“A House Party at the Beach”

Fiction by Kay Kidde

    Cammy picked Kim up in New York on Friday at the bank where she worked; they had a bite of lunch on their way down Long Island to open up the beach house. Cammy’s parents, who owned it, had told her she could have the water turned on, since it was late April. She and Kim set to, releasing a bird which had gotten in somehow, sweeping away dead spiders, the detritus of winter. . . . They got to the store just in time to stock up on steaks and artichokes for Saturday night, as well as staples. They bought wood from a farmer they knew.
    The little cottage had originally been built as a cabana, mainly for changing to swim in the ocean, but Cammy’s parents had added a bedroom on the west, and Cammy’s double-decker bed had just fit in the changing room, when the dividing wall there had been torn down. The kitchenette nestled in the living room, but there were two burners, and you could cook in the fireplace. Which was the only source of heat.
    Cammy had loved the place since she was a kid. She was something of a looker, but could never manage her cowlicks, her slightly wild fawn-colored hair — and she had a winning smile.
    When they’d made the beds, put the extra comforters on them, and admired the half moon on the rather tumultuous waves out there, they got a fire going and collapsed around it. Kim said, “You just like Ryan because he’s so good looking.” Ryan was due at noon the next day; Cammy wondered if Kim didn’t have a point.
    “Oh, no. It’s that you just like me because I’m so good looking,” Cammy answered.
    Kim threw an old New Yorker at her. “We get the bedroom and the guys get the double-decker?” Kim then asked.
    “Hell, yes, I say. They don’t know each other, and it is a double bed in the bedroom.” Cammy reflected that she and Ryan were not so close that he’d mind. She hoped he wouldn’t, at any rate.
    Kim sipped her B and B, grinned. “Right. Think what a big treat we’re giving them this weekend, anyway.” She got up to open the cashews, place them between herself and Cammy on the cocktail table. Kim was very pretty, slight, with wavy, neat blond hair.
    Cammy had never met Kim’s guy of the moment. “So. Nat teaches freshman English at the university, right?”  They had planned this little house party by phone, on the spur of the moment.
    “Yup. He’s very nice. His dad died a little while ago, and he helps his mom out some. There’s a younger sister finishing high school at home. Home is Brooklyn.”
    “You met him in your building, you said. Just recently. Is he fun?”
    “He does have whimsy, yes.”
    “I hope Ryan will like him.”
    “I always find Ryan quite genial.” Kim had several suitors. She and Cammy dated in foursomes from time to time; they had known each other since Wellesley.
    “That’s because you’re so beautiful. And a junior exec in a bank.”
    “Ha. But I don’t see him as a snob, Cam. Anyway, I’m in the foundation department.”
    “He’s not a snob, really. He’s just maybe happiest talking business. I think he finds me a little odd, working for legal aid. His range is actually from A to C. No. He can be generous. There’s even some humanitarianism in the old boy.” Ryan was a vice president in a manufacturing company on the north shore; Cammy had been seeing him since early fall. She was taken with him off and on. Confident, quite handsome, he was a bit conservative, and bright.
    “Are you starting to like Nat?”
    Kim pursed her lips. “It’s early days. Too soon to tell.”
    The morning was a little cool for breakfast on the porch, so they had it inside, looking out to the horizon, but the early sun promised a good day, and they were soon roaming the shore at some length. Ryan was scheduled to pick up Nat in the village by 10 or so; the men would probably get down around 1. They were to have soup and sandwiches from the deli for lunch, smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres before dinner.
    When they headed back toward the cabana, their friend Bree called out from her cottage. She waltzed down through the dunes, her long russet hair blowing.
    “Hey, Bree,” Cammy said, embracing her. “You guys been coming down all winter?”
    “Weekends, a lot, yes. One weekend we were pretty much snowed in here for a whole day. . . . Oh. Come for cocktails tonight? Can you?”
    “We’d love it, but we have two houseguests. Two guys from New York who should get here any minute, in fact.”
    Kim said, “You guys come to us,” and Cammy nodded, seconding.
    Bree said, “Oh, bring them. Max and I would love it. We get a little stir crazy out of season here. And I want to show off our new rug. About 6?”
    Cammy and Kim agreed with thanks. Cammy asked, “How is Max?”
    “His usual Neanderthal self. Stop it, Bree! I just say that because he didn’t want to go to the gallery in Southampton this morning. He’s okay.” Max was a computer whiz in the city; Bree designed children’s clothes.
    As she and Cammy neared the beach house, Kim asked, “Do I remember that Max drinks a bit?”
    “One of our top alcoholics out here . . . well, that’s not fair. But, yes, he can get feisty with it, too. But he’ll be on good behavior tonight.”
    “We can take them a bottle of wine? We can have the smoked salmon for lunch tomorrow now. Good?”
    “Kimmy, you are brilliant!” Cammy mock saluted, as they began to hurry up their dune. They could hear men’s voices at the cabana.
     Nat turned out to be dark, nice looking, rather rugged, and gentle. He had brought Kim and Cammy a collection of William Trevor’s short stories for the beach house. It had warmed up enough that they could have lunch on the porch, almost in the sand, admiring the vast expanse of beach and now tame ocean. Ryan had brought the makings of bull shots, and the four reveled in virtually the first fine day of the season.
    After, Ryan suggested a walk to the inlet, opposite the direction Cammy and Kim had taken in the morning. Kim was game for it.
To Be Continued

    Kay Kidde founded the Kidde, Hoyt & Picard Literary Agency. A former teacher, her fiction has appeared previously in The Star.