The Welcoming Sea
I. John’s Walk on the Beach
John had walked on the deserted beach for about 45 minutes. The sun was just clearing the horizon and full day was coming on. Looking at the sunrise and squinting his eyes, he scanned the horizon. The sun’s fiery red circle was almost totally above the sea as if emerging directly from the water.
Further down the beach, something in the surf caught his attention. With the recent storm a lot of debris had washed up, but this was very different that the logs or seaweed he had seen awhile back. John had rarely seen the ocean, much less when it had something dead floating in it. As he came closer he confirmed his first impression that it was the body of an animal. Most likely human. And most definitely dead.
He didn’t even feign running to the object. He walked up slowly and cautiously. There was no blood in the water so he wasn’t worried about shark attack. Nor did he think that was the likely cause of death as it appeared fairly intact. As John came even with the body, he looked up the beach for something to help fish it out. The thought of using his hands to drag it to shore was not his first option. No luck, the beach was pristine…except for the body.
John examined it as it shifted back and forth in the lapping surf. The arms were slightly waving back and forth. The skin didn’t appear too damaged or decayed, which would have made the choice of how to get it to shore more difficult. He’d never really seen a dead body before. It was a man, somewhere between 20 and 40, with black hair. He had been in the sea long enough to make pulling it ashore difficult on both a physical and mental level. The polo shirt on the body was light blue and the khakis light beige. The two dark stained holes in the back suggested a mode of death. Apart from what John thought were bullet holes, the clothes seemed well enough intact to keep the body together and provide a way to get it on shore. He figured he bring it above the high tide line and go back and get help.
“Ugh. Shit”, he grunted while he dragged the body onto the beach. He let the body go once he thought he had gotten it far enough up the beach and he fell back on the sand. The body lay in front of him, contorted in ways a normal body wouldn’t. It had been face down in the water. As John pulled him ashore, he caught a glimpse of the face. The expression caught him by surprise. He took a deep breath. He wondered if he should search the body, but decided against it. As he turned to go back up down the beach he saw a figure in the distance. Someone was walking down the beach toward him.
“OK, that helps”, thought John. This guy could stay with the body while he went back for help, thought John.
John started jogging toward the beachcomber. He could tell it was a guy and he was holding something. It looked like a metal detector. As John got closer he noticed the guy wasn’t moving his metal detector back and forth. He slowed his stride. It struck him as odd. Maybe he was freaked out by the dead corpse, but something seemed wrong and with a dead person around, why not be a little more on guard. He looked around the deserted beach and felt very, very alone.
“Hello!” shouted John.
“Hello!” came the reply, “you find something?” John couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong
“Yeah, don’t mean to put it so bluntly, but there’s a dead body up the beach. Do you have a cellphone? If not could you could go back and get help” John regretted the scenario he had said, he hadn’t thought it through. Should he have suggested the guy stay so he could get what he wants and split? But John had seen him and what if he needed time to do what he was going to do. Any way he thought about it, if the guy was up to no good, it wasn’t going to be pleasant.
The man walked up to him with an odd smirk on his face. “You’re kidding me.” The man seemed a little drunk.
“No, really, it’s right over there,” replied John. John pointed over his shoulder. The man’s face never left his to look at the body. They stood there facing each other for a second.
The guy dropped his metal detector and suddenly went for something at his waist on his back. John lunged at the guy grabbing his right arm while planting his shoulder in the guy’s chest and driving with his legs. The man tried to turn away from John to throw him on the sand but John anticipated this and drove to his right. They both tumbled over.
John didn’t let his hands off the guy’s right arm keeping it pinned against his body. The man’s hand had grabbed an automatic out of a small holster in his waist. “Don’t let go…don’t let go” said John to himself over and over. Everything seemed to be moving slowly. As John kept his head on the guy’s chest to keep him down something hit his face. The guy was punching him with his left hand. John could sense the hits but they felt muted almost like nothing. As the guy started to gouge at his eyes, John turned his face into the guy’s chest. John took the opportunity to grab for the gun.
The guy stopped trying to gouge John’s eyes and reached down with his left hand for the gun while bucking his body to get John off of him. It was too late, John had wrested the gun away. John spun off him and tried to get some distance between them. The guy rolled towards him trying to get to his feet. With the little bit of distance between them John raised the gun and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened as the trigger would not move.
They guy was just getting to his feet and lunged at John’s legs during the hesitation. John leapt back just beyond the reach of the guy who stumbled face first into the sand. John fell forward and brought the gun down on the man’s head. He kept hitting the guy with the gun. The man kept trying to get to his feet but with every hit the attempt became less coordinated. John stood up and began kicking the guy in the head.
“Fuck…you…you… fucking…piece…of…shit!” The body went limp. A wave of exhaustion overcame him. He staggered back a few feet and flicked the automatic’s safety off. He felt the trickle of blood coming from his face. He brought his left hand up to his face and felt blood all over his face. The pain began to come on.
He looked at the guy lying on the beach. He walked back over to him and gave him kick in the ribs. No reaction. He should just leave, but what if this guy gets up. He pondered just shooting the guy but decided against it.
“Let’s see who this guy is,” he thought to himself. John kicked him again in the side of the head. He squatted down and took out the guy’s wallet. He’d take it with him to the cops he thought.
“Oh fuck…fuck…fuck,” He whispered to himself.
The badge and police ID stated the bloody body in front of him was Detective Darrell Barnes.