Cheep, A Serial, Number 5

Number 5:

Lucy hung up the phone. She had been talking to her sister who was flying down to join her for some sister time at the beach. Her bedroom was on the second level of the beach house, but she could still see the man who had sat down beside her over top of the dunes. He was leaving to walk on down the beach as she had seen him do every day. She’d had so much on her mind that she had scarcely noticed him. She was surprised he had stopped to talk and embarrassed he had seen her crying.

Amelia, her older sister, had called to make the final arrangements for her visit to the beach. She was going to spend a week with Lucy there. They were both looking forward to their time together. Amelia and Lucy had gotten to spend little time together as adults. They were six years apart in age and had led different lives. This was their chance to reconnect, although interruptions they hadn’t counted on were going to interfere. Lucy had already been at the beach house for three days alone. Her husband and other guests were going to soon all arrive in the space of two days.

First, Lucy’s daughter, Marie, and her husband, Adam, were flying in on the same day as Amelia. The next day, Gary, Lucy’s husband would arrive. Lucy was looking forward to spending time at the beach with everyone except Gary.

She and Gary had been arguing for days. During one of their arguments, Gary had changed his flight and, instead of arriving when she did, he expected her to stay at the beach house alone for several days. She had to drive almost 600 miles to get there. She had to do it alone. It was right in the middle of Hurricane Irma and that monster storm was going to be making landfall in South Florida as she drove and when she arrived at their panhandle beach house. Lucy had envisioned heavy traffic and even bad weather.

Everything turned out all right on her drive. She stopped and spent one night on the road and went on the next day. It was lonely in the beach house. She had taken the opportunity to do some thinking since she got there. Her relationship with Gary had not been good for over a year. Really for two years. She had been considering divorce. When Ed Gillespie found her sitting below the dunes, that subject was on her mind.

Lucy Hammonds was a beautiful woman. Blonde hair, flawless skin, a killer smile, and those azure eyes. She looked much younger than her 60 years of age.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 4

Number 4:

Ed sat there for a few moments. He had been aware that she was very attractive, but he couldn’t really describe her because he was captivated by those azure blue eyes. She was troubled. He didn’t think she had smiled except when she had introduced herself and only a little then. He didn’t even know the color of her hair. She had seemed laser-focused on whatever was hurting her inside, a bad marriage apparently. He looked back at the beach house, but he saw no sign of her. He didn’t know she was lying on her bed watching him as she spoke to someone on the phone.

Ed got up from the sand dune, dusted himself off, and continued on his walk. He wondered if he’d ever see her again. If she was a creature of habit, she’d be out in the same spot on the beach the next day, gazing at the Gulf or crying. Perhaps both. He hoped she would find peace. He continued his walk down the beach. As he returned to his beach house, she was nowhere to be seen.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 3

Number 3:

Ed sat down but not too close to her. He felt like, if he did, she’d run off like a wild thing. The two of them just stared out at the ocean for a moment or two.

Finally, Ed introduced himself. He held out his hand.

“I’m Ed, Ed Gillespie.”

She seemed to have to screw up her courage. She finally took his hand and said, “I’m Lucy. Lucy Hammonds. I’m staying in the beach house right behind us.”

“Lucy, if you don’t mind me asking, would you like to talk? I’m just an old guy who has been around the block a few times. I don’t know why such a beautiful woman sits here day after day crying her eyes out, but if I could offer any wisdom or just be a sounding board, I’d be glad to do so.”

Then he smiled at her. Ed had a very engaging smile. He still felt like a dope. He just made this big speech to a total stranger who was sitting here crying. Why should she want to talk to him?

Lucy gave him a soft smile back.

“I’m here alone, Ed, and I’m lonely and scared. I have a big problem. You see, I think I want to divorce my husband.”

Ed thought to himself that he should get up and leave right that second. He’d had his share of relationships in his life, including a marriage. Some of those relationships were with women just like Lucy, either just prior to or just after they were divorced. Those relationships were nothing but trouble. Somehow, Lucy seemed different or maybe it was because she was beautiful. Ed was a sucker for a beautiful woman.

“I’ll have to tell you, Lucy, that I’m probably not the best person to give relationship advice. But, what do you mean that you only think you want a divorce?”

“Ed, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. One year for sure. Probably even two years. I’m afraid.”

“Everyone who contemplates divorce is afraid, Lucy, but what are you afraid of, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid no one will ever find me attractive again and that I’ll never again find love.”

Ed was disarmed by her honesty. At that moment, her phone rang. She got up and ran into her beach house, leaving him sitting against the sand dune.

Cheep, A Serial, Number 2

Number 2:

Ed Gillespie, the old, retired private investigator, walked up and down the beach on the Gulf of Mexico every day. There may have been the biggest hurricane ever spotted brewing just off the Atlantic coast of Florida, but no one knew it in the Panhandle. The water was azure, reflecting the color of the sky. The only hint of trouble ahead was more wind than usual.

East of his beach house, Ed saw the same woman every day. She sat with her back to the dunes, just beyond the sea grass, facing the Gulf. Some days, she gazed out at the water, looking haunted, as if she saw nothing. Other days, her head was hanging down and she held her hands over her face. He assumed she was crying. On the days he could see her face, he saw that she was beautiful. It wasn’t difficult to see pain on her face and see that she was also troubled. There was something vulnerable about her and he longed to stop and ask if he could help. Thinking of the women who had burned him in the past had stopped him so far.

Today was different. He glanced at her as he neared her place in the sand and she was looking at him. He could have sworn that her eyes reflected the azure of the water. He found himself walking over to her.

“Hi,” he said, “I see you sitting here almost every day. I thought I’d stop and say hello. I’m Ed and I’m staying two beach houses down the beach.”

He felt foolish. As he gazed at her, he saw the tracks of tears on her face.

“Hello,” she gulped, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting anyone to stop by. I’ve been crying.”

She was hastily trying to wipe away her tears.

“I don’t suppose I could help? I have a pretty good set of shoulders,” Ed remarked, “Would you mind if I sat down?”

She just stared at him.

“Look, I’m not a serial killer or anything. Just a guy taking some time off.”

“Sure,” she said. “Sit.”

 

Cheep: A Serial

Number 1:

CHEEP!

PROLOGUE

Cheep! Cheep! Lucy’s eyes flew open. She listened for a minute. It was the smoke detector. The battery was dying. She was trying to sleep.

Lucy was alone. Gary, her husband, had sent her to the beach house days ahead of him. He had insisted. The smoke alarm was high up on the arch of the cathedral ceiling. She couldn’t reach it. She laid there and tried to ignore it. That incessant cheeping.

Lucy heard another noise. She got up and grabbed her handbag. Her Smith and Wesson was in it. As she stepped out on the balcony to listen, she was grabbed from behind.

When her husband arrived three days later, all he found were her old beach sneakers beside the bed.