Monday, November 15, 2010
Here's Michael's take on dinner--Chapter 12, part two
Wow, we're closing in on a hundred followers. Cool. Thanks for spreading the word, everybody. To prove how grateful I am, here's that scene you've all been waiting for. Yikes! It's a doozy.
MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME #10
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: Rum Point
Alex and Leesie meet us for dinner at Rum Point. Funky place on the north side with painted signs pointing to Liverpool, Russia, India. Good beach. Restaurant on the sand. Only gets crowded if there’s a cruise ship in port. Today’s Saturday so we’re safe from the masses.
I nod hello to Alex and then get a load of Leesie getting out of the car. She’s got a white scarf wrapped on her head like a halo. She’s wearing a new white dress that shows her shoulders and back—too much in the front when she looses that arm sling. After two weeks here, she’s getting tan. Looks good.
“You like it?” She spins around when she sees me. The full skirt flairs and falls back against her bare legs.
Brock and Ethan come up behind me. “Nice.”
Leesie gets pink, and I put my arm around her exposed shoulders and guide her to the big round table where Gabriel and his pickup hangs with Cooper and the chick’s friend. I wanted Leesie to be too tired when they called to set this up. No luck.
“This is a first,” she says so only I can hear.
“I don’t think we’ve ever gone to a real restaurant together.”
I pull out her chair and whisper as she sits. “Only your stupid Cougar Eat.”
“That doesn’t count.”
Ethan takes the chair next to her. “What doesn’t count.”
She gets even pinker. “Nothing.”
I squish into the seat next to Leesie. We’ve got eight around a table for six. Kind of close quarters. Nobody seems to care.
Alex slips into a chair in between Gabriel and Ethan. “Where’s Seth?”
Ethan shakes his head. “Couldn’t get him to come.”
Brock grabs a chair from the table behind us and shoves it in between me and Cooper. That makes us nine. Brock runs his hands through his hair. “He’ll be hitting the bars again.”
Alex leans forward with her elbows on the table. “And you let him?”
“We can’t hold his hand forever.”
Gabriel clears his throat and introduces the women but their names go in one ear and out the other. Blonde One and Blonde Two. Both made-up and slinky. Gabriel’s is hotter, but Cooper’s is hungry.
While I study the menu, Leesie swallows a couple of pills with the ice water the waiter brought before we arrived.
Blonde Two’s been staring at Leesie. “What happened to you?”
Blonde One tears her eyes off Gabriel long enough to give us a glance. She assesses me like a piece of meat and then rests her critical gaze on Leesie.
Alex leans around Gabriel, and spits, “Car accident,” into the chick’s face.
Blonde One backs off. “Too bad.” The blondes go back to seducing Cooper and Gabriel.
Alex sticks her tongue out behind her hand.
Silent sparks fly back and forth between her and Leesie. Raised eyebrows. Squints. Stares. Maybe they didn’t know these chicks would be here.
I hide in the menu. I haven’t eaten here for awhile. I turn to Brock. “What’s good these days?”
Brock peals his eyes off the two chicks with his room-mates. “I like the crab.”
Crab. No way can I order crab. It’s been a year and half since that crabfest on Dive Festiva, but eating it would seem like a sacrilege.
“Crab?” Blonde Two pipes up. “Sounds good.”
Most of them order it. I order shrimp. Safer. I’d hate to freak here. Leesie gets a salad. She doesn’t say much while we eat. Her eyes keep going to Gabriel and Cooper and those chicks who are falling out of their dresses and giggling at everything Cooper says. Gabriel wears his superior smile. They all crack crab and dip it in butter. Blonde Two feeds Cooper with buttery fingers. He sucks on them staring down her dress.
Leesie’s eyes dart to Alex when Blonde One leans over and plants her buttery lips smack on Gabriel’s mouth, then excuses herself. Gabriel follows her down the beach.
I got to bail. The crab is getting to me, and I don’t want Leesie around this crap. “Let’s go. You’re tired.”
She yawns and nods. “Thanks, Alex.” She touches her head wrap. “It was fun.”
Alex gives her thumbs up. “Any time.”
“Sorry about tonight.” Leesie glances down the beach.
Alex shrugs. “There will be other nights.”
Leesie leans hard against me on the way to the RAV4.
I shift my arm to support her better. “Too much. Too soon.”
She doesn’t agree, but lets me lift her into the passenger’s seat. When I get in the other side, she holds out her arms and says, “Do you like me like this?”
I turn the key. “You look like an angel.”
She pulls a face. “Guess I shouldn’t have bought white.”
It’s an hour drive back to the apartment. She’s sound asleep by the time we get there. I carry her upstairs, lay her on her bed, slip off her sandals and scarf, stroke her soft furry head, tuck her in—dress and all. And she’s still sound asleep.
I tiptoe out of her room, shut the door, throw myself down on my cot, wondering how I can get the thought of Leesie in bed alone in the next room out of my head when Isadore attacks.
Crab legs. Giant ones. Walk through her waves. Grasp me with their claws. Pull me off the deck of the boat and down into the water. I fight, choke, sink, surface, kick, thrash, call out to my mother, “Save me. Save me,” until a small, pale hand shakes my shoulder. “Mom?”
It’s Leesie, glowing white kneeling on the floor beside my cot like I dreamed her every night back in Tekoa fighting Isadore nightmares in my dad’s old room under that quilt Gram made out of his old jeans. I groan and lift her into bed with me, clutch tight to her reality.
“It’s okay. I’m here.” She kisses away my terror, presses her body to mine.
Instinct takes over. I shift to get her body under me, and flimsy cot we’re lying on collapses.
She’s on her feet, pulling me out of the wreckage. “Let’s go to my room,” she whispers. “Alex is cool. I’ll put a note on the door.”
I stumble after her.
In her room, she turns her back to me. “Can you help?” She can’t reach the zipper that holds the flowing white fabric around her slender shape.
I press my face into her neck, fumble to find the zipper, grasp it, pull it down—stop. “No, Leese.” I step back. “No.”
I get out of her room. The apartment. Try to sleep in the back seat of the RAV. Beat myself up for getting so close. Freak. That can’t happen again. Freak. Freak. Freak.
I should go back up there.
Tell her to her face.
I get out of the RAV.
I know exactly why I want to go back up there and it’s not to tell her, “No.”
I stare at myself in the black reflection of the RA’s window. Alex’s car pulls into the parking lot. She gets out and opens the passenger door. Seth falls out on her. No sign of the other guys.
I sprint across the lot. “Can I help?”
I lift Seth off her.
“Thanks.” Alex ducks under Seth’s left arm.
I take the right side and get my arm around his back so I can half carry, half drag him up the stairs. “What happened to Brock and Ethan?”
“The bar we found him in was having a whisky shot contest. Did you know Scots invented whisky?”
“Ethan couldn’t resist the challenge. Brock will get him home.”
We make it up all three flights—freak Alex is strong—and dump Seth in his room on his bed. I trip over Cooper’s cot trying to get out of there. He sleeps in there with Seth. Gabriel, Brock, and Ethan sleep out in the front room with me.
“Thanks,” Alex grabs my arm and guides me out of the messy room. She closes. “You’re a lifesaver.” She glances at the closed door of her and Leesie’s room. “You know, if you and Leesie want the room, I don’t mind roughing it with the Neanderthals.”
I hold up my hands and shake my head. “No. We wouldn’t dream of kicking you out of your room.”
“I thought you’d be in there tonight for sure. I told Leesie you guys could have it.”
“Don’t do that again.”
“What’s with you two? You’re engaged aren’t you?”
She flicks on the kitchen light. “I’m not tired.”
We sit up at the table drinking milk and eating Leesie’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. I tell Alex about my parents, how me and Leese met, the whole Mormon thing, Suki, the accident, Phil. It feels good to spill my guts to her. She’s freaking easy to talk to.
Her eyes move from her glass of milk to me to Leesie’s closed door. “So you guys have never—?”
“Not until we’re married.”
Her eyebrows lift. “And you’re going to convert to Mormonism?”
“No.” Freak. I hadn’t thought of that.
“She’ll marry you now without that?”
“Yeah. I don’t know. Everything’s messed up since the accident.”
She studies me hard—like she’s trying to see the gears churning in my thick head. “It’s not fair to her if you don’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You said she wouldn’t marry you before because you aren’t a Mormon. If you marry her now, you’re taking advantage of her tragedy. That’s so wrong.”
“Who are you to judge me?”
“Do you know what I’ve done for her? How hard all this is?”
“It doesn’t look easy for her, either.”
She doesn’t say it, but I can tell exactly what she’s thinking. “I should take her home?”
She studies the cookie crumbs on the table, mashes them with her thumb and licks it. “Probably.”
I shake my head. “She’d hate me forever.”
“If it’s right—”
I bow my head until it rests on the table. “I don’t know what’s right anymore.”
Alex puts her hand on my shoulder. “I think you do.”
She slips behind that door where Leesie’s probably seething mad at me, and I bend back the legs of my stupid cot until it supports me again. I fix the blankets, lie on it—waiting for the crash—pretend I’m asleep when Brock and Ethan stumble in laughing and cursing and peeing all over Leesie’s clean bathroom. I want to jump up and starting swinging, smashing, bashing their heads together. Instead, I roll over and the freaking cot collapses again.
Brock and Ethan stand there joking while I throw the useless piece of crap off the balcony. I grab a pillow and a sheet and fling myself on the lounge chair outside. My mind races round and round.
How could I be so stupid?
How could I think this would work?
This stupid apartment.
Me and Leesie.
We’re nineteen. Legal, but—come one. Get real.
And the Mormon thing.
Crap. Stupid Alex.
She is so damn right.