Home > Here's to Us(2)

Here's to Us(2)
Elin Hilderbrand

A lighthouse comes into view. It’s white with a fat, red stripe in the middle. They pass a wide pond; on the other side of the pond, Deacon can see the ocean. Jack takes a left at a sign that says HOICKS HOLLOW.

“Good old Hoicks Hollow Road,” Jack says. “Used to be my home away from home.”

“It did?” Deacon says.

“Funny name for a road, isn’t it?” Jack says.

Deacon doesn’t know how to respond.

“Funnier than East Twenty-Eighth Street, anyway,” Jack says.

They wind around until they reach a place called the Sankaty Head Beach Club. PRIVATE, the sign says. The air smells deliciously of French fries, and Deacon wants to believe they will eat lunch here, but the word “private” makes him ill at ease. The Thorpes aren’t a family that belongs anywhere private. Not at all. Deacon figures that in another thirty seconds or so they will be told they are trespassing and will be asked to leave.

But surprisingly, Jack Thorpe is not only welcomed at the door, he is celebrated—by a heavyset, red-faced man wearing a name tag that says Ray Jay Jr., Manager.

“Jack Thorpe!” Ray Jay Jr. says. “God, you’re a sight for sore eyes. How long has it been?”

“Too long,” Jack says. He introduces Deacon to Ray Jay Jr. “I told Deacon I just want one perfect day with my son. That’s not too much to ask, is it? How about some lunch, for old times’ sake?”

“You got it, Jack,” Ray Jay Jr. says. He ushers Jack and Deacon into the club. They pass signs that say LADIES’ LOCKERS and GENTLEMEN’S LOCKERS. Through a swinging set of Dutch doors with thick, white paint, they emerge outside. Ray Jay Jr. seats them at a table overlooking the swimming pool, which is an alluring lozenge of deep, turquoise water. Along both sides of the pool are cabanas with chaise longues where beautiful women in bikinis work on their suntans and towheaded children lie on navy and white striped towels. Waiters deliver iced teas with wedges of lemon, beers, and fruity cocktails to the chaise longues. At the far end of the pool is a wooden fence draped with red, white, and blue bunting, probably left over from the bicentennial celebration.

Over the loudspeaker, that song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” is playing again.

Jack holds an imaginary microphone under his chin as he sings along in falsetto. Then, to Deacon, Jack says, “You can go ahead and jump in. I’ll order for you.”

Deacon understands that this was the reason for the swim trunks; he shucks off his T-shirt. He approaches the edge of the pool. A few kids are splashing around in the shallow end while an older gentleman does freestyle laps. The only other swimming pool Deacon has been to is at the community center on Avenue A, where the water is too warm and stinks of chlorine and is always jam packed with shrieking kids and bullies who dunk Deacon, keeping his head under water long enough for him to panic. By comparison, this pool is cool and serene, like a pool in paradise.

One perfect day with my son. The phrase makes Deacon’s heart soar. For the first time in his life, he feels as if he matters.

Deacon jumps in.

Lunch is a double bacon cheeseburger with French fries, a frosty Coke, and soft-serve ice cream. Ray Jay Jr. checks in to see how their food is and to offer Jack a beer, but Jack declines.

“I have my boy here,” Jack says.

Deacon has never seen his father turn down an offer of a beer, and certainly not a free beer. Jack has an alcohol problem, Deacon’s mother says. She calls it an occupational hazard, because he works in a restaurant, where alcohol is an ever-present temptation. When Jack drinks, bad things happen. He flies into rages for no reason, he throws things and breaks things, he screams profanities at Deacon, Stephanie, and their mother—and then, always, he cries until he passes out. But today, Jack seems to be a different man. In his yellow collared shirt, he fits right in with the members of this private club. The radio plays “Afternoon Delight.”

“You know what this song is about, don’t you?” Jack asks with a wink.

Deacon lowers his eyes to the scattering of salt across his plate. “Yeah,” he says.

Jack slaps him conspiratorially on the back. “Okay then. Gotta make sure you’re up to speed.”

Deacon thinks they might stay at the pool all afternoon, lounging next to the women in bikinis, but Jack says, “We’re off to the beach. Can’t come to Nantucket and not go to the beach.”

They get back into the open jeep with a couple of the navy and white striped towels that Ray Jay Jr. slips them on the way out.

As Jack pulls away he says, “I worked there fifteen years ago. I was the fry boy, and Ray the grill master. I should have done what he did. I should have stayed and lived the life on Nantucket.”

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted