The Sea Dweller by J.R. Pfeiffer
The circumstances of the back top third of Jane’s mom and boyfriend’s head forces an inspection of their balding. And a glance of Mark’s fifteen thousand-dollar Rolex Sea Dweller when he yawns. Jane does so by an empty seat taken by her camouflage backpack (appearing authentic military until the Billabong logo rebuts it.). And to her left: the window view of the Atlantic Ocean’s teal green and ultramarine submerged potato chips.
Jane’s headset numbs out Bob Marley. A pair of twenty-three-year-old ears pop in descension of a Boeing 737. Her forehead splatters against a buzzing window. Shadows of monsters grow below, she sees them in waves, but nothing comes of it. For those shades of darkened blue do not dream, they wiggle and chew, and we hope, never splash in our world. If Jane stays in the clouds a bit longer, they migrate elsewhere.
Tall, skinny Mark with rock star hair to his shoulders, turns. Jane, looks down his ear canal, examining his thick brunette sideburns.
“You enjoying Bob Marley, Mon?” he said.
“I love him,” Jane said. “On Redemption Song.”
Mark’s green eyes: emeralds reflecting a miniaturized sun; she contemplates its orange definition. In his pupils, Jane feels allowances: fresh hope, aiding through her mother’s overprotective stop signs. Just Mark knows Jane’s bright green marijuana bag in her glittery makeup bag.
To Mark, Jane is a tan, bony, could-be New York model, with ears that could be shaped into chocolate and sold at a bakery. Her mother: a wrinkly version but remains beautiful as well.
“Land…I need a cigarette!” Sarah said.
The lower edge of Jane’s window fills up with green sea. A quick blur of crooked palm trees, white gravel, and friction pop loose her headset. Overhead yellow squares chime electronically; passenger heads shimmy opposite each other. Then a soft bicycle roll, an abrupt stop, and seat belts strangle lower abdomens.
When Jane’s Vans-sneakers crunch the hard dirt road; Eddie’s Adam’s Apple, honey skin, sediment biceps, and hot white teeth flood her imagination. Her Eddie; a tender roughneck, that listens to Mozart and paints astronomical symbols on refurbished wood furniture for her bedroom. She is back on earth; miles of ocean separating them. And Eddie left behind, as she will miss swimming alongside his muscular body, which laughs from its furry washboard stomach, and lifts her out of pools, with a shaved head that she can rest her forearms on.
Sarah blows smoke into the two of them. Appearing to hate every inch of the island. Her beautiful white oval face crinkles into a scowl that blows more tobacco like a lava-spitting volcano. “Where’s this famous hotel you had your parties?”
“That blue concrete building…”
“Yah?” Sarah said.
“That be it,” he said.
Mark; ten years older than Jane; ten years younger than forty-three-year-old Sarah, is the wild card escort between the two ladies. Jane’s real father shot himself when she was ten. Earlier that year, he was drunk-driving and ran over an entire family, dead. He adored his family and the family life, and that night of swirling puddles of blood and oil, printed by the tread of his tires, closed his coffin. Salesman Mark is nothing like her real father.
Mark’s idol is a French writer named Voltaire: a rebel who never fathered kids, nor married, wrote stories, essays, and drank 50 cups of coffee a day.
On the trip’s structure that reserves a nourishment for Mark’s id, as being dragged alongside a beautiful mother and daughter: Sarah: His superego’s safehouse: authoritative like his mother, juxtaposed by Jane: Immortal, optimistic, youthful—all things that dried up in him years ago.
Twenty yards off shore, a pair of tiger sharks skim the surface of a dark moss green ocean below lavender skies. Lateral lines run down the shark’s sides, for detecting vibrations. And small pores on the snouts, ampullae of Lorenzini, detect electrical impulses emitted by others. When one gets the first bite, a frenzy ensues; and their duo sensibilities climax.
If an electric chair’s currents be a pleasant massage, its maximum voltage sparks an electrical orgy for the two fish. The bobbing, hot, electric chair, bubbles on the surface, radiating treats, curing all the shark’s inner pains by sinking teeth in the source; what they live for.
Two hardwood blue doors match the painted cement outside. On the second floor, in a purple dusk haze, room 213 and 214 open. Jane watches her mother and Mark carry a lighthearted conversation into 213: I didn’t sleep with anybody in this hotel, Sarah.
Jane’s room, cold with vacuum marks encircle the queen bed. A small fridge hums under a microwave right of a decent size flat screen. On the microwave, the green time is Six PM U.S. EST: two hours ahead of their two-bedroom dump in Austin. The knocking is loud, it rattles the chain lock like a beaded portiere.
Jane opens to Mark’s emerald eyes. Her reflection in his gaze, as he flashes an icy Corona and a frat-boy smile, “we are snorkeling at Six AM.” he said.
“I want to sleep-in,” she said.
“Sleep-in the next day,” he said. “Or smoke and take a nap…”
“Stop it,” she said. “If my mom hears…”
“I can handle your mom,” he said.
“You are cute, but you don’t know us like you think,” she said.
“I know enough,” he said.
“Not really,” she said. Slamming the door against his pushed giggling. She recalls reading what Mark Twain once said: You can tell if you love somebody or not when you travel together. She hates Mark for the first time since the day he started dated her mother six months ago.
Mark crawls back under super white sheets with Sarah.
“Don’t mess with my daughter…,” Sarah said. “These walls are paper thin, I heard you stressing her out.”
“She is perturbed about not sleeping-in,” he said.
“Why, do we have to snorkel, first thing?”
“It is, what you do here.”
“My daughter is an artist, she would rather go shopping; look at paintings and sculptures,” she said.
“Every artist should experience the beauty of the ocean,” he said. “…and I didn’t mean to upset you both.”
“I can fly Eddie over; have him give you another black eye.”
“That pisses me off. And, that son of a bitch is lucky he is only eighteen.”
“He was protecting his girlfriend from your drunk ass.”
“He cheated on her and got busted. I didn’t do anything to break em’ up.”
“You didn’t help in the matter.”
“Eddie is a piece of shit, I know people…and trust me, you don’t want a prick as a son-in-law, it’s a life sentence.”
Sarah’s fallen domino set of younger men is peppered in dust. She craves solitude with her daughter. And her deceased husband Steve; an exceptional violinist, a sensitive soul, a family man; could not erase the knocks of broken flesh upon his 97 Camaro. And for her, feeling too far gone, to attract another like him.
Jane rolls a small “penner” joint on the balcony. Muffled base and periodic party screams ride the island gusts. Palm trees whip and rattle, letting surrounding ears know an ocean lurks. The 80’s movie ‘Jaws 3’, is on the television. Her mother watches too. One of their last memories with Steve; seeing ‘Jaws 3’ in the theater. Even at seven, Jane commented on the absurdity of a shark growling like a tiger.
Her mom sees Dennis Quade scream “shark” as Mark’s snores like a trumpeting elephant. Her eyes blur with tears, and she wishes Eddie was with her daughter and herself, alone.
The microwave green time is quarter past six AM. A soft knocking burns Jane’s eyes into slits. After two hours of sleep, she navigates in the darkness of a hissing A/C.
“Meet us in the lobby in twenty, okay?” Mark said.
“I am exhausted,” she said.
“You will be fine once in the water.”
Mark’s parents, Presbyterian Christians, still married, and wealthy from real estate. Mark being an only child, spoiled, snobbish, old fashioned punctual, frivolously controlling, and white privileged self-centered is ruining the trip for Jane.
Mark and Jane swim out. Sarah continues with Stephen King’s “The Outsider”, burns a Marlboro light, watches her daughter’s pink snorkel, digs her toes in the sand. To her, Mark’s head, a lame coconut bobbing in the waves, is glad he is near her.
Sarah is on her feet. She runs in ankle deep. Mike watches Jane’s splashing.
“What is it honey?” Sarah said.
“Mark, what is it?” Sarah said.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Mom” electrocutes Sarah’s nervous system. She freestyles towards Jane. Half way in, she can see pink gums, and white teeth. The quiet fish moves taking Jane’s arm in a kiss.
“Mark, help,” Sarah said.
Mark stays a mannequin, still as a statue, in shock, his mouth sucking the gusts that rip across the ocean. He says nothing.
Sarah swims to a red hue. Puts her arm behind Jane’s back and lifts her under her knees. Two dorsal fins sail the redness. One darts like a torpedo; raising its jaws. Sarah drops Jane and punches its rubber snout. She regains momentum for five more feet. The shark’s scales sandpaper Sarah’s wet back.
“Mom…behind you,” Jane said.
Sarah punches another snout; and with her two fingers crossed, drives it inside the blackness of its doll eye. She carries her daughter to the smooth sand, dripping red droplets. A crowd encircles. A man strangles a t-shirt tourniquet under Jane’s left shoulder. Sirens scream with the seagulls. Jane’s blood is clotting, her skin returns pink. Black men in white duty clothes place Jane in a stretcher. Sarah runs alongside. Before hopping in the ambulance, she turns to Mark. His mouth gasping as he looks at her then back down at his Rolex Sea-Dweller Watch.
Sarah telekinetically sends a message to him: Pack our stuff, bring it to the hospital, then from there, you go, we are done. Whether it works or not, she thought it good practice for when he shows at the hospital; a coward.