Home > Tempting Fools(6)

Tempting Fools(6)
Author: Darien Cox

“I noticed. You think going to a family party means I’m about to have your name tattooed on my ass.”

“Wait, okay hold on.” I dropped the cash on the table and stood. Conscious that other diners were starting to notice us, I kept my voice low. “This doesn’t mean I don’t want another date. It just means I’d feel awkward meeting your family this soon. Can’t we just take it slow and see what evolves?”

“Gee, I don’t know Kurt, what are we seeking to evolve to? Mini-golf?”

“No. I mean…what?”

“Today was a daytime date that felt more suited to a six-year-old, followed by a very early dinner. Most of the customers here are over seventy and came for the cheap meatloaf. You’re not exactly bringing the candlelight and romance.”

God, it was like fighting with Violet all over again. I was Dull-Kurt. No-romance, no-spark, no-fun Kurt. Maybe I was too uptight about Bonnie’s invitation. The only thing I knew for certain was that I felt bad for upsetting her, and wanted to fix it. “Okay, I get it. Our dates haven’t been great. But I don’t want you to leave like this, I feel awful. I live nearby, do you want to come over to my place and have a drink, so we can talk?”

“You mean have sex with you.”

“No!” My response was instantaneous, and judging by the hurt expression on Bonnie’s face, it was the wrong one. I pivoted. “I mean yes! Of course I want to have sex with you.”

Someone at the next table snickered. Oh God, what was I doing? Every time I opened my mouth, garbage came tumbling out.

Bonnie scoffed. “So I’m not good enough for you to meet anyone important in my life, but you’re still trying to fuck me. Got it.”

“That’s not what I meant…I’m not trying to fuck you, I only said yes because I thought you wanted it.”

Bonnie’s jaw dropped, and I heard my words played back like I was outside my body, watching this idiot dig himself deeper into a hole. I wished there was a hole. Right under the table so I could crawl in. I had suspected I wasn’t ready to date, but based on the shit coming out of my mouth, I wasn’t sure I should even be allowed to date.

“You know what, Squirt?” Bonnie said. “Why don’t you go find your clown from the park, and invite him over for a drink. You obviously found him a lot more interesting than me.”

“Bonnie—”

“Don’t call me.”

She left the table and was out the door fast. As my awareness returned, I looked around to see everyone staring at me, which was unsurprising. That was an epic flounce on Bonnie’s part, and I was the clear loser in this scenario, confirmed by the smirks and whispers of the other customers.

Rubbing the back of my sweaty neck, I eased down into my seat. The waiter came over, looking sympathetic. “You want the check?”

“Please. And can you point me to the nearest liquor store?”

 

 

****

 

 

The sun was setting, sky pink and gray with a half-moon peeking in and out of a moving cloud cover. It had been too warm all day, but now the wind whipping aggressively in off the sea was making me shiver. I couldn’t wait to get back to my house and warm my insides with a shot of the whisky I bought after leaving the restaurant. Beer wasn’t gonna cut it tonight.

Many of the businesses had put out decorative tarp fences around their front entrances, to serve as windbreakers. Colorful and artistically painted, they enticed customers inside with promises of alluring merchandise and low prices—the latter of which was usually a lie. This area might have been a somewhat shoddier version of Cape Cod, but that didn’t mean they held back from bilking the tourists like it was Main Street in Hyannis.

Hillock Beach was one of the many spiky little peninsulas that jutted out from the crust of the east coast, small arrows of land pointing into the Atlantic, and found itself in the vacation category during the summer. Tonight was no different, and I dodged and weaved through a thickening crowd descending upon the boardwalk. I could always spot the locals among the tourists though, they had a different gait, an ‘I’m happy to be making money but can’t wait until these assholes leave’ gait.

I was one of them, lurching slump-shouldered up the street, heading back toward the fun park where I’d left my truck. Figures were visible night fishing out on the rock jetties, quick snake-whips of shadow as they cast their lines, and I thought of my father. He loved to fish off the rock jetty in front of his house. He used to take me fishing all over with him years back, before he started treating me like I was radioactive.

I turned my gaze from the sea, as it was making me feel colder. Ahead and to the left, at the butt of the distant curve of shoreline, were the majestic silhouettes of three hillocks that could be seen from everywhere in town. I was closer to them than usual down here on the boardwalk, and they looked larger than they did from the beach near my house. From a distance the hillocks appeared to be almost clumped together as one, but I knew from experience that they had roughly a mile of wooded valley between each of them. Larger than your average hill, though you couldn’t really call them mountains, the one in the center was taller than its sidekicks, and gave a decent climb with minimal effort. Because it didn’t take long to reach the summit, the climb had given me and my friends a sense of accomplishment when we were teens, along with a perfect place to smoke weed and hide from our parents.

But now they were just three big lumps on the horizon that I barely noticed anymore. The area was named for them, branded the simple and unimaginative ‘Hillock Beach’ a couple centuries ago, changed from various prior titles, erased and rebranded like so many things the settlers in this area touched. No one could agree on exactly who named the region originally, how far back, or how many times it had changed. But even the Wampanoag’s name for the hillocks referenced their colorful mythology, translating to something akin to ‘bone prisons’ because of the associated legends.

Because of this, I used to think the legend surrounding the hillocks was Native American. But my parents’ friend Dakota, a Native American historian, had told me “Don’t blame that horseshit on us” when I’d asked about it. In his opinion, there was nothing even remotely ancient about the legend, and that it was nothing but a colonial campfire tale inflated for tourists.

He was right about the tourism part. Because now, the hillock legend had been fostered and nurtured to draw a wide variety of people in, geologists, religious scholars, paranormal investigators, or just regular folks curious about the place. Local businesses stirred the pot, adding layers to the original mystery when they saw how it lined their pockets. Over the years the stories had been warped and twisted, made more outlandish to keep up with the short attention spans of modern man.

The main legend of the hillocks claimed that there was an ancient race of people so different from the neighboring communities that they frightened others living nearby. These nearby communities banded together to drive these strange outsiders away, as they seemed to possess odd powers of healing and tools far too advanced to be natural. But what they didn’t know was that these strange people were friends of gods, so when they tried to attack with the army from local communities, three hills thrust up out of the earth from nothing, forming instantly, and stopping the invading force from reaching what is now Hillock Beach.

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