Part 1: The Wingman Preliminary
There should be more people out here than there is.
No matter, as the rental chariot of the day, one Ford Fiesta, slides into a parking space in front of Paradise Grill. Immediately the smell of salt rushes up my nose and through my skull, making the center of my scalp tingle.
Bob unloads, overexcited to be out of the house and in a public place. His black nose busies nudging bush branches as I and my proven co-captain journey towards the deck.
Bummer. The grill is closed.
We find my favorite two Adirondack chairs vacant over to the right. She pulls out her pack of smokes while I wrangle my dog to at least try to stay in the vicinity. I let go of his lead and let him visit with the people making the short climb up the side wall to reach the deck we’re on. Cloudy night makes the full moon a full smear up and to the left of us. The Gulf of Mexico lap lap laps in quick tempo as the tide shifts out. The water is a soft grey, perfectly reflecting the clouds above it, creating a silvery soft vortex opened only to us three, a portal of infinite possibility.
I sigh. “I wanted to do something to commemorate this day, but the grill is closed.” I smack my own forehead. “We drove right past that Circle K. I coulda stopped and picked up some beers before we made it down!” I stay looking at her. In her amiable style, she says, “No worries,” and I assume it’s because we still have a whole ‘nother cigarette to burn. I shimmy forward on my long seat and straighten up to announce, “Come on. Before we get comfortable. Everyone back to the car.”
The Circle K has a long faced woman working the counter tonight. This is such an important day, a successful day; today I got rid of that last bit of trash. Consciously amending my sobriety clause, I wind past the salty snacks and to the double door coolers.
We’re doing it. We’re gonna have an alcoholic beverage, because that’s what you do when you succeed; you raise a glass and you let yourself be giddy. My eyes scan the options and I frown. No Dos Equis.
There it is.
“If you’re gonna fall off the wagon, do it with Sam,” I proclaim as I lift the sixer off its shelf. That’s when I notice the wine case. Shoot! I saunter over and see it’s the bring-a-bottle-to-a-dinner-party variety. I figure one cannot go wrong with a Chateau St Michelle Riesling if it’s already chilled in the case. She grabs the bottle while I return the stock. “I think it’s a cork. Yeah, it’s a cork,” she says fiddling with the top. “We’re gonna need a bottle opener.”
“No we’re not, we still have the tool bag.” The tool bag. One of the things I told her to keep up with when we loaded the car. ‘Be familiar with this bag; it’s going on our trip.’ She pointed out I was missing needle-nosed pliers. Add to travel list.
“We have a flat head screwdriver and a hammer.” Over the top of the bottle she’s holding, I mimic the screwdriver in my left, the hammer in my right, and one focused hit to the head. “Bottle opener.”
Although we should probably add a corkscrew bottle opener to the tool bag. Add to travel list.
The twenty dollar bill in my wallet turned out to be a ten dollar bill, so back to the original plan. We head back to the beach; this time, over to the long bench overlooking the south part of the deck. The tide had carried out some more. I use my key chain opener to serve our beers. We toast to our great day, clink necks, and enjoy the deep amber…
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