I met Clifford when his family came as tourists to our resort town. I told one other boy I loved him before I told Clifford and that was Beau Bittenbender. Oh god, what a gorgeous guy. Muscles, handsome, tall, and charming, Beau Bittenbender was a summer tourist like spindly, short, nerdy Clifford. When I told Beau Bittenbender I loved him, he told me he loved one of the Olsen twins. Of course Beau only knew them from watching TV but he seriously loved one of the Olsens—not sure if it was Mary Kate or Ashley. I figured that would be too much competition for a lifetime so the next summer Clifford told me he loved me and I said, “I love you too.”
“Why don’t you get away for awhile?” Clifford looked at the wall above my head. “I’ve got business in Europe for six weeks but I’ll be constantly bouncing between meetings.”
So you see Clifford sent me away. He hoped this vacation would stop the crying jags and the hot flashes and the mood changes and the fear of people.
The day before I left I made a rare contact. I saw a neighbor walking by. I stuck my head out the front door and called clearly, “I’m going to Acapulco tomorrow!”
She stopped and looked at me and my phrase echoed around the yard from bush to bush. The new buds on the trees fluttered Acapulco and the thick green blades of grass waved well-to-do.
The neighbor smiled and called back in her deep, masculine voice, “How delightful. Do send me a postcard.”
I nodded my heads, all four of them, and closed the door. But I knew I wouldn’t be sending the postcard. I didn’t know the woman’s name. Clifford and I always called her Max. Her voice was so deep. We really didn’t know who she was or exactly where she lived. We did know she came walking by an awful lot.
My suite was on the top floor, one thousand dollars a day. It had a living room, two bathrooms, two beds, and a large porch overlooking Acapulco Bay. All for me! I went out on the porch. The view stunned me.
All space was mine from the star lights in the heavens to the lamp lights of earth shining out from their mountain homes and touching into the dark bay waters with their ruby and diamond fingers.
“This is the postcard I’ll send to Max!” I said out loud. “I’ll take my God spoon and scoop it all out, sky and hills and water, and send it to Max, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S.A.”
I was orderly and unpacked. Each garment found a place. I undressed and went to bed.
“Goodnight Clifford in Europe. Goodnight other bed. Goodnight chest of drawers. Goodnight drapes. Goodnight Acapulco Bay. Goodnight me.”
The next day I had breakfast by the pool then explored the hotel. The shops opened at ten so at ten I did the shops. In the leather shop I considered a key case I thought was either jaguar or leopard but the clerk said it was “unborn calf, the most beautiful of all hide.” I felt myself swell up and my shoulders began to shake and I yelled, “COW ABORTIONIST! UNBORN CALF MURDERER!”
She said, “Do you wish to buy?”
Of course I didn’t want to buy!
I bought an unborn calf key case.
The clerk said, “Gracias.”
I spent the afternoon at the beach in my own private and deeply lonely thatched hut. I had a choice of seats. There were two hammocks, two chairs, and two sun mats all for me. I sat and watched a woman split her green bathing suit every time she laughed. She laughed often and by the end of the afternoon she had quite an open seam right down the crack of her ass.
I cried the next day in my room. I felt so weird, out of place, out of proportion, distorted.
I was born fifty years ago in a small north Michigan town to a father who was on the police force and a mother who on Friday and Saturday nights was a waitress at the Little Roses on the Corner Restaurant. I probably wasn’t too bright-looking because a neighbor, Mrs. Freleiber, at report card time, used to slyly ask if I had passed and when I said “yes” she was always dumbstruck. Hell, I passed with flying colors but I was a quiet smarty not one who played piano and curtsied at recitals.
The third day of my vacation I ventured out to the beach again and about fell over this flabby bald man passed out near my hut. He was awfully sunburned and appeared to have had ten margaritas too many.
I said, “Sorry, but you’re blocking my hut.”
He did not respond.
I studied his face and was taken aback, way back to our little resort town in northern Michigan. Was it…?
I yelled. “HEY! BITTENBENDER!”
He opened his bloodshot eyes and muttered, “Present.”
I bent over him. “Bittenbender, it’s me, Marjorie. I was the lifeguard who pulled you out of the deep end when you forgot to wear your water wings.”
“Oh yeah, Marjorie,” he said. “Jeez, Marjorie!” He smiled and pointed a finger. “You loved me.”
We sat in the yellow chairs in my hut.
“So, what happened lover boy?" I asked. “Did you marry one of the Olsen twins?”
“Just about,” he said. “I married Cecelia, a cousin to Mary Kate and Ashley.”
“You got the cousin?” I repeated.
“Close,” I said.
About the Author: Phyllis Green has recently been published in Goreyesque and Gravel, and soon in EDGE, Serving House Journal, and New Plains Review.
Photo Credit: Leesa Cross-Smith