Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Chapter 118. An arm and shoulder to lean on
(End of Chapter 117)
“I’ll be in bed, waiting for you. Don’t stay out here too long. You’ll fall asleep and wake up miserable.”
“I’ll be in shortly. Five minutes, max!”
I went into the bathroom, turned on the light, finished my nocturnal ablution, turned the light off, opened the door, and walked to the bed.
The story of the Three Bears came to mind.
Quietly, I opened the door and went outside.
“Dashiell,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said, between chews on the last of the bread.
I pointed to the bedroom.
(End of Chapter 117 - Beginning of Chapter 118)
“Yes. Four and a half centimeters longer than the Royal Louis, downstairs.”
He laughed and added, “I’m glad he’s sleeping on your side of the bed.”
“He’s just looking for some stability in his young life.”
“That’s probably true, but I’m still glad he’s sleeping on your side of the bed.”
“I’ll be in bed.”
“I’ll be there in a minute or so.”
I returned to the bedroom, turned on the light, changed into my pajamas, turned off the light, and slid into bed behind Ollie.
After I settled in bed, I wrapped my arm over him under the comforter. He moved my arm until he was comfortable, then I heard a short high-pitched sigh.
Comforting him comforted me. Bubble-gum no longer seemed quite so juvenile.
For a few minutes, I laid there, awake, waiting for Dashiell. In the stillness, I felt Ollie’s heart beat against my arm. I realized how tiny, how vulnerable, he was. My mind drifted to thoughts of Louis at the other end of the ship, watching the lights in Queens. I will have to offer to take him there, tomorrow night, to see Queens, and the look at Mon Grandpapa from the other side of the river.
I heard the door open.
“Yes,” I whispered.
Dashiell turned the lights went on and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. A few minutes later, the door opened and closed. I heard him put on his pajamas. The light switch snapped off.
Dashiell raised the comforter to get into bed, sliding against me.
“Is Ollie asleep?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
I didn’t know it he was half-awake or being playful.
“Good night, Jean-Claude.”
Dashiell kissed my nape.
“Good night, Dashiell.”
Ollie kissed my hand.
“Good night, Ollie.”
Ollie kissed my hand, again.
I kissed the back of his fluffy mop, resting on my arm.
Sometime, during the night, I woke as Dashiell got out of bed to go to the toilet. Ollie had turned over and was sleeping on my arm, facing me. His breathing cooled and warmed my chest in undulating waves. My mind drifted to pondering compression and rarefaction; a sine wave formed slowly on an imaginary, green display. The bathroom door latch snapped.
Dashiell returned to bed. He pressed against me; my back initially cooled and then warmed. I slept until the dumpsters began their “Civic Serenade with Percussion”.
I moved slightly. Ollie had turned over again. Behind me, I felt Dashiell pressed against my shoulder.
I opened my eyes.
The universe was the underside of the comforter except for a mass of Ollie’s matted hair, close to my face.
I tried to feel Ollie’s heart beating against my forearm. I pulled him to me a little to fine-tune my sense of feeling. Not finding my goal, I released him, slightly, in steps.
Dashiell turned over disrupting my pastime. I waited for his arm to snake over me, but it never arrived. He moved again. I felt the comforter tossed back on top of me and his butt pressed against my hip. Perhaps, he was waking up.
After the bed became peaceful again, I resumed seeking Ollie’s heartbeat. I only felt his slow, soft, rhythmic breathing again my hand, no heartbeat.
A touch of warmth and wetness on my finger signaled Ollie was awake and playing on my hand with his tongue.
Very softly, I whispered, “Are you awake?”
Dashiell said, “Yes.”
“Ready to get up?”
“You know I’m never ready to get up.”
I laughed and Ollie turned over, tossing the comforter off the top of him and me, and dropping his head on my shoulder.
Dashiell turned and did the same on my right shoulder.
“We’ll never get to Coney Island, parked in bed, looking at each other and the ceiling.”
Dashiell asked, “Who’s getting up first?”
Our conversation fell silent.
Dashiell spoke first. “I have to go.”
He turned, got out of bed, went to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
“Well. Tiger,” I said.
“Time for you to test the shower waters and get ready for a day at Coney Island.”
“Not in your sweaty pajamas.”
I pulled the comforter off him, evoking his woeful sigh.
“Into the shower and clean up. I’ll see you at the breakfast table.”
He slid out of bed and headed through the sitting room to the hall doorway.
I got up, tossed the comforter back on the bed, and went to the bathroom for matinal ablutions.
Dashiell was singing in the shower.
Flushing the toilet, I dropped my pajamas, and entered the warm shower.
“This should be a nice day.”
“I’m not used to your getting up early and then being so happy, you’re singing in the shower.”
“I’m looking forward to the rides.”
“Remember to bring your bathing suit. I promised we would go in the water, this time at Coney Island.”
He rinsed and left. He continued singing playfully while he toweled off.
The door snapped as it closed.
Reality tempered my exhilaration, when the shampoo stung my eye.
When I returned to the bedroom, Dashiell had left for breakfast.
I dressed and went to make sure the boys were moving around.
Ollie was still in the shower. Louis was on the deck, waiting for him to finish.
“Good Morning, Louis.”
“Good Morning, Jean-Claude.”
“I thought of something you might like, last night, when I was going to sleep and I want to ask you about it, while it’s still fresh in my mind.”
He looked apprehensive when he made eye contact.
“Would you like to see Queens at night? Perhaps, if you like, we could look across the river and see Mon Grandpapa at night. Would you like that?”
“Sure. That sounds like fun.”
“Okay. Tomorrow night, we’ll go to Queens, to look around.”
“Just you and me?”
“If you like...”
“I would like that.”
“Then, we’ll do it.”
“When you’re in the lounge, write JC & Louis to Queens.”
“I’ll go write it, now.”
“And I’m going downstairs for breakfast. Don’t let Ollie start playing around. The longer he takes getting to breakfast, the less time we’ll have at Coney Island. Remember to bring your bathing suits.”
“No. We’ll buy souvenir towels, while we’re there. There’s no point to carrying towels there and bringing two towels back home.”
He and I left his stateroom and went downstairs, I, to the dining room and he, to the lounge.
Dashiell was working through the papers, a cup of coffee, and a sweet roll.
Jacob told me, “Madame Tissot is staying home. She’s getting weary of vacation.”
“Is staying home, too.”
“He didn’t say anything to me.”
Macaulay had poured my coffee, while I chatted with Jacob.
I lifted the coffee and took my first sip of the morning.
I turned to Jacob.
“No phone calls, I hope.”
“The best way to start the day… with no phone calls.”
A little smile curled his cheeks as I turned to take another sip of Macaulay’s morning nectar.
Dashiell pushed some of the newspapers across the table to me.
I picked up the top section, Le Monde’s Société, and browsed. After that, was Planète.
Ollie arrived at his chair with his bathing suit, rolled up in a wrinkled ball.
“What should I do with this?”
“Maybe, we’ll leave our bathing suits here, and buy some at the souvenir shops to go with our souvenir towels.”
Ollie set his bathing suit on Mon Laurent’s empty chair and sat in his chair. Jacob, as always, pushed it in for him.
Louis settled in his chair and breakfast proceeded smoothly.
Dashiell passed another section of the paper to me.
“Troubles in Portugal.”
“I hope that’s no problem for the Galegos family.”
“No. The government is nervous about some kind of insurrection.”
“So what else is new?”
He laughed. Suddenly he stopped and said in English, “Be careful what you say. You know what I mean.”
“Yes,” I said, “I sometimes I forget.”
“We’ll never forget and neither will they.”
“The best I can hope for is the more time goes by, the less the pain will be.”
Dashiell reverted to French, again, “Sounds like a song title.”
We laughed. Ollie looked at me, with anxiety.
“Dashiell was making a joke… saying what I said sounds like a song title.”
He didn’t quite understand.
He simply said, “Oh,” and resumed playing with the fruit in his sweet roll.
I wanted to tell him, “Stop playing with it, and eat it,” but it was too early in a long day for the conversation to get so serious.
“You may want to eat that. It’ll be a while before we get to Coney Island and have a chance to have lunch.”
Dashiell added, “You ought to eat a little extra, just in case.”
Ollie looked across the table at Dashiell and flapped his eyelashes, and produced his dimple-cheeked, I-am-so-wonderful grin.
Dashiell returned the grin. I looked at Louis. Ollie’s playfulness did not seem to bother him, this morning.
I had hope for a wonderful day.
Ollie’s hand pressed against my wrist.
“Are you going to read the funnies, before we go?”
“I’ll read them on the way to Coney Island. How’s that?”
“Are you bringing your camera, today?”
“I’ll bring my View-Master camera. Then you won’t have to bring yours.”
“I’ll bring mine, too. I’ll want pictures you won’t care for.”
“Okay. Run upstairs and get it, when you finish your breakfast. You won’t need the flash. We’ll be outside, all day.”
“Are you about ready, Dashiell?”
“I still have some sweet roll to eat.”
“Louis. Would you get Ollie’s camera and a few rolls of film while he finished his breakfast?”
Louis slid his chair from the table, wiping his mouth with his napkin and dropping it on the table. Out the door, he went.
Dashiell said, “He is certainly in a good humor, today. I wonder what bit him.”
“No idea. I just hope his good humor lasts all day.”
Dashiell said, “I’ll avoid the pun.”
Directing another smile at Dashiell, Ollie echoed, “Tank Ooo.”
Dashiell returned, “You’re welcome.”
Ollie mimicked, “Yorelcum?”
“That’s close, Ollie.”
Ollie, happy with his attempt at English, smiled and ate the last bit of his sweet roll, finishing with a wash down of black coffee.
“Okay. Tiger. To the toilet and then we’ll leave.”
Louis arrived with the camera and film.
“Jacob. If you have a moment, take the boys’ bathing suits upstairs and toss them on their bed. They’ll put them away, when they come home.”
Dashiell, Louis, Ollie, and I went to the lounge to find Monsieur Laurent. He was on the foredeck, sunning himself, beneath a thick shiny layer of suntan oil.
“We’re going to Coney Island. We’ll be back for dinner.”
His hand rose in the air, waved once, and returned to the reclined chaise lounge.
Ready for Coney Island, the four of us and the morning funnies traipsed to the opened car.
Louis was delighted to play with the radio from the front seat. I read the funnies to Ollie and Dashiell survived with good spirits.
We walked up the ramp to the Coney Island boardwalk, at ten-thirty.
I stopped, turned, and asked, “What shall we do first?”
Ollie, obviously delighted, made a little squeal.
Dashiell looked at me with a silly grin.
Louis looked terrorized.
Ollie scanned the obvious attractions, the parachute jump, Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone. He looked at Louis and clutched my hand.
No one said anything.
“Everyone agreed you wanted to come here when we made the calendar. Now, you’re tongue-tied?”
Ollie looked around again.
Dashiell looked at the boys, and focused on Louis, who stood next to him, putting his hand on Louis’ back, silently urging him to make a suggestion.
I wondered what was going on.
“Shall we go home?”
Ollie pulled on my arm.
“Louis likes the beach.”
I echoed, “To the beach, Louis?”
With gusto, he said, “Sure,” and his face opened with a big smile.
“To go to the beach, we must first visit Ollie’s favorite institution, the souvenir shops and pick up some beach stuff.”
We had just passed two giant souvenir shops, straddling the ramp, meeting the boardwalk.
“Which one looks best? Right or left?”
Louis clarified for Ollie, “Port or starboard?”
Without deliberation, Ollie urged, “Port. Yes, port.”
I had no idea what stood out in Ollie’s mind between those two tourist traps, Steeplechase Souvenirs and Modern Gifts. They looked identical with identical merchandise on display. The only difference I noticed was the name on the signs over the plate glass windows and one was on the left corner and the other on the right corner. Ollie knew the difference; the right corner was the best.
Once inside the Modern Gifts store, mounds of tourist paraphernalia pressed against us on all sides as we navigated toward the towels.
I told the boys, “Select two towels.”
I turned to Dashiell, “Get two for you and two for me.”
I grabbed four different colored canvas beach bags and four identical bamboo beach mats, all with ‘Coney Island New York’ emblazoned on them.
After selecting Coney Island bathing suits, Coney Island sunglasses, Coney Island beach hats, and two giant squeeze bottles of suntan cocoa oil, we headed for the sands, with our loot in tow.
I stopped. Dashiell and the boys trekked ahead of me. I took a couple 3-D pictures and caught up with them.
“You alright?” Dashiell asked as I approached.
“Yes. Just stopped for a second. I’m fine.”
“Nice breeze, today.”
“Yes. Nice breeze.”
The boys, ahead of us, stopped and turned around, indicating an interest in locating a stop to spread out.
Dashiell nodded in one direction.
“How about over there?” he asked.
“Fine,” I replied.
When Dashiell found a suitable location, halfway between the lifeguard stand and the water’s edge. We dropped our mats and beach bags, retrieved our bathing suits, and headed for the changing booths.
We changed, put our clothes in our lockers, and stored our locker keys on elastics around our ankles.
Once we were in our bathing suits, Ollie bubbled exuberantly, anticipating the water. A moth and a candle came to mind. Louis looked happy, too, which pleased me.
Dashiell, of course, would have been delighted to spend all day in the water, until he shrunk to Louis’ stature.
I looked at the boys and said, seriously, “You don’t go in the water, unless Dashiell or I am with you. Got it?”
“And if the lifeguards tell you something, do it.”
That the lifeguards only spoke English was lost on the boys, who only had ‘eyes’ for the water.
Dashiell led the boys to the water’s edge, where the water touched their feet.
Louis yelled something at Dashiell.
Ollie yelled something, too.
Dashiell turned to then and said something.
I grabbed the suntan oil, applied it liberally, and spread out on the beach towel to enjoy some sunbathing, balling up my second towel into a makeshift pillow.
I was too far from them to hear, but I saw them, interacting. This was like watching them on television. I took a few more View-Master pictures, of the beach, the boys and Dashiell and the boys, and the water. The boys enjoyed the calm ocean.
I was grateful for the calm sea and hoped the same would prevail on Friday night, after the concert.
While I tried the remember if I had forgot something that had to be done, before we left the city, with my eyes closed and my beach hat shading my eyes, I heard the boys’ voices approaching.
“We’re thirsty,” Ollie said.
I sat up, readjusting my beach hat. I scanned the beach and found a vendor selling iced soda, perhaps ten yards away.
I gave Louis a few bills. “Bring a soda for me, too.”
As I put my wallet away, I asked, “Is Dashiell staying in the water?”
Ollie said, “I don’t know.”
“Bring one for him, too, just in case.”
Draped in their Coney Island Towels, Superman Style, they ‘flew’ to the vendor. They returned, carefully with a tall wax paper cup of ice cubes and soda water in both hands. How Ollie managed those tall cups with his little hands was a mystery. Now was a time to enjoy our refreshing beverages and not a time to fret over physics.
Ollie and Louis sat on their mats.
Dashiell arrived and sat on his mat, sandwiching the boys between us.
The large cold, wet soda was refreshing.
Ollie asked, “Where’s the chocolate?”
“I smell chocolate.”
I handed him the suntan oil.
He opened it and was about to take a taste.
I yelled, “No. It’s for your skin. You don’t drink it.”
“It’s not chocolate?”
“Yes, but it’s chocolate for your skin, not your tummy.”
He looked at me as if I was kidding him.
I turned to Dashiell.
Dashiell looked at Ollie and said sounding as serious as he could, “He’s right. Chocolate for your skin, not your belly.”
He looked at me. “Let him smell your hand.”
I raised my hand to Ollie for some scientific test sniffing.
When he took my hand and raised it to his little nose, I purposely faced the water and wondered if he would taste the suntan oil on my hand.
He released my hand.
I didn’t hear any pronouncements from Louis.
If he tasted my hand, I didn’t feel it and Louis didn’t see it.
“I’m going in the water for a few minutes. You, guys, should put on some suntan oil, so you don’t get too much sunburn. There’s another bottle of suntan lotion under my pillow.”
I left them and walked into the water.
My first touch of the water at Coney Island reminded me the Atlantic, at Coney Island, was considerably colder than the Mediterranean in Marseille. I remembered, too, the sand sloped into the water quite steeply at Coney Island. In Marseille, the sand eased very gradually into the sea.
Within a few minutes, I was ‘chilled to the bone’, as the cliché says and returned to my family on the Coney Island beach mats.
Our area reeked of chocolate. Ollie’s belly was shiny. I wanted to laugh, but refrained. I didn’t want to embarrass him.
Dashiell sat up. “I thought you were swimming to Hamburg.”
Louis, not noted for his comedic comments, added, “Or Miami.”
Dashiell, Louis, and I laughed.
Ollie propped himself up on his elbows, readjusting his beach hat. He looked at Dashiell. “Please, put some oil on my back.”
Dashiell said, “Okay. Turn over.”
Dashiell looked over at me, while Ollie turned over.
“Ollie like lots of oil.”
I saw Dashiell smile.
“I can see that.”
A puddle of the brown oil formed on Ollie’s back.
After Dashiell spread it, Ollie’s skin glistened, tanned and jewel-like, in the sunlight. Two rivers of chocolaty oil fell on Ollie’s legs. Dashiell smoothed the oil, adding a glossy shine to Ollie’s skinny gams. Ollie’s brightly colored Coney Island bathing suit loudly screamed, ‘Tiny Tourist’, at the Sun.
Dashiell finished his ministrations.
“There. You’re all done, Ollie.”
Louis’ beach hat moved.
He looked at me, sitting beside him.
“Would I what?”
“Do my back?”
“Sure. Turn over.”
Dashiell spoke up, “Louis likes a light oiling, not lots. Actually, he’s dark enough, he doesn’t need any oil.”
Louis turned over. I poured some oil and spread it, adding a little more oil as needed to cover his back. As soon as I finished, I looked to make sure I didn’t miss any spots, where the Sun might burn him.
When I looked, as I massaged, I saw on his back were three horizontal scars. They didn’t discolor his skin, just a different texture. I had seen Louis naked a thousand times, and never before noticed his scars.
I said in English to Dashiell, “Check out the scars on his back. Someone beat the hell out of him.”
Dashiell’s smile disappeared instantly as his head swiveled. His eyes focused on Louis’ back.
“How could someone do that to him? I never saw those before.”
I returned to French. “The water is so nice today.”
Dashiell casually said, “Cool. Nice for a summer day.”
I spread oil on Louis’ legs. As my hands worked the oil, I felt his leg bones and identified… femur, tibia, his tarsals…
I dropped some oil on his left foot. I was about to review his foot’s bone structure and ligaments, when he started to giggle.
“You’re tickling my foot.”
I spread oil on his dry leg and spread it evenly. His leg bones were as I expected them, including the reversal of the fibula and tibia.
He jerked once, while I did his foot, but he refrained from laughing.
“There. Louis. You’re all done.”
I lightly oiled my anterior, dried my hands, laid back, and enjoyed my classic Coney Island sunbath, under my Coney Island beach hat.
After a few minutes, Ollie started to stir.
Dashiell sat up.
“What’s the matter? Ollie.”
“I’m too hot.”
“I can fix that.”
Ollie, naïvely, questioned, “You can?”
“Yep. Want to see how?”
Ollie giggled and said, “Yes.”
Dashiell pulled Ollie from the sand, into the air, over his shoulder, and ran with Ollie, suspended like a bag of squealing cement, into the cold water.
I saw Ollie hit the water.
I asked Louis, “You want to get in the water?”
His beach hat moved when he spoke. “No. This feels too good, to stop.”
“Here’s my wallet.”
I slipped it under his arm, far enough to be out of sight.
“Keep it safe, until I come out of the water. If you want to get in the water, bring the wallet and yell at me from the edge of the water. I’ll come out so you can go in. Don’t leave my wallet on the beach. Keep it with you. If you lose it, we won’t eat lunch.”
“I won’t lose it.”
“Good boy,” I said. I started to get up. “I should say Young man. You’re a teenager, now.”
His beach hat moved slightly. I heard parts of a relaxed “Thank you” mixed with the sounds of the beachgoers
Standing over him, I glanced down at his back; I didn’t see his scars, just his brightly colored Coney Island bathing suit loudly screamed, ‘Teen Tourist’, at the Sun.
As I walked to the water’s edge, my mind ran through the sight of his scars, the feel of them, and his gentle ‘Thank you’. I looked up from avoiding stepping on anyone’s stuff in the hot sand, and saw Ollie and Dashiell in the water to the right.
They saw me and waved; I waved back inching my way deeper into the water, the cold water, towards them.
They were ready to hit the blankets. Ollie was no longer tan. All his chocolate had washed away and his usually fluffy blonde mop sat swept to the back of his head. Above his neck, he looked aerodynamic.
Dashiell yelled as I approached, “You’re too late. We’re going in.”
Ollie pinched his nose and dipped his head backwards into the water. The water pulled his long hair into the swimmers coiffure.
Ollie added, as he exhaled, “I’m ready, too.”
“All your oil is gone. Ollie.”
“I’m not chocolate, anymore.”
He pointed to Dashiell.
“Dashiell’s oil is gone, too. He’s vanilla, too.”
“Dashiell will make you tan again, when you get back on the beach.”
Ollie added, bobbing up and down in the water, “I’ll make him tan, too.”
“Good. You, guys, don’t want any sunburn.”
They looked at each other and nodded, “Right.”
“Dashiell. Could you grab a pair of beach umbrellas? The Sun is getting hot.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“Louis has my wallet.”
“I’ll be in, shortly. The water is cold.”
“Cold in the water; hot in the Sun. You’re never satisfied.”
“If the beach were air conditioned, with chaise lounges and… and covered, not with a wooden roof, but with a roof made like dark glass, like sunglasses… and one more thing, if they served wine... I think I’d like that.”
“Remember what you just said, when Jay Bensen and you talk about the resort.”
“That, Dashiell, is a wonderful idea.”
“Nothing like visiting the beach to get a sense of what the beach needs. Being away from the sand and ocean, I hadn’t remembered these little things. When I get home, the first thing I going to do, is write those ideas in my diary, with a sidebar to tell Jay.”
“Good for you.”
Dashiell grabbed Ollie. “Come on. Short stuff.”
Ollie squealed and they plodded toward the sand.
The water was gently waving. Aside from the cold, it was quite pleasant.
I saw Dashiell and Ollie, sporting their chocolate suntan, returning from under the boardwalk, carrying two Coney Island beach umbrellas.
I left the water and joined them as they arrived beside Louis with the umbrellas, which Dashiell and I pushed into the sand.
Louis sat up for the arrival of the umbrellas. Once they were stuck in the sand, shading him, he smiled and said, “Much better.” Dashiell passed him the wallet, which he opened and hung, half inside and half outside, his bathing suit.
I sat down in the shade, relaxing while the warm breeze dried the last of the wet Atlantic from my skin.
I asked, “Anyone hungry?”
A chorus of ‘yeses’ returned.
“I’ll get some sandwiches, chips, and sodas. They don’t all wine on the beach. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Anyone want to come with me?”
Louis said, “I will.”
“You know I’ll put you to work. Don’t you?”
Louis and I walked in our Coney Island beach shoes through the hot sand and up the steps to the boardwalk.
“What do you think they’d like to eat?”
“I don’t think they’ll be fussy.”
“We’ll get some extra stuff, so if they’re fussy, they’ll find something to eat, they like.”
“What do you want?”
“Some cheese and bread.”
“They don’t have cheese and bread. How about a sausage on a roll?”
“You want it plain or with lots of stuff on it?”
“Lots of stuff on it.”
“What else might you like?”
“I don’t know…”
“Okay. We’re all set. Let’s get in line.”
The line moved quickly. The food was fresh, hot, and hopefully tasty.”
“Four sausage and peppers, all the way. Four hotdogs, all the way. Four large cokes, with tops and straws and lots of napkins.”
The money taken care of, I returned the wallet to Louis, who slid my wallet into his bathing suit, next to his belly button. We took our two bags down the stairs and to our waiting brothers.
“No complaints are allowed.”
Dashiell said, “Did you, guys, eat up at the boardwalk?”
“No,” I said, “why?”
“You only brought my lunch and forgot yours.”
“If you’re still hungry when this is finished, I’ll get more for you. You know, they have a lot of different stuff there. I bought hot dogs and sausages, all the way, and sodas.”
Louis unpacked the sodas, handing one to each of us.
I passed the bag with the sandwiched around. No one seemed unhappy.
Lunch was fine. With the papers collected, Louis took a bag of trash to the trashcan. The four of us nursed our sodas, until there was no more ice.
We sat there for a long time. Periodically, we would go into the water, return, apply oil, and settle down on the towels, to watch the other people on the beach. People were starting to leave.
“One more time in the water, then we’ll clean up, grab our stuff and an ice cream, and go home.”
Dashiell said, “A great course, Magellan.”
Louis, Dashiell, and I laughed.
Ollie looked at us, probably wondering what made us laugh. He cracked a smile, to fit in.
Louis handed me the wallet, which I slid into my bathing suit, Louis-style. He noticed, looked up into my eyes, and smiled. Dashiell and the boys went in the water again.
I packed up everything, except three Coney Island beach towels, Coney Island beach shoes, Coney Island sunglasses, and Coney Island beach hats. I took a handful of View-Master pictures of my beloved Dashiell with my beloved boys, while they were in the water. The cameras were the last into the bags and sat on top of the stuff in the bags.
They came out, wrapped their Coney Island beach towels around them, put on their Coney Island beach shoes, Coney Island sunglasses, and Coney Island beach hats.
“Are we ready?”
Ollie asked, “What about our clothes?”
“We’ll get them after our shower.”
We went to the showers, washed off the salt, dried, and went to our lockers.
We stuffed our clothes into our bags, and went up the stairs to the boardwalk.
Louis looked at some people in a shop and asked, “What are they doing?”
“Salt water taffy.”
“What is that?”
“Just a second.” I set my bag down and went into the shop returning with a box of Fralinger’s boardwalk treat. I opened the box a little, and took out one of the paper wrapped sweets. Before I could hand it to Louis, Ollie’s hand was in the air.
“Louis asked about it, so he gets one, first.”
Ollie looked hurt as I put the sweet in Louis’ hand.
Louis said, “Thank you.”
“Here’s one for you. Ollie.”
“You want one? Dashiell?”
I took another out of the slot in the box for Dashiell.
The three of them went to the trashcan to deposit their wrappers.
We were half a block from where we walked on to the boardwalk, between the Steeplechase Souvenirs and Modern Gifts. I could see the marquees from where I stood.
“This way,” I announced.
We turned the corner and walked down the ramp, to the car, waiting on the street, in front of a parking meter.
We stashed our bags in the trunk, settled in the car, and relaxed on the way home.
Of course, Ollie was asleep before we were a quarter of the way home. That’s why I have an arm and shoulder to lean on.