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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 19


DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.


On the way across the hospital lobby, Laurel broached the subject of needing a ride.

"Denver dropped me off on her way to the restaurant," Laurel explained as they emerged from the hospital entrance. "I figured we could ride together after lunch with your mother. I hope it's okay."

Garrison looked up at the cloudy sky and down at his arm before responding, looking at the drop of rain caught on the pale hairs there.

"We'd better hurry if we don't want to get soaked," he said, taking Laurel's hand and beginning to run. "Oh, and yeah, I'm glad you had Denver drop you off."

The errant raindrop Garrison felt outside the entrance was joined by a few of its friends before the young couple made it to the Avalon. The two slightly damp freshmen closed their doors just seconds ahead of a rolling rumble of thunder that shook the earth around them, and the rain began to fall in earnest.

"We made it just in time," Laurel remarked as she watched the sheets of rain wash diagonally across the parking lot. "It would have been no fun being caught out in this."

"We would soak to the skin in seconds," Garrison predicted.

They sat silently watching the rain for several seconds until the windshield began to fog over. Garrison started the car and set the air conditioning to blow through the defogger vents onto the front window.

"I was going to ask if you wanted to go to the beach," Garrison said while swiveling his head in every direction, looking for a break in the clouds. "If Calvin and Mariah can come, I was going to sign you all in as guests at the Yacht Club beach."

Laurel stopped watching the rain and shifted her eyes to regard Garrison. "You're a member of the Buzby Yacht Club?" Then she answered her own question. "Of course you're a member of the Yacht Club. Why am I not surprised?" She said it with a smile, so Garrison would know he was being teased. Laurel knew he was sensitive about his status.

"The membership started with my great grandfather," Garrison said with a shrug. "Because he was one of the founding members of the club, his membership included his immediate family and passed down to his oldest son - only child for that matter - my grandfather. The membership would have gone to my father, but he was disinherited, probably because of whatever happened to the girl in the article, and it came to me."

"In other words," Laurel pointed out to Garrison, "you're a legacy. You're in the club because your great grandfather and grandfather were in the club."

"Not just in the club," Garrison amended. "Great Grandpa was a founder, and Grandpa helped grow the club into what it is today."

"I stand corrected," Laurel conceded with a sly grin. "You're a legacy because your ancestors were vitally important in the formation and growth of the club."

Garrison laughed and then said, "I think the rain is lightening up. I'll text Calvin and ask him to meet us at the house. We can all walk down to the beach together."


As it turned out, Calvin and Mariah were already at the State Recreational Area at Forth Fisher when Calvin received Garrison's text message.

[Calvin] Why don't you two come to join us here? We're just to the right of the walkway down near the high tide line.

Garrison ran the idea past Laurel. She readily agreed to the change in plans.

[Garrison] I have to stop at the house to change. We'll be there afterward.

[Calvin] Sounds good. See you in a few.

Garrison and Laurel drove out of the summer storms last rainfall when they reached Monkey Junction. On Buzby Beach, there was no sign of rain at all. Laurel informed Garrison during the ride from the hospital that she was wearing her bathing suit under her clothes and that there were dry underthings in her bag for her to change into after they visited the beach on the off chance she actually went in the water.

Garrison pulled the Avalon into the garage when they reached his house.

"We'll take the Miata to Fort Fisher. The storm cooled things down enough for us to put the top down."

In the house, Garrison offered Laura some sweet tea. She declined but did accept a glass of ice water.

"You can wait in the family room while I change if you want," Garrison suggested.

Laurel looked into the family room and asked, "Is it okay if I wait out on the deck?"

Garrison shrugged and said, "Sure, if you want to. I won't take long."

Garrison went to his bedroom and began changing out of the clothes he wore to lunch with his mother into something more appropriate for the beach - a gray Buzby Beach logo muscle shirt and a pair of red board shorts. He just finished putting on the board shorts when he heard Laurel scream, the family room door slam, and footsteps running toward his bedroom door.

"Laurel, what's wrong?" Garrison yelled as he pulled his door open.

Laurel, panting, rushed into Garrison's arms. "There's a girl ... swimming in your pool ... in a white bikini ... and ... I don't know ... how she got there. She ... wasn't there ... when I first ... went out ... on the deck."

Garrison tensed up and hissed, "Friday!" through his teeth.

Laurel took a few deep breaths to calm down and then asked, "Who? Who is Friday? Why is she swimming in your pool?"

Garrison moved a half-step back and looked Laurel in the eyes while holding her shoulders. "Don't freak out, okay. Do you remember when I asked if you believed in ghosts?"

Laurel swallowed hard and nodded.

Garrison continued, "I know it sounds crazy, but I think you just saw one."

Laurel stared hard into Garrison's eyes for several long seconds. She began nodding her head rapidly. "So, she's your ghost? Let's go see just how much of a ghost she is."

Laurel turned and headed for the pool deck. Garrison was right behind her.


Garrison followed Laurel out to the pool deck, fully expecting Friday to have disappeared from the pool. Friday hadn't. She was at the edge of the shallow end closest to the house with her arms resting on the pool deck and kicking her legs slightly to keep them afloat. When Garrison and Laurel emerged from the house, Friday stopped kicking and allowed her legs to sink to the bottom.

"I didn't mean to scare you, Laurel," Friday said without preamble. "I thought you knew about me. You and Garrison have grown so close in such a short time I was sure he'd mentioned me once or twice."

Laurel turned to Garrison, shook her head, and held her finger to her lips before pointing at her own chest and then her mouth. Garrison nodded to show he understood Laurel planned to do the talking for the moment.

"Garrison did try to tell me about you last night," Laurel informed Friday. "But I didn't believe him. He thinks you're a ghost. Are you a ghost, Friday?"

Friday beamed a smile. "You know my name. Good, now we can skip the awkward introductions."

Laurel's lips curved into an icy smile. "You're adept at avoiding questions, aren't you Friday?"

"What question are you referring to, Laurel?"

Laurel narrowed her eyes and zeroed in on Friday. "Are you a ghost, as Garrison thinks?"

Friday frowned. "Does Garrison think I'm a ghost?"

Laurel took a deep breath. Her icy smile grew colder. "Garrison thinks you might be a ghost. I'm beginning to think you're just an airhead."

Friday rose out of the water to stand erect. "How dare you? Do you know who I am?"

Laurel dug the barb deeper. "All I know is you're a pervy little teenager who likes to go around swimming in other people's pools in a nearly see-through white bikini." She turned to Garrison. "Go ahead and let your policeman friend know this chick's shown up again. He can lock her up for trespassing until she's willing to give us some answers."

"Garrison, you better not," warned Friday. "I'm warning you."

Garrison took a gamble. "Or what, Rachel? Yeah, I know your real name. What are you going to do if I call Officer Langstrom and get him over here? Will you disappear through the gate my grandfather bricked up thirty years ago?"

Friday was shaking with rage. Laurel looked at Garrison with something between admiration and disbelief. Garrison felt calm and in control for the first time in days.

Garrison and Laurel face down Friday

"What's it going to be, Rachel? Are you going to tell us why you're here? What happened to you the night you drowned? Or should I call my cop friend and have him come over. Then you can tell him."

Friday shook her head slowly. "Oh, you don't want me to tell the cops what happened on the night your ... uh, uh. You almost tricked me, Garrison. You're good. Not good enough, though."

Laurel stepped forward and said, "Rachel, why don't you come up here and sit with us. We can sort all this out?"

"Stop calling me Rachel," Friday hissed. "I hate that name. Naming me Rachel was my aunt's stupid idea. She said the name is from the Bible. A fat lot of good having a name from the Bible did me."

"Okay, Friday," Laurel said, acceding to the request. "Come on up here and sit with us. We can talk out whatever problem you have with Garrison's father."

"No," Friday said. "I don't want to come over there. I'm getting bored with this conversation."

She turned and swam toward the deep end and stopped when she saw Garrison holding her sundress by the table.

"Put that down," Friday cried. "It's mine. You shouldn't touch a lady's things without asking."

Garrison notice a tear near the shoulder. "Did my father touch something he wasn't supposed to, Friday? Is that the reason you came back here?"

"Shut up," Friday screamed. "You don't know anything. Please put it down. I want to leave now."

Laurel walked down the side of the pool and joined Garrison. "We'll give you back your dress if you tell us where you're going."

Garrison's head turned sharply, and he stared at Laurel. She gave him a barely perceptible nod.

"I just want to go home," Friday whimpered. "Please give me my dress."

"Where is home?" Laurel persisted.

"Through there," Friday said, indicating the bricked up part of the wall where the gate once stood. "But I can't go through unless I have my sundress. Please!"

Garrison put the dress back on the table. He and Laurel backed away several steps. Friday’s thin white bikini revealed more than it hid. Laurel covered Garrison's eyes.

"Hey!" exclaimed Garrison. "What the ... ?"

"It's not polite to stare," Laurel said. "Even if you are staring at a ghost."

Friday grabbed her sundress and ran for the part of the wall where the gate should be. She reached out as if to pull a lever and disappeared.

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 20

© 2021 DW Davis

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