Bright red ankle skin shinned her alabaster legs, and the sun was white over here, here, high noon to the left over the beach. I fluffed the towel over her just-beginning-to-sting redness. You should know the girls and I sat knees up--now and again prone, relaxing on Navarre Beach. From our vantage the sun was to the left nearly centered. If you are on the internet you may wish to search elsewhere for beach images, maybe in Google images, and find waterfront scenery to view. Or if you printed this narrative, feel free to paint your own watercolor, or scan the television until you find sand and water images.
Mood, like the blues, is everything.
crowded beach, families at leisure, Gulf of Mexico breeze
And at the edge of the beach a pronounced shrill whistle sounded louder than the surf and radios: a round woman in a floral, star burst red-orange, pink blue pattern on her taupe swim suit, X’d her arms over sunglasses midst the to and fro shuffle of the Memorial Day throng, one of the nearby radios going: birds singing in the sycamore trees, and Pom said, “That’s a shark whistle!”
Red riptide ribbons bent like windblown tight streamers or contrast lines, the ribbon standards every so often in the wet sand-- arms length height--backed by rich federal blue water and white-caps. The high surf and constant wind scrolled the sand, pushing-wafting charcoal fires, its eye-stinging black smoke wisps, to invisibility. Sixty or seventy children scampered seemingly running everywhere. A little boy with black curly hair tore his calf on a clam shell, “Safe at second!” According to an older sun browned cousin.
While on the horizon what must have been a pair of military planes streamed white heat parallelograms to the edge of the ocean beyond which you could watch the deep distance, alert for infinity.
The girls pretty much in the same position, Pom massaging her sun burnt feet with lotion, and then filling my palm with it.
The lotion glob a cool surprise on my wife’s reddening back. My palm could leave a white image on her red skin. Natchez cooed. Her left breast flopped loose as she rose and nudged me. “Kumquat!” She yelled, looking for her sunglasses, holding her top in place.
A wide-eyed young boy with his parents next to the girls and me sucked in his cheeks, crossed and then averted his eyes, fart mimicing with an armpit ploy.
“…she might mean there’s a shark…that’s what that is,” Pom said.
Seated toward the sea, I went back to Mailer’s, ‘Genius, Lust and Narcissism’.
Down the way, two life guards ran toward us as fast as they could: white helmets, red trunks and white muscle shirts with red crosses, a yellow nylon twill rope between them, carrying bull horns, their noses opaque white. I never saw anyone sprint that fast --- remember there was a brisk wind --- and the guards raced in the sand to the clutch of folks and children jumping around the lady with the piercing shark whistle who hadn’t stopped waving her arms.
“A girl’s gone missing …”
“That’s what’s going on down there, that’s what that whistle is.”
“Look at those people fighting the waves!”
“Where’d she go in?”
“The professionals are coming. Fuck the camera!”
“That crowd down there…”
“God those guys are still running.”
“See if that motor home has a CB---call the police--- call the rescue squad.”
“How’d they know she’s in the water?”
“Maybe she’s gone for ice cream. It’s boukoo crowded,” Natchez said to Pom.
I put Mailer down and stood up between my wife and Pom.
“The waves are too wild, too high.”
“That woman the guy’s holding back, that’s the mom?”
“Keep those kids out of the water,” people yelled, gathering their children to dry beach.
I found and put on my sandals of chop-saw cut, steel belted radials.
Sand fell from my arse as Natchez fastened the string of her black top and she rhythmically snapped her thumbs beneath the top, fleecing out sand and fine green detris.
The copper who’d whirled and blurted his siren spanking the windy, salt-sprayed air, having had arrived on the faded, cracked asphalt—the black of his black and white Ford Galaxy hot and glinting as though in competition with the closely packed heat reflecting greasy eye-damaging glints of hundreds of other vehicles.
All of the beachfront parking lot was jammed. Slippery with drying sand wash--the consistency of renegade cement. The cruiser’s roof had a row of circular red dot-like lamps that alternately incredibly quickly flashed off and on in an hypnotic sequence.
[Readers please consider sunglasses in order to visualize the squad car’s emergency lights.]
(Blink rapidly at the five flashes)
Police, hands on hips, assessed the holiday beach melee.
half a story from the archives; ergonomics are not on my side, to be continued...fields are ripe etc etc etc etc