27.How Was Last Night For You: A Stranger on an Unknown Beach


Please read Chapter 26 here.

Chapter 27. A Stranger on an Unknown Beach.

He was happy and content, floating amidst graduations of colour. He had never felt such tranquility in life.

He was awake suddenly and strolling on a picturesque beach. White sand almost burned his feet but he buried his toes down into the sand, and his feet cooled.

Gazing down at himself he saw he was only wearing swim trunks and a white T-Shirt. Sunglasses adorned his eyes and he knew it was his favourite pair of sunglasses. The sunglasses he broke some time ago he remembered. How odd they were in one piece now.

He languidly walked through the surf on the beach. Was he on vacation? He couldn’t recall. He didn’t even know what he was named. It was slipping his mind. How could he not know his own identity?

Sleep had held him in her vivid colours and luminescence for ages. His mind was foggy and he had forgotten details of his life he thought he should know.

In his mind, he kept seeing her . . . Nina. His beautiful blond haired girl smiling with pretty pink lips. He knew Nina had helped him break his curse because he loved her. He hadn’t loved anyone as much he loved her, ever.

Wait, he had been cursed? He couldn’t recall why.

But he pictured beautiful Nina in a pink bikini and grinned. He wished she was here so they could be alone and he could sip Corona and talk with her.

He’d convince her to go into one of the two cabanas where he could touch her smooth creamy skin. He’d remove the pink bikini that was the same shade of pink of the heels she worn when they first met… How had they met?

He sighed, lonely at the thought of not being able to be with Nina. He was by himself here on a fabulous beach which stretched for miles either way.

There was a cottage up some stone steps where he had been living,  but other than this cottage, and the cabanas, there were no other dwellings as far as he could see.

Fully awake and lucid (he believed), he thought of Nina. He knew had a family besides her too. Their faces were blurred images in his mind.

He recalled two rambunctious little boys laughing with him as he played with them and their construction trucks in the sand. His nephews . . .and that led him to who they looked like — Jasper his older brother. He had a younger brother too — Jordan.

She had given Jordan her soul.MHe didn’t know why she had done it or how he knew since he had been lost in colour and light then. But he could feel a darkness, a shadow when he thought of her.

Yes, she had cursed him. She had separated him from Nina. He hated her.

He knew in the end, the lake had swallowed her corpse and dying she hadn’t been darkness or light. She had been both.

So much did not make sense to him he thought struggling to think. Sitting down on a stained Adirondack chair, he leaned back, squinting into the sunlight in his sunglasses. The sun was incredibly bright. He was sweating in the heat. Could this be Mexico? The Carribean?

Not too far away from him he noticed an older man walking barefoot through the sand towards him. The man had a grey straggly beard and the man’s gate was self-assured.

How how had he not seen the man coming in the distance? He stood, a tad frightened at the thought of someone else being here where it felt he had been alone a long time.

He faced the man as he stopped at the steps and the man said: “John? Is that you? You’ve haven’t been this healthy in years. You’re well rested and I believe you’re bored of paradise.”

“I’m John?”

“Yes, you should’ve remembered your own name by now Mr. Eric. You’ve remembered Nina.” John flushed unaware the man had been privy to his inner thoughts.

“I don’t know you,” John said, his name and identity rushing back to him in torrents of thought.

“I need to see if Nina is okay. I need to check on Jordan. She did something to him. Talise or Tia, whatever or whoever she is, she put a ring on Jordan, one he can’t take off.”

“It’s an emerald with a silver band, and the emerald colour matches Talise’s eyes. Beneath the emerald her soul floats. It’s dangerous, why did she put a ring, her soul on Jordan?” John asked afraid for his brother.

“Good questions John,” the man said walking up the steps. He came up to John and shook John’s hand which John shook back without thinking.

“You have a good hand shake,” John told the man. “It doesn’t fit with the rest of you . . . You look as if you’re . . .weathered. You’ve been through tough times I think. It appears as if you live on the streets because your clothes are dirty and worn.”

“No offence, they haven’t been washed in a long time, and you need… you need a shower man.” John peered guilty at the homeless man, ashamed of what he had said.

The homeless watched him closely, his face expressionless in creases and wrinkles of acquired wisdom. Suddenly, the man smiled and let out a boisterous laugh, his deep creases becoming more pronounced.

“Yes, John. My appearance of late has been a homeless man. And if you’re offering me a shower and clean clothes, I gladly accept.” John smiled grateful the man wasn’t offended by his words.

“Come into the cottage and make yourself comfortable,” John remarked easily becoming a host. He peered in the fridge, “There’s trays of fruit and another of vegetables. Some steaks I can grill if you’re interested? There is even craft beer, AlleyKat,” John said grinning.”I don’t know how this all got here? Was it was here before I woke up?”

The homeless man only smiled at John and headed for John’s bedroom, “Where’s your closet John? Ah there.”

John followed the man to the master bedroom into a walk-in closet full of beach clothes and clothes one didn’t wear to work. “This is wonderful,” the man said, “Can I stock up for the road?”

“Of course,” John said. “I’m not sure any of this –the clothes, the cottage, and the food –even belong to me.”

The man smiled again at John, a curious light in his brown eyes.”After my shower we can sit and eat. We can talk all you want. Chill a few beer for me in the freezer will you?”

John regarded the man thoughtfully, trying to remember him.”Who are you?” John asked.

“I’m here to help” the man remarked, peaking back at John before he shut the bathroom door with a bang. John heard the sound of water streaming.

He wasn’t sure what to do. Usually, John was head strong and sure of himself. He had had to be with the curse from Talise, the sea witch who’d been his girlfriend in the past.

John felt enraged with Talise. She had  separated him from his loved ones with her cruel curse. He was afraid for both Nina and Jordan.

Perhaps, the homeless man could return John to his family, especially Nina. He would also like to know where exactly he was?

His mind made up, John decided if this homeless man was here to help him, then John should be a good host, as his mother had taught him.

After all, John was filled with so many questions he needed answering. There was much he didn’t know about current events since he died.

The old man was keeping many secrets, John was sure. Not to mention, John wondered if the man might be benevolent magic of some kind? He could use some magic now.

John set out the fruit and vegetables on a large coffee table on the patio. He got out the steaks to Barbecue (they were already in marinade) and placed six beers in the freezer.

John went back on the patio to warm the Barbeque up, and he waited for homeless man to emerge.


 

A couple of hours later, John was sitting on the patio having finished his dinner and two icy   beers. The homeless man could really put his food away and he’d had four beers as well.

“Are you hungry still? There’s extra steaks in the fridge I could bring out to Barbecue if you like? And there’s some lemon cake?”

The homeless man patted his belly, “I think I’m full now John, but thank you. By the way, you can call me Norman.” John nodded teeming with questions.

“Alright, Norman. You told me you were here to help? I thought you might be able to answer my questions such as why I’m here when I’m supposed to be dead? And who are you?” John asked.

Norman peered at John curiously. “You don’t know then? You haven’t figured it out? You’re not dead John. You’re in-between life and death, between the spaces between spaces so to speak.” John was even more confused.

“So, is the beach and cottage like purgatory? Where’s my body at if it’s not dead?”

“Your body is here and you’re not in purgatory. You’re not Catholic John, you’re Anglican,” laughed Norman.

“As for me, I’m here to help you and Nina. It’s my job, helping certain people in difficult situations. I know you want to go home, but there are some things we need to discuss first.”

“Rianne would know who I am,” Norman said.” She went to buy Chinese food and Talise’s bewitched boyfriend Malcolm, knocked her head against the wall and Rianne passed out. Which, is the reason Nina was alone when Talise kidnapped and bewitched her.” Norman explained.

“I woke Rianne up and made sure she was okay, so she could go back to Nina’s condo and call Jasper who called Jordan, to come help you and Nina.”

“They decided to bring your sailboat out at night, even though it’s impossible to see in the dark. It was windy at least. I helped them find you and they would have never seen you if I hadn’t been there.” Norman said.

“How could you help them on the Sirene at night?” John wondered and Norman smiled secretively.

“I whispered in Jordan’s ear as he sailed the boat. My form isn’t always a homeless man or a human. Sometimes I’m an extra push in someone’s mind to get them moving. Or a whisper their ear such as I was with Jordan.”

“You’re magic?” John asked, trying to understand Norman.

“Magic is as sufficient a word as any.”

“So what are you? A wizard?” John questioned and Norman laughed again.

“I’m here to help and I’m on your side,” Norman said.

John realized Norman was providing him with the only explanation he would receive. John changed his line of questioning. “I’m worried about Nina and my family. How long have I been gone?”

Norman appeared to be thinking. “You’ve been gone four-months now, nearly more. Nina she doesn’t give up hope. She convinced your family to hold the funeral off for months. She believes in her heart you’re out there somewhere. She’s right you’re here.”

“I need to get back to her. Has my family had my funeral?”

“You’re funeral is tomorrow, Saturday. Nina doesn’t think your dead, she’s only attending out of respect for your family.”

“Your nephews, Sam and Eric, don’t know you’re gone yet. You should probably get back there soon if you don’t want to break too many hearts more then you already have.” Norman said thoughtfully.

“Ok how?”

“In time,” Norman said giving John another secretive smile. His brown eyes glimmered with knowledge. “You wanted to know about Jordan and the ring Talise put on him with her soul inside?”

“Yes, absolutely. How do I help Jordan get rid of the ring?” John asked desperate.

“You can’t help Jordan, John.” Norman replied. “The ring and Talise’s soul is Jordan’s path to travel down. Just as you’ve have your pathway and responsibility regarding Nina, now Talise is Jordan’s responsibility.”

“But why?” John argued, “Isn’t Talise dead and gone. She’s evil! Just because she did the right thing by me and Nina in the end, doesn’t mean she isn’t still malovelent, does it?”

“Her soul was still in Jordan’s ring last time I checked. Talise chose Jordan. In the end, she saw something in him, she never saw in you. It was something like what she found in Ethan. But closer to what you and Nina had in each other when you first met.” Norman explained.

“She’s not gone?” John said afraid.

“No John. But Talise isn’t a sea witch anymore. A mermaid yes, but with no magical abilities. She gave them up. Talise is redeemable.”

“Are you kidding me?” John yelled.

“Don’t worry about it. You can advise your brother with her but Talise is his problem in the end. Let it go.” John was incensed but a feeling of calm washed over him as he regarded Norman. How did Norman do that?

“Why do you want to go home John. Beyond your family and being with Nina, why do you think you should be alive?”

John gasped. “I didn’t expect that question. I . . . It’s not fair. Curses are supposed to work out if you break them. They shouldn’t end in death. Talise cursed me, she told me I would have to sacrifice myself for the woman I loved, and I did.”

Norman nodded, urging John to continue. “Nina helped me, she loves me.Together we broke my curse so terrible events would stop occurring around me each day.”

” I should get to be with Nina, raise a family with her, be with my parents and brothers, and grow my business. If I die, it’s not fair. The curse was a lie because spells which are broken end happily,” John argued vehemently.

Norman peered at John from his seat around the patio table, the sun was beginning to set.”That’s not real life John, you know that. What you believe is some Disney fairytale and real life isn’t Disney believe me, I know. Do you think there would be homeless men in a world where everything was fair?” John starred at Norman confused.

“It’s not about life being fair. Or curses having a happy result.”

John stared at his hands at loss for words. “What’s life about then?” He asked feeling angry and betrayed.

“I’m glad you asked,” Norman said, brown eyes gleaming.

Please Read Chapter 28 here.


 

©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.

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1. How Was Last Night For You – The Beginnning


Chapter 1: The Beginning

“How Was Last Night For You.”

She had never seen John in her life before last night. But from the moment he and Nina spotted each other at The Manhattan Martini Bar, Nina had felt an invisible pull between them. Something about John made Nina feel breathless, excited, and terrified all at once. When he approached her with a unique pick up line it had made her smile. ” Of all your beautiful curves, your smile is my favourite,” he had whispered to her. John had bought her a cosmopolitan and they had started to chat. Nina and John had small-talked about the weather and how they liked living in Adare.

The next moment a fight broke out across from their table. Two men were wrestling. One head butted the other in the stomach while the other one punched the first guys neck and back. The men continued to fight. John had put a protective arm around her and led her away from the fight to another small table where they continued their conversation keeping an eye on the fight as it became increasingly violent and bloody.

It was an unusual scene for such a posh place, two men in designer suites going at it as if the fight was all that mattered. Jason, the manager of the Martini bar had called the cops and she wondered with increasing worry when they would show up. Some men had tried to unsuccessfully break the two fighting up with disastrous results. They had found themselves thrown out of the fighting circle and on to their asses, noses bloodied and ribs throbbing from a stray punch. The fight was getting too much to watch. Nina glanced up at John who wasn’t at all worried. He reassured Nina that the situation would be fine but she could not ignore the gasps, shouts, and groans of the other people at the bar as the two men fought like bears ready to maul each other to death.

Nina looked up at John with worried delicate pale-blue eyes. She did not know him well. But John had been perfectly amiable and flirtatious towards Nina. She felt John was distracted; however, and not by the fight.Nina had come out alone that night, to the little Martini Bar The Manhattan, underneath her condo building.

She had jumped in the shower after work, washing, then drying her almost white blond hair and carefully putting on sexy natural looking makeup: mascara, concealer, pink blush, and gloss. Nina chose a short classic black dress, the fabric hugging her curvy size ten pear-shaped figure. The dress draped in the back, revealed her soft white and shapely back. Nina was petite so gorgeous pink heels that completed the outfit were a must.

Nina’s group of friends had all been busy that night and she had  wanted to do something, anything, just to relax and forget a day at work where she had had to hustle. She was not sure why she spent so much time getting ready; she just had had a feeling about tonight, a premonition perhaps, that she needed to look smashing.

Then there had been John with those startling sapphire eyes, dark hair curling at his collar, and boyish handsome face. He was taller than her 5’6″ by a lot and he was nice offering to buy her a drink, sharing pleasant conversation with her, and making her laugh. But as the cops finally showed up, bursting through The Manhattan’s doors, Nina felt there was something off about John. He had not been one of the many men who attempted to intervene in the fight. He had watched the event as if it were perfectly normal as if he expected there to be a fight. John had almost seemed to be bored by it.

The cops who had come in numbers, with sirens, and with yelling, efficiently stopped the fight. Both fighters had swollen eyes that were black and blue and noses that were busted and bent. The men said nothing as they were separated and were shoved off into separate waiting police cruisers. They looked at each other with gleaming eyes full of malice and one of the men was jerked back painfully as he spit at the other man.

The noise in the bar gentled to a hum of excited voices out on a Friday night. The police were talking to witnesses, some people who had been at the bar near the fight, the bartenders, and waitresses dressed in tight black dresses and stiletto pumps. Nina looked up at John who was watching her closely. “Wow” she said, “that was brutal. I thought the police were never going to come. And did you see that fight so violent so….”

“Vicious” John replied quietly.

“But you weren’t worried at all?” Nina asked John.

“Not really” he shrugged “Boys will be boys, besides I would have kept you safe” he smiled. She half smiled back but found it hard to stay cheerful.

“Yeah, but you never thought to stop it with some of the other bigger men. I mean you must be 6’2″ or so and you look like you workout?”

“Why thank you,” John grinned but said seriously,” I knew the cops would have it handled, stuff happens at bars all the time, even this one. Given the nature of the fight I thought it unwise to interfere and leave you here alone.”

“I guess” Nina said distractedly wondering about John. There was something about him that just did not sit right with her. Yet at the same time she felt attracted to him and as if she didn’t want to be anywhere else.

“Want another drink?” She deliberated. “Nina?” John said quietly in her ear.

She shrugged “Sure I guess, a vodka water lime.”

“Let’s make it a double!” He grinned at her going to the bar but coming back empty handed. “Bar’s closing down, something to do with the fight.”

Nina nodded “I should….”

“Come on the night is young. Let’s go for a walk, go find somewhere else to enjoy?” John asked with a mischievous look in his eyes. Nina considered John’s request briefly. Was she safe going off with him? She still felt their was something a bit off about John. But there it was again, an invisible thread of attraction between them. She could feel the connection blooming between her and John when she caught him staring at her.

“Sure, sounds good.” Nina decided. She did not often go off alone and felt a bit nervous walking off somewhere with this near stranger. Usually, if she met guys at a bar it was with a friend or two. The thought comforted her but she felt drawn to John. She trusted him oddly enough, to some degree.

John draped Nina’s jacket over her shoulders and took her hand. They began walking down the block Nina lived on past other condo buildings, stores, and the occasional pub. John wasn’t interested into going into any place so she continued to walk with him, although her feet ached in her slim pink pumps. The heels were not that high but were not met for long walks past the Downtown to the Harbor of Adare, where bells dinged and she could hear water sloshing against the large white fishing and sailing boats. They had barely said a word to each other except for John asking her if she was okay occasionally. She nodded and they continued their walk past the Harbor to a further section of Downtown Adare.

Nina finally had to break the silence. “So you grew up here?”

“Yeah my parents still live here and like I said earlier, I own a publishing company with my two brothers Jasper and Jordan.” John grinned, ” I have great fun with my brothers, most of the time.”

” I bet,” Nina laughed. “Do you fish like most everyone around here?”

“Yeah, I love it. My Dad used to take my brothers and I out fishing when we were young. Taught us how to catch the best trout and how to gut and clean them. I’m more into sailing now, but my oldest brother Jasper goes with his two little boys sometimes. Their a bit young yet to fish but they like being with their Dad. Sometimes I go along.”

” Yuck” Nina said wrinkling her nose, “I hate fish. The way they smell, how they taste. It makes me throw up.”

“I’ll remember that,” John said, “No fish. I usually sail anyways. Only fish now and then makes good eats,” John teased.

Nina was distracted when she heard sirens again and was aghast to find police cars pulling up all over the block they were walking on. A group of paramedics carried a stretcher out in front of them and she heard whispers of a knife attack. She saw the evidence, bags of bloodied clothing, and a knife being carried out in a plastic bags by investigators.

Nina looked at John who shook his head and shrugged apologetically, “bad night” he murmured, “let’s get away from this scene, are you doing all alright?” Nina looked at John than up to the bright white orb of the moon dancing in the sky. It burned through the night sky as some beacon of hope then, a dark cloud moved to dance over it, partially hiding the moon’s revealing brilliance.

“I’m okay John. It’s just Adare, the city tonight is a bit scary. It kind of feels like the fight at the bar happening and this knife attack are more then just coincidence.”

John looked up at the moon and bit his lip. “Ah, full moon” he said” that explains everything” and he seemed satisfied with his answer. “Really are you fine, Nina?” Because I can help you get a cab or walk you home if you really want.” She breathed out carefully not so much afraid as flustered by John’s nearness.

“Like I said, it’s only that having a massive fight and encountering a stab victim on the same night is a lot to take in. Maybe we should head back to The Manhattan, I live right above there.” John looked at her thoughtfully and took her hand. They turned around walking back along the Harbor. Nina turned her head to look at the full moon again. “It’s so pretty but ominous” she breathed. John smiled, a gorgeous smile, much like the moon himself.

“Yes it is pretty, you’re pretty, and you don’t have to worry I’ll get you home. People just go a little peculiar on nights when there is a full moon, it’s scientifically proven. All the crazies come out.”

“Interesting theory” she wondered aloud,” what other kinds of weird things happen?”

“Oh, we’ll I guess anything out of the ordinary you could think of.”

“Hmm” Nina said, “that doesn’t make me feel better. But I do feel safe with you John.” He smiled at her. Nina continued to walk by the lake wrapping her white coat tightly around her body.

It was then something wrapped itself around Nina’s pink shoe and pulled! She screamed. John quickly came to her aid and pulled her away from the edge of wooden walkway at the Harbor. But a cold white hand, hung on to her ankle, and John pulled Nina and a cold shivering mess of a woman out from the Harbor water. “Oh my God” Nina stammered at the woman, “What happened to you? Are you okay? Are you hurt? How did you end up in the lake.Did you fall in?” Nina felt panicked.

The shivering mess of a woman began to cry. ” Somebody pushed me in” she wailed, ” I was standing at the rail of the boat after having dinner with my husband and then I was looking back waving at Thomas and these hands just grabbed me and hulled me over the side of our boat.” The cold wet woman had long auburn hair and shivered as John gave her his coat. She wrapped herself in the coat gratefully and Nina stood their transfixed as the woman told her story, frightened green eyes hazy with cold. “Then I called for help but no one heard me so I swam to the edge of the Harbor here. The water is so cold and I barely made it, then I saw your pink shoe and grabbed on.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Nina bent down to the woman. “ We should call the police John,” Nina said. John retrieved his Samsung phone from his pants pocket and began to dial.

“No, no, no” cried the woman suddenly, changing her mind,”it must have just been my imagination. I probably just fell. But I was sure there was this girl in the water. But I think I was tired and seeing things.” John and Nina looked at one another not knowing what to believe. It was strange, this woman changing her story and becoming all nervous, as if she was afraid of someone or something.

“But a doctor?” suggested John you could have hurt yourself and not known it.” The woman stood shakily and then more steadily.

“I’m fine really thanks…” The dripping wet woman hiked up her wet skirt and ran down the dock dropping John’s now soaked coat and headed for a boat with lights on. She turned around  and waved.John and Nina were left standing on the dock unsure of what to do as they heard the woman’s bare wet feet hit the dock in the distance.

John pulled himself together first, shook his head and went to retrieve his jacket. ” I wonder . . .” he said to himself thoughtfully, then shook his head as if what he thought couldn’t be true.

The light on the boat the woman had ran to went out and John grabbed Nina’s hand. They half walked and half ran all the way to her condo. John walked Nina up to her condo and feeling brave, after everything she had witnessed that night Nina invited him in. “What was that?” she asked John. What a night! A bar fight, a stabbing, and a woman who nearly drowned. And what was that she said about seeing some girl in the water?Do you think she was imagining things.” Nina took out a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Rye. They did a few shots to calm themselves down and began to talk again.

” It will alright Nina it was just one awful night and a full moon. We’re fine. No one is going to hurt us.” He kissed her forehead as if she were a child and preceded to make her laugh by telling her stories about growing up in his family with a Dad who was a Professor of Fairy Tales and Folklore, and a stay-at- home Mom who was a nurse again. Nina told him about her own childhood. About her divorced Mom, Heather, a Cosmetician, and her Dad the Wall Street Lawyer who they never heard from.

It was 3:00 am when Nina drunkenly, sauntered to the bedroom. John followed a dazed grin on his face. She never did things like this but tonight she felt adrenaline from the night rushing through her and just maybe, it was the full moon.

Nina felt her dress fall to the floor and John kissing and biting his way down her neck, before they both fell on to the bed half-dressed. Things became fuzzy after that. They had made love and fallen asleep but when she woke up the next afternoon it was to the ringtone on her iPhone “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce.

“How was Last Night for you?” The voice said on her phone as she pinched her eyes together and rubbed her left temple as a hangover set in.

“Um, interesting…” She croaked.

John laughed, “yes, it was” he said.

“How’d you get my number?” She asked John confused. “Oh, you gave it to me last night” he laughed “and this is me giving you my number.”

“Oh thanks,” Nina croaked trying to sound awake.”You left early.”

“No, thank you” he beamed through the phone “ I had a meeting. I just didn’t want you to forget me after all we had to drink and all that happened last night.” Thinking fuzzily back to last night Nina groaned:

“I wouldn’t forget you, believe me. It was just all so weird all the violence and that woman grabbing my shoe.”

“I like full moons,” John murmured,”unusual things happen.”

“Unusual is right.” Nina lay gratefully back on her soft bed.

“You, you were unusual, unexpected” he said softly.

“So were you,” Nina countered.

“I never thought I’d have a chance when you walked in but then….”

Nina sighed, “well that’s a full moon you. Strange things happen.” she commented wryly thinking about the palpable attraction she shared with John.

Nina planned lunch with John for Sunday afternoon. He did not seem so weird to her this morning, after their conversation late into the evening. Nina considered last night and shook her head in disbelief. When she thought of John and his handsome face she smiled. Then, she settled back against her pillows for a few hours more sleep. What a night.

Please read Chapter 2 here.

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©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.