29 Feb

From the Swamp (part 3)

Mike popped the trunk and threw his bag inside. In the dim light cast by the weak bulbs in the car, he caught sight of the tire iron.

“Are you hearing this?” Chris persisted. “I wonder if it’s some domestic dispute.”

Another “Fuck you, Sherri” echoed across the campground.

Chris listened for Mike. He’d heard the warning dings of the car door ajar, the punch of the trunk’s latch releasing, a shuffle of luggage. And now he listened to some metallic clink. “Mike?” What if it wasn’t Mike? “What are you doing?”

Again: “Fuck you, Sherri.” And this time, another “Relax! God!”

“Mike?” Chris fumbled for his flashlight and turned it on, illuminating the inside of the tent. He sat up and shone the light at the mesh entrance but couldn’t see out. He unzipped the tent door, grabbing onto the oversized tag warning to “Keep all flame and heat sources away from this tent fabric” which he’d neglected to remove from the zipper after purchasing it three days earlier.
Mike was standing by the car, looking slightly guilty.

“What are you doing?” Chris said.

Mike held a finger to his pursed lips.

“What’s going on?”

Mike shushed him.

Some campers were confronting Sherri’s companion. The words “quiet,” “need to,” and “police” rose above the other mutterings.

“Call the police, then!” the man shouted. More barking reverberated over the dark lake.

Mike had already imagined how things might go. He’d walk calmly over to the asshole and deliver a few intimidating lines – something like “Say, “˜Fuck you, Sherri’ one more time. I dare you.” Or maybe, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to call the police. By the time we’re done here, you might be the one calling the police.” Yes, they were silly one-liners, but aren’t there times when the bad guys are so bad that you can forgive the over-the-top machismo of the hero?

It was no mystery why Mike was a better windsurfer than Chris. Much better, in fact. He’d gotten beyond the 12-knot barrier soon after beginning and was working on his slam jibes, quick 180-degree turns that lost little speed. A week in Hood River and he might come away with an aerial jibe or two if he worked at it. Chris, on the other hand, preferred long, straight glides in calmer waters, when the surface wasn’t so bumpy. Give him a big lake with little boat traffic and he could traverse it dozens of times without tiring. Truth be told, water scared him a little. He hated falling off the board, sinking into the dark drink of unknown depth. And that’s why skating on its surface was so exhilarating.

“I’m gonna go talk with Sherri’s buddy,” Mike said.

Chris noticed the tire iron that Mike was half-concealing behind his thigh. “Seriously?”

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