Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Men's Christmas Outing (Part 1)

Negative Space, 2008

[This is something new, a story in three parts over three days.]

The long black limousine came to a sliding halt in the oyster shell driveway in front of Nate Bernstein’s house. It was Sunday afternoon, two weeks before Christmas. The day was cold and blustery. Clouds raced across the sky. Even from the porch Nate could feel the thump of the bass rhythm of the music playing inside the vehicle. It was something from Dave Matthews. He and Marion had danced to it in college. Gordo Weeks rolled down the back window.

“Come on, Nate Man!” Gordo called. “Time’s a wastin’. We’ve got shopping to do, boy!”

Nate Man? What was that about? Nate barely knew these guys, having just met most of them the weekend before at a Christmas party at the Holts’.

Nate was new to Sea Colony. When Marion’s mother died they were left the big shingle style house with its porches and acre of hydrangeas and lawn that swept down to the ocean. He and Marion had been perfectly happy in Irwin Park. Marion, though, wanted to move into the house rather than sell it. It had been her family’s summer home until her parents winterized the place and retired there. Nate was concerned about the upkeep of the place. His medical practice was still young and he had a lot of debt from setting it up. Marion assured him she’d run the house frugally.

It was their neighbor, Marion’s childhood friend Pinki Holt Bivens, who arranged for Nate to be invited into the Sea Colony Men’s Christmas Shopping Club. Marion thought it would be a good way for Nate to get to know some of the guys.

When Nate got down to the car he found Gordo, Sinclair Walker, Spiff Bivens, Alex Dupere and Whiz Holt already in the back, a bottle of scotch making its way around. He didn’t know there’d been a discussion of whether he should be included in the outing, and if he had he probably would have thought it had more to do with him being new to Sea Colony than with him being Jewish, when in fact it was just the other way around.

Nate climbed into the car and settled into the backseat beside Gordo. Spiff, who was squeezed into the other end of the seat, turned sideways to give himself more room and stretched his legs and his lizard skin cowboy boots across Nate’s lap. “We’re going to make a record of it today, boys!” Bivens yelled. “This’ll be one for the damned books.” Nate looked down at the boots in his lap and began to wonder what he’d gotten himself into.

Dupere yelled up front to the big black man who was driving. “Step on it, Teensy!” The limo sped out of the driveway and onto the main road. The tires clacked as they crossed the steel bridge over the inlet that separated the headlands from town. The guys bantered and bragged like frat boys: who could hold the most liquor; who’d made the most money; who’d slept with the most women. A second bottle of scotch appeared. Cigar smoke filled the car. An oldie from Three Dog Night played. Something about Jeremiah and a bullfrog.

The first stop was Curtis Braxton’s jewelry store. Braxton opened the store just for the Sea Colony men. His daughter Sloan, home from college, kept the drinks rolling while Curtis showed off jewelry the men’s wives had told him they wanted. All the guys but Nate bought something; Marion hadn’t known she was supposed to tell Curtis what she wanted Nate to buy for her. Sloan flirted with the men. Spiff pulled out a roll of hundred dollar bills and tipped her every time she leaned over and showed cleavage while her father was out of the room.

[Part two, tomorrow]

1 comment:

  1. You sound like you know these guys. Love that house! Can't hardly wait for Part II!

    Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea.