Walking on this deserted beach. A urine colored sun over the ocean to my left, sand on my right. Gnashing of weeds in the sands in the sullen wind. Farther inland some broken Palms and empty houses. It’s not just this beach that’s deserted. Most places are these days but that’s another story. Unfortunately that means the cop to citizen ratio is bad. I’m ill and mean because a pair of them in a sand car stopped me and wanted to see an ID. Told them i never take my wallet into the ocean and it almost turned bad but they said forget it.
When i say deserted i mean deserted. No gulls or pelicans. Some insects. And of course no humans. All this to establish atmosphere.
When i see the thing i stop dead and turn my back and cringe. There’s no way what i saw could possibly be there but there it is. When i sneak a look back it’s still there.
My mind screams and claws at me. It runs thru the possibilities but they are all scary. It just shouldnt be there. It cant be there. I could be dreaming. That’s the best one. But i’m sure i’m not. The other is that i have gone mad and need antipsychotics. I dont like that one. The last is the worst: that i am sane and what is there really is there. For that to happen requires complete renovation of what i know can be real. And i am a rationalist so that’s very, very bad.
When i look back it has not moved, not made any threatening gesture at all. It’s just sitting at the edge of where the waves end looking politely at me as if waiting for me to walk over.
Things that die do not come back.
Yet there that son of a bitch is. I had seen it die. It was shot to death and then torn apart by attack dogs. What was left was cremated. So you see my dilemma. There’s nothing for it but to walk on over because i will not turn my back on that thing and walk away and i dont fancy walking that far backwards.
I walk over and stop a cautious ten feet away and say, You’re supposed to be dead, you son of a bitch.
Well, i’m not, mate.
Dont call me mate.
Going for a swim, mate?
Drop that fake accent. You were born and grew up in Augusta, GA. The closest you ever got to Australia was Birmingham Alabama. And you died.
Obviously not, mate.
I saw you die!
You sure, mate? A dark, moonless night…
It was in broad daylight in July in Atlanta, i say.
And only then does a sane explanation occur to me.
You found a ringer and set him up, didnt you? How did you know when they’d come for you? How’d you find that good a ringer that fast?
Maybe it helped that they wanted me dead so bad they didnt look close enough, he says. If they hadnt brought those dogs they would have known from looking at who was dead that it wasnt me. They just wanted me dead so much it never occurred to them.
You would be a very wanted man otherwise, i say.
RU going to rat me out, mate?
No. I dont even care anymore. But you should know the cops in the sand cars are all looking around here because they have nothing else to do. I nearly got busted because i didnt have ID. Who carries a wallet on the beach?
He doesnt say anything but i notice the apprehension in his eyes.
I say, Whatever RU doing here?
He pauses before he says, I was about to commit suicide. Just swim out until i drowned.
Why? Something missing in your life?
Something missing in everyone’s life, mate. Not that there’s a lot of everybodys. Or will be.
I dont believe you are going to…
You’re not going to stop me, he says.
Wouldnt dream of it. Knock yourself out.
He says nothing but gets up slowly and walks out until the water is over his head and i see him doing a slow crawl out to sea. Maybe he’ll stay dead now.
IDK how long i have stood here before i feel sobs and tears that i force back. I hear a quiet rustle behind me and i turn and see a lone cop in a sand car. He says, Could i see some ID, sir?
Author’s note: As i was writing this snippet it occurred to me that it could be an opening chapter to a new novel. Kill Him Twice, a Jim Chones thriller. Starring Colonel Jim Chones, everybody’s favorite assassin in a time machine trying to save us from people even worse than he is. But time travel gives me a headache.