Me on the Beach


fiction by Cameron Brindise


It’s Vee and her G. Loomis pole in one of those ice-fishing shacks on an icy lake somewhere in Maine. She’s got no money and a heart the size of a pea. Chopin plays on the radio. She’s got her legs on both sides of the hole in the ice. The hole’s the size of a grapefruit. It took time and effort to make it. Vee’s got yellow hair. It moves when she moves.

It used to be Vee, her G. Loomis and me. I used a spear. We’d fight over the hole, who got it when. I wanted it when it got dark. That’s what makes for good fishing.

Vee is trying to catch a herring.

I’m on a beach somewhere in New York with women around me.

I got liquor. I got a steel horse at home. I got a medal of honor. I got a bald patch. Some woman in a two-piece sits next to me. She’s got a scar on her belly like moonshine. She takes out a cigarette and puts it in my mouth. Who am I to say when I smoke and when I don’t.

There’s Vee in the water, bouncing up and down like a buoy. Vee’s got this yellow hair that moves when she moves. She’s got the whitest scalp. It’s the one part of her that I don’t love. I got love. It’s damn sunny. I ask the two-piece for some shade. She drapes a blanket over me. There’s a big moth on this beach. It’s got wingspan. A man in glasses carries a newspaper and swats at the moth in the air against the blue sky. Vee waves from the ocean, her head bobbing up and down like a buoy. She’s got a seagull on her shoulder. The man with the newspaper throws the paper down. He takes his two hands—these are big hands—and slaps them together with the moth between. Then I watch him open his hands. There’s the moth like white powder, like chalk dust or something. It makes me sad seeing that. How quick one thing turns to another.

There’s Vee and I in Long Island on a sailboat. I’m rubbing her all over. It’s a romance day. There’s a lot of wind. But then there’s no wind. We’re in the ocean. Vee’s yelling at me, telling me there’s no wind, there’s no wind. I got wind, I tell her. And we start gliding.

I swear there are women around me. Hot-skinned ones. Ones that sweat. I sit here watching them sweat. Vee’s parasailing over the ocean. She’s got a harness around her crotch. I can see her thighs. Her thighs are white. They glow against the blue sky. I take sips from a beer bottle. Vee’s up there and I’m down here. She’s got a heart the size of a grapefruit.

It is the dark sky and me under it. I’m in Montana, and there are horses. There is yeeing and yawing. Hey you, says one of the farmhands. Give me a hand. A hand? Says I to the farmhand. A hand, a hand, he says. The mare’s giving birth I find out. So I have to hold down the legs. I lean my back over one and stretch my own leg over another. I reach my arms to press on the joints. The horse starts to scream. The farmhand is down on the other end. I can only see the top of his head. But he’s yelling, and his shoulders rise up and down. The horse is trying to kick. I don’t let her.

Vee and I are eating turkey around a round dinner table. We threw knives at each other earlier. Now we eat and talk. I got wine in my belly. I got stuff in my heart. Vee tells me we’re gonna have a baby. I jump up and down. A baby! I say and almost start throwing knives again. A baby, she says.

There’s a whale or a dolphin washed up on the sand. The women run over to it. There are excitement sounds. It’s damn sunny. Vee is on the boardwalk in high heels. I watch a crab travel the sand and slow down in front of me. I think for a second he’s dying, this crab.

There’s this big television with a hole in it. I’m on one end making faces at Vee on the other. I stick my tongue close to the glass. Vee wags her finger. She blows kisses. I blow air. Vee’s hair gets caught in the glass. She carries a shard in her hair. I run around the television to tell her. She kisses me on the lips. The glass scratches my cheek. I pull it out for her. We both look down at the floor. We’re barefoot.

A tall hot woman grabs my hand and pulls me down closer to the ocean. She tells me there is a whale washed up on the sand. I wonder about the heart of an animal like that. The man with glasses runs to the water and fills up a bucket. He pours it over the fins. He looks at all of us just standing there. I got a beer bottle. I dump what’s left and fill it with water. I run back and forth from the whale to the ocean. I see Vee out on a sand dune. She’s got no bathing suit on. There’s a seagull standing next to her. I got water, I got water, I shout. The dolphin’s body is moving up and down. His mouth looks like it’s smiling.

It’s damn sunny.

It’s damn sunnier out there on the dune for Vee.

It’s Vee and me on a magic carpet. The baby’s crawling up my legs. Vee’s smoking and looking at me. I drink sips from my beer. I got a cut on my thumb. I got two socks on. We’re lost somewhere in New Jersey. There’s a highway behind us. We’re on a blanket. The baby’s got to stay on the blanket. We tell her that. Vee’s eyeballing the sky. I’m eyeballing Vee. She’s got yellow hair. It moves when she moves.

It’s a hard day. We got no gas. We got no money. The baby’s wailing. Everybody’s wet. We got no food. Vee says no you are wrong, we have food. She pulls out a grapefruit and takes a bite. She spits the skin onto the ground. The baby grabs for it. I grab for the baby. We wrestle over the skin. I win. I got the skin. Vee takes another bite and spits the skin this time on me. On me, Vee? I throw it in her hair. It gets caught on top like a crown. She walks back and forth along the highway. I got a queen. The sky is dark for the afternoon. I tell Vee that. She looks worried. Her nose crinkled up.

Vee’s buried underneath the sand over near the whale. She’s got sand breasts. Someone gave her two arms, but only one leg. One of her hands is moving underneath the sand. A finger pops through. A man kicks sand to cover it.

The whale is making loud noises. It’s trying to move. Its tail flaps. I’m smoking my cigarette behind the whale. I wonder if he smells it. It’s damn sunny. I need shade. I consider burying myself next to Vee.

It’s me in a big bed. It’s got these white crisp sheets that make me feel dirty. I don’t know how I got to be in such a bed with such sheets. The curtains are open. I can see New York. Or is it Los Angeles. I can see buildings.

A young child runs naked across the beach. She almost runs into the dolphin. There’s an empty crib and yellow walls. Someone stuffs dead fish into the dolphin’s mouth. It looks like he’s smiling. There’s this whiskey glass. Paramedics storm the beach. There’s this old west picture of us. Move back, they say. I got my beer. I got my cigarette. I got grapefruits and peas. I got love. The whale! The whale! I yell.



Cameron Brindise