Wow – another round of Sunday Picture Press over at the now infamous Indigo Spider. Last week’s writing got pretty intense with incredible from everyone. I highly recommend ALL of the writings submitted.
On to this week:
Marty and the guy on the beach
Marty found him like they said he would.
The foreigner was still on the beach even though the sun had set and the storm clouds in the sky brewed tempestuously as if to mirror the mood of the ocean below them. Only elderly couples braced the wind, hands entwined like ancient vines, strolling in silence in what was obviously a ritualistic walk meant to keep their greatest fear at bay.
And who would care for me, Mavis?
Marty could swear he heard the question hover over each pair that passed by.
Marty watched the foreigner, who was down in the sand on all fours. He had neither shoes nor socks on. Nor pants. Instead, he wore a wooden barrel around his waist. His long sleeved top was black like his hair and his lanky frame trembled as he slowly did push ups. Marty sidled up to the man.
“Excuse me, Sir?” Marty said.
The man held his position, quivering arms extended to their full length. He did not respond.
“Excuse me, Sir?” Marty tried again.
“Hssssssst,” was all the man managed before lowering himself into another push up.
Marty waited for him to finish.
“What are you doing?” he asked the foreigner.
“Hgggnnnnnn. Hgggnnnnnn,” the man said as he dropped his weight. His body shook tremendously.
“Are you cold?” Marty asked.
“Scoot, kid,” the man said. He had a strong, clipped accent.
Startled, Marty stepped back. But he did not leave. It was his beach too.
“People in town are saying you’re nuts,” Marty said.
The foreigner, who took a break from push ups, cackled. And whooped. The sound of his voice danced cheerfully on the wind.
“Sir, who are you?” Marty asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” the man said to the sand.
“What are you doing?” Marty asked.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Marty. I knew a Marty once. Still owes me ten bucks,” the man laughed to himself. “Marty, you sound like a smart kid. So tell you what. I’ll answer your question on one condition.”
“What,” Marty said breathlessly.
“That as soon as I’ve answered it, you leave me alone.”
“Deal,” said Marty and sat down next to the man’s shaking body.
“You know what a fortune cookie is?” the man asked.
“No,” Marty said.
“It’s a… a biscuit. And inside is a piece of paper that tells you your fortune. It’s a Japanese thing.”
“What’s a fortune?”
“One’s fortune is one’s destiny. Your fate. It is what is to be. It is where all of your current choices are leading you. And because your choices are made as a result of your nature, your fate is sealed as surely as you sit beside me right now.”
“Wow,” said Marty. He felt all grown up. He actually understood what the man said. At least, he thought he did.
“So there I was, at the wedding ceremony of a Japanese prince to his long-time love. Ah, it was so beautiful to behold. You see, my mother had been in the employ of Koichi’s father her whole life. Koichi and I grew up together, and despite the outrage it caused amongst his people, he instructed me to be his best man. As is tradition in Koichi’s village, the best man at any royal wedding is honoured with a fortune cookie, created by the hand of the prince himself, which spells out the destiny of the man who receives it. The moment in which the cookie is broken and the paper inside is read aloud is a very serious occasion. It becomes the moment in which the future king asks his best friend to strive toward his truest nature in service of the king himself.”
The man did a push up. Then he did another. His entire body shook more ferociously than when Marty had first arrived.
“What was in your fortune cookie?” Marty asked.
“Nothing,” the man said so quietly that Marty almost missed it.
“Nothing?” Marty asked.
The man looked up at Marty for the first time. Tears flowed in the furrows of his weathered cheeks.
“Nothing,” he smiled. “A fortuneless fortune cookie. My best friend freed me. And so now I’m on a foreign beach doing push ups in a ridiculous outfit to to demonstrate my freedom.”