Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Sea Hag -Chapter Seven-

 

Gabriel


When I pulled into the old abandoned lot my twin was nowhere to be seen. This was not all that unusual, he often lost track of time when he was on the water. Even though the fancy, and expensive, tactile watch I had gotten him was utterly waterproof. He said knowing the time took him out of the moment. But he could still feel the angle of the sun and it was getting very westerly indeed. I was even a bit late picking him up, so when I laid on the horn for the first time I expected him to come toddling up with a bag on his back and a board on his head any minute.

I pulled out my phone to consult my messages while I waited. The pre-work date had gone very well indeed. His name was Matthew and he was five feet ten inches of rugged, yet sensitive, premium millennial man-meat. I’d given him a quick blowie in the bathroom of the beachside cafe we had met at just to keep him wanting more, and he had been messaging me more or less constantly in the intervening hours.

So, it took me a bit to realize that my brother had not, in fact turned up and it was now I who had lost track of time. Oh, Irony, you vicious bitch. I tried calling his phone, thinking maybe he had fallen asleep. No answer. I tried three more times, just to be sure, and laid on the horn again, desperation creeping into the maneuver.

With a curse, I pocketed my phone and leapt from the truck. “Mikey-boy, if you’re washed up dead on the beach I’m just gonna have to join your ass, or Mom’ll do it for me,” I muttered as I made my way down the steep and uneven trail to the beach.

I shook my head as I stumbled over a tree root and nearly face-planted onto a rock. How my brother got down this trail with a surfboard on his head and no vision at all never ceased to amaze me. Maybe he’d just been up and down it so many times that he had every root, rock and branch memorized. I hadn’t been down here with him in so long I felt a small twinge of guilt at that thought.

The man was tough. Tougher than me and a hell of alot stronger, too. He’s had to be. We both lost our father to a car accident when we were fifteen, but then, Mikey had to also contend with the sudden, total loss of his sight to a freak sinus infection that same year.

We were all hurting badly, grieving. Mom took comfort in her Catholicism, but her sons took after their atheistic father and found more hope in reason than in faith. Mikey and I saw his blindness as a challenge, a puzzle to be solved and I like to think that dad would have seen it that way, too.  Between my creative, out-of-the-box way of thinking, and his razor-sharp logic and intuition, there was no such thing as a problem we couldn’t find some kind of solution to.

There is nothing my brother and I can’t handle, as long as we have each other.

I let out a sharp, high whistle as I neared the beach. I could just make out a silhouette reclining on a blanket near the shore. It was hard to make out much, as the setting sun was causing too much glare, but I thought I saw someone stand up quickly and then turn and run for the crashing waves. I heard a high-pitched, femenine-sounding call before the figure completely disappeared into the water. I kept watching as I made my way to the blanket, but I didn't see her surface again. I shook my head and focused instead on the bloodstained head before me. My stomach twisted at the size of the bloody patch on the back of his head. Scalp-wounds bleed like you wouldn’t believe, but still, he must have gotten hit pretty damn hard.

“Okay,” I said and his head whipped around like he hadn’t heard me approach. Not a great sign. “First of all, what the fuck happened to your head? And secondly, who the fuck just sprinted into the ocean like the little-goddamn-mermaid?”

He was struggling to his feet until I placed a hand on his shoulder and firmly pushed him back down. “Sit,” I commanded. He sagged and grabbed the jug of water next to him and took several long gulps. “The back of your head looks like Neegan took Lucille to it, man. At least let me clean you up before Mom sees. She’s gonna shit a brick. You got a first aid kit in that monstrosity?” I said, referring to his enormous duffel as I pawed through it, finding a small plastic first aid kit, everything neatly labeled in braille.

“Who’s Neegan and Lucille?” he asked, a tad irritably while I soaked some gauze with water and got to work on the dried blood matting his hair.

“Nevermind, philistine,” I said, dumping water over his head cheerfully. “You still haven’t answered my questions.

“I forgot what they were.” He was clearly stalling, “I have a head injury, you know.”

I snorted and probed the back of his head none-too-gently, to see if there was any give to indicate a fracture.

“Ooowww!” he complained.

“Stop whining and tell me how this happened, so I can assure mom that it wasn’t my fault.” Satisfied that his skull was intact and that he was lucid enough to be an evasive shit, I finished cleaning the wound. The skin was spilt but not enough to warrant a trip to the ER for stitches.

Thank God. 

If there was one thing that scared my tough-as-nails brother, it was hospitals. Bad, bad memories for all of us, but for him especially. He went to sleep one night in a hospital bed with perfect vision, and woke up the next morning totally and permanently blind. I couldn’t begrude  the guy perfectly reasonable hospital-phobia after that.

His shoulders rose and fell with a heavy sigh. “I wiped out. Hard, on my last run. It just got away from me, man. I don’t know.”

I nodded as I placed a gauze bandage over the back of his head and wrapped a roll of gauze around his head to secure it. “Happens to the best, bro,” I assured him.

“I got hit with my own board, lost consciousness,” he continued as I felt my heart speed up with what almost happened. “I woke up on the beach. She was giving me CPR.” There was a fond little smile turning up the corners of his mouth.

“Who was?” I pressed, “Ariel?” I gestured broadly at the sea as I gathered things up to put back in the bag. I squinted out at the cove for any sign of, well, anything. Nada. “The fuck did she go, anyway?” I muttered.

“Her name is Sirena,” he said seriously.

Of course it was. I rolled my eyes, “Of course it is. Well I hope you got her digits. Or do they not have cell service in Atlantis?”

Micheal had gotten to his feet, only wobbling a little bit and began shaking out the blanket and folding it up for storage. “Har har,” he said. “Laugh all you want, but we’re meeting back here tomorrow.” His expression was smug as he felt around in the sand for his surfboard.

“Four o’clock,” I supplied, by way of direction and he dutifully turned, knuckles bumping the surface, and grasped the rails of the board. He tucked it under one arm and walked over to where I was shouldering the bag, holding his free hand out slightly.

“Well, well, a second date with a mermaid,” I said as I brushed my arm against his hand to let him know I was ready. “Sounds like a Rom Com in the making. Second Date with a Mermaid! In theatres this summer!”

He laughed as he traced the contact to lightly grip my elbow and we started back. “She’s not a mermaid,” he said and paused uncertainly, “I don’t think.”

“You don’t think?!” I laughed, exasperated. “Mermaids. Are not. Real. I think you may have had too much sun today. And too much head injury. You’re not thinking straight, little bro.”

“I was born five minutes after you,” he said, grouchily. “Gestationally we’re the same age-”

“Head trauma!” I cried, cutting him off. “You’re clearly delusional. What you need is Mom’s pozole, a shot of tequila, and a nice long sleep. In that order.”

He looked like he was about to argue but just shrugged, “That actually sounds really nice. Mom made pozole?”

I shrugged the arm he clung to as we mounted the treacherous trail back to the truck. “She was prepping it when we left this morning. Should be good and ready by now.”

His stomach rumbled loudly and then so did mine. We both started snickering and didn’t really say anything else until we reached the top. 

I stumbled a couple of times as the light faded. 

He never so much as stubbed his toe. 

The jerk.


4 comments:

  1. I like Gabriel. He's funny--enjoyed the banter.

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  2. Great chapter. Like the add of Gabriel.

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  3. Great chapter, I like Gabriel! Wish it was a little longer, but only because I love your writing!! Thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete