Claire didn’t know Derek very well. He was a boy on the periphery. He was handsome, a surfer, a little slow, a little awkward but he seemed nice so saying yes to a walk on the beach didn’t seem to be such a bad idea.
Who knows, it was the start of summer, she had never been in love, her sister, Thalia, teased her about it, being a goody-goody, maybe this summer, the summer of her eighteenth year, was time for change.
She wondered, as she put on her sweater and headed to the pier, what that change might look like.
The smell of the ocean and the feel of the wide wooden slats that made up the pier. Tired, worn smooth with time and use and still, going barefoot was taking a chance of splinter.
The old men standing against the rails, their lines dropped straight down, mostly forgotten, as they talked to each other of old times, old days, old ways and drank beer in cans pulled from styrofoam coolers of ice and water and cans of beer. The empties piling up in and around the large, green, steel trash barrels every three feet on the pier.
At the end, the far end, just before there is nothing but blue water stood the Tiki bar. A simple square structure with a thatched roof run by Ian, a perpetually shirtless guy, who jumped over the bar and ran to one of his four rods that he had perched against the end rail of the pier. He, unlike the old men, had thrown his bait far, far out into the sea. His four rods were baited with large, dead fish and he was hunting shark. He would leap the bar, grab a rod that was bent and straining and scream ‘You’re mine motherfucker’ as he frantically reeled in the line. Sometimes, a shark. Sometimes, a grouper. Sometimes, some god awful ugly creature that would be dropped to the slat wood floor and examined by tourists and regulars alike.
‘The sea, in its infinity, held creatures that no man could dream, no man could fully understand.’ So he would proclaim. Then, hook baited, his warnings of stand back given, he sent the line out, out, out far into the blue sea sky meeting. Gave the reel two, three, four twists, set the rod in a notch on the wood rail and went back to his bartending duties.
Down the beach, to the left and right of the pier, the summer crowd was just starting to thicken. The locals had claimed the surf a month…