After coming from Logan’s tree-house, Charlie and I drink coffee in the pavilion’s garden. The horizon’s practically invisible at midday: sky and ocean are the same bright blue. Without a word, we’re comfortable—like our best times together. Not sad to be leaving, either. We’re ready.
The yoga class ends and Charlie bounds up, serving the dewy yoginis and swearing his love. Emma and I eat at the round table, extending from the supporting beam.
We hear Charlie making jokes about his two black eyes. “I’ve heard girls love panda bears. Got the physique and the ears, just needed the eyes.”
Emma touches my forearms. “It’s not funny, Scott. It’s gotta hurt like hell.”
“Charlie and I beat each other up all the time in high school. Sometimes we were just slugging at each other, because of testosterone. And if we did have a grudge, nothing solved it like a good punch out. But that’s when we were tough kids. Last night I acted like a punk. I told him I’m sorry. Now I’m telling you, Emma: I’m sorry; it won’t happen again, I promise.”
“Did you promise him?”
“I told him I was sorry but even talking about it—apologizing outright like that—made him suspicious. It’s not how Charlie and I do stuff. Except this was extreme; I felt awful. Sorry and mean and mad at myself. That’s what I told him. But, he still thinks you made me do it.”
“Did I? I mean,” Emma asked, “are you really only sorry because of me?”
“Speak of the devil and sit down.” Charlie couldn’t have been standing there long; his tray is piled precariously high. And even if he overheard every word, so what? I was telling Emma what he knows are my honest to God feelings. Nuff said.
We clear the table to make room for Charlie’s enormous meal. He’s got a full platter of bacon and sausage that he brings in just for himself—the yogis don’t eat it. Cheese and pepper omelet with hash browns, two huge squares of cinnamon coffee cake, two more of pineapple upside down cake, a big bowl of caramelized flan, fresh foamy coconut milk and a tumbler-full of papaya nectar.
Emma’s the one who says, “Pig.”
“Tomorrow,” he answers, mouth full, “is a cleansing fast. You know those planes. Snacks for ten bucks that might satisfy a bug.”
“Yeah,” Emma says. “But I’ll be watching if you’re gobbling up airport junk food every chance you get.”
Charlie says, “I’m much less likely to use drugs from questionable sources if my metabolism’s in massive digesting mode.”
“Really?” Emma looks at him and then me to see if it’s true. “Then by all means, eat up.”
He’s chowing down and taking girls by the wrist to say good-bye. After he’s swallows, he asks them, “Won’t you miss me?”
They all kiss him good-bye. Of course they’ll miss him.
The mysterious frustration between me and him has vanished. I’m happy he’s sweet-talking the girls. He hasn’t mentioned the band but if he does, that’s fine, too. It’s sure not what I want, but why I was fighting him puzzles me. Charlie’s hit-or-miss theme bands rarely last a season.
So Emma calls him a pig and I’m the one who wants to walk back along the beach, so we can stop at Pedro’s on the way. Folded in my pocket are the papers for a trust accessible to Pedro’s baby girl the day she turns eighteen.
The light and heat are so intense that Emma clings to the shade. But Charlie plunges into the ocean. I wade in, telling him to wait. We’ll go swimming later. Midday’s not the time and he knows it.
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