Ten minutes, Morris gives up on the lighthouse, returns to the condo. They have a rental unit right across the grass from the enclosed pool, pretty quiet. Chase is on the screened-in sitting area of the apartment, drinking something (iced tea, he is pretty sure), a magazine with photographs of women who had to be celebrities open on the table. He glimpses a headline, “Hookups & Breakups,” and figures that is just great. No reason Chase should be reading teleological stuff on vacation.
“How was your walk?” she says.
He stops, wondering if he should tell her: Revelatory, your future is to become middle-aged.
He settles on “Not bad,” willing to let it go at that, but celebrity breakups have lost her attention for a moment, and she says, “Were there good shells?”
“There were a zillion of them along the rack line, all of them smashed. More like pulverized. Millions of them.”
“You got some sun.”
His neck is sore. He’s gotten a burn.
“Why didn’t you wear Mom’s sunscreen?” she says.
He had wanted some color to take back to Chicago. If he admitted that, she would respond with practiced teenage irony, “You sure succeeded.” So he says, “I guess I forgot.” And thinks: Maybe I’ll forget to go back to Chicago. It wasn’t like he would be abrogating a civic duty, depriving the city, leaving it wanting for people licensed to file lawsuits.
There had been old guys on the beach, bent forward like predatory lizards, all of them darker than Morris, most of them leaner, their strides practiced, hides leathery, all the ones he envied solitary. Maybe, forgetting to go back to Chicago, he would join their society. How many hours a day would he have to walk the beach to get that reptilian look? Grinding the habitations of extinct life under their soles, as unaware as gods, as likely as gods to laugh if he pointed out the sadness of the destruction.
He doubted any of the lizard men could tell him what he wanted to know. Morris had walked courthouse and office tower halls all his adult life, and what did he know? He knew a couple banks might fail before he got home. He knew all that was beside the point, as was the twenty thousand in his pocket. He had lost multiples of that in the last year.
“Where is your mother?” he asks.
“Damned if I know. She’s supposed to worry where I am.”
Yeah, this kid would tend their diapers.
He thinks it might improve his temper if he has one small thing to show for the morning, if not wreckage stolen from the beach, if not knowledge, then somebody doing what he wanted.
“The beach is still there, and the shells are all lousy,” Morris tells his daughter.
“Oh, Dad,” she complains.
He thinks about kicking the chair out from under her ass. At least one of them would have an epiphany today. Maybe sensing the danger, she says, “I’ll come along, but I’m not going to enjoy it.”
“You don’t have to enjoy it,” Morris says.
COPYRIGHT (c) 2018 (REGISTERED) JOHN C. BOLAND. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.