"The Seagull Bay" by André Pires Pereira
Chapter 1: Stairway
Winds blew softly, and gently carried the scent of the sea and the taste of its salt, the sky was cloudy but it didn’t seem to have rained. The day seemed to be starting with a faint shimmering sunlight on the sea’s horizon, slowly heating the sand and the flora beside the Cliffside that encloses one side of the beach. Uncaring, the sea still thrusted against the beach, leaving the sand soaked and darkened wherever it touched. The seagulls that have nested in the nearby cliffs have always been observing everything that lied before them. And there it lied in their sight, a dead body, half buried in the sand, making it impossible for even harsh winds to dislocate it. A seagull descended gliding down from the cliff and approached the dead body, looking for something to eat, but the carcass was rotten and its smell quickly persuaded the seagull to search elsewhere for a meal, other seagulls had the same curiosity and descended to the body, but all of them eventually left. As the sun kept rising and heat kept spreading, roaring sounds were heard from afar, the seagulls of course observed with most curiosity and a bit of fright. An old black Van came from the near beach road and stopped near the cliff, the doors open and a boy and a girl leave the vehicle, slamming the doors. Both of them had a somewhat gothic style, wearing black jackets, black jeans, black shoes, and the main difference being the haircuts and gender. But they were not gothic, they just looked somewhat similar. “So... this is it, Adrian? Is it?” The girl excitedly asked. “Yes, this is where I found it.” The boy answered. “So, where exactly? Let’s check it out!” “I really don’t know how you can be so upbeat about this.” “I’ve told you, I’ve never seen a dead body, I’m excited!” “Michelle... You do know you sound way too creepy when you say that, right?” “Yeah, I know, I know! But you already know me, so let me have this. Quick, let’s go before the police arrives!” “Fine, but don’t touch anything when we get there, we could ruin the scene for the cops investigation, this seems way too weird and uncommon to be a simple case, we best not screw with the evidence. “ “Someone’s been watching too much CSI.” “Looks like we both got our guilty pleasures, some more morbid than others… Just follow me.” Adrian and Michelle left the van unattended and left the side of the road and before going through wooden stairs that descended from the side of the cliff to the beach, they saw a sign on top of the stairway that had something scribbled but was not clear. The steps of the stairs appeared very old, some steps were broken and pieces were scattered on the way and at the beginning of the stairway there was a post sign. “Welcome to Seagull Bay - Heaven on earth” was written on the post sign.
Chapter 2: Post Sign
“Heaven on earth? I find it a bit ironic that you found someone dead down there." Said Michelle, astutely. "Irony of the year, I'm sure! Be careful with the steps, though. Most of them are one touch away from breaking into pieces." Replied Adrian, smiling. They descended the long stairway and Michelle soon spotted the body from afar and started rushing towards it down the stairs. "Careful!" Shouted Adrian as Michelle was already getting further away. "Come on! The police will be here any minute now, we can't waste time!" Shouted Michelle, faintly from the distance. Adrian started to rush through the stairs unaware of the steps now weakened by Michelle's sprint, and on the last couple of steps, Adrian's right foot sinks in the wooden steps and falls leaving only his head free of impact as it hits the sand, after the last couple of steps. As he fell, Michelle paid no attention as she already began observing the dead body. Adrian slowly gets up, looking at Michelle admiring the dead body. "I fall and you don't even notice? It really must be the greatest moment of your life." Exclaimed Adrian. As Michelle examines the corpse on her knees she notices an item near the body. "If you were hurt, you'd tell me straight away, come here and look, I found something." Adrian once more, reminded Michelle. "Don't touch anything, we can't touch the evidence!" "Look here! It's a book! There's a photo also. This is W-E-I-R-D. I love it!" Exclaimed Michelle, overexcited. "What? A book and a photo? Let me take a look!" And finally surrendering to curiosity, Adrian took a peek at the dusty book, but it was no book at all, it was an old leather-bound diary, with a glued photo on the front cover. The photo showed a man, a with a big smile and a cat on his shoulders, like a pirate and its parrot Michelle carefully opened the diary, dying of curiosity wondering what she might find inside, and started to read aloud. “For all purposes, this diary, if one may call it, started being written on 28/11/2002, at precisely 3:43 AM. I can’t sleep as of lately… Christmas is arriving shortly, I still don’t know what to give to my daughter Chloe. She’s a strange 10 year old girl, and I’m afraid I never knew how to raise her good enough, to at least figure out what a good present would be at this moment for her. I also have a son, Michael, he’s 17 and I already know what he wants, a bike, but I can’t give him that right now, I wished I could, I do, but we can’t afford it… Right now, things are complicated for our family. I’ve been thinking of getting a-” Michelle stops reading as she hears sirens from the top of the cliff, near the parked Van. “Crap! They’re coming, put it back!” Adrian demanded, alarmed. “No way! I want to see what happens! I’m going to keep it!” Michelle replied, after hiding the diary in her black jacket as begins to cover the small gap in the sand where the diary laid previously. Adrian grabs Michelle’s arm infuriated. “What are you doing? We’re going to get arrested!!” “Adrian! I’m taking the diary, you can either be my accomplice or report me to the cops, your choice! And don’t you ever dare to grab me like that again!” With Michelle’s response, Adrian stood quiet, feeling guilty as they waited for the officers.
Chapter 3: Officers
Two male police officers calmly descended the wooden stairway looking at how the steps were mostly broken, avoiding the holes and weakened steps until they spotted Adrian and Michelle. One of the cops approached Adrian, this cop was African American, had short brown hair, dark green eyes and was tall and very large, said “I’m Officer Brady and this is Officer Scott. I suppose you’re the boy who called the police?” Officer Brady looks down to the body, and while looking he continues speaking. “…And I also suppose you had nothing to do with the body? But do tell me how you found it, for I am most curious.” Officer Brady slowly looks away from the body and into Adrian’s eyes. “Ah… Yes, it was I… I who called. Aham... sorry, my name is Adrian.” Adrian, clearly was intimidated by the officer but managed to keep a steady posture and kept the words flowing “Well, anyways, it’s a habit of mine to take a walk on Seagull Bay Beach most mornings, my grandfather used to take me since I was a kid and since he died—“Officer Scott Interrupted “Listen, you don’t need to tell us your whole life. Just tell us how you found the body.” Adrian took a deep breath and began talking again “Okay, I came into the beach at 8:30 AM more or less, and began my morning walk on the other side of the beach.” Adrian pointed to the other end of the beach. “Which is where I usually start the walks, but this time I decided to walk until the cliffs, I never went this far before… Hum… When I was getting closer I noticed birds from afar crowding one part of the sand, and when I got close I saw the body and went straight back to my van and called the Police.” “Was anyone with you, was this girl with you?” Queried the Officer. “Yes, I was. And I have a name, and it’s Michelle.” Michelle quickly intervened. “And how do I know you had nothing to do with the body?” Officer Brady asked. Adrian looks at the body and back at the Officers and says “Well the body seems decomposed, I’m no expert or anything, but with the proper tools you could check when he died and what from, that should clear us out, we never touched the body, as long as our fingerprints aren’t there, we’re clear, right?” Adrian stared at the officers, unsure of what they would say in return. “Alright, since you’re so convinced we won’t find anything, you have nothing to worry about. Just leave your contacts with Officer Scott while I call the morgue to have the body inspected.” Replied Officer Brady, giving a patronizing smile after hearing Adrian. Officer Scott takes a notepad from his pocket and begins writing. Michelle and Adrian approach him and give him their contacts. “Alright, you’re good to go, call us if you get know something more about this incident, be it remembering something or finding anything new about it.” Said Officer Scott. “We will, thank you officers!” Adrian replied, relieved. Adrian and Michelle went up the stairway and back to the old rusty van and started driving home.
Chapter 4: Home
As soon as they went on the road, the skies quickly went on war and rain began to pour, coincidentally, at the same time an argument began to rise between Adrian and Michelle. “We’re fucked, you know that? WE’RE FUCKED!” Yelled Adrian, quickly turning his eyes between the road and Michelle, “Jesus, Michelle! You just couldn’t let the damn book stay there, could you? What if we find there’s something inside important to the murder? They’re going to know we lied.” “First of all, it’s a Diary, and secondly, look at the damn road! Try to not get us killed before we even have the chance to go to jail!” Michelle stated after holding the door tightly, in a way she was best protected from a possible accident, “And if we ever find anything on the book that’s relevant, we’ll just drop it at the police station anonymously, and let them figure it out!” “Marvelous plan! Marvelous… “Adrian sighed, “Well what’s done is done, I just hope it’s worth it.”. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure things out, just be glad we get to live something that feels dangerous! Aren’t you tired of everyday bullshit?” Michelle stops gripping the door tightly and looks calmer, “Just drive home… We’ll see this through.” After half-hour of sloppy rusty driving there was no more rain, probably because they dislocated elsewhere, but there was a bright sun behind some somewhat white clouds. The van parked in a garage attached to the left of a suburban house with two storeys, the house had 3 windows in the upper floor and the main door and a single window on the bottom floor, there was a small garden in front of the main door with an orange bicycle tumbled on the floor, there was also an old wooden chair close to the wall, where spiders and other insects already made their home. The mailbox was filled with papers, letters and things of the sort. The only thing that shined besides the sun at that time was the garden, which appeared to be blessed between the chaos that had formed around it. Adrian and Michelle left the Van and went inside, bringing the diary with them. As they entered the house, Adrian went straight to the fridge, grabbing butter, which he then spread upon the loaves of bread that were the last slices of the family pack he had bought a couple days earlier, and he ate them delightfully, as if some sort of addiction he just satisfied. “Can I take this to my place? I’ll read it carefully there, and I’ll tell you all about it after, of course.” Michelle inquired. “It’s as if it was yours anyway, just hope it doesn’t disappoint you, you seemed happy as I’ve never seen you before when you found that.” Adrian answered. “We’ll see… But I have a weird feeling it won’t disappoint neither of us, at all…” Michelle glances at the photo in the cover of the diary, “Well, I’ll be going now, then.” Michelle started walking towards the main door. “Yeah, I’ll stay out of trouble from the cleavers in the meats counter” Said Adrian, with a sarcastic tone as he opens the door for Michelle. “Everyone knows how much you love to have a job in the minimarket! See you later!” Michelle grabs Adrian and quickly kisses him in the lips tenderly. “What… what was that for?” Adrian asked, most surprised. “For bringing me with you today, it meant a lot to me. I don’t know many guys who would take a girl out to see a dead body!” Michelle smiled as she began walking away, getting on her tumbled orange bicycle and started rushing towards her house, to begin reading the diary and finding out what secrets it possibly had, most anxious to learn the story inside.
Chapter 5: Inside
Michelle arrived at her flat, it was located two blocks away from Adrian’s house, it was rather a fresh looking house when compared to Adrian’s place, and less emptier too, as she was greeted by
her dog, Bontraxer. Bontraxer was a 4 year old French bulldog of white skin. The name of Bontraxer came from “Bone Tracker” although calling him “Bonetracker” seemed rather lame to Michelle,
so she removed the first “e” and switched “ck” to “x”, giving it a somewhat French tonality to the first part of the name and a cool modern twist on the second part. She greeted Bontraxer with a
double pat on the head, unfulfilling Bontraxer’s need for attention and fondling. She enters her room, after climbing the stairs from the hallway, and she sat on a wooden chair in front of her desk
turning the desk lamp on. She places the book upon where the light of the lamp is strongest and gazed at the photo in the cover of the diary for a while. After roughly 9 minutes, she decides to
open and continue reading from where she left when she was at the beach. “(…) I’ve been thinking of getting a pet for Chloe, I know she likes dogs a lot, cats too, but I’m not sure what to
get, perhaps a fish would be better, less noisy. Either way I’ll have to decide fast, Christmas is arriving.” Michelle notices there isn’t anything else written on that page and turned the page to
find something else, but nothing was there, and nothing appeared to be written in the following pages. She closes the diary and scratches her head, confused by the blankness of the diary. “What was
the point of getting a diary, if he just wrote a single paragraph?!” Michelle started to get angry, angry not at the diary itself, but at the stories she made up previously, angry she found nothing
when she expected at least, something. She got up from the chair in a sudden burst, walking around her room, fist fighting the air with frustration. Half an Hour had flown by when she finally
calmed herself. “It doesn’t make sense, he had to have written something else.” She sits again in the wooden chair and opens the diary once more, now calm, and began turning pages, until after
exactly 38 pages she saw another entry in the diary, and took a deep breath of relief. “I don’t write much, although the psychologist did once more say it could help me to keep a diary, so I’ve
decided to give it another try. It has been 2 months since my first entry. I’ve decided give Chloe a cat, I’ve taken her to the mall one day and very casually asked if she wanted to visit the pet
shop, and when we went inside, we saw the animals, namely dogs, hamsters, bunnies and cats, and that’s where things got clear for me, she fell in love with a baby Siamese cat and almost begged me
to take it home, but I wanted to surprise her, so I said we couldn’t take it, that we couldn’t afford to have animals at home, they needed to be taken care of and nobody has the time, that kind of
excuse, she almost hated me for it, but it was worth it In the end. At Christmas, we gathered around for the presents, and when everything got opened, I announced “There is one more present! Santa
told me to keep it until now, I’ll be right back” As I went to the garage to pick the cat, I could hear giggles and excitement rising in the living room, and then I entered with the pet cage, and
placed it on the floor and opened the little door, waiting for the little buddy to make its first appearance, and after a while he finally came out and my daughter couldn’t be happier, which made
me happy.” Michelle let some tears drop from her eyes, moved by the dad’s affection towards her daughter. And after wiping the tears, she continued reading. “But it’s been months now, and the
little kitty is now a grown chaotic mess, I had no idea the little bastard would grow so fast, he’s constantly biting and scratching everyone and everything, making me angry most of the days, I
fear this was a bad call, we should have gotten a dog, they’re simpler and can actually be told what to do.” Michelle now had a disappointed look on her face, almost regretting the tears she just
had dropped. The next entry was dated 2 months later after the second entry, it began to appear like a pattern. “Two another months passed, our financial situation is the same, our cat crisis is
the same, but everything seems worse. The other day the cat slipped away into the main street, we had to look under parked cars for nearly an hour so we could finally catch him, and it was a pain,
when you’re 38, your back isn’t as great as when you were 21, everything becomes rustier and pain lasts longer, and it would seem the cat only wants to aggravate my situation. I nearly forgot, my
daughter finally stuck with a name, after calling him a billion different names. It’s now called “Paw jumper”, I don’t even care for the name, I just want him to be less “jumpy” since I can’t get
rid of him now.” Michelle did not seem to get interested much in the story, but still carried on. The next entry was again, 2 months later. “It doesn’t seem like this diary is of great use to me,
come to look at it again, I only seem to talk about Paw Jumper now. A month ago, I saw the psychologist again, I’m not sure if I’m either wasting money or making a good investment. Either way, it
has helped me to cope with things this far, so I guess it is working after all. I had a special moment a couple weeks ago, the kids went out with their mom for the day and in their absence, I
worried. I worried about my job, which it didn’t look like I was going to be able to keep it. I felt sad with the thought of not being able to support my family and I even felt like crying, I was
desperate. And then, I saw Paw Jumper in the floor, looking up at me, and I looked at him depositing (If such thing is even possible), my sadness, worries and concerns… And he seemed to react to
it, he literally gave a faint meow and looked straight into my eyes, (Into my soul, dare I say) as he got up in two legs and placed his paws in my legs as if trying to comfort me… I was amazed.
Here lied this little feline that knew nothing more except to eat, run, scratch and jump all the time, understanding I needed a shoulder to lean on. It was the first time Paw jumper went on my
shoulder, and I carefully walked with him on the shoulder, trying to not let him fall and if you looked at us for the first time, you would say we were best friends. And to my greatest surprise, we
bonded, which was much unexpected.” Michelle once more, dropping tears, regretted that she almost regretted dropping tears the first time and stood looking with a huge smile at the cover photo.
Michelle closed the diary, bookmarking the page she was at with her batman bookmark and took another peek at the cover photo. She smiled at photo observing the details, how Paw jumper was,
how the man was, giving an image to the man, the cat and the story told in the diary…And the doorbell rang. Someone was at the door.
Chapter 6: Door
Michelle went to her bedroom’s window, which had a perfect angle to see whoever was at the door outside. It was no surprise for her when she saw Adrian at her door, she rarely had any visitors, at least during daytime. She rushed down the stairs, eager to tell him what she had found in the diary. She turns the key in the door and pulls the door abruptly. “Adrian, come in!” Said Michelle, almost whispering. “Hey! So… how is the Diary thing going?” Asked Adrian, still unaware of Michelle’s excitement. “I haven’t finished reading it, but I was hoping you could help me finish read it, but it will probably take a while, perhaps the whole afternoon. But if you have plans or something…” Michelle was going to say something else when Adrian interrupted her. “I don’t have plans! I don’t mind at all helping you read the diary, I want to find out what’s it all about! After all, it’s not every day we see an old diary or a dead boy or both in the same place!” Adrian smiled and so did Michelle. They both went up the stairs and Michelle updated him very carefully on the diary. As time passed, they both exchanged smiles, laughs and sometimes silence as they continued to read the diary. “You should read now, It’s your turn!” Said Michelle “Alright, I will. So…” Adrian turned the page, “It’s summer and I felt like going to the beach, I brought Chloe and Paw Jumper with me, however, Michael already had plans for summertime with his friends since the beginning of the year. We went to a place called “Seagull Bay”, my dad always talked about it being a good place to spend some time during summer, and for some reason I finally decided to go there. There was a wooden stairway down to the actual beach, there was not many persons in the beach however, there seemed to be a lot of young couples though, as if it was some sort of secret place for romancing. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop us from having a good time. It must have been the first time Paw Jumper ever saw the sea, and come to think of it, I doubt many urban cats got the privilege to go to the sea in their whole lives, it’s kind of sad. Either way, as Paw Jumper was a cat, it was not easy to control him in an open space like the beach, I would not dare to strap a leash on him, as it looks silly, dogs are meant to be tamed, cats are wild, they want to be fed but they don’t want to feel under your control. Before leaving the beach, Paw Jumper had ran away from us and we chased him for around 10 minutes before we could catch him, I’ve bent my back too many times while trying to grab him, my back is killing me, I really should have enjoyed my youth more.” Adrian looks at Michelle while turning the page. “Yes, continue!” Said Michelle while clapping approvingly. “You sure? It’s 7 P.M. and I’m actually hungry…” Said Adrian as his stomach growled. “Oh it’s quite late… Do you have something to do or do you want to stay for dinner...” Michelle asked. “I’ve told you, I don’t have anything to do and I would like to stay for dinner, we can finish reading the diary afterwards!” Adrian replied smiling. “Great!” Said Michelle, smiling back. They ordered a pizza and after having dinner in the kitchen, they returned to the room.
Chapter 7: Room
It was fully dark outside and quite cold inside, Michelle decided to turn the heating on, and soon the room was warm and cozy. They continued to read the diary during the night and noticed how the author only talked about the cat, his family was being mentioned less and less, his job seemed to have no importance anymore but he seemed happier overall. They constantly moved from one part of the room to the other, from the desk to the bed to the couch near the window, making themselves comfortable as they read the diary. And there it was, after another several more entries, the final entry, even labeled as so. And Michelle decided to read the last part. “This is the final entry on this diary. I will no longer write for I no longer have the need to. These last years were being hard on me, Paw Jumper made them better, somehow. I cannot stop thinking how the life of a cat is similar to a human life to some degree. We are brought into life, into a family without consent, we have no say in the matter. We are held captive of this system we are brought into, cats need to stay in their owners homes or scavenge the world like hyenas and vultures, and we, humans are held by a job system in which few are the people that enjoy what they do and are paid well enough for them to do it, but that is not the point, we are obliged to have one of these jobs if we want to survive with dignity, cats however are lucky in this latest point, they have no concept of dignity. And cats, pets and every animal in this earth have a desire to be free, to explore the world, to do something else other than sleep, eat and stand around. But we humans don’t have a choice, we humans can’t just stroll on the street and gather food as we please, few of us have such survival skills and our new environment, now filled with civilization and authority, would never allow for us to go back in time and let go of its current system. We are prisoners, we are trapped, and so are cats, and so is Paw Jumper, he strives for freedom, I see it in his eyes, I hear in his growls, and I feel it whenever I hold him back from getting it, but I will not hold him back anymore. If you asked me a few years back, I would say cats were terrible pets, but now? I say cats can make good pets, after all. It’s just us that can’t be good companions to them. I too strive for freedom, just like Paw Jumper, but I was the one holding back my own freedom, I shall free Paw Jumper, and I shall free myself. Paw Jumper has feline instincts and he will certainly adapt in the wild, he is a warrior, I’m no warrior though, I’m getting old and I barely can do any good for anyone, including my family, which now seems too far away and I don’t have the strength to go reunite, nor do I have the will. Mary will take care of the kids, she was always a formidable mom. As for Tom, while I never liked him, I’m sure he can take care of her and the kids. And so this is good bye. My freedom, at last found.” Michelle closes the diary and looks at Adrian, speechless. Adrian goes to Michelle, grabs the diary and closes it taking the cover photo. The photo now seemed to have more details, the man and the cat were standing in front of the signpost of the stairway of the beach, seagulls flew behind and the man appeared older than before. Adrian turns the photo around and something was written. “Welcome to Seagull Bay - Heaven on earth”.
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