Monday, April 21, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 80 - James C. Clar

Rogue Wave

“What a great idea this was, Edward. I'll never forget today. In some ways it means more to me than our wedding day.”

“'Liz, you know I'd do anything for you,” Edward responded as he looked lovingly at his wife.

The couple, along with four of their closest friends, rode in a limousine provided by the Princeville Resort. Off to their right, the blue-green waters of Hanelai Bay sparkled in the mid-morning sunshine. The only person who looked somewhat uncomfortable was the priest who was also provided through the auspices of their hotel. With his deeply tanned skin and silver hair, it was easier to picture him on a golf course somewhere rather than doing quickie weddings or, in this case, presiding over a renewal of wedding vows for wealthy tourists at Kauai ’s most upscale resort. Oh well. Even if the padre only got a percentage of the outrageous fee they'd been charged to arrange this whole shebang – multiplied by the hundreds of these he must do each year – Edward was sure the old duffer made a pretty good living. Nice work if you can get it, Edward thought, recalling that great old Gershwin tune. I might have to look into the gig myself.

Speaking of nice gigs, Edward had to admit that he'd had a pretty damn good run. He had married Elizabeth because of her money; there was no getting around it. In the ten years they'd been together, though, he had at least developed something akin to affection for her. In the last two or three years, however, ‘Liz had really begun looking her age … a few new wrinkles here, a few extra folds there … at forty-six she was fourteen years older than Edward. He shuddered to think about what the next decade would bring. In all honesty he questioned his ability to bear up under that kind of strain. People were already starting to stare at the couple when they went out to dinner or the theater or to one of those charity affairs Elizabeth insisted on attending. Shit, he felt like some kind of low-rent gigolo or half-assed escort. If it weren't for the fact that his wife was loaded, ole’ Edward would have lit out for the territory ahead … like yesterday already!

Edward’s thoughts were interrupted by the driver. “Here we are,” the young Filipino in chauffeur’s livery said over his shoulder to his passengers as he turned the vehicle into a small roadside pull-off. “You see where that trail starts? The beach is right down there. Watch your step, though, the trail is steep and it can be muddy. Ladies, especially, you don’t want to ruin those dresses.”

Lumaha’i Beach: Edward had really done his research in selecting this location. Used as a backdrop in South Pacific when Mitzi Gaynor – did anybody even remember who she was these days? – sang “Gonna Wash That Man Right out of My Hair,” it was reputed to be one of the most beautiful and romantic beaches in the world. Movie buff that she was, Elizabeth had been ecstatic when Edward suggested that they fly to Kauai for their tenth anniversary and renew their weddings vows in such a famous and picturesque spot.

Once the party reached its destination – dubbed “ Tourist Beach ” by the locals – everyone commented on how magnificent a location it really was. With its brilliant white sand, majestic palm trees swaying lithely in the tropical breezes and the waves crashing against the pulverized coral that had been deposited at the water’s edge, it would be difficult to imagine a more beguiling place. Elizabeth felt like she was twenty years old again.

Edward posed for pictures with is wife both before and after the brief renewal ceremony. He was careful that they always faced the ocean. “Hey, Elizabeth ,” Edward said to his wife at one point, “let me get a shot of you alone. Why don’t you stand over here?”

Elizabeth agreed and posed with her back to the sea … the better, Edward had explained, to capture her beauty against the majesty of sand, sea and sky.

Motioning with his arm, Edward had her back up almost to the water’s edge. Camera in hand, he remained about ten or fifteen feet away. Only the priest seemed alarmed when he noticed where Elizabeth was standing. Before the older man could open his mouth in warning, a rogue-wave at least five feet high crashed over ‘Liz’s head. Only her dress sandals remained on the wet, glistening sand when the surge subsided. Before the onlookers could even register their shock, another wave deposited Elizabeth ’s lifeless body back on shore.

Two days later, after all the tiresome arrangements had been made concerning Elizabeth ’s mortal remains, Edward packed and got ready to return to the mainland. Their friends – ‘Liz’s friends, actually – had left yesterday. Edward had been glad to see them go; here he was in friggin’ Hawaii and he had to play the role of the grieving widower. Son-of-a-bitch! He returned his rental car at the airport in Lihu’e and grabbed something to eat at one of the kiosks in the small terminal building. Just before boarding his flight, he took out his cell phone and hit a number on speed dial.

“Sara … yeah, listen. It went great. It had to be the freakiest think I've ever seen. But everything I read about that damn beach turned out to be true. What? … No …The insurance and the will won't be any problem. There were five witnesses to what happened. I'm supposed to land around 9:30 your time. See you then … I love you too.”

Edward was almost looking forward to the long flight. It would give him a chance to do some reading. He had to start searching for a special place to take Sara on their tenth anniversary.


BIO: "James C. Clar is a teacher and writer who lives in upstate NY. His book reviews, articles and author interviews appear regularly in the pages of MYSTERY NEWS. His work, including short fiction, has also appeared in the CRIME & SUSPENSE EZINE, MYSTERYAUTHORS.COM, WORD CATALYST, HACKWRITERS, LONG STORY, SHORT, CRIMESCENE:SCOTLAND, ORCHARD PRESS MYSTERIES and CRIME TIME MAGAZINE (UK) and WORD SLAW."

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