Happy New Year. Let’s toast to 2018, and as I raise my glass to you, I hope 2018 will bring everyone health and happiness.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. Many thanks to Jean Joachim for creating this blog hop and helping us explore our creativity each week. From her word and picture prompts wonderful scenes and books are written.
This week’s Tuesday Tale comes from my women’s fiction story, Same Time Next Year. The word prompt is BLUE. See if you can find how many times I’ve used it and variations of it in today’s post.
Mike, barefoot in blue shorts and white t-shirt, stood on the middle deck, the one off the kitchen, and raised his navy coffee mug to his mouth, praying the analgesics he’d taken would kick in soon. He loved the multi-level house he’d designed all those years ago, the one he’d finally built after he’d retired to the Pacific Coast. With decks off three rooms, it reminded him of the summer house on Indian Lake and the various viewing platforms his father had built down to the water level. While Michael didn’t have direct water access since this section of the coastline was too rugged for that, he was only five minutes from the marina.
Facing the Pacific, he had an incredible view whether from the top deck off his bedroom, this one, or the lower one off the family room, where he’d built a big stone fireplace, the perfect place to sit on those cooler winter evenings. If there was one thing he didn’t miss, it was Eastern Ontario’s cold, snowy winters.
He stared out at the marina, its aquamarine water free of whitecaps today, and spotted Jethro Wilkes’s fishing boat coming in. As usual, the boat must’ve gone out at the crack of dawn.
The guy, his head covered by that antique, indigo, fishing hat he wore, had to be almost ninety years old, but, rain or shine, the man never missed a chance for fresh fish. It was amazing to see, but these days, there was always one of his grandkids there to help him. The old Haida, with the eyesight of an eagle, waved at him. Even from this distance, Mike could see his faded blue jeans, at least two sizes too big, cinched tightly at his waist, giving him the wasp-waist any woman would’ve envied fifty years ago. The twelve inches of additional belt flapped in the wind.
Mike waved and went inside, envying the old man once again. Since he’d never met anyone he cared enough to marry—other than Twyla who’d dumped him—he had no grandkids to help him carry on. Lydia’s boys, Trent and Art, handled most of the tours these days while he focused on the paperwork, but there was nothing like being out on the ocean when the gentle giants surfaced or even when there was a pod of Orca on the hunt. Twyla would’ve loved it. Now that he’d pulled the Band-Aid off and exposed the memories, more and more of them flooded him. He chuckled remembering the first time he’d taken her fishing. She’d been awed by that bass. The damn thing would barely be considered bait out here.
He stared into space, seeing a different azure sky.
“Come on, Jersey,” he said. While he liked her name, he preferred nicknames. He’d called her T last night, but he wasn’t sure she liked it. “You’re going to love this. Mom made lunch for me, and I had her add extra. We won’t starve.”
Twyla laughed and then frowned. “I’m not likely to starve to death in a matter of hours, but that’s an awfully small boat. Are you sure it can hold both of us?”
“It’s a standard, sixteen-foot aluminum fishing boat. It belongs to Harold, the fish guide. Believe me, it’s carried a hell of a lot more weight than the two of us.”
He held out his hand to help her into the boat, pulling her tightly to him when she stumbled. The feel of her body against his wasn’t something he could ignore, so he stepped back. They’d only spent some half-dozen hours together since they’d met. The last thing she needed was to feel his pole at attention. Today wasn’t the day for that kind of fishing.
“Thank you,” she said, sitting down on the seat facing the back of the boat and the motor. “Do I need to put on the life jacket?”
“That’s your choice. It’s one of the new foam ones, lighter than the old kapok ones, but if you can’t swim…”
“I can swim,” she answered, grinning from ear to ear, her eyes twinkling, as she set the orange life vest on the seat beside her.
He frowned. “Did you bring a hat and a cover-up? I mean, not that I don’t appreciate what I can see,” he commented, his eyes raking her body in the peacock blue print swimsuit, “but you’re kind of pale. I don’t want you to burn.”
“I have a long-sleeve terry jacket, suntan lotion, and a hat in my bag. The lotion helps me tan instead of burning. One of these days, someone will invent something for skin like mine, but until they do, I just have to remember Mother’s favorite word: moderation. I told her I was going fishing, and I wouldn’t be back until later. Where are the others? You did say we’d be spending the day with the gang.”
“I might’ve misled you there. We’ll meet up with Mavis, Lydia, and a few of the local kids later when we go swimming at a little sand beach we use, but for the next couple of hours, it’ll just be the two of us.” He swallowed. “I can go fishing by myself and come back later for you, if you prefer.”
Twyla smiled, those emerald eyes of hers flashing with pleasure.
“Actually, I like that. Thank you for asking me to spend your day off with you. Since I’ve never been fishing—Ethan refused to let me intrude on his private time—it’ll be less embarrassing if I do something dumb when I’m alone with you rather than in front of an audience. Besides, you did guarantee I would catch a fish. I brought my Brownie, so you can take a picture of me with it. I want to send it to my brother.” Her eyes dulled. “He’s in Vietnam.”
Michael nodded. “I’ve got a few friends from Kingston who crossed the border and enlisted.”
“Will you be going there , too?” she asked, her face pale in the glow of the morning sun.
He shook his head. “Canadian forces officially only support UN Peacekeeping Missions. Unless things change within the next few months, I’ll be headed to the Sinai.” He smiled. “As far as making a fool of yourself fishing, I don’t see how you could do worse than Mavis. I took her and Lydia out when I first came home in May, and she almost tipped the boat over when she pulled in an eel. Funniest thing I ever saw.”
“I’m sure Mavis didn’t think it was funny,” she said, affronted for the girl he knew had been nothing but rude to her.
“Don’t waste your breath defending her. Mavis has a hide on her thicker than an elephant’s and the conscience of a gnat. She’s always ready to do whatever she thinks is best for her. At that point in time, it was getting Peter Seward to notice her, and he was in the boat beside ours. She figured if she draped herself all over me like cheap curtains, he’d get jealous. It didn’t work.”
“You don’t like Mavis very much, do you?”
He sneered. “I’ve known her most of my life. It isn’t that I don’t like her, it’s that I know her well enough to see through some of the games she plays. I also know enough not to turn my back on her. Now, enough about that harpy. Let’s get the show on the road. Harold shared some of his prime fishing spots with me.”
He pulled the cord on the motor, untied the boat from the moorings, and headed down the canal to the open water of Opinicon Lake. The lake was reedy and weedy, ideal for fishing, and within a couple of hours, they’d filled their basket.
At first, he’d had to help her, but after the third try, she managed to bait her own hooks and land her fish without his help, including a sixteen-inch largemouth bass that had to weigh two pounds. As promised, he’d taken a picture of her and her “gigantic” fish as she’d called it. He’d even cleaned the monster for her, and they’d roasted it and a few others on the beach later that da. He’d never enjoyed fishing as much as he had when he’d fished with Twyla by his side.
The phone pulled Mike out of the memory. He glanced at the call display—Lydia. Reaching for the handset, he swallowed. While he’d like to ignore her, she’d keep calling until he answered.
“Morning, sis. What can I do for you?”
“Morning?” she scolded. “It’s almost noon.”
“And? Today’s my day off. So, why are you disturbing me on this lovely day?” She didn’t need to know about his hangover and sleepless night.
“Michael Arthur Morrison, you know damn well why I’m calling. You phone, tell me to get the tickets, and then hang up. When I tried to call back, all I got was voice mail. I thought you’d gone to the wedding and looked for you.”
“You know how I feel about weddings,” he answered, and yet he was going to one.
“You didn’t phone just to call me names, did you?”
“No, damn you, I didn’t. You’d better have been serious because I got your ticket in a last-minute seat sale. We’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Tuesday,” he yelled into the phone. “What the hell for? That’s four days before the damn wedding.” While it was true he wanted to talk to Twyla, it wouldn’t take him that long to do it.
“Well, aren’t you good at math,” she answered, her voice dripping sarcasm. “Yes, it is. Mavis has a few activities scheduled for the old crowd, including a meet and greet on Wednesday night. She reserved one of the two-bedroom cabins for us, so we’re all set. Just remember to pack your good blue
pinstriped suit and that royal blue tie I bought you for Christmas to wear to the wedding. Go and get a haircut, too.”
“Yes, mother,” he answered, letting the cynicism ooze out of him, knowing he had no one to blame for this but himself. He’d agreed to go, and he was a man of his word. It was too bad Twyla had never realized that.
“Mike,” there was a conciliatory tone to his sister’s voice. “This is going to be a good thing, you’ll see. Once you get to the bottom of this, you’ll be able to move on and find someone.”
He burst out laughing. “Lydia, I’m almost seventy years old. That’s a little long in the tooth to find love and settle down. But it will be a good thing to get everything out in the open once and for all.”
“But I just hate the fact that you’re all alone…”
“I’m never alone as long as I have friends and family. What time is the flight?”
“We fly to Vancouver at half past one and our flight, non-stop to Ottawa, leaves at three. We’ll pick you up around eleven thirty.” She paused, and Mike knew something he didn’t want to hear was coming. “I always liked Twyla. I’m curious to know why she hurt you that way, too.”
Mike swallowed. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Hell, she may not even remember me. I’ve got to go. I won’t be in tomorrow. I’ll need the day to get a few things organized—including that haircut you think I need. See you Tuesday.”
He hung up the phone and dropped into a chair at the kitchen table. Was he really ready to do this?
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.