Today's excerpt is from Retrouvailles by Bill Chastain.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!
Alex sipped a Presidente while sitting on the deck outside “The Parched Pelican.”
Indian Rocks Beach had fancier places than the open-air tavern facing the Gulf of Mexico. Alex just preferred the dive with the dowdy name. The hand-painted sign showing a cartoon pelican with muscles and tattoos cracked him up—Florida tacky at its finest. Plus, no steel drum bands, no Tiki torches and, best of all, few patrons at that time of day. You could drink a cold beer and just be. Alex preferred to blend in with the scenery, be invisible, thus, serenity.
A salty breeze grazed his face and the rhythm of the gentle surf performed the duty of a fairy-tale sandman, making heavy his eyelids. Giving in to such an urge would be his normal inclination. Take a few steps down to the beach, stretch out in the sand underneath the azure sky, and suddenly he’d be blowing Z’s like Dagwood Bumstead.
Beads of sweat formed on his upper lip while his thumb picked off the label from the bottle of Dominican beer. He stared at the naked green bottle, hoping a state of nothingness would come to him. If he studied the inanimate object long enough he might forget the troublesome reality weighing heavy on his mind.
Maybe they’d waltz around the subject of her pending doom, tiptoeing like one of those Russian gymnasts on the balance beam, tension…tension…tension, but cool. Dying was an extremely personal matter and something she might not want to share with him. If she did, he couldn’t show pity and pity was hard to disguise. The slightest sign of it would piss her off. Taking a direct approach suited India.
Alex undid the top buttons of the light cotton shirt he wore loose at the waist and ordered another Presidente. Several months had passed since he awoke wearing socks and a monster hangover, unable to remember where he’d parked the car. The moment frightened him into an abstinence pledge.
Feeling too good for too long had brought him to the conclusion that his initial solution felt too much like Alcoholics Anonymous. He rationalized the step lacking from the guiding twelve steps was moderation; and all that guilt if you fell off the wagon for a couple of drinks. Besides, he enjoyed alcohol too much to quit. Common sense told him that all the alcohol in the world would not change his life. Thus, hoping to avoid self-destruction, he imposed a three-beer limit, installed like a father does a governor to his son’s go-cart to prevent him from driving too fast.
Alex’s eyes closed and he rocked back in his chair, evoking a sad moan from the deck constructed of rough-hewn two-by-fours. Balancing his body with one leg resting on an adjacent chair, he heard steps approach. A cold palm touched his face, then two moist lips met his for a lingering moment.