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.