So There They Were at the Beach Again, Looking Around

He doesn’t like to go there but she says he should get out more, get some sun. I’ve had enough sun to last me a lifetime, he says, and sand too. But she wants to go, so they go. She moved into the spare bedroom this morning. He’s been slugging her at night and last week she woke up with a black eye. She laughs and says, you aren’t sleeping with the enemy. I’m a friendly. He nods. They walk down the long wooden ramp built so the cripples can get down to the ocean and maybe wet their feet. He leans on her arm, carrying the picnic hamper in his other hand. She is carrying a fold-up beach chair. They step off the ramp but don’t go far. She unfolds the chair and he sits down. She spreads a beach towel and sits beside him. Doesn’t that sun feel good, she asks, and he says, yep. She slips off her wrap-around dress and under it is a new blue bathing suit and she looks good. He looks around and thinks, it’s nice to be here where women wear bathing suits. He rolls up one pants leg to the knee, then rolls it down again. The phrase floats through his head: a carnival riotousness of death. He doesn’t know where it came from but lets it float a while. He looks around and thinks, so here we are in the sand again. She rubs suntan lotion on her arms and legs and he does her back. That feels good, she says and puts on her sun hat. She is lovely, she is beautiful, and she smiles at him. He opens his book and there is the phrase halfway down the page. That’s where it came from, he thinks, and he reads it to her out loud, listen, he says: a carnival riotousness of death. What’s that mean, she asks, and he says, I don’t know but it’s here in this book I’m reading. Let me see, she says. And he shows her the page and she says, I don’t see it, and he looks again but it’s gone. He looks around for it and sees an ice cream stand with Old Glory waving on top. Beside it is a parked Scorpion DPV with two men slumped half out of it. How about I run over there and get us some ice cream, she asks and he says, yep. Strawberry? Yep. She gets up and he admires how skillfully she hurries across the white sand of the beach.

Issue 22 · April 2015

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