I’m still on course tonight and less than 15,000 words from the word count goal. This section may have meandered a bit, but I think it does help identify a part of Marshall’s relationship with his sister that wasn’t apparent before.

Marshall Cooper

Day 21 – 35.008/50,000 words

“Can we just stay at the beach?” Caleb asked. Corrine seconded the request. Overall, the idea of a hike in the woods far away from cell phone connections did not seem like a big hit with Anne’s progeny. After some debate, Cassandra was volunteered to be responsible for the other two. This cleared the way for the Sunday hike and lunch. After they finished eating, the kids headed back to the beach. The Hotel had set up a fire pit and provided free punch and slushes while a DJ played party songs that were mostly rooted in the late eighties and early nineties such as Love ShackThe Sign, and This is How We Do It. The music overtook the patio of the restaurant. It seemed a lot of families were taking their kids here this week, so there was a thriving mass of teens and tweens.

Anne and Charlie continued to sip at margaritas, and began taking a little louder, partly because of the music. Anne was telling Catrin a story from Marshall’s childhood.

“Marshmallow and I had got it in our minds that we were going to fix my parent’s old car. He was fifteen and not too far away from getting his license. The car was an old Cadillac before I was born. It was a 1973 Sedan Deville and as big as a house. The car had a few issues, but I think the main one was that the transmission had to be rebuilt. Neither of us had the least bit of experience fixing a car – none at all. So we go to the library and a check out a basic book on auto repair.”

Marshall interrupted, “I also picked up a Haynes manual from Checker Auto.”

“Anyway, this becomes an epic project. All summer long we are out there working on the car. My mom was convinced we were going to start a fire or find some other way to kill ourselves. But mainly we just kept going out there, and finding one thing after another that we didn’t have.”

Marshall added again. “My father wasn’t big on fixing things, so we really didn’t have any tools in the house beyond a hammer and a couple screwdrivers.”

“Right, so we would work until we figured out that we couldn’t get any further, then Marshmallow would go on a mission to get the right tool.”

“I didn’t have a lot of money. I eventually got a set of socket wrenches from Wal-Mart, but they turned out to be metric, and I had lost the receipt, so then I had to get enough money to get the right set.”

“It literally took the entire summer, but we got it fixed.”

“I got to drive it one time.” Marshall said, “It was just about the proudest moment of my life.”

What happened to it?” Catrin asked.

“What did happen to it?” Anne said. I don’t remember it being around long”

“My dad used it as a trade in to get a new car. He said the Cadillac ate too much gas. So he went and bought a new car for them, and passed me down Cressida. It was a lot newer and more fuel efficient.”

“That wasn’t too terrible of a car either.”

“It was fine,” Marshall said.

Catrin added, “But it wasn’t a 1973 Cadillac that you fixed yourself.”

“No,” Marshall said, “But it was fun while it lasted.”

Marshall spotted Rainman walking along the beach and waved to him. He came over and Marshall introduced him to his family. “This is Rainman,” he said, “The finest harpist in Santa Creda.”

Rainman smiled. “I’m the only person in the city who owns a harp,” he said.  “Trust me, I’ve checked.”

He nodded at Catrin and she said, “Sorry about the other night. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” This led to Catrin telling them the story about how the cove got closed off. She managed not to mention her family’s involvement, just saying that it wasn’t considered safe.

“You can hike all the way there though?” Anne asked.

“Yeah,” Rainman said, “The trail head is on the east end of Weatherly Park. It’s not a bad hike. You have to scramble over rocks a couple of times, but it’s worth it. The cove is beautiful. You should go while you’re here. I can take you if you like.”

Catrin looked uncomfortable, but said nothing. The server came by and she ordered another beer while Anne and Charlie ordered margaritas. Rainman hopped over the railing and sat with hem, ordering a La Rainman about how he came to play the harp.

“Good question,” Rainman said, “The simple answer is Tia Marisol, my grandmother, played one. She had it in her house, and every time we went to her house, I would play with it, just on my own. I have a really good ear for music, so without any lessons I was managing to pick out some basic songs. So, she sat down and started giving me lessons. I picked it up really fast, or so she said. She had pretty bad arthritis though, so it hurt her to play. One day she told me that I should have it. My parents arranged for me to have more lessons, and I eventually ended up playing in a couple of orchestras. I got a music scholarship to Emmerit University, so I spent four years studying music there. I can actually play several different instruments, but here I mainly play the harp and sometimes the piano or the guitar is somebody needs me to fill in for somebody. Like I said, I have a really good ear, so I can usually hear a song once and figure out how to play reasonably well. On Monday nights one of our local bars, Happy Dave’s, has an open mike jam, and I usually go over there so that I can have a chance to play my other instruments. You guys should come by while you’re in town. I can’t promise you everyone will sound great, but it is a good time.”

That reminds me, Rainman said, “There’s another gig at the Sheriff’s house this week. I’m actually going to be playing guitar at this one, with a couple other guys. Anyway, I think I can get you back in as bartender if you like.”

“I would,” Marshall said, “But I’m actually going to be attending. Sheriff Dwight wants me there to meet some of the council members before they have their vote on me next week. Apparently they have to approve any management level hires.”

Rainman gave him a confused look, and Marshall filled him in on the job offer.”

“That’s very cool,” Rainman said after hearing it. “I didn’t know you knew how to do real things.”

“I’m not actually positive that I do,” Marshall answered, “We’ll find out though. The sheriff says the vote will be a formality, but he wanted to make sure.”

“It should be easy enough,” Rainman said, “He has a brother and a cousin on the council, so that’s two votes out of seven right there.”

I didn’t know that,” Marshall said.

“Might be different come November.” Rainman said. “The whole council is up for reelection. But for now, I’d say you’re set.”

A few hours passed and they continued to sit at the restaurant. It was nice, with the sound of the waves as a constant background, and the nineties dance hits playing. Every once in a while one of the kids would show back up at the table, usually asking for money to do something. The sun had set and the air had cooled. The restaurant moved some heaters out onto the patio to keep the temperature at a nice level. Marshall started to lose track of the conversation. At one point he thought they were talking about him, when it turned out that they were discussing Anne’s administrative assistant. One of them was most definitely not to be trusted. Catrin noticed that he was flagging and said, “Honey, let’s go for a walk on the beach.” This gave them their change to make their excuses and head out.

Once you got close to the water, the light from the hotel seemed to die. They held hands and walked on wet sand near the water’s edge. Marshall knew that if they walked long enough, they would be back in his neighborhood. The fishing pier was about a half mile off, and then it was about another half mile to Seaside Espress. The beauty of the town was that everything was close. It was one of the reasons he had chosen to live here. You could get virtually everywhere on foot if you were patient enough. Marshall could still drive, but he didn’t fully trust the experience. He knew that he would need to tonight. Catrin had consumed at least four beers that he could remember, and he wasn’t sure he had caught them all. He would have considered just walking home, but she still had to get back to her parents, and to do so without her car might not reflect well.

They walked as far as the pier, and then turned back. As they headed back, someone on the beach ahead set off a string of fireworks, and they exploded in the sky above their heads. Marshall had heard they did that sometimes here, especially around the fourth of July, but he hadn’t seen them before. Seeing them gave him an otherworldly feeling, as if he had stepped out of his old life into a different one. He felt the disconnect between his current life and the life he had led before the accident. This was both exhilarating and sad for him. He had never been satisfied with his old life, but nonetheless, it had been his life. Now he was somebody different, walking around in the same body as his old self.

Marshall squeezed Catrin’s hand and she squeezed back.

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