The Mysterious Magnificents
by Steve Wardrip
At sunrise, the car pulls into parking spot number 12. Looks like a real estate agent, maybe insurance, probably real estate. Maybe junior exec. Early riser.
Kids are playing on the beach. These kids look poor. Worn bathing suits, shoes, messy hair, dirty car with lots of stuff in it. Georgia tags on car.
A blondish guy mid forties comes strolling by first slow, then fast, then slow again. I figure he’s from Connecticut and the family is still sleeping in the hotel while he goes out for his morning walk.
Two women walk the other direction. Both in black slacks and black tops with black windbreakers. One is older, probably mother and daughter. They look alike. They laugh at the squawking Seagulls. I figure they are from West Virginia and had car trouble in the way here and are spending too much money.
A kid flies by on a beach bike, huge tires! He looked dark haired with a tan. Probably lives four blocks away in a subdivision. His Dad is probably an appliance salesman. He is riding a Mongoose Bicycle. His Mom probably makes good home made Pimento Cheese. His Sister is a pain and won’t leave him alone, so he rides his bike to the beach and meets his friends there.
An elderly couple shuffle by, both being very cautious to not let the ocean foam come up and touch their feet. They scoot out of the way just before a wave breaks. They are smiling and pointing. Probably from Tennessee and it’s been thirty years since they were here in Florida. He probably has Prostate Cancer and she is Diabetic. They sure wear some nice shoes. Outlet Mall.
Here comes Tom, the jogger. His name is Tom, or so it says in black letters on his shirt. He has a lot of tattoos, is fit and a fast jogger. It’s around seven am, so he’s going to be at work by eight. A quick shower and shave, a cup of Joe and off to the accounting office. More Joe, more ambient background music, more work to do, with work in top of that. Tom moved here from Louisiana and wonders if he could make more money back home. Nah, he likes this girl. She doesn’t like him, but that’s why he calls it a challenge. He is challenged.
Four teenage guys, all hanging on the beach, one runs here with a frisbee, another runs to the water with a floatation raft, one just runs and skips in the water and one just stands there grinning. “Hey, Jeremiah, Shark! hehe!”, one yells, Jeremiah yells back, “You bite me!” “You da shark bait!” “Nah, they don’t like me cause I smoke. They want no part of dat! Hahaha!” “Look out! Whale!” They kick around for about three minutes and they are done, off to another adventure on down the beach. They all live in condo’s with their parents. School starts at eight right next door, just past the playground. Billy, Samuel, Lanny and Jeremiah. Best friends all Summer until they get jealous of each other over the girls. Then it’s time to man up and be independent. They all live in the same condos. The girls come and go. The guys ignore each other. New friends move in, new girls, new beach scene, and a new Summer.
A Beach Patrol Jeep speeds by eyeballing everything in sight. I figure that guy was born and raised here, a homie in his thirties who got a job with the city because his Mom knows someone at city hall. He lives with Mom and pays half the rent. She is grateful he has a job. She plays Bingo with Roy, her boyfriend. She moved to Florida in 1998 after she was transferred from Houston, Texas. The boy’s name is Terry and he likes to build NASCAR Model cars from kits and display them in his bedroom. He is very good at it.
Granny comes, plodding down the beach, or is it waddling? She has a purse she could fit into if necessary. It looks full too! I really do wonder what a lady carries in her purse that she would lug down the beach for long distance. It must be some vital stuff. I suppose she is from Michigan and moved here with her husband who was a locksmith and worked on small engines. They had a house trailer in Ormond Beach, but when he died, she moved into a small apartment where she still is now. Her niece, Abbie comes to stay two months a year. She is a member of the Senior Go-Getters and they go everywhere on busses and in vans. They go to shops, museums, farms, restaurants, touring around, seeing the sights. She is satisfied with going. It keeps her going.
Here a guy who is a fisherman. He has three poles, two buckets and a chair with a beach umbrella. Towels, a cooler, hat, shades, vest, cargo shorts and Hirachi Sandals. The fishing dude is ready. Either, he’s been doing this every day for years or it’s his first time. He stands out as being so different, I’d say he lives here and does this every morning. I’d say he retired from the Gary, Indiana steel mill to move here and his idea of a good time is beach fishing. He does just that every morning, giving his wife time to straighten and clean house. She fixes him lunch when he gets back home and they watch TV after that usually, unless they have business away from home to attend to. She was a hairdresser and does needlepoint now. He likes wrestling and golfing. I’d say they are Catholics. I’d say the kids moved away. I’d say they like it that way.
Yes, there are girls in bikinis. Here come two right now. One in front is wearing a pink ensemble with a scalloped thin jacket made from light material which blows well in the ocean breeze. The sculpted bikini us trimmed with pink ribbons and bows. She has a nice tan, blonde shoulder length hair, tasteful tattoos on her back and legs. She has matching flip flops, and handbag with pink sunglasses. Just behind and to the left is her companion in a jet black two piece bikini. She has long black hair and white sunglasses. Long thin legs and a white beach bag, she is tall, lanky and sexy. I can’t say whether they look best coming at you or going away from you, but there are no complaints either way. They are both from Ohio and took a vacation together. They even brought their little dogs, which are sitting in the car, which is strictly forbidden and a local criminal violation, but they don’t know that and the windows in the car are down a little, right? Anyway, I think one of them gets a warning ticket and the other gets pregnant. They go back to Ohio, never to go on vacation again.
Here comes Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffet. No, seriously, I think it’s them. Who cares though, here come the babes of the month right behind them.
“Excuse me, do you live here? I was wondering if you knew where I could get a beer. I know it’s early, but I’m on vacation.” This is an old trick I pull on pretty tourists girls that aren’t with any guys. The prettiest one looked me right in the eye and said, “Follow me!” In a hushed tone, I said, “Yes dear, I’m here.” She turned, smiled and led us right to a shrimp and beer breakfast. She was from Alabama and met her girlfriends here and now she says she wants to have some time away from them. She said she wants to get out on the town and make it click! I snap my fingers and say, “C’mon, I know just where to go!” … and away we go.
Next morning at the beach. An old man come along in his jacket and below the knee shorts. He has a constipated look on his face. He looks right at me as he trudges by in the sand, he snarls at me from behind a leathery whiskered unshaven face. He stops and spits on the ground. I just know he’s from Oklahoma. It’s the accent and he hasn’t even said anything. He hates, Niggers, Commies, Mexicans and Rag Heads. He says so with his beady little eyes. He is a mean drunk, but he is sober now. I’m just the guy from Kentucky who can’t figure out why she said no last night and why I had to take her home early. I guess I’m just some old guy who is still drunk the next morning from the cheap wine. That’s it, cheap wine! I knew I should have gotten the good stuff! Nah, she didn’t really like alcohol, she just wanted to party… like they do in Alabama… but this is Florida… and anyway, she said she needed to send postcards home… and so, the next morning, I needed to people watch on the beach at sunrise. Such is life. Here comes Agnes from Upstate New York. What’s that she’s got with her? Oh, a metal detector. “Finding anything?”, I wearily ask. “Nope, Not yet, but it’s early!” She smiled as her buzzer sounded out.”
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