Cromwell and Blix Prepare for the Journey
The parking lot behind the Crooked Angel was empty except for two vehicles: Molly's sleek vintage Porshe Carrerra and my not so sleek vintage Chevy Step Van. It sat in the far back corner of the lot, next to the little beach shack that I was renting from Molly while I regrouped, as it were; while I attempted to pull myself together after the divorce. Cromwell and I carried our drinks and sandwiches across the parking lot to my truck for the ride to the beach. The beach is only a half a block from the Crooked Angel, but we have coolers and sails and ropes and so forth that pretty much stay in the truck, and these have to be transferred to the boat.
My truck is a forty year old Chevy step van, like the big box trucks used by parcel delivery services and bakeries. She has an aluminum body and a strong eight cylinder motor. In the twenty years I have had her she has served as a work truck, camper, party wagon, office and sometimes home. These days she is a crew bus and on weekends headquarters for our beach sailing. Ruby Beach has one of the last beaches in Florida that allow motor vehicles to drive on the sand. Driving on the beach is a rare privilege and makes for the perfect situation for launching our beach cats. My boat was waiting on the beach with the mast rigged and ready to go, sitting several yards above the high tide line. All we had to do this morning was get the beer and ice loaded then raise the sails and go.
“How much beer do you have in the truck?” Cromwell asked.
“Not near enough,” I replied. “Less than a case.”
“OK,” he replied. “I'll run into the Seven Eleven and get a case and a couple bags of ice.” He handed me his drink and sandwich and started across the street . I stepped up into the big truck and put the drinks in the cup holders on the engine cover. Then I went into the back and pulled out a medium sized plastic cooler. Reaching under the bench seat I slid out a case of Red Stripe beer (in the hard-to-find cans, not the stout little brown bottles. No glass on the boat!) I made a layer of twelve beers in the bottom of the cooler. Next would be the ice, then another layer of six beers and the plastic tray for the sandwiches and cigarettes and cell phones and so on. The rest of the beer and extra ice would stay here in my truck, in a big fishing cooler that was kept permanently on board for just that function. This regrouping of my life after Mona was taking a lot of beer. I sat in the driver's seat and took a sip from my Bloody Mary. A pair of gulls were swooping and dipping over the parking lot.
Cromwell came out of the store with the beer and ice and crossed the street. I went into the back and opened the rear panel doors and he handed up the bags of ice, then the beer. We finished loading the coolers and sandwiches and went into the front and sat on the black and red reccarro racing seats I had put in a year earlier. Cromwell and I reached for our drinks. He raised his in a toast.
“To the Beach!” he said.
“To the Beach!” We touched the red plastic cups together and I started the engine.