Alien At The Beach



Jerome Turken

When Lou awoke he heard Beverly speaking downstairs.  “If you want breakfast wake Sonja up, Herbie.  It’s her turn today.”

“Where’s the coffee pot?” Herbie said.

“Somewhere in the kitchen.”

“Where in the kitchen?”

“Look for it.” Beverly’s voice was louder; she said that coming up the stairs.

“Very smart,” Herbie said.

Beverly came into the room in her panties and a skimpy tee shirt through which the nipples on her prominent breasts were conspicuous.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Good morning,” Lou said.  “That’s how you walk around the house?”.

She put a knee on the bed and her face six inches above his, looked into his eyes a moment, and kissed his lips.  “You feel better this morning?” she said.  “You were so serious last night.  You hardly spoke to anyone.  Come on, get up.  I’ll make breakfast.”

“I thought it was Sonja’s turn.”

“She’s still in bed,” Beverly said, turning to leave. “She’ll make it tomorrow in place of me.”

“Aren’t you going to put something on?” Lou said.

She picked a skimpy beach skirt with a slit from a pile of clothes on a chair and stepped into it.

He got up and went to the bathroom.  The door was ajar and the light on.  He knocked.

“Come on in,” a female voice said.

Nancy, one of the three girls Beverly introduced him to last night, was naked on the toilet peeing.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, turning to leave.

“Stay,” Nancy said.  “I’m finished.”  She unrolled toilet paper and wiped herself.  As she passed him on her way out she tickled his ribs, then stuck her head back in. “I forgot to flush the toilet.  Will you do it for me?”

He washed and got dressed.  On his way downstairs he smelled marijuana.  Beverly, holding the upper half of the coffee pot, was kneeling to hand a joint back to Herbie, a skinny guy with long knobby legs and visible ribs who was flat on his back on the floor with his legs resting on the sofa.  He was doing tricks with his larynx.

“Jesus, Herbie,” Beverly said, “you put enough coffee in here to make two gallons.”  She put a few scoops back into the can.

“I like my coffee strong when I contemplate,” Herbie said.

“You contemplate?” Beverly said.

Nancy came down.  “Sure he contemplates,” she said.  “On when he’s going to take his next shit.”

“Hey Nancy, what did we agree to?” Herbie said.

“Which agreement are we talking about?” Nancy said.  She picked the joint from Herbie’s fingers, took a drag and gave it back to him.

“The one where you agreed not to make any more remarks about my peristaltic movement if I agreed not to make any more remarks about your flat ass.”

“You’re still making remarks about my flat ass.”

“I’m waiting for you not to make any more remarks about my peristaltic movement first.”

Lou went out to the porch and lied back on one of the deck chairs.  He was annoyed with himself for accepting Beverly’s invitation.  Beverly alone was one thing.  He enjoyed her company—she was good to be with all around.  But not in the middle of this crowd with their loud voices, louder radios, wild drinking, marijuana, free-flung flesh, hostilities.  He felt like a misfit, an alien.  The only thing he enjoyed so far was the ferry ride coming over.

Marcy came up the porch stairs.   She had the shape of a pear by virtue of huge thighs and buttocks, short legs and a slight upper body.  Her boyfriend Herman, a large fellow with a pot belly, followed carrying a transparent plastic bag half filled with sea shells.

“The tide was low,” Marcy said.  “I never saw so many sea shells.”

“The beach was full of them,” Herman said. “The trick is to go early in the morning.”

“Let’s put them out to dry,” Marcy said.  One by one she took shells out of the bag and carefully placed them on top of the porch rail.

“Look at this one,” Marcy said, handing one of the larger shells to Lou.  “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Lou nodded.  “Very beautiful.”  He examined it briefly and handed it back to her.  It was one of those curlicue cones with a bit of a sheen that he saw nothing special about.  He lied back and closed his eyes.

Beverly’s voice: “What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing,” Lou said.  “Just relaxing.”

“Come in.  Breakfast is ready.  I made french toast and bacon.”

Marcy, Herman, Nancy and Herby were already seated at the table.  Sonja was about to ascend the stairs with a tray of food.  She was in a short night garment and about as plump as a girl could be and still have a decent figure.

“Why don’t you join us at the table, Sonja?” Marcy said.

“Leo isn’t ready to come down yet,” Sonja said.

“Didn’t he get enough last night?” Herbie said.

“Herbie!” Nancy said.

“You have a big mouth, Herbie,” Sonja said. “You ought to try closing it once in a while.”

“You ought to try closing something else once in a while,” Herbie said.

“Oh!” Sonja almost screamed, and continued up the stairs, the dishes clattering as she stumbled half way.  Then the slam of her door.

“Go up and apologize immediately,” Nancy said.

Herbie lit another joint.

“I hope Leo comes down and breaks every bone in your body,” Nancy said.

During breakfast the conversation centered around the weather and the danger of rip tides.  Lou got up as soon as he finished.

“Where are you going?” Beverly said.

“Up to put on bathing trunks.  I feel like going to the beach.”

“Wait a while, I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll meet you there,” Lou said.

Groups were scattered around on blankets sunbathing.  At the waters edge gulls were pecking the sand.  Three lifeguards were playing with a frisbee, scaling it back and forth to each other, running to catch it with swooping leaps and snappy grabs as it got taken by the breeze.

The water was rough with huge breakers the way he liked it.  He inched in, dove into a wave and got beyond the breakers and swam a bit, floated a bit and fought the water.  A group of boys nearer the shore were challenging the breakers, diving into them as they peaked.  One was caught by a monster, tumbled around and came up groggy, while the others laughed at him good-naturedly.  Coming out of the water Lou himself was thrown off balance and the kids laughed at him too.  He dried himself and lied flat on his back on the warm sand, his tee shirt over his eyes to cut the glare of the sun.

Soft tapping on his head and his tee shirt removed from his eyes.  Beverly, in a skimpy yellow bikini,  was looking down at him.  Marcy and Herman were behind her spreading a huge blanket in the sand.  Nancy and Herbie were approaching, Herbie lagging ten feet behind.  She kept stopping and barking something at him, with him stopping at the same time to keep his distance, putting on something of a show by walking exactly in step with her, and wildly mimicking her gestures when she stopped and turned.

“He’s not normal,” Marcy said.   “He must have fallen on his head when he was a baby.”

“That marijuana don’t help either,” Herman said.

“Is the water cold?” Beverly said.

“Not so cold,” Lou said.  “But it’s rough.  It’ll give you a good workout.”

“I could use one,” Beverly said.  She swooped her beach dress off over head and almost in the same motion took off to the water in a run.  She paced herself just right to dive deep into a huge breaking wave.  When she surfaced again she was fifteen feet farther out and kept going.  Nervy.

“I can’t stand that girl,” Marcy said, “the way she takes chances.  Look how far out she is.  Aren’t  you worried?”

“She can handle herself,” Lou said.

“That ain’t Alley Pond out there,” Herman said. “Come on, Marcy, lets get wet.”

“Not me,” Marcy said.  “I’m not going in there.”

Herman took her hand and pulled.  “Come on, we’ll just get ourselves wet.”

Marcy gave way to his nudging.  “All right, but all I’m doing is just getting myself wet and that’s all.”

Nancy was applying sun lotion to Herbie’s back.  “Boy, are you round-shouldered,” she said.  “Straighten up!”

Herbie emitted a loud, groaning sigh. “OOOaa!  For crissake, Nancy, we had this out.  Didn’t we have this out?  What do you want from me?  I’m not a perfect specimen.”

“You can say that again,” Nancy said.

“I admitted it,” Herbie said.  “Didn’t I admit it?  What do you want me to do, write ‘imperfect’ across my chest with a magic marker?”

“You don’t have enough room to fit it all in,” Nancy said.

“Jesus!” Herbie said.

Sonja and Leo were walking in their direction, but not exactly toward them.

“There they are,” Nancy said.  “Are you going to apologize?”

“I’ll think about it,” Herbie said.

Leo obviously gave his body a lot of attention.  He was tall and muscular and so tanned that his teeth and the whites of his eyes looked painted in his face.  He was carrying two beach chairs and a portable radio.  They settled themselves about thirty feet away.  Leo unfolded the beach chairs and sat back in one of them and directed a continuous glare at Herbie.  Sonja was talking to him in an undertone.

“What the fuck is that big schmuck staring at?” Herbie whispered.

“I hope Sonja is telling him not to start anything,” Nancy said.

Leo put his radio on.  Loud.

My friends say Im actin wild as a bug
Im in love
Im all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

“What shit that hardon listens to,” Herbie said.  “Jesus Christ! I can’t stand that,  Beverly’s big doctor played shit last week too, but at least it wasn’t too loud.  This fucking guy thinks he’s doing the whole beach a favor by entertaining them.  What are you looking at, Nancy?  Ain’t I got a right to express myself?”

“You have a big mouth, Herbie,” Nancy said.

Marcy and Herman were knee-deep in the water, having a little duel.  He was in front of her facing the beach, clutching her hands and nudging her farther into the water, while she, her back to the beach, was leaning backward as she moved slowly forward, pleading to be let go.  An enormous wave was coming in.  She saw it and thrust herself backward in panic and broke Herman’s grip.  He rose with the wave and the downward curl just barely caught him—his head went under for an instant then rose again—but it caught Marcy with all its force and she disappeared in a frantic swirl of white water, then reappeared ten or fifteen feet closer to the beach in a tangle of limbs, struggling to rise and falling again and tumbling back, taken with the water as it receded.  Lou hurried over to help her up.  She couldn’t catch her breath; she kept emitting scary shrill in-breath sounds.

“Oh Jesus, is she all right?” Herman said.  He stooped to put his face directly opposite hers.  “Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry, Marcy.  Oh, Jesus.  Do you forgive me?”

Marcy was alternately coughing and making those in-breath sounds.  Lou was practically holding her up as they returned to their spot; by the dead weight of her body he was afraid she’d fall if he let her go.  “She’ll be all right in a few minutes,” he said.  “She must have swallowed a lot of water and some of it probably got into her breathing tubes.”

Beverly came out of the water.  “What happened?” she said toweling her face as she looked down at Marcy, who was now sitting on the blanket with her palm on her chest breathing heavily.

“She got smashed,” Herman said.

“It’s your fault,” Marcy said.

“Marcy, I know it’s my fault,” Herman said, “and I said I apologize, didn’t I?”

“She’ll be all right,” Beverly said.  She sat down in the sand next to Lou and leaned into him.  “They have live entertainment in Oceanside tonight,” she said.  “Would you like to go?  It’ll do you some good.”

“I don’t know,” Lou said.  “We’ll see.”

You aint nothin but a hound dog
Cryin all the time.
Well, you aint never caught a rabbit
And you aint no friend of mine.

Herbie leaned forward in his beach chair, his elbows on his knees. “Will you listen to that!”  He made an attempt to rise, but Nancy pushed him back in his chair.

“Where are you going?” she said.

“To tell that schmuck to lower the damn radio.”

“No you’re not,” Nancy said.  “You’re going to sit right where you are.”

The frisbee the lifeguards were throwing around hit the ground a few feet from the blanket with a spray of sand near Marcy, who half-rose in reflex with a defensive arm covering her face.  The lifeguard who came running to retrieve it picked it up and flung it back, scampering back to his position without a word of apology.

“Hey, be more careful where you throw that thing!” Herman yelled after him.

“Just when I calmed down,” Marcy said.  “Now I’m nervous all over again.”

I’ll be agreeable
‘Cause I’m hopin’ you, ooh-ooh
Will be available too, ooh-ooh

“Look at them,” Marcy said.  “On the beach in broad daylight.  I can’t understand that Sonja sometimes.”

Sonja and Leo were in an embrace, covered with one side of the blanket they were lying on, with some frantic action going on underneath.

“I agree,” Herman said.

“In what zoo did she find that schmuck?” Herbie said.

“I have to talk to her,” Marcy said.

“Talking won’t do any good, Marcy,” Herman said. “If it’s in her nature it won’t make a bit of difference.  That’s something I learned that from experience a long time ago.”

“What experience?” Marcy said.

“What’s the difference,” Herman said.  “Just take my word for it.” 

The frisbee landed a few feet away again.  Herbie sprang from his beach chair and grabbed it and approached the lifeguards.  The one who had been chasing it held out his hand.  Herbie didn’t give it to him.  Instead he yelled:

“When the fuck are you schmucks going to grow up!  Can’t you see you’re bothering us!  I want you to move over there.  There’s plenty of space over there!”

The other two lifeguards joined the first one, and Herbie stood opposite the three of them like a baby antelope challenging three lions.

“Come on, give it to me,” one of them said.

“Not until you move over there,” Herbie said

“My God,” Nancy said.  “They’re going to kill him.

As Lou got up to go over to see if he could settle the dispute one of the lifeguards made a grab for the frisbee and Herbie let out a scream and went into some kind of a tantrum, kicking, twisting and swinging in air.  The lifeguards moved back a few steps and stood staring at him and looking at each other with some combination of disbelief and amusement.  And helplessness; they knew they weren’t going to get their frisbee back unless they moved.  Or else subdued Herbie, which, their attitudes showed, was not what they had in mind.

“All right, we’ll move there,” the one who made the grab for the frisbee said.

“Move first.”

“The three exchanged looks.

“This guy’s a nut,” one of them said.

“What!” Herbie yelled.  “What!”

“Nothing,” the same one said.  He looked at the other two.  “Come on.”

They walked toward the empty space at the rear with Herbie following.  When they reached it they turned to Herbie for the frisbee.  Herbie made an attempt to scale it and it hit the sand a few feet in front of him.  When he got back to the group Nancy said:

“You are a nut!”

“Aa keep quiet,” Herbie said.  “They moved, didn’t they?”

Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah, ah-aaa

Tell you a story

Happened long time ago
Little bitty pretty one
Beverly was lying on her stomach, the top of her bikini unclasped and off her back.  Lou went to sit in the sand next to her and nuzzled her under her ear.  She purred.

“I’m leaving,” he said.

“So soon?  Wait another half hour and I’ll go back with you and we’ll have some lunch.”

“I mean I’m going home.”


“I don’t know,” Lou said.  “I’m just not capable of enjoying myself right now, Beverly.  I’m a drag on you, I’m a drag on everyone.”

“Don’t say things like that.”

“It’s true.  I’m miserable company right now.”  He kissed her cheek.  “I’ll call you.”  He rose.

“I’ll go back to the house with you,” Beverly said.  She made a move to get up.

“No, stay,” Lou said.

She looked at him disappointed, hurt.

“I really feel like being alone right now, Beverly.”

“If that’s what you want … ”

“That’s what I want,” Lou said.  He kissed her cheek again .

“I’ll call you,” she said.

The ferry schedule in Channing’s General Store said the next one leaves at 1:45.  He had over an hour’s wait.  He bought a sandwich and a coke and sat on a bench outside the store to eat it.

A blonde young woman came out of the store holding a bag of groceries,

trailed by her cute little blonde daughter, who looked barely three, digging her wooden spoon into a half-eaten cup of ice cream. 

“Can I have some?” Lou said as the little girl reached him.

She stopped and looked at him a moment wide-eyed, then slowly raised her cup to Lou in such a simple gesture of giving that Lou was speechless for a moment.  He reached for the cup, then put his palm to his cheek.

“Oooh, I forgot,” he said.  “I musn’t eat ice cream now.  Because I have to finish my lunch first.”

The child withdrew the cup but stood there looking at Lou.  Her mother had been standing by watching the exchange with amused, glittering eyes.   With obvious pride in her daughter’s generosity she exchanged smiles with Lou.

“Come on, honey,” she said, extending a coaxing arm.

The little girl followed her mother up the walk.  After a few steps she turned and took another look at Lou as she dipped the spoon into her ice cream.

Not a bad day after all.