“Florida. I didn’t think I’d ever be back here.” Katie told Randy.
“You’ve come a long way baby.” Randy was dressed in the same fatigues he’d worn when he died. Well, not exactly the same, they were clean and blood free.
‘At least my mind can do that much for me.’ Katie thought, ‘I don’t know where I’d be if even my imaginary friends showed up filthy.’ The very thought made her giggle and Randy raised a questioning eyebrow.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing. Just thinking. Besides, don’t you know?”
“You’re a little weird lately.”
“Tell me about it. I think I am going to go for a swim. Do you want to come along?” Katie asked him, hoping he would.
“Sure. I might keep lookout though. Don’t forget to bring a towel.”
“Oh yeah, there’s nothing worse than gritty sand.” Katie followed the signs from the highway to get to the state park, within ten minutes she was pulling into an empty parking lot at a public beach. Katie debated parking in the lot; she was worried about going out of sight of it. Looking around she saw there was a beach access road, the only thing separating it from the parking lot was a thin chain stretched over a sandy expanse of ruts.
“We’re going to the beach Randy.” she said, putting her newest vehicle, a nice civilian Jeep into four wheel drive. The chain snapped on the front bumper as she drove off road. The Jeep had wide tires that were designed for beach driving. Looking both ways along the coast she finally chose to go left and drove for a mile or two until they were out of sight from the public park access.
Closer to the water Katie threw down her towel then stripped off her clothing. Wrinkling her nose she said, “Whew! I smell like death! And in this stage of the game that is saying something!” she tossed the rest of her clothing down next to the towel and headed towards the water. She took a glance back and saw that Randy was still with her. He had been flaky lately, coming and going despite her thoughts.
“Well, c’mon!” Katie called to him.
“I should just watch, you know, in case someone comes along.”
“Randy! We can see for miles! No one will sneak up on us. Quit being a wuss!”
The man strode into the waves after her, giving one plaintive look back at the jeep.
Katie forgot about him for a moment, the water was warm and she relished the chance to use the sand to scrub herself clean in the shallow water. When she looked for Randy, he was up to his neck much further out than Katie would have thought he needed to be. She stood and trudged towards him, the water depth increased only slightly with each step she took.
By the time she reached him she was swimming.
“There’s a storm coming.” Randy said, looking out to sea.
Dark clouds were present on the far horizon, but over the beach there was nothing but sun and cloud free sky.
“We’ll be gone by then, or at least back in the jeep.”
“Yeah? Where are we going from here?”
“Oh, nowhere. I am pretty happy to just lay about and enjoy the weather for a change.”
“All that rush to get here for nothing?”
“What rush?” Katie asked, not wanting to admit something had been driving her this way since she left Chicago.
Randy sighed, and shook his head. “Stubborn as a mule, like always.”
“I call it assertiveness.”
“I call it mulish.” He reached out with both hands and pushed her under, then used his leverage on the sand bar to push away from her.
Laughing Katie surfaced and yelled out for him, “Just wait, I’ll get you, paybacks a bitch!”
But he was gone. This cast a pall on her mood and Katie swam in far enough so she could touch bottom. Bobbing as the waves came in she scanned the beach for unwanted guests, seeing no one she turned to watch the approaching storm. The air had an electric current to it, like something was about to happen.
“Me and my overactive imagination.” She laughed. Randy leaving wasn’t a big deal, she decided, she could cope. Her next move would be to find a nice house to stay in, to ride out the storm and maybe even live in, if the place were as deserted as it looked.
“But for now, I am going to enjoy this afternoon. Fuck it. No take backs.” Katie kicked over onto her back and swam parallel to the shore, stretching out her muscles and soaking in the sun.