On The Beach By Andrew Miller

Here we are, thought Marci, first day of our vacation on an island twelve hundred miles south of ice-covered Detroit, and what does Harold order to drink? Iced tea, half sweet, half unsweet. The bartender, an Irish-looking guy with a pearl stud in his right ear, grabbed two plastic jugs from the refrigerator and started pouring. After setting the tea on the bar, he gave Marci that up-eyebrow look, the one reserved for single women after he asked them if they needed help in their room or wanted directions to the beach.

What, she wanted to know, is in the Bahama Mama?

The Bahama Mama contained coconut rum, gold rum, Nassau Royale liquor, a splash of grenadine, orange and pineapple juice. Plus, Angostura bitters, which turned out to be alcohol infused with gentian, herbs, and spices. Did she want the bitters? It was optional, considered by some to be an acquired taste.

Translation, most Americans don’t like it.

Harold was listening, iced tea in one hand, golf book in the other.

“Jesus, all that stuff in one drink. Might upset your stomach.”

Mr. Pearl Stud explained that Angostura bitters was a known remedy for upset stomach and hiccups.

There you have it, everything you could want in one drink.

We’re here to get the full experience, she thought as they traipsed down the path to the beach. And that doesn’t mean ordering the burger plate like that couple on the veranda. Poking fries into their mouths while tethered to their iPads, oblivious to purple-throated humming birds buzzing around the potted flowers, scattered palmettos and palm trees outside the fence, long stretches of white sand streaked with foamy surf.

And, just because the bartender wore a pearl in his right ear, didn’t make him gay.

Marci jammed the insulated tumbler of Bahama Mama into the sand. Harold was off to the right, closer to the beach. The only visual evidence of him was the tip of his golf book. She tilted her head back, held Bahama Mama slush in the back of her mouth until it melted, let the liquid glide down her throat. Sweet, tangy, spicy, cool and warm at the same time.

She spotted a tall figure at the water line, jogging their way.

“My God—look at that.”

He was over six feet tall, well-developed biceps and thighs, smooth, hairless skin, massive, blocky pecs and firm, russet red nipples. Bouncing along the water’s edge in his white thong. She craned her neck as he passed their palm grove. The view was even better from the rear; round, ripe melons flexing, undulating, beckoning her to follow.

She took a swig of her drink, wiped her lips with the back of her hand, then turned her head toward the other hammock.

“Need more ice?”

Harold was a slow drinker. His ice usually melted before he finished the beverage. Right after they were married she suggested that he order an extra glass just for ice. But he hadn’t done that today. Gotten distracted by Angostura bitters, pearl stud.

“Uh-huh,” he said.

“Is that, ‘Uh-huh: yes,’ or ‘Uh-huh: no,’ or ‘Uh-huh: Uh-huh’?”

Silence. What is it about guys and golf?

She settled back, took another drink. The hell with more ice. If she wanted another look at Mr. Pearl Stud, she’d get a refill.

“Are you up to five irons yet?”

More silence.

You’d think that the Scots would have figured out everything there was to know about golf years ago. Besides, there’s not much to it. Walk around a manicured lawn and slug it out with a little white ball. Carry a zillion different clubs, even though they all work the same. Handling a golf club is no different than swinging a bat, just aim lower. Once, during a pickup softball game in their back yard, her brother had rolled the ball to her. Thought he was being cute because she kept striking out. She had drilled that one good, ran the bases, sending her cousin and little sister to home plate in the process. After that he didn’t want her to play. No matter. She didn’t like playing ball with him.

My God, here he comes again.

She snatched off her glasses, shined the lenses, put them back on.

Ohhhh…our jogger is little turned on. Hmmm. Bulge in thong had grown.

“Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”

Harold glanced at the beach, then back to his book.

“I wouldn’t worry about guns on this beach. These people are very strict about weapons—not like the States.”

“Right you are.”

Thong-man flew past their hammocks, feet scritch-skritching over wet sand. Buns seemed larger, more sharply defined.

“Would running around in a thong give a guy a boner?”

No answer. Understanding the five iron requires concentration.

She took another belt of the Bahama Mama, closed her eyes.

Hello there…

No, I didn’t realize you were a masseur.

Yes, yes, I would love a massage.

Here or back in the room?

The sun was doing a number on her belly and legs. That deep-down warm feeling had been building since she lay down. Her fire was stoked. She pointed her toes, rubbed her thighs together, shifted her butt.

She sat up. “Would you spread sun block on my legs? I’m getting all heated up. Don’t want to burn.”

He stretched out his arm, palm up.

“Squirt some on, step right up.”

Marci spread the towel over her thighs.

“Maybe later.”

Mr. Hard-On was out of sight.

Maybe he wasn’t turned on, that was just his regular, Sunday-go-to meeting, relaxed state.

She was on top of him, boobs pressing into his rock-hard chest, the top of her head touching the underside of his chin. A faint odor of sweat in her nostrils, she could hear his heart beating, blood throbbing in his neck, feel his chest rising and falling. His fingers made circles on the nape of her neck, detoured over her scalp, sampled her earlobes, then wandered down her spine. His palms gripped her butt, pressing her abdomen into his. She could tell that he was ready for her.

“Are you OK? Sounds like you were moaning.”

“I’m feeling great.”

“That drink didn’t disagree with you, did it? You gotta be careful with those strange herbs and spices. Remember what happened to Mother at Red Lobster.”

“Your Mom shouldn’t chug wine on an empty stomach. Nothing wrong with those shrimps.”

She lay back, studied the palm fronds.

“Just talking to myself. How’s the golf book?”

“I’m picking up lots of new techniques. The fellas back home will be impressed.”

‘That’s wonderful. What’s the latest on putting?”

“Grip is everything.”

“Read some of it to me.”

“Listen to this: ‘The big disadvantage to the overlap grip is a susceptibility of becoming too handsy and mis-timing the stroke’.”

Sounded like jerk-off instructions.

“I didn’t know golf could be so technical.”

“I need to work on my grip.”

She grabbed the Bahama Mama.

Where’s my jogger? Probably at the nudie beach.

The clothing optional beach was a couple hundred yards beyond the hotel, partially hidden behind mangroves. The woman in the gift shop had given directions, then added, “Them’s that should—don’t. Them’s that shouldn’t—do.”

Mr. Jogger should. Definitely.

“Hey, how’d you like to go down to the adult beach? It’s just past the mangroves.”

Must be on to the pitching wedges. That’s when golf really gets exciting.

No sign of jogger. She checked her watch.

“Are you hungry?”

He looked up.

“Yeah.”

She sat up, felt around for her sandals.

“Let’s grab a couple of Singapore Slings, an hors d’oeuvre plate, sit in our hot tub, have a party.”

“What’s on the hors d’oeuvre plate?

She had studied the to-go menu last night. She tossed down the last of her Bahama Mama.

“The super-duper plate is called The Deep-Sea Mariner.” She closed her eyes, spread her toes. “Oysters on the half shell, homemade crackers, grilled lobster tail, angels on horseback—that’s an oyster wrapped in bacon then grilled—an assortment of Danish cheeses, homemade French bread—plus lots of tropical fruits: papaya, three kinds of mango, pineapple, star fruit, kiwi. And, to top it off, a bunch of fresh fruit mini-tarts.”

“Sounds like a feast.” He closed the golf book, set it next to him on the hammock. “And what was that about the adult beach and wearing a thong?”

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