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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 22

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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.

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The movies the four friends had to choose from were classics from what Calvin referred to as "the old days" when he perused the titles in the cabinet Garrison pointed him to. They settled on a marathon of the original Star Wars trilogy.

"These are the real original versions," Calvin pointed out with something akin to glee. "Everybody knows Han shot first."

None of his friends argued with Calvin's assertion.

Garrison popped two large bowls of popcorn, one for him to share with Laurel and one for Calvin and Mariah.

Mariah watched Garrison operate the popcorn popper and said, "I thought this thing was just a decoration. How many people have real popcorn carts in their house?"

Garrison handed her the first bowl of popcorn. "My grandfather bought it for my grandmother. She loved popcorn popped this way. Grandma wouldn't eat microwave popcorn. After trying this, you'll quit eating microwave popcorn, too."

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A bowl of popcorn, two glasses of sweet tea, and two Star Wars movies later, the skies finally cleared, and sunshine made the water in the pool sparkle like diamonds.

"Let's save the third movie for later," Laurel suggested, "and go for a swim."

"We have our swimsuits in the car," Mariah said, gesturing with her head at Calvin. "Rinsing them out and changing back into them will be easy enough."

"I have mine on under my clothes," Laurel revealed. "Garrison, why don't you change, and we'll all meet out at the pool."

The wetness of the upper deck and pool deck were the only indications a storm had swept over the island. The sun was shining brightly, and only a few puffy white cumulus clouds floated in the sky overhead.

Calvin shivered when he reached the edge of the pool. "The sun might be out, but it's a lot cooler than it was before the rain."

"Cold fronts tend to cool things off, Calvin," Mariah pointed out to her boyfriend when she joined him where he stood beside the pool. "Hence the name cold fronts. Let's get in the water. Maybe it will be warmer."

It wasn't.

Garrison couldn't help but laugh at Calvin's scrunched expression as his friend walked down the steps into the water. "The rainwater must have chilled the pool water."

"Chilly water, I can deal with," declared Calvin. "This here is cold water. I'm going to get out and sit in the sun."

Mariah frowned as she took a tentative step into the water. "Wow! The water is frigid, Garrison. Do you have some sort of water cooler thing attached to this pool?"

"Not as far as I know," Garrison replied. He walked to the steps and tested the water with one foot. The foot didn't stay in the water long. "There's something weird going on. Even with the rain, the pool water shouldn't be this cold."

Laurel walked out onto the deck and asked, "Why are you all standing around, looking at the pool? Jump in."

Calvin shook his head. "No way! The water is freezing cold."

Garrison met Laurel's eyes. "Calvin is right. There's something odd going on here. Unless it was raining ice cubes, there's no way it was the rain."

Laurel's eyes popped wide open, and she mouthed, "Friday."

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Garrison's lips pressed into a thin line. He nodded. To Calvin and Mariah, he said, "We can enjoy some sunshine and let the sun heat the pool for a while and try it again."

Calvin took Mariah's hand and led her to a pair of chaise lounges. "I like the sound of your plan, Garrison."

Laurel beckoned Garrison to the upper deck with a wave of her hand.

Garrison started in her direction and then paused.

"Calvin, Mariah, do y'all want something to drink?"

Calvin looked at Mariah. She shook her head. "Nah, man. We're good."

Garrison acknowledged his friend with a sloppy salute and followed Laurel into the house. Once he closed the door behind him, Laurel expressed her concern.

"If Friday is somehow making the pool water cold," Laurel hypothesized, "do you think she's going to show up? If she does, it will freak Calvin and Mariah out for sure."

"I thought about Friday before we went outside," Garrison revealed. "She's never put in more than one appearance a day. With what happened earlier, I doubt she'll come back anytime soon. She knows we know how to keep her from leaving."

"You're right," Laurel said. She changed the subject and asked, "How do you think Friday makes the water in the pool cold?"

Garrison shrugged. "I wonder if the water is cold because she's around rather than her actually making it cold. The temperature of the water always seemed normal until she started showing up."

Laurel held her finger to her lips and looked past Garrison at the back door. A second later, Calvin walked in.

"Hey, y'all, I know we just ate all that popcorn, but I'm getting hungry. Are we going to do something for dinner?"

"Have you ever tried Denver's Franks and Fries?" Laurel asked Calvin. "It's my sister's place. She has the best hot dogs on the island and a plaque to prove it."

"Franks and fries sound good to me," Calvin said. "I'll ask Mariah if it sounds good to her."

Mariah agreed to the idea of franks and fries at Denver's.

"We can walk, it's not far, or we can all ride over in the Avalon," Garrison suggested after everyone changed out of their swimsuits and rallied in the family room.

"Walking will help me build up a bigger appetite," Calvin predicted.

Mariah laughed and said, "Breathing helps you build up a bigger appetite."

Calvin bounced on his heels and smiled. "Hey, my momma says I'm still a growing boy."

Mariah clasped her arms around Calvin in a bear hug. "Just don't grow too big around for me to reach."

Calvin rolled his eyes and planted a kiss on her lips.

"I have three guest rooms upstairs, guys," Garrison quipped, "if you need some alone time."

The menu at Denver's

Calvin and Mariah assured Garrison they didn't need one of his rooms. The two couples elected to walk to Denver's rather than drive.

Denver's wasn't busy when they arrived. The young man at the counter looked up and said, "What can Denver's prepare for you this afternoon?"

Laurel stepped forward and said, "I heard you serve a decent hot dog here. Is that true?"

"Yes, we have the best on the - OH! It's you, Laurel."

"Hi, Aaron," Laurel said to the boy. "My friends and I are hungry. Garrison's eaten here before but never tried the franks. This is Calvin and Mariah's first visit."

"Cool," Aaron responded. He turned and pointed to the menu. "As you can see, our specialty is frankfurters. These aren't your typical hot dogs. We serve on the best deli-style franks, natural casing, all meat, no fillers. You can choose all beef, a combination of beef and pork, one made with just chicken, or one made with turkey. If you're vegetarian, we have a meatless frank, too.

"We have regular size, foot-long, and quarter pounders. The quarter pounders are similar to brats. You can have a plain bun, a whole wheat bun, or a multi-grain bun. The buns come both side cut and top cut."

Aaron leaned toward Garrison and his friends and let them in on a secret. "Real franks are served in top cut buns." He then continued his explanation of the menu. "Your bun can be toasted or not, depending on what you like.

"We also have all the condiments you could ever want for frankfurters on the condiment bar along the wall over there," he added, pointing to a buffet-style line near the soda dispenser.

Aaron took a deep breath and finished his spiel. "We also serve burgers - beef, turkey, and garden, as well as fried or grilled chicken sandwiches. If you want a fish fillet sandwich, we do those, too."

"I don't know about the rest of you," Calvin announced. "A foot-long all-beef hot dog on a toasted white bun sounds good to me. What does it come with?"

"If you order the combo meal, it comes with a medium fries and a medium drink," Aaron informed Calvin. "You can upsize it to a large for just seventy-nine cents more."

"I'll upsize then," Calvin declared. He turned to Mariah. "What do you want?"

"Thanks for asking," Mariah said with unmistakable sarcasm. She addressed Aaron. "I'd like a regular chicken frank with small fries and a drink."

In keeping with the spirit of the moment, Garrison ordered a regular beef frank on a toasted top-cut roll with regular fries. Laurel copied Mariah's order. Laurel insisted on paying for Garrison's meal.

"I still owe you. Remember the night we met."

You could have introduced yourself

Aaron assured them their food would be out quickly. He gave them cups for their drinks and invited the four to fill their cups while waiting for their orders to be filled.

Calvin stared at his thirty-two ounce cup and compared it to the others’ twenty-ounce tumblers. "When y'all say a large, you aren't kidding."

They filled their cups. Calvin drank Mountain Dew. Mariah chose Diet Pepsi. Garrison and Laurel both had sweet tea. The girls took the drinks to a table in the back of the dining room near a window while the boys waited for the food.

The woman who delivered their food was the oldest employee Garrison had thus far seen working in Denver's. Her resemblance to Laurel was striking. The woman looked Garrison right in the eyes.

"I take it you're Garrison," the woman said as she handed their tray of food to Calvin. "It's time we were formally introduced."

Garrison waited for the woman, who was obviously Laurel's sister Denver to say something more. The woman simply pointed toward the table where Laurel and Mariah were sitting. Taking the hint, Garrison turned around and led the way to the table, followed by the woman, with Calvin bringing up the rear of their miniature column carrying the tray.

Laurel looked up from her conversation with Mariah. Garrison watched as her expectant smile turned into an annoyed frown. Laurel got up and met him before he reached the table.

"It looks like you met my sister," Laurel said in a voice betraying her annoyance. "Did she even introduce herself, or is she waiting for me too?"

"I, uh, think she's waiting for you," Garrison said as he stepped out from between the two sisters.

"You know, Denver, when you realized who Garrison was, you could have just introduced yourself as a normal person would."

Sister fight

Denver just stared at Laurel, giving the impression she was willing to wait until her younger sister did what was expected.

Laurel stared right back.

"Can I go around you two?" Calvin asked. "Our food is getting cold."

"If it's cold," Laurel said, "Denver will make you a fresh one. Won't you, Denver? Since you are the one holding us all up from enjoying our dinner."

Denver moved aside half-a-step, allowing Calvin to pass with the tray.

"Thanks," he muttered as he went by.

Laurel turned and followed Calvin to the table.

"What do you think you're doing?" Denver asked her younger sister.

Laurel turned around and smiled. "I'm going to sit down and eat. My date for the evening, Garrison, the young man you've put in a rather awkward position, is going to join me. We're going to enjoy this meal with our friends." She turned her attention to Garrison. "This rather rude woman who thinks she's my mother is my sister Denver, Garrison. Don't let her bother you. Come and sit down."

"Laurel," Denver said in a low tone. "We'll talk about this at home."

"You know what, Denver?" Laurel replied cheerfully. "I don't think we will. You're not my parent, you're not my guardian, and you're not in charge of me."

"I am your boss," Denver reminded the girl. "Or have you forgotten?"

"You're my boss because Mom and Dad asked me to help you out here, not because I need the money, or have you forgotten?"

"I can't believe we're having this conversation in front of your friends," Denver scolded Laurel.

"Then you shouldn't have marched my boyfriend out here like he was under arrest and commanded me to make introductions."

"I'm just trying to teach you how to be courteous and professional," Denver replied.

Laurel rolled her eyes. "I love how you want to be an example to me now when you didn't have any time for me when we were growing up. My big sister, always time for school or Girl Scouts or soccer, but never for me."

Denver's eyes filled with tears. She turned and walked quickly away. Laurel, as if realizing the scene she'd created, jumped up and followed her. Garrison started after Laurel.

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 23

© 2021 DW Davis

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on January 08, 2021:

This is an interesting plot development. You set the scene well with a combination of narrative and conversation between the characters.