we were there, my daughter was terrified after that to sleep in the tent. :D But she eventually got tired enough that she feel asleep anyway.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Mysterious and amazingly funny, Bill; yes it is.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

They are something, Jodie. I ommited telling of one occasion when I moved the tent, and discovered tunnels the ghost crabs had made under the floor. This was before I got my mattress, so by moving, I solved the mystery of what things had been crawling beneath my backside nightly.

10:28 AM  

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