(This is Volume IV of the Seagull Saga. Volumes I through III can be found in the Archives.)
“Hey, Bum, haven’t seen you in awhile.”
Jon Seagull caught me off guard. It had been a week since I’d been to the beach and I was studying a long line of finely crushed shells. There had to be sharks teeth in that bed somewhere.
“How you doing, Livingston? Yeah, I had some kind of virus. I’m still weak from it.”
“Oh, I thought you had a psychotic break. Maybe took out an ex-landlord or one of those backstabbing ex-friends of yours.”
“Thanks for the concern, old boy, but I haven’t snapped just yet. This bout was all physical.”
It was, as far as I can recall, the first time that I had the flu. Now I can commiserate with the dozens of people who had told me of its savagery. Frankly, I’d always thought that the flu was nothing more than a really bad cold. How wrong I was. Regardless, it was nice to get back to the beach. So nice, in fact, that I didn’t mind running into my harshest critic. I missed the old bird.
“You’re looking a tad shaky, bum. Maybe you came back too fast.”
“I’m fine. A pharmacist told me it would take awhile to build my strength. Besides, I couldn’t have stayed away from the ocean for another day. I’ve got its salt in my blood.”
“I hear you. Tides have been super high. Darn near up to the dunes. Otherwise, you haven’t missed much.”
I’d subconsciously turned my back to Jon and walked away. He penalized me for forgetting my manners.
“You know, Dharma, if you step over trash, then you’re part of the problem.”
“I told you, Jon, my Dharma Beach Bum blog has nothing to do with the ditzy (but gorgeous) girl in that brain-dead sitcom. It’s derived from Jack Kerouac’s book ‘Dharma Bums.’ Jack-freakin’-Kerouac. Dharma-freakin’-Bums. Get it.”
“Don’t call me Dharma,” I said, picking up a shell and feigning a throwing motion in Jon’s direction. He didn’t flinch. It’s like that little peckerhead was reading my mind. He knew that I would never cast a stone at nature. I stomped away.
“Sure, step right over that cup. Go ahead. Shirk your civic duties. Be like everyone else.”
Jon knows my weaknesses. I retraced my last three or four steps and snatched the cracked, red cup from the sand.
“Business is picking up,” Jon cackled.