DW, an Army vet, has published 9 novels. His day job is teaching elementary school. In his spare time, he camps with his wife of 30+ years.
A Quiet Morning on the Beach
Mark walked back to his townhouse. Traffic on Ocean Street was already getting busy, but Mark didn't wait long to cross. The Buzby Beach Police were quick to ticket any driver not yielding to pedestrians waiting to cross.
The lady driving the silver Mercedes smiled and waved at Mark after bringing her car to a halt and signaled for him to proceed. She had a Buzby Beach resident's plate on the front of her car. He made a mental note to go by the Town Hall and find out what a person needed to do to get such a plate and why possessing one might be a good idea.
Once home, Mark made himself a fresh cup of coffee and went out on his patio, where he took a seat overlooking the swimming pool. The pool area was beginning to fill up with kids playing in the water and women working on their tans. He didn't know any of his neighbors. This wasn't odd, considering a high percentage of them were renters only in town for a week or two.
Mark finished his coffee and took the mug inside. His phone rang while he was on his way to the living room to see what was on TV. It was his brother's ring tone.
"Hi, little brother. I thought I'd call and see how you're enjoying your first day of retirement."
Mark snorted. "Can you spare the time from your busy schedule for this call?"
There were several seconds of silence before Mitch said, "I guess I deserve that."
"Your little brother retires from the Army after twenty years, and the ceremony is at a base only a couple of hours away, but you're too busy with a business matter to attend. So, yeah, I guess you deserve that. What do you want, Mitch?"
"Ann wanted me to invite you over for dinner. Tonight, if you can make it. Gray and his wife are coming over with the baby."
Mark was going to decline the invitation. He changed his mind upon learning that his nephew was going to be there with his grandnephew. The boy was named after him, after all - Grayson Mark Durgess.
"What time should I get there?"
"Ann said to tell you to be at the house at six-thirty."
"I'll be there."
"Great, Mark. I'll see you then."
Mark looked at his phone and shook his head.
If Ann hadn't demanded he call me, Mitchell would never have extended the invitation.
Mitchell was ten years older than Mark. The two brothers weren't close growing up. Mitchell was the spitting image of their father: steady, serious, and dedicated to the family business.
Mark was born with a wanderer's spirit. All he ever wanted to do was get out of Brunswick County and see the world. He thought the Army would be his best bet to see at least some of it. Mark never expected to see some of the parts of the world the Army sent him to though.
Watching television suddenly had all the appeal of a root canal for Mark. He decided spending some time on the beach watching people would be preferable to sitting at home watching TV.
I might even go for a swim if the waves aren't too rough.
A quarter of an hour later, Mark plopped his beach chair down on a spot of sand just north of Lifeguard Tower Number 3. He spread his beach towel over his chair, pulled off his t-shirt, kicked off his flip-flops, and sat down with his Paperwhite in hand, prepared to delve into some of Wilmington's darker past in The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chestnut.
The sun was higher and hot. A few cumulus clouds dotted the blue summer sky. The wind that never seemed to quit blew softly towards the ocean. Seagulls swooped toward the waves as pelicans dived on schools of baitfish and sandpipers skittered along the edge of the surf, hunting for small crabs and clams.
A trio of young college-age ladies bounded onto the beach and spread their blanket just a few yards north of the sand Mark staked out as his own. They laughed and talked while shimmying out of their shorts and t-shirts to reveal bikinis made of a startlingly small amount of cloth. Never once did they venture near the water. Nor did they pay Mark any attention. The girls applied sunscreen to each other's backs and laid down to let the sun do its thing.
Mark went back to reading his book. He'd finished the forward and was starting on the first chapter.
He was still working on the first chapter - the dialect of the black woman, Jane, was written in the vernacular and took a bit of time and a lot of concentration to read - when a mother with three children in tow dropped the beach tote she was carrying about twenty feet south of his spot and announced to her kids that they were setting up there. Mark sighed, fearing the relative peace and quiet he'd been enjoying was about to be intruded upon by the trio of youngsters helping their mother set up camp as it were.
Having never been married and never having children, Mark did not envy the mother the chore of keeping up with her brood of a girl and two boys. He guessed the girl to be in her early teens and the boys, who looked like twins, to be eight or nine.
The two boys ran to the water's edge and began digging. The sister plopped down on the blanket next to the mother and sat with her arms around her knees. Mark got the idea the girl was not happy about accompanying her mother and brothers to the beach.
Before Mark could settle back into reading his book, the sound of a four-wheeler approaching from the south reached his ears. He turned and spotted one of the bright red Buzby Beach Life Guard Service vehicles approaching at slow speed. It pulled up behind Life Guard Tower Number 3 and stopped. A male lifeguard, clad in red board shorts and a similarly colored wind-breaker, dismounted from the red four-wheeler, walked around to the front of the tower, and climbed the ladder into the shelter. Mark could hear chattering from the three college girls on the blanket behind him as the lifeguard covered the short distance from the ATV to the tower and correctly deduced they were sharing complimentary comments about the new arrival.
A few minutes later, a female lifeguard in a red one-piece bathing suit descended the stairs, walked behind the tower, mounted the four-wheeler, and motored north toward Iggie's Burgers and Rings. Upon the appearance of the female lifeguard, the chattering among the college girls abruptly ceased.
Mark's story continues in Chapter 4
- This We Share (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 04
Mark hadn't gone to the beach hoping to meet a woman, but when Cybil introduced herself, talking to her seemed like the courteous thing to do.
© 2020 DW Davis