Read Summer's Passing Online

Authors: Randy Mixter

Tags: #Mysterious, #Twists, #Everlasting, #Suspenseful, #Cryptic

Summer's Passing (10 page)

BOOK: Summer's Passing
11.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I quietly shifted around in the bed until my feet made contact with the hardwood floor. I felt so vulnerable just sitting there in my jockey shorts. Someone or some
may climb into the window at any moment while I sat half-naked in a stupor. 

I decided the plastic bottom half of the beach umbrella pole might work. It did have a pointed end after all, and was light enough to swing around if necessary. 

I crept to the closet and grabbed the makeshift spear, then I inched my way to the window. I pressed against the wall and listened. The seconds felt like minutes as I tried my best to become one with the wall. If Beckie woke up and saw what I was doing, she'd surely think I'd gone insane.

I was wiping sweat from my forehead when I heard the sound again, a distinct scratching, as if fingernails were running across the house siding. Now the noise seemed farther away. It was coming from the kitchen area.

I took a deep breath, moved away from the wall, and made for the kitchen, trying to avoid any squeaky floorboards.

A cool blast of salt air met me in the hallway. I soon saw why. The back door was open, not a crack but fully open. It rested against the interior wall. I instinctively turned around and saw a faint light casting shadows from our bedroom.

Beckie! No time for stealth now. I ran back to the bedroom door, the umbrella shaft held out like a spear, fully prepared to do battle if I must.

The room was empty, save for Beckie who was still sleeping soundly. She lay on her back and at the hollow of her neck, the cross on her necklace glowed like a beacon in the dark.

Then, something grabbed my ankle.


I whipped around, the umbrella pole held high, ready to jab my assailant with as much force as I could muster.

I saw no one lying at my feet. There was something there however. A cat's front legs wrapped around me. It's claws dug into the skin right above my left foot. It looked up at me as if to say

"What the hell's going on?" Beckie rested on her elbows, looking at me, her cross still glowing brightly.

"A cat attacked me," was all I could think to say.

"What's with this?" She enclosed the cross in her fist and the room went dark. "Warm," she added.

I heard the sound of a porch chair moving and turned in time to see a shadow pass quickly by the open door. The cat dug its claws deeper into my flesh.

Beckie released the cross and a bluish white glow again filled the room.

"Is that Sophie? It looks like Sophie." 

The cat reacted immediately to Beckie's voice. It released me from its sharp grip and scurried forward, leaping onto the bed. It settled on Beckie's lap, nuzzling and purring loud enough for me to hear. 

"Sophie," I heard Beckie say as I made for the back door, thinking I might still be in need of my umbrella pole. 

I approached the door with caution, looking both ways before moving to the porch. I saw no one. One of the chairs had toppled onto its side. I returned to the kitchen, locking the door behind me. Had I locked it earlier in the evening? I thought I had.

I quickly went to the front door. It remained locked. I checked out the other bedroom, the closet, under the bed. Nothing. 

"Doug, what's happening?" I heard Beckie shout from next door.

Satisfied there were no additional uninvited houseguests, I went to Beckie. The bedroom was dark once more. The cross no longer glowed.

"How did you find Sophie? And why are you holding that pole?" She asked as I stood in the doorway.

"First off, Sophie, if that's the cat's name, found me, or at least my ankle. Secondly, I heard something." I held up the pole. "Protection," I said.

"Why was my cross glowing like that?"

"I don't know," I answered truthfully.

"It felt warm," she said.

The cat had made itself at home on Beckie's lap. I knew I should grab a flashlight and walk around outside, but strangely I felt confident that the danger had passed.

I leaned the pole against the doorway. In the dark, I couldn't see the damage inflicted on my ankle, but it hurt like hell.

"Where do you know that cat from? It has a vicious streak."

"Not my Sophie." She rubbed the cat's head. The volume of the purring went up a notch. "Sophie was a stray that April and I took in at the pier house. I guess you could say we adopted her, except she didn't like being cooped up indoors. She'd hang out on the pier during the day. We'd feed her and give her milk. At night she'd disappear, and sometimes she'd be gone for days at a time, but she always returned. I forgot to ask you to look for her when you got my stuff."

"Looks like she found you," I said. "Of course, she tried to take my foot off first."

"She was just protecting me. Weren't you, Sophie?"

The cat turned her head in my direction and I got the distinct impression that both of my ankles could be up for grabs at any time Sophie saw fit.

"Be a dear and get her some milk, would you? She must be thirsty after such a long walk."

"Can I bandage up my ankle first?" I asked in a deliberately sarcastic manner.

"By all means, tend to your wounds. Yell if you need me to dial 911."

Sarcasm got me absolutely nowhere in our relationship. I needed to remember that.


"I thought Sophie preferred the outdoors at night." The cat had wedged itself between us on the bed. It looked to be sleeping soundly, but whenever I moved a muscle, its eyes shot open and stared at me, and my ankle throbbed. I turned to face the window. The alarm clock by the bed read 4:35. Another hour or so before the dawn drained the darkness from the sky. I listened for unfamiliar sounds, still not certain Sophie had caused the scratching noises. I felt the need to protect Beckie from possible harm, but I felt vulnerable. Too many strange things were happening, too many things beyond my control. People were appearing then disappearing, crosses glowed in the night. I was falling into an abyss of dread and I needed to find my way out.


Maybe Sophie once possessed a wandering, free spirited attitude, but for now she seemed content to stay as close to Beckie as possible. I found that my ankles were in peril if I made any sudden moves toward the cat's old friend. I felt I needed the feline's permission to approach Beckie.

"Just smile and move slowly," Beckie said. "You'll be fine."

"I'd have a better chance with a protective pit bull," I mumbled as we sat on the beach beneath the umbrella, its post - no longer a weapon - buried deep in the sand.

Once again, I spotted boot prints around the porch, perhaps still from the day before; but there were no paw prints. Could the wind have erased them? The wind hadn't whisked away the footprints. 

Sophie had curled up on Beckie's lap as she read in the shade. Beckie was right about the long walk between houses. The pier house was a good ten miles or so up the coastline, and how did the cat know Beckie lived here now? 

"Cats have a sixth sense when it comes to those things," Beckie said earlier by way of explanation. I agreed, though cats also leave paw prints in the dirt.

I worked on writing my book, but as usual lately, I had trouble concentrating. I looked around. A family had set up a cabana-sized tent a good distance away on my right. To my left, the reading woman held down the fort in her customary spot. The seclusion was understandable. The beach houses on either side of mine remained unoccupied. It appeared the residents of this coastal section of Port Grace preferred the warm winter months to the hot summer days. 

"How's the writing coming along? Every time I look over you're either staring at the sand or at the surf." 

"Just gathering my thoughts," I said.

"It seems like you do that a lot. Maybe instead of gathering them you should be putting them on paper. Not being critical mind you, it's your book."

"No, you're right," I said. "I just worry too much about things."

"Yeah, I remember last night." Beckie patted her lap. "Room for one more."

"I think Sophie might have a problem with that," I added.

"I do believe I detect a hint of jealousy," Beckie said with a smile.

She might have been right. I changed the subject. "What about your glowing necklace? Have you thought about that?" I asked her.

"Not really. Maybe it was a reflection of the moon on the cross, I don't know. Hey, how 'bout pizza for dinner? I'm seriously craving pizza."

That was Beckie. For her, everything fell into place without the benefit of deep thought or concern. Maybe that was her defense against the unknown. Whatever the reason, it worked for her and I would not upset the apple cart.

"Pizza works for me. I'll pick up some later," I said.

"How about it, Sophie? Pizza sound good to you?" Beckie rubbed the cat's back. Sophie raised her head and meowed before glancing my way.
No more room on this lap, go find another.


After our pizza dinner, Beckie and I adjourned to the porch while Sophie contented herself by curling up on the bed.

"The sea's beautiful at night, isn't it ?" Beckie asked.

The water, rough and tumble where it met the land, was a placid mirror for the moon near the horizon.

"Technically it's a gulf not a sea," I said.

Beckie sighed loudly. "Where's your sense of romance? Sea sounds so much more mysterious, so much more enchanting than gulf. It's a large body of water that's not an ocean. I'm going to call it a sea."

"Call it what you want, it's still a gulf," I added, hoping to get in the last word on the subject.

"Once you name something, it becomes yours. Let's own it, Doug, just the two of us. We'll call this sea ours alone. It's too beautiful not to possess," Beckie said.

I wouldn't argue the point. "The Sea of Mexico it is. We'll inform the Mexicans of the name change first thing in the morning."

"Oh, let's have breakfast first," Beckie said.

"Okay, breakfast first. I'm getting another beer. Can I get you one?"

"I'm fine."

When I returned to the porch, Beckie stood at the rail. "Let's travel some day, Doug. Let's find a faraway land and call it our own. Let's find a place where time stands still and we can live forever, a place where no one can find us. Would you like that?"

I moved next to her. "Yes, I'd like that" 

She smiled at me. "I'm sorry. It's the moon. I get a bit crazy in the moonlight."

"Nothing wrong with having a dream," I said. 

"You should take me to bed while I'm still moonstruck. That's what I would do if I were you."

"Only if you move Sophie," I said.

"Fair enough," she replied.


Three uneventful weeks passed. Beckie's leg had healed to the point where she no longer required Evelyn's weekly visits, and the wounds on her face had healed up nicely. The scars had faded into thin white lines.

We still walked daily on the beach, no matter the weather. Now, we had a constant companion, Sophie, the brown and gold cat with sharp claws. Thankfully, her temperament had softened as she became more accustomed to my presence. My ankle wounds had long since healed. I also slept soundly at night again, with Sophie keeping watch between us.

Our lovemaking suffered somewhat. Sophie in the room, and the thought of her pouncing, caused my eyes and mind to wander. Keeping her out behind a shut door wasn't much better. Her loud meowing and constant scratching was off-putting to the both of us.

"The boot comes off next week. I can't wait." 

We were lounging on the porch at sunset, a ritual on clear nights.

"He said maybe, Beckie. Don't get your hopes up too much, just in case," I said.

"Always the pessimist," she murmured loud enough for me to hear. 


Our relationship had survived two months with relative ease. A remarkable accomplishment, considering Beckie suffered through her injuries during most of those days. In some ways, we acted like a couple who'd been married for years. I'm not sure how it happened that way, but it did. Sometimes a man and woman meet for the first time and everything comes naturally. What I mean by that is you feel
together. You say things without the worry of repercussions because you know the other will easily catch the words tossed their way.

Years ago, my father told me the secret of my parents' long loving relationship. "We are old souls in young bodies," he said to me. "We knew each other before we met."

With Beckie, I knew what she wanted before she said it; most of the time anyhow. No, I hadn't found the key to a woman's psyche. I'll be the first to admit they are strange, unpredictable creatures. But I’d figured out Beckie. I thought I had her figured her out the first day I met her. She knew me too; what are the odds?

So it’s easy to see why I would never give her up. I fell for her the first time I saw her face, battered and bruised but beautiful nonetheless. She took my hand in hers, in the Port Grace Hospital room, and we talked, though we'd just met, like we had known each other for years. Old souls in young bodies.

The subject of our future did not worry me: I was sure that when we came to discuss it, whenever that would be, there would be very little disagreement. I believed in my heart that Rebecca loved me as much as I loved her. That's my old soul talking.


Beckie was right as usual. Her boot came off when it was predicted it would.

"Now, try not to put all your weight on your leg at first. Favoring the other onea bit until it’s ready won't hurt. You'll know when that is." Doctor Reynolds glanced my way. "You did a good job with Rebecca, even Evelyn agrees and she's a tough critic."

"Thanks," I said. "It wasn't easy, that's for sure."

"Oh, hush up," Beckie said from her perch on the hospital bed. "I cut him a lot of slack. He had it made. Evelyn, though, I might owe her an apology or two."

Reynolds laughed. "She's had worse that you. I think you did make her top ten list though."

"Help me down, Monroe. Might as well get acquainted with walking all over again."

"Go slow for a while," Reynolds added. "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

BOOK: Summer's Passing
11.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Red Gardenias by Jonathan Latimer
The End Of Solomon Grundy by Julian Symons
The Golden Key (Book 3) by Robert P. Hansen
Juice: Part One (Juice #1) by Victoria Starke
The Blonde Samurai by Jina Bacarr
'Tis the Season by Jennifer Gracen