Bored with the beach already, Randy threw another beat-up shell into the surf. Movement to the side caught his eye. “Hey, you look just like me!”
“Nuh-uh, you look like me.”
Randy very quickly decided this could be fun, so he magnanimously allowed, “We look like each other.” He held out the super-sized bag of animal crackers to the other boy; he had to be a second grader, too. “You wanna have fun? We can freak Daddy out!”
“I want go home.”
“Aw, come on. Hey, I didn’t see anybody come down here, we thought this place around the big rocks would be only us. Where’d you come from?”
The kid pointed back to a rocky arch. “Through there. Why do you want to freak him out?”
“I wanted to go explore and he said to stay close and not get into trouble. Let me tell you my plan.”
About half an hour later, George woke up to hear Randy calling him from way the hell over on the other side of the creek that divided the scrap of beach in half. “Ransom David, you get your butt back here!”
“I found a spaceship and I’m going up!”
George heaved up from his chaise lounge and picked his shirt from the sand and shook it before pulling it over his head. He didn’t see Randy now. This boy would get a spanking he wouldn’t forget. As he toed his sandals on, Randy’s look-alike walked up from the other direction.
“Daddy, Daddy, can’t catch me!” He ran down toward the arch.
George pursued him right through the arch.
Randy saw it all and laughed until snot ran out. He wiped his nose on his t-shirt and looked for his Dad on the far side. He didn’t see him or the look-alike kid, just water. He started making his way back. Across the creek, he saw a colorful hat bouncing toward the beach. “Mom! Wait for me!”
“Hi, Tiger. I bought you a new hat. Here you go.” She screwed the ball cap on his head. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. I smell cheeseburgers. Let’s go find Dad and eat.”
They arrived at the empty lounge chair and did not see another soul.
She looked in the cooler and got two sodas out. “I wonder where he went? The fries are no good cold. Here, we can go ahead, he won’t mind.” She started gobbling her fries.
Randy had lost his appetite. He took the offered burger and bit into it to please her. “There’s a cool arch over that way. Want to see?”
Randy and his Mom walked over to see the tide coming in. The arch sat lower and the water already came half the way up it. It seemed smaller now. “I think Daddy went through there.”
“Honey, there’s nothing on the far side, it’s the ocean.” She called, “George! Are you around here? I brought lunch.”
“There was beach through there. A kid exactly like me came from that way.”
“No, silly, I had a good view from up the hill. The spit of land here is all there is.” She walked back.
He stared at the remaining arch. He wadded the burger wrapper and waded down. He tossed it into the arch. It should have floated. It vanished.
They waited on the hill for an hour or so. Then Mom, crying, called the police. They searched. They called the Coast Guard. Randy never saw his Daddy again.