The parasailing flight along the coast continued, with both guys relaxing while enjoying the spectacular views and the wind against their skin. Halfway through the flight, the boat turned to retrace its route to Monkey Mia, giving Trevor and Shane another look at the shallows, the sharks, the endless miles of uninterrupted beach, and the incredible vistas of Shark Bay.
All too soon, they were approaching Monkey Mia and the ride neared its end. The towboat angled close to the beach and slowed, causing Shane and Trevor to descend to fifty feet above the water. The gentle onshore breeze pushed them, as intended, closer to the beach as the towboat slowed further, easing almost to a halt.
“Splashdown!” Shane whooped, as they dropped gently into the water, the parasail billowing out behind them and falling to the sea. The water was barely waist deep, and the attendant was already at the scene and soon had them unhooked.
Trevor and Shane splashed ashore, coming back to where they’d started, and began getting out of their harnesses and lifejackets.
Once the gear was turned in, they walked back towards the jetty and then turned right, heading for the resort.
When they reached the resort’s beach frontage, they strolled along a narrow wooden boardwalk, which ran along the inshore edge of the beach. The boardwalk, which was in most places just a foot above the sand, had no guardrails, and it wasn’t quite straight – it doglegged in a few places – but it was sheltered by the palms, and the green grass inshore of it was a welcome sight.
Trevor’s mind was still in the sky. “That was freaking awesome,” he said, sporting a huge grin.
Shane nodded as they continued along the walkway with Trevor by his side. “Yeah, I had a blast... after the first couple of minutes, anyway. Thanks for calming me down, mate. I didn’t know it’d bother me like that.”
Trevor chuckled. “I’m not surprised it did, if you’ve never been off the ground before. I’ve taken airline flights, but that’s nothing like this; this was way better,” he said, glancing at the sea on his right, and then to his left, at Shane.
Shane nodded. “Yeah, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and I don’t think it’d bother me. Only next time, I think I’ll check my harness out first; I think it was too tight, ‘cause it was cutting into me a bit,” he said, slowing slightly as he looked down and rubbed at his hips – which still bore a faint welt from the harness – and then his crotch, readjusting himself in his shorts.
Trevor’s eyes were drawn to follow Shane’s hands as he and Shane approached a spot where the walkway angled inshore, which a distracted Trevor failed to notice. The gravity of the situation made itself known to Trevor when his next step landed on thin air, and he pitched forward, arms flailing, falling face first onto the sand with a muffled thud.
“Oops, are you okay, mate?” Shane said, hopping down by Trevor’s side as Trevor scrambled to his feet.
Trevor turned aside, already blushing, and spat to clear his mouth of sand. “Ugh, yeah, I think so,” he replied, before spitting again.
Shane nodded, turning away and rolling his eyes, struggling not to laugh. “I should have warned you; here in Australia, you’re supposed to follow the walkways; they don’t follow you.”
“I guess my head is still up in the clouds,” Trevor replied lamely, with a halfhearted nod back towards the parasailing stand.
“That’s one way of putting it,” Shane replied, laughing and helping Trevor brush the sand off his chest.
Trevor’s breath caught in his throat at Shane’s touch, but Trevor was both embarrassed, and concerned. ‘Why the fuck do I have to be so clumsy around him... I better knock it off or he’ll figure out why,’ Trevor thought, chiding himself.
“Maybe we should head inland across the grass, but I gotta warn you; there are trees there. They won’t get out of your way and you might come to a sudden arboreal stop again,” Shane said, followed by a few snickers.
Trevor blushed harder at the memory of walking into a tree in Carnarvon. At a loss for how to reply, Trevor bounded back up onto the walkway. “Let’s find some water, I’ve still got sand in my mouth,” he said, as Shane joined him.
“You’re really not supposed to eat sand, you know... if all the tourists did that, we’d have no beaches left,” Shane said, in a mock scolding tone.
Trevor replied only with an embarrassed shrug, and kept going.
Shane, though, wasn’t about to let the matter drop. “Trev, you’re in Australia!” he declared.
Trevor gave Shane a puzzled look. “Yeah, I kinda know that already.”
Shane shook his head sadly. “I’m not sure you do... I’ll never forget your utter tongue-tied shock, when we first met, at finding an Australian in Australia. Then, you forgot that Australian trees don’t get out of the way of pedestrians, and then you forgot that gravity works here and fell over the boom. Now, you’ve gone and walked off a walkway because it didn’t follow you, and eaten a chunk of one of our beaches. I just don’t think you’ve yet learnt that things here don’t work the way you’re used to back home in Yankeeland – and what a strange place that must be, if you’re any indication.”
Trevor cringed at the list of things he’d done, but laughed anyway. “I’ll try to keep it in mind... hey, speaking of strange, if I need anything to remind me where I’m at, look,” Trevor said, in an excited, hushed tone, pointing ahead at a eucalyptus tree, directing Shane’s attention high up in its branches.
Shane peered at the tree in confusion. “What?”
“Look at the top branches, on the left. See the birds? Those look like budgies.”
Shane spotted several of the colorful green budgies, and asked in a puzzled tone, “Yeah, that’s what they are. On my last visit, I saw trees around here thick with ‘em. They’re pretty common.”
Trevor stopped to admire the wild budgies. “It’s awesome that you’ve got so many colorful birds. I’ve seen galahs, and now budgies,” he said, hoping that he’d managed to change the subject.
He hadn’t. Shane snickered and replied, “So you’re budgie spotting, then? And that’s why you fell?”
Trevor shook his head and made a point of chuckling. “Nah, that was just me being clumsy. I saw the budgies after I fell. Uh, is there water this way?” Trevor asked, as they continued on their way towards the center of the resort.
“Yeah, we’re almost to the drinking fountain,” Shane replied, snickering again.
When Trevor was done rinsing his mouth out, they strolled through the resort grounds, with Trevor spotting many more budgies.
“The resort has a small motel, some guest cottages, a campground, a visitor center, and two restaurants,” Shane said, pointing them out. “The resort is pretty much the only thing here at Monkey Mia.”
As they returned to the beach, Trevor asked, “Feel like going for a run? I need some exercise and haven’t had a chance to do any workouts in a long time.”
“Sounds good to me, but it’s a race,” Shane declared, breaking into a sprint up the beach before he’d finished speaking.
Trevor took off after Shane, sprinting across the loose sand, angling closer to the surf line in search of firmer footing.
Shane looked back to see Trevor gaining ground. “That’s cheating!” he yelled, heading for the wet sand to hold his lead.
The race was on, with Shane holding a lead of a dozen yards, as they tore along the beach, running flat out. Trevor started falling back after half a mile, already feeling winded, but refusing to let it show. He gave it all he had, but after a mile, Shane’s lead had tripled, and he looked back over his shoulder, laughing and yelling, “You’re slow!”
Trevor gritted his teeth and ignored his aching muscles as he kicked into a sprint, managing to slowly reduce the gap, but Shane still held the lead by forty yards and soon gained ground again.
Reducing his stride slightly, Trevor fell into an easier pace, feeling the breeze caressing his body and running through his hair.
The beach stretched on into the distance, seemingly endless as they raced in the hot sun. Trevor was in serious pain by the end of the second mile; covered in sweat, his sides aching, his muscles burning... and still he ran, but Shane was inching ever further ahead.
Trevor felt his legs turning to jelly, and with no choice, he slowed to a jog, barely having enough breath to call out, “You win!”
Shane looked over his shoulder and looped back, falling into pace at Trevor’s side. “You’re pathetically out of shape,” Shane said, between gasps for breath.
“I was at sea for months, not much room for running,” Trevor puffed, trying his best not to stare at Shane’s sweaty, heaving chest. Even so, he thought to glance ahead, to make sure there were no wayward trees in their path. “Back home I used to run five miles a few times a week, at least.”
“You didn’t do too bad; a flat out race on sand is hard, and you kept a good pace for the first kilometer or so. You could probably give my dog a run for his money, though that’s only because he’s been dead for five years,” Shane said, his breathing already easing.
Shane had bested Trevor, and Trevor knew it, so after making the appropriate hand gesture, he let Shane’s barbs slide. “Do you do a lot of running?”
“Yeah, sorta, not as much as I used to though. When I was in surf lifesaving, I ran a lot, mainly for speed; the beach sprint is important in some of the competition events, as well as for getting to the water to rescue somebody,” Shane replied.
“Have you ever had to do that; rescue somebody, I mean?” Trevor asked.
Shane frowned for a moment, and then his expression became neutral. “I’ve rescued three; not much to it really. Two were caught in rips so I paddled out on a kneeboard to bring ‘em in, and the third got slapped by a wave and started thrashing around and panicking so I waded out to help ‘em: they were in waist deep water. All I had to do was get them to stand up.”
“That must be an awesome feeling, saving somebody,” Trevor said, still trying to catch his breath.
“That’s a big part of why I got into lifesaving,” Shane replied, looking away, which put his sad expression out of Trevor’s view. After a few seconds, Shane brightened and asked, “How much further do you want to go?”
“Not too far, but I’m a lot better at a jog than at a run. Another ten miles, then turn back?” Trevor asked offhandedly.
Shane missed a step and stumbled. “That’s a fucking long way!” he gasped.
Trevor kept going and gave a nonchalant shrug. “Yeah, I’m not up to a long run – yet,” he said, trying to disguise the fact that he was still badly winded.
Shane caught up and stared at Trevor for a moment. “You’re insane!”
“I’ve always been crazy,” Trevor replied, using the last of his energy to speed up. “Come on, pick up the pace!”
Shane caught up again, and gave Trevor a long, careful glance. “I think you’re winding me up: you look beat.”
Trevor kept up the facade a few moments longer, but then slowed, stumbling before flopping down on his back on the wet sand, arms spread wide, his bare chest heaving. “Okay, so maybe I can’t do twenty miles,” he gasped.
“You don’t look like you could do twenty centimeters,” Shane replied, still breathing hard and coming to a halt next to Trevor’s knees. Shane gave Trevor a long slow look-over and declared, “You’re knackered!”
Trevor raised his head, to find Shane studying him intently. “You’re out of breath too,” he replied, and then lay his head back down on the sand, closing his eyes against the glare.
“I’ll admit to that, I guess,” Shane replied, still watching Trevor. “But I’m still on my feet.”
“I need to do more workouts,” Trevor said, though at the moment the idea was far from appealing. “But I’m done for today, except for a jog back.”
“Here, I’ll give you some shade,” Shane said, stepping over Trevor and standing next to his torso, which put Shane’s shadow across Trevor’s upper chest and head.
Trevor felt the coolness, and opened his eyes for a moment, finding Shane’s head surrounded by the painful glare. Shutting his eyes, Trevor replied, “Thanks, you make a good beach umbrella.”
“Rest for a few. I think we both need to catch our breath,” Shane replied, in a quiet, distracted tone.
Trevor rested for a minute, taking deep breaths. Reluctantly, he sat up and opened his eyes, and then took Shane’s offered hand for a pull to his feet. Shane began walking back towards Monkey Mia, asking over his shoulder, “Want to jog, or walk?”
“Jog, but not run,” Trevor replied, wincing as he began jogging.
Shane broke into a jog, staying a little ahead. “Suits me, mate. We’ll have to do this more often; I haven’t been running as much as I used to either. Last time was a few days before you showed up; I took a run out to the satellite ground station and back. I miss my running shorts though; the only pair I had wore out a few months ago and running in boardies isn’t the same. There’s a store in Denham that might have some.”
Trevor knew he’d be sore the next day, but vowed to himself that he’d make time for some workouts, including some swimming. ‘I haven’t swum much in months and Joel has been working out with the swim team. He’s going to kick my ass in the water and never let me forget it if I don’t get ready,’ Trevor thought, already conceding to himself that Shane would probably beat him too.
After a few hundred yards, Shane slowed so that Trevor could pull even with him, and they jogged back to Monkey Mia mainly in silence, neither having much breath to spare.
After another walk around Monkey Mia, Trevor and Shane returned to Kookaburra, tired and hungry.
Dinner was Thanksgiving leftovers, which they both enjoyed – especially the pavlova.
After dinner, they settled in on the couch with another round of beers to watch a movie.
As the credits rolled, Shane glanced at a clock. “We’ve a decision to make. I checked the tide tables; there’s a high tide at two tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll want to go through the tricky bits of Boat Haven Loop at high tide; it can be too shallow otherwise. That means we’ll need to cast off from Denham by noon at the latest, or we’ll need to wait until the next day.”
Trevor got up and checked the navigation display. “If we assume ten knots, it’s five hours from here to Denham, then two to Boat Haven Loop’s entrance. We should make better time than that if there’s a good breeze, but we know we can do ten on engines so that’s our baseline. How long will we need in Denham?”
“A couple of hours, unless you want to see the museum and such. We’ll probably want to stop there again after Boat Haven Loop, though. So, if we just get food... yeah, two hours should do it. We might make it if we leave at first light and hurry, but it’ll be tight... and I hate the way first light always comes so early in the morning,” Shane replied.
Trevor nodded, doing the math in his head. “That’s nine hours total to the entrance of Boat Haven Loop, if we push it. Where are the shallow parts you’re worried about?” Trevor asked.
Shane pointed at a confined area in the southern section, where the channel touched a large lagoon. “Here, mainly.”
Trevor stared at the display. “Okay, that’s about nine miles in, with winding channels on the way. That could take up to two hours, so... either we leave in the middle of the night, or we stay overnight in Denham. I’m betting you don’t want to get up at three in the morning?” Trevor asked, grinning.
Shane shuddered and shook his head. “I’m very fond of sleep; it’s one of the things I do well. There’s also a fair number of shifting sandbars along this coast, so trying it in the dark might be risky. Let’s have a day in Denham tomorrow, then head for the entrance to Boat Haven Loop and spend the night.”
Trevor laughed. “Sounds good to me; we’ll just sail when we get up tomorrow.”
They settled in for another movie. When it was over, Shane headed for his cabin, “G’night, Trev,” he said, in a sleepy tone.
Trevor winced from his sore muscles as he trotted down the galley stairs on his way to his cabin. That night, Trevor was again wracked by his nightmares.
In Florida on Thursday morning, Joel chugged towards Bridget’s guesthouse in Trevor’s old Honda. He was getting slightly more comfortable with its manual transmission, but the worn clutch and wheezing engine made it slow and difficult for him. He’d decided to give it a run and Thanksgiving Day seemed like the perfect time, due to the nearly empty roads.
With a wheeze, a shudder, and a couple of loud backfires, Joel parked the decrepit Honda at the curb next to the guesthouse, several yards behind Lisa’s truck, and raced inside to see Lisa, giving her a big hug and a kiss. “Happy Thanksgiving!” he said, whirling her around in his arms.
Lisa chuckled, holding Joel tight. “If my father sees that car, he’ll rethink letting me go to Australia... or maybe not; if I’m here you might take me for a ride in it,” she said, toying absently with the collar of Joel’s baby-blue polo shirt.
“I hope it’s not still around by then... I want to get it sold before we go see Trev,” Joel replied, laughing.
Lisa’s smile faded, replaced by a thoughtful look. “We could take it when we go see that private investigator tomorrow. Maybe we could talk him into buying it, if we convince him it has clues of some kind,” she suggested.
Joel raised both eyebrows. “That’s not a bad idea... but what could we say?”
Lisa shrugged, and then sighed softly. “I don’t know. We already agreed to tell him nothing more than ‘Trev is in Tasmania’. I can’t think of any way to make the car look useful to him.”
“If he does buy the car, I guess we could be really nice and tell him Trev is in Hobart,” Joel said, with a sly wink.
Lisa chuckled at the joking mention of Tasmania’s capital, and shook her head. “I don’t think there’s much hope of us getting him to buy that wreck though.”
“I figured you could follow me back to my house. I needed to run the thing so it’s more likely to start; I’ve got an ad in the autotrader.”
“Any takers?” Lisa asked.
Joel shrugged, letting go of Lisa and walking towards the open door to look at the Honda. “Just a few phone calls last night, but as soon as I start answering questions, they lose interest. I’m not even saying how bad it really is, but it’s got nearly two hundred thousand miles on the clock, hasn’t had a new engine or tranny, and the air conditioning doesn’t work.”
Lisa looked at the car and scowled. “That damn wreck... How much are you asking?”
“Eight hundred. I’m thinking of knocking it down to five,” Joel replied.
“I hope you mean five dollars, and even at that, it’s overpriced. Trev never would spend money on anything besides Atlantis.”
“He’s cheap,” Joel replied, snickering.
Lisa laughed, shaking her head. “He sure is... when it comes to cars and clothes anyway.”
“Come to think of it... I should probably check with him about selling it. He should be back by next summer, and he might want to keep it.”
“Then sell it!” Lisa said, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “It was awful when he left, but it’s been sitting outside your house in the sun for months. It’s almost dead anyway, and it reeks!”
“You could buy it,” Joel offered, giving Lisa a fake innocent look.
Lisa pulled Joel into a loose hug, as her left hand gently cupped Joel’s balls. “Ask me that again,” Lisa said sweetly, giving Joel’s balls a quick, gentle squeeze.
Joel chuckled, being careful not to move. “Okay, okay, careful down there. We’ll find somebody else to buy it.”
“Where are we going to find somebody as insane as Trev?” Lisa asked, letting go of Joel’s jewels and giving him a real hug.
“That’s not going to be easy,” Joel said, staring at the rusting Honda. “I talked to Ben, ‘cause he’s into cars, and he said it’s not worth the money to fix it, and it’s just about dead. I’ll do what I can, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get much for it. Trev could probably use the money, too.”
“I miss Trev, and I’m worried about him,” Lisa said, clutching Joel tight.
“Me too. We’ll see him soon though, ‘cause I’m sure your father will let you go. He’s already pretty much said he will, and he’s been a lot friendlier towards me lately.”
“That’s because you can cook, I think,” Lisa said, and then, deciding that then was the time to share something else she’d discovered, added, “Daddy and I talked this morning. He told me what you did; offering to stay here so I can go. That impressed him, a lot, and he said he’s okay with me going unless something changes his mind. His one remaining concern was that we’d be staying on Atlantis. He knows about the bombing, but not the pirate attack and the damage... so I just told him the partial truth: Trevor is having Atlantis overhauled and none of us can stay on her. Now, back to you offering to stay behind... I love you, more everyday, you’re the best for offering that, and you didn’t even say,” Lisa said, pulling Joel in for a deep and passionate kiss.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” Bridget called out cheerily as she approached on the pathway from her house.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” Joel and Lisa replied, pulling apart and turning to greet Bridget.
“My, isn’t it a wonderful day. I trust we’re all still on for tennis Saturday?” Bridget asked, with a chipper smile on her face.
Lisa and Joel nodded. The Saturday tennis game with Bridget, followed by snacks in her parlor, had become a regular event for the three of them.
Bridget glanced at the Honda with a soft, inquisitive smile. “That’s certainly a... very seasoned vehicle, and unquestionably announced its arrival very loudly,” Bridget quipped.
“It’s Trev’s, and I’m trying to sell it before we go see him,” Joel replied, wondering if he’d ever be able to.
Bridget brightened visibly and walked to the car with evident interest. “Really? What a pleasant coincidence. I’ve been keeping an eye peeled for a... classic that’s past its prime. There’s a charity event in a few weeks, and this would do just nicely. The event is actually a sort of a demolition; a few cars are lined up, and people pay a considerable sum to have a bash at them with a sledgehammer. It is all so awfully messy, though it is in a good cause, after all. Therefore, I have been seeking some vehicles to buy for it. How much are you asking?” Bridget asked, with the most pleasant of smiles.
Joel blinked in surprise, amazed at the apparent stroke of luck. “Uh, eight hundred–” Joel said, about to mention he’d take less, but Bridget interrupted with a dismissive wave.
“I am quite unfamiliar with the used car market, so I am resigned to spending six thousand,” Bridget said, snapping open her designer purse, her diamond rings sparkling in the sun. She looked at Joel’s open jaw and smiled. “This will help Trevor, and the two of you shall be away for Christmas, so consider this your Christmas present from me, for the three of you,” Bridget said, pulling out a thick roll of hundred dollar bills and handing it daintily to a very stunned Joel. “I am really quite pleased, for now I have no need to go looking for a vehicle,” Bridget added, with a prim smile.
Lisa and Joel shared a glance of stunned disbelief, and Lisa said, in a shocked whisper, “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely!” Bridget said, closing her purse with a flourish. “Merry Christmas to you all.”
“Wow, thank you, Bridget,” Lisa said, stepping forward to give Bridget a hesitant hug.
Bridget returned the hug warmly, and then looked at Joel. “Don’t I get a hug from you too?” Bridget asked, giving Joel an exaggerated flirtatious wink – which she made sure Lisa saw – and then chuckled softly. So did Lisa.
Joel, blushing slightly, stepped over and wrapped his arms around Bridget and Lisa, and they all shared a warm hug.
Joel pulled away and walked towards the Honda, opening its passenger door, which creaked and groaned in rusty protest. “I’ve got the title in the glove box; Trev signed it when we were in the Med, it should be all ready to go,” Joel said, as he retrieved the document.
“I shall turn in a notice of demolition in a few weeks, once the deed is done, so that the vehicle is no longer in his name,” Bridget said.
“Trev’s car insurance expired a few months ago. I’m not really supposed to drive it on public streets,” Joel said.
Bridget waved the concerns aside with a flick of her head. “The charity event is near Orlando, and I rather doubt it would make the journey under its own power. It, and the other vehicles, will make the trip with a towing service that is donating its time. If I do need to drive it anywhere, my insurance covers me fully, so there is no need for concern. We shall just leave it here and it will be picked up in a day or so.”
Joel smiled, handing over the key. “Thank you so much for doing this.”
“Not at all, my pleasure, see you both Saturday, and have a splendid Thanksgiving,” Bridget said cheerily, and then turning to walk the eighty feet back to her front door, turning to give Lisa and Joel a friendly wave before entering her home.
“Wow, that was so nice of her,” Joel said, looking at the thick role of cash in his hand. “She’s been so great to us, and I don’t mean just the car,” Joel said, glancing at the guesthouse.
Lisa nodded, giving Joel a hug. “She sure has. Bridget has been more like a mother to me than my real mom ever was. I think I remind her of her daughter; she showed me her picture once, and we look a little alike. She wasn’t much older than me when she got sick and died.”
Joel’s head was still awhirl from the seeming sudden good fortune, but reality intruded as he checked his watch. “We’d better get going. I’d like to be at my house before there’s any chance of your father getting there. He’s only met my parents once so far,” Joel said, turning towards the guesthouse to lock up.
Lisa drove them to Joel’s house, where Joel’s mother greeted them at the door with a smile, accompanied by the delectable scent of roasting pork. “The main course is in the oven, Joel, but you need to make the stuffing and the dessert.”
“I better get started. This is going to be a Thanksgiving Day to remember,” Joel replied, with a beaming smile, before giving his mother, and then Lisa, a hug. It was his first Thanksgiving with Lisa, and he wanted it to be just right.
Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions. Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading. Special thanks to glsswm for helping me with some technical points. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.