Let’s Get Away From It All By Jeff Baker
“Man! Look at that view!” Steve said, staring out the window at the ocean. “And we can see it from inside in a hot tub!”
“Yeah!” Mickey said. “As beachfront properties go, even rental properties, this is a steal!”
It would be a steal at twice the price. A house opening out onto a pristine beach. It would be a steal even without the beach. Two-story, well-furnished, plenty of room. Open, lit and airy, done in what would have been called a modern style sixty years before when the house was built.
Then there was the hot tub. Built into the floor, surrounded by stone and looking for all the world like a big, ceramic coffee cup. (“Nothing like getting into a hot cup of coffee in the morning,” Steve had cracked when he’d first seen it.)
Mr. Wilson, the real estate agent, had been extolling the finer points of the house while leading the pair through the downstairs and to the upstairs bedroom which had a fine view of the ocean. As they gazed out they automatically held hands.
“What do you think?” Mickey asked when Mr. Wilson was out of earshot.
“It looks nice,” Steve said, but we wouldn’t be living here, just staying here now and then.”
“Yeah, but what about the low price?” Mickey asked. “Too good to be true?”
“You mean, like termites?” Steve said.
“Big water bugs?” Mickey said.
“Loud neighbors?” Steve said.
“I suppose you’re wondering,” Wilson said walking back in the room, “how we can offer this at such a low price. It’s not really a secret…”
“Here it comes,” Steve whispered to Mickey.
“…at least, not on the island,” Wilson continued.
“It is to us,” Mickey whispered to Steve.
“But you know how people sensationalize.” Wilson said.
“About what?” Mickey and Steve said in unison.
“The house is supposed to be haunted.” Wilson blurted out. The two men stared at him.
“Uh, I don’t believe in ghosts,” Mickey said.
“Nonetheless, I feel obligated to inform you that the average tenancy in this house is about three days. Some of them don’t even stay the whole night.” Wilson said.
Steve looked around the room. It was bright, cheery, no shadows.
“Where’s the rental agreement?” Steve asked. Mickey smiled, but not as broadly as Wilson.
The house was softly lit, the dusk was sinking into a deep black outside and from the hot tub Mickey and Steve could see tiki torches on the far end of the beach and hear music playing.
“Sinatra, I think,” Steve said, sipping the last of his glass of wine as he snuggled next to Mickey in the warm water of the hot tub. Mickey grinned. He could see the glimmer of the distant lights reflected in the water of the hot tub. He stared closer.
“Hey, Steve, are you wiggling your toes?”
“I can if you want me to!” Steve said, finishing the wine.
“Nah, hold up a minute, hold still,” Mickey said. “One, two, three four…five…”
“Toes?” Steve said glancing down. They looked up at each other, their mouths open wide. An instant later, they had jumped out of the hot tub.
“It wasn’t a shadow,” Mickey said.
“No, it wasn’t,” Steve said.
“Five feet,” Mickey breathed. “Your two, my two and…and…”
“It’s gone,” Steve said.
“Yeah,” Mickey said.
“How far’s that motel, Mick?”
“Not far if we drive,” Mickey said. “Let’s grab some clothes, quick. And for gosh sakes turn on the lights!”
Twenty minutes later they walked into the lobby of the Beach Ways Motel. The desk clerk looked up, eyed their rumpled clothes and hastily packed beach bag with the clothes sticking out of the sides and smiled pleasantly.
“Rented the LuMarro place, I see?”