Jack Waters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story I wrote as an exercise one day at the beach. Look at someone on the beach, and write a story of triumph about them.

Submitted: February 27, 2015

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Submitted: February 27, 2015

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Jack Waters was a short stout man, in all area of his life. Short in height, short importance and short in pride, that wonderful quality that keeps a man erect, alive in his own life. Jack was a top 40 man, raised in the 60's, a pop tune orgy of sounds, that blended well with the classic rock of the 50's.

Dora Water's preferred the modern rock of that day, bands like Chavez and Boy with Puppy, and other anti-rock bands of the time. She thought herself cooler than her peer because of the music she loved. “It keeps me young” said Dora. Jack could never understand what this music was, the vocals too low to understand, no guitar solos, abrupt shifts in tempo,

“I can't even tap my hand to it.” He said once in a musical confession. Dora had captured that line, killed it, mounted it on a wall and brought it out occasionally for ridicule and murder.

“I can't even tap my hand to it.” She would whine, winking at him, as if, “Is this is ok if I crush your balls in front of your friends?”, who stared in disbelief, for they as a couple defied comparison

“This is all good fun.” She would say, except it wasn't, and hadn't been for some time.

Dora was a beauty, still after 10 years, but she was a strong willed woman. That was her line. Jack's words, all kept stacked neatly in a closet, were not so nice. Bitch was the nicest.

“Just when you figure out the white hot spaces” the music from the stereo rang out

“they finally fade you.” What did this music even mean?, Jack thought, recoiling at the sounds. At least his music was about love and you could understand it.

“Jack slow down.” This was a rule, Dora did not like fast driving. This was one of the many rules Dora had, Jack had known she was an opinionated woman, anyone could have seen that, her perfect hair, many the head of a successful salon, mounted on a stick in it's pursuit. Dora was known around town for many things, Springfield being a small town. And Jack had heard and known many of these things about Dora, even before their year long courtship. People would say her name and raise eyebrows. Why not, in this ugly town she was beautiful, rich and well known.

“So Jack, I hear you are seeing Miss Dora Robertson.” the eyebrows always raised, the head nodding, yes we know this to be true, EVERYONE in this, tiny town knows it to be true, we are just letting you know, that we know.

Jack would nod yes. The widow Robert and Jack had started dating, meeting at a bridge game one town over, yes he would nod smiling, he was enjoying himself with Dora, she was beautiful and fun, and soon Jack was like a small happy planet satelliting a larger planet, it's original lazy meandering through the galaxy, now over.

“Jack, turn on your blinker.” Dora always wanted the blinker on of one was turning, this however was different than if one were just sitting in the turn lane.

“Jack, turn off your blinker, everyone knows you are turning now.” she would say grumpily, as if the fact that Jack did not know this, disturbed Dora.

“The rules, Jack had said to his new bride, I do not know them, please teach me.” And Dora had loved this, kissed him on the face with pleasure.

“Oh you are a dear to put up with me, snuggling her face close to his.”

Dora's rules. They arrived one by one, Jack pulling them out, just by being Jack.

“Jack, don't park too close.” But one could also park too far out, these were tricky things.

“I guess you want me to get my exercise Jack!” she had said roughly.

“I know you need some.” And there it was. The thing Dora hated most of all. Fat people.

Jack was not fat, far from it, but he was short and he was round, and if wasn't for Dora he would be fat. This information was all from Dora, who once was fat but would never be again.

So Jack, determined to make his brand new marriage to Dora work, began to learn the rules. Folding towels must be done a certain way, folded once then again, and rolled up to be placed on top of the shelf. The groceries in Jack's refrigerator, which was soon Dora's, must be loaded in a certain way.

“Bread to the top with pasta sauce, cheese in the cheese drawer “It only makes sense” she implored fruit in the middle and meat in the meat drawer. He had gotten it wrong for the first few months, but seemed to be better lately.

Even in the bedroom, where Jack had come in with some of his own rules and a small bag of confidence, there were more rules.

“My clitoris is not a rubber toy, handle it delicately, like a truffle, which Jack had only seen shredded into salads, so the advice not helpful at all. And there were more for the bedroom, the pantry, the garage, all really all of the rooms in the house. He tried to remember if there was a rule for everything, but this thinking was interrupted by a rule.

“Jack!” (she always began every rule with his name, said in a way that implied he was quite the idiot) “Jack, JACK!” (sometimes she said his name twice) “Don't forget the ice chest of food.”, which was ridiculous, in part because he made every bit of the food inside of it, bought all the drink and packed the beach blanket and the large umbrella for the beach. The umbrella was a rule in itself.

The rule to end all rule for Jack, was in the bathroom. For this one he had been called in and given the rule in person, this one being so degrading a demonstration was needed.

“When you pee Jack you make a mess of it, peeing on the rim, and making a stink.” She seemed ready to rub his face in it all. But the humiliation had just begun.

“You need to sit to pee.” Jack stared at her silently

“I'm tired of the mess Jack, now sit when you use the bathroom.” Dora said leaving quickly but leaving her own stink behind. And so he did it, whatever you like dear, the rules now more of a religion of force, than a gift. Yet Jack pressed on

“Jack, I always need the umbrella at the beach.” Jack knew this by now, the beach one of Dora's happier moments in what seemed to be an unhappy existence, Jack was still trying to test the validity of this last statement, too early in his new marriage to be sure

The thing was, Jack knew all the rules by now. He was no idiot, having acquired a accounting degree at 22 and entered into the exciting world of tax accounting.

“I'll never look for work.” He said confidently, the tax preparer as necessary as the undertaker in our society. And he did it well, the rules and standards fitting neatly into his numerically gifted head.

Before long he was doing every bit of the tax work he could handle, and as the man who takes care of the very rich, he enjoyed a bit of the pie also. Where there once was a Toyota Camry was now a Audi 500, where there was a apartment, there now was a house with a long twisting driveway and trees of evergreen. He had been content, puttering in his garden, with the hundred foot hose, flowers some vegetables, the insects and rabbits taking most, but it all just delighted him. He smoked his five cigarettes a day habit and was happy. He looked back on this time like an Eden, perfect, glorious and gone, and all do to the widow Roberts.

Saying widow, made her sound old, and she was 55 years old but the years of Pilate, yoga and a healthy sexual appetite had given Mrs Roberts (the ex Mrs Boxer, Mr Boxer a lover and eventual “death by” of motorcycles) a beautiful figure, she was quite simply, stunning. Heads turned, men smiled, woman looked her up and down. She was as the workers at Jack restaurant would say, “A stone cold fox.” He agreed. He was 55, once divorced, his first wife stripping him of half of his money and all of his self respect. She had thought him quite the lover, coming back even years after for a fun-for-a-moment tryst. Even though he had been glad to see her go, he now looked back on it with fondness. Did they have problems, yes, but at least they could make love to stop the darkness.

“Jack!!!” Dora was staring at him, are you coming. Here they were today back at the beach, he had stopped to look at the beautiful water, and drifted away.

“Follow me, I can't leave you for a second, like a grown man child” Dora continued but Jack was grateful for the wind which blocked the sound of his bride and guardsman to his sandy destination.

“Remember how to set it up Jack?” which at this point was the kindest Dora had spoken to Jack all day, the beach was her favorite, and its intoxication was the reason Jack made it happen so often, grateful for the break in the rule war. Jack could set this up in his sleep, at night with one arm tied behind his back, for the beach was a respite, where once his wife was all set up, beach chair (rule-half in the shade, half in the sun, ice chest with margaritas and bloody marys sat near cucumber sandwiches and coconut water. Her magazine, her suntan lotion (rule-Coppertone number 7, only) If all these things were in play, the former widow Roberts, would become the very content Mrs Waters, and Mr Jack Waters could go soak in the ocean.

Jack loved the ocean, the salt water gave his short roundish frame the freedom it desired, and he would swim for hours, laying on his back, body surfing and generally just being a complete child. This was where Dora and he had bonded, soaking up a day at the beach and then drinking and eating silly amounts of gulf food, and retiring to the room for endless beach sex. There was lots of sex in the beginning, Jack was confident in his love skills, and Dora was willing and beautiful. It seemed a perfect match to Jack. His friends however were not so convinced.

“Really?” Said his best girlfriend July.

“Why not? He said slightly offended. “You don't think I'm handsome enough?”

July's face cracked, and she smiled,

“You’re just being silly, I think you are freaking Tom Selleck, it's just think Dora is kind of like champagne”

“And I'm just light beer? Jack said raising his beer to his lips, July meeting his lifting of the glass with an impromptu cheering

“Yes, but really good light beer.” He understood. This was not who Jack had dated or even been married to, this was someone new, a proper woman, a woman of status. Dora owned several businesses, some more successful than others, but all of them feeding the blood from a turnip drive of the ex-widow Roberts. She had even made Jack sign a prenup agreement, which was ridiculous, Jack made a healthy living doing the taxes of the wealth in their small town, but Dora insisted upon it, her money was her money and his money and his house, his beautiful house were now Dora's.

However as he floated and swam and let his self enjoy, there were two new Dora related issues that were bothering Jack. The first was the taxes Dora had filled for her new business, Dora who always had bordered “oh-I-bend-some-rules at tax time”, was now out and out lying on her taxes, claiming losses, that Jack knew were never incurred.

“You can't do this, he said one morning pushing the tax form across the table. Dora barely glanced down and said.

“Stuart thinks its fine”, Jack gritted his teeth and stored the papers away.

Stuart was her ex lover, current business partner, in life and crime. Stuart had spent three years in federal prison, mail fraud. He wore it like a badge of dishonor in town. He was a mean man, and Jack didn't like him. Dora knew this, and yet her behavior never changed. Dora didn't like July, and Jack did his best to at least hide the fact that they were friends, but Dora and Stuart still hung out, afternoon beers at the country club, Dora paid Stuart handsomely to do all the dirty work that comes with several soul sucking businesses, someone to do the bribing, hiring, firing, destroying of evidence, paperwork, running the competition out of town.

All of this information had come to Jack after the honeymoon, several sources leaks to him the corrupt nature of his new bride, it had bothered him, his own dealings in the town, squeaky clean. Like his mother and father before him, even the thought of dishonesty making his stomach queasy. He had enjoyed the first year of dating, the stares of people, the same people who had never known that he existed, people who now gave him a second stare. He liked this newfound power, like a suit that once hung loose, he now had a brand new suit, he walked a little taller, had a strut. That was until the honeymoon, which itself was fine, sun and drinks flowing, the two got along famously. Then right after the honeymoon, the rules began.

Dora had insisted on moving into Jacks house, her own condo now rented, Dora took over his house, her work crew disappearing the Jack that had lived there before Dora.

“I only have white walls, She said, the idea being that her art work would have the pop it needed, the effect however was that Jack, who loved color and had it in several areas of his house, came home to an all white interior.”

“It's like a doctors office, said July, nailing the effect perfectly. It had almost made Jack cry, but this was what his new wife wanted and what made his new wife happy, made him happy, kind of, but not really at all.

The taxes nor the white walls, nor all the rules was on the mind of Jack this day in the water. It was something more personal, more hurtful. Jack had begun to suspect that his new wife, of only two years, was having a sex life with someone else. This idea bothered him immensely. There were some out there who believed in open marriages, where couple had other partners, but none of this was anything that Jack wanted in his life. His own sexual tastes, more of the Disney than, Shades of Grey, he thought of marriage as a partnership, and someone else was enjoying his partner.

Jack knew she was seeing someone else, fucking someone else, he could feel it in his bones. Their own sex life, only engaged when he asked for it, all for his pleasure, her own rides, long a source of pleasure for both, lie dormant. He knew something was going on. Why had she married him? There were other better looking men out there, why had she picked the sweet tax accountant? He knew why, he didn't like the answer.

“Stuart thinks the taxes are fine, just sign them.” Dora had said, now several times in fact. Jack didn't sign them, the idea of lying repugnant to him, but the reality of Dora's wrath sobering. He held off on sending them in.

The sun was now overhead, and Jack was now twenty yards off shore, floating on his back, cheating on his mind, twisting it's way through his good mood and guaranteed worry free day at the beach. Then he heard it.

“Shark!” the word twisted and sharp in the wind.

Jack up righted his body, quickly scanning the water around him. The yelling was being done by two lifeguards who were quickly entering the water, but still very far off.

Then he saw it. A black mass moving round him, but still ten yards off, he was frozen with fear. He stopped moving, a slow bob pulling his body up and down. Suddenly the beast was right beside him, brushing him back, heat in the water as it passed closely and turned for a second pass.

This was it, he thought, here in his little bit of paradise, the only thing that could kill a man, was about to kill him. The fear surged in his body, a part just wanted to die, end this, whatever this life thing had all become to him, Jack the joke of it all, now fish food Jack, come watch him die. The line from the music in the car came to him When you figure out the white hot spaces they finally fade you, this was it he thought, now that I know I am unhappy, I finally die? Hell no and no and no!

'No he screamed, to himself and the shark, No not like this.” Jack began thrashing wildly, he threw himself underwater to confront this head on. The shark opened it's mouth and made a pass teeth exposed, Jack struck it hard with underwater fists, cutting his right hand on the teeth, but making a real impact. Undeterred, the shark turned again, cutting a wake at Jack heading straight for his head.

Kicking as hard as he could Jack struck the surprised animal, his hand grabbing the gills of the superior animal, Jack hurt the beast, driving him away. Suddenly the shark was gone. And he was in the water alone, ribbons of red coming off of his hands, like silk. He stumbled to the shore, the life guards suddenly at his sides, lifting his bloody hands up, to save his blood, like a triumphant boxer, he was the winner, covered in blood, like Napoleon returning to the people, the blood loss now making the experience slightly dreamy.

The medics sat him in a chair, upright, the loss of blood a serious concern and applied tourniquet to both arms, Dora suddenly arrived.

“Oh my god, Jack what has happened here. A crowd of people had appeared.

“Your husband fought off a shark ma'am. One of this crowd volunteered, Dora was speechless

“That man is a hero, someone said, filling Jack with pride at his own survival, "He's just lucky to be alive!" someone said. And he was alive, more alive than ever, his bleeding hands, numb from adrenalin. Then it just happened, Dora bent down to Jack, and before she could ask how he was he spoke.

“I know you are fucking someone else”, Dora's eyes grew big, the crowd, having witnessed a shark beating was down being treated to a steamy drama, pulled in even farther.

“I know you are fucking someone, not me, and I want you out of my house.” Jack now stared at Dora, and if you give me any guff about it, I will rat you out on your taxes.” Dora stared at this man who had entered the water one way emerged another, his evolution, an afternoon at the beach.

His hands would be damaged, in need of surgeries and care, but soon they would become useful to him again, and he would use them to paint color into his house, where there were no rules and he would stand in front of the toilet and he would pee standing up. He would make a mess, yes there were some yellow drops, but he would clean those up.

It was just the right thing to do.

 


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