As the sun began to set into the ocean I settled back against the base of the tree. Hidden from view I began what would be a short wait. I had observed them for a week and they always met in the last moments of the day when the final glow of sunlight spread across the water. Granted it was a tad cloudy this evening and the sunset might not be as spectacular as the past few days but I was certain they would show up. I could see heavy clouds in the distance but they seemed far enough away not to deter them from their assignation.
I drew the pack of cigarettes from the pouch around my waist and pulled out the half smoked samples distributing them around my feet. Frowning I wondered if they looked too neatly arranged and proceeded to stir them around in the sand, my gloved hands leaving trails I would scuff with my size twelve shoes when I was ready to leave.
Concerned, I realized it had grown darker and looking out over the gentle waves I could see the clouds looming ever closer threatening my plan. Carefully pulling back my sleeve I checked the time and was relieved to see things were on schedule and it was still early despite the deepening dusk. The weather report had indicated some possibility of showers earlier in the day but they had not appeared and I had hoped the weather-casters were wrong. Apparently the only thing they were in error about was the time of day the rains would come for a few fat drops filtered through the fronds over my head. “Damn!” I swore under my breath.
Squinting through the dimming light I scanned the beach for any sign of their approach. Suddenly in the distance I saw a figure slowly drawing closer. It was him. I knew by the loose limbed casual stride and the slightly stooped shoulders. Swinging my eyes in the other direction I caught sight of a much smaller form moving quickly.
My heart leapt in my breast at their approach. Although it was a bit darker than I had planned I could still see well enough to accomplish my goal. In my mind I urged them to hurry, to embrace, to gaze into one another’s eyes with all their passion on display. I struggled to control my breathing, slowing my heart rate.
He reached what I had come to call their love nest a few minutes before her. The driftwood they used to build their fires had gotten damp and I almost gasped aloud as he ventured toward my cover in search of drier pieces to burn. Dropping the beach blanket he always brought with him he managed to select a few pieces that had not been touched by sea or rain and began to stack them expertly on the sand. By this time she had reached the little pile of sticks and taking the blanket a bit away from the growing fire spread it on the sand. They neither spoke nor touched as they accomplished these rather homey activities and I found this troubled me more than their passionate love making ever did. It spoke of the familiarity of a loving long term relationship rather than a tawdry short lived affair. Soon they were cuddled together on the blanket, half of it pulled up to cover their backs and her shoulders. It had grown quite dark now, the sun disappearing beneath clouds and sea leaving no afterglow in its wake. With only the firelight to show their actions I watched as the blanket undulated showing the movement of their hands beneath its cover. I became aware of my teeth grinding and although they were certainly too far away to hear I forced myself to relax.
Knowing it should be their last night for some time to come I wondered how far their embraces would go. I also questioned my ability to sit silent if they crossed that thin line I had fearfully anticipated the past week. I heard her giggle, light and girlish and the blood began to pound in my brain. As he pulled the blanket over their heads I knew they could not see my approach.
I hefted the heavy bat a few times as I crept across the sand. I had spent several afternoons playing softball that week, getting my arms accustomed to a long unused activity, one I had not partaken in since my college days. It may have been that movement that caught his ear. Suddenly he peered around the corner of the blanket and I watched his eyes widen. Fortunately for me he did not connect the bat with my intentions for its use. Before he could react I swung hard connecting with his skull, snapping his head solidly to the side where it cracked against her skull. Her body fell sideways and she made a sound rather like a mouse squeaking in a trap. He tried to straighten and turned toward me again. “Madeline?” The name fell from his lips in a somewhat garbled fashion, a puzzled expression in his eyes as a thin trickle of blood trailed from his forehead to his chin. Lining up once again I took another good swing watching in satisfaction as his eyes rolled up in his head. He collapsed beside her, his head now strangely misshapen. Stepping around the blanket I saw that she was merely unconscious. Dropping the bat I turned and made my way back to our beach house.
When the police came the next morning I fell weeping into the arms of a young officer. Then I watched in secret delight as her husband was led away, hands cuffed behind his back. The newspaper headlines read, “Former League Baseball Player Held in Murder and Assault”. No one remembered the college girl who excelled at softball years earlier. After all there were his footprints and his cigarette butts at the scene.
Photo Credit: Linda Ann Ramirez
The photograph above was provided to me along with a challenge to write a short story of between 500 and 1000 words.