Fading Into A Single Tonic

A quarter-mile to the southeast the Farwell Pier defies the sardine-colored breakers as the sun briefly illumines the beach. Sol teases today, one minute you see him, a priest before mass, a brief second, then disappearing into his dressing room to await his choir. A pair of helmeted skraelings on bikes survey the summer-carved surf between the pier and me.

Down the beach the light fades suddenly from a chromish-brown to a dark pigeon-graphite. Two figures sweeping a metal detector become silhouettes, the colors of the sand and water fading into a single tonic. A windbreaker morning pastime as old as beaches, people always searching for the precious metals, the diamond earrings or coins, the finders-keepers of someone else’s memories.

The coffee begins to kick in and I feel I could dance …

The Lake breaks through the trees, and for a moment I am Lewis, I am Clark. Mighty Mich’s onshore breeze is warm and swift, and the lake is rough with waves close to five feet. Far off to the southeast I can see the sun pirouette silver on the water. The beach is deserted for Labor Day weekend or any weekend.

Loyola Park, the lifeguards are vigilant every hundred paces, but it’s empty as Amity. Gulls not falling for Sol’s flirts have settled into the sand, beaks to the breeze. Hard to tell the exact hour with the weeping cloud cover and the extra long train ride. Estimate is about eleven or eleven-thirty. The coffee begins to kick in and I feel I could dance; it kicks and I feel rambunctious, as if there is nothing to lose. I walk.

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