"You ready to see this place from a local's eyes?" he asked grinning. I nodded, excited. "Yes, I am." He opened the truck door for me, and I climbed in. He ran around, jumped in, and slid on a pair of dark sunglasses. "Do you eat raw oysters?"
He grinned. "I should have guessed: you're a Tennessee girl. But it alright, they are also grilling burgers, corn on the cob, and ribs." "I love burgers, corn, and ribs."
"Ah, good. Well, we're going to a friend's house. They're grilling out today, with raw oysters on the half shell as the appetizers."
I grimaced at the thought of raw squishy slimy blobs on a shell people were actual y going to put in their mouth.
He laughed at my face. "I guess when you grow up around here, it doesn't seem so bad." I didn't respond because I wasn't sure how anyone could get use to eating slime.
"Rock has been my best friend since elementary school. You'll like the bunch over at his house. We're going to grill out, and then go water skiing. They have a boat and we're going to go launch it at the marina. Ever been water skiing?"
"I'm afraid not, but I would love to try." It seemed to be the thing to say because a huge grin broke out on his face
"I can teach you. You'll be skiing before the day's over."
We pulled up to a single story house on stilts, like most of the houses around here. It wasn't fancy, and it appeared to have survived a few hurricanes. The siding had been patched up quite a few times. Marcus met me as I got out of the truck and slid a pair of sunglasses on my face. "You're gonna need these. Without them, the sun will give you a headache."
"Do you carry around women's sunglasses on a regular basis?" I asked teasingly. He laughed. "No, I have a sister." I didn't know anything about his family. I liked knowing something about him other than the obvious.
"Please tell me you put on sun block. Even the best tanners get burnt in this sun." "Yes, I'm slathered up."
"Come this way," he said, pulling me behind him through some really tall grass, which grew in the sand. A simple rectangular in-ground pool stood in the center of the yard, surrounded by guys in swim trunks and girls in bikinis. They were slinging back slime from a shell, and I reminded myself not to grimace when they talked to me and ate those things. Marcus squeezed my hand and pulled me into the party.
"Marcus, it's about time you got here. Al the shells are almost empty," called a guy with long, brown dreadlocks.
Marcus smiled down at me and whispered, "I won't eat any in front of you, I promise." I shook my head. "No, really, it's fine." He laughed and pulled me over to the group of guys standing with the dreadlock guy. Several people called out to Marcus, and he waved and nodded. My stomach churned with nervousness when I realized the majority of the people here were staring at me.
"Hey, guys, this is Sadie, Sadie this is Rock," a rather large muscular guy with a shaved head, "Preston," what I considered a beach bum, with long blond hair and dark tanned skin, "and Dwayne," the dreadlock guy, who also happened to have several tattoos and piercings. "We've been friends since second grade."
Dwayne flicked the dreadlocks out of his eyes and grinned. "Ever since Rock beat the shit out of Preston and ol' Marcus here jumped in to take up for him, who then started getting pummeled by Rock, until I jumped in, and about that time we all got suspended from school." The four of them laughed at the memory, and I tried to picture them all as little boys fighting.
"Our parents were al so proud. They had elementary school delinquents." Dwayne grinned and flipped back an oyster. "Dwayne will reminisce al day if you let him.
Don't act like you enjoy his stories. He won't stop," Marcus said, smiling. The friendship between these four made me feel warm inside. It wasn't something I could relate to.
"So, Sadie, how did ugly butt Marcus here find a beautiful blind girl," Rock asked as he flipped a burger. I glanced at Marcus to see him smiling at me.
"We work together. He came to my rescue on my second day there, and my eye sight is 20/20." One of them let out a low whistle, and another laughed wickedly.
"Marcus is a regular ol' knight in shining armor, I tell ya," Dwayne said with a flick of his dreadlocks.
Marcus shoved him playfully, and Dwayne burst into laughter. "I'm going to take her to meet other people, if you three can't behave." "What did I do?" Marcus sent him a mock glare before turning to me.
"Are you thirsty?"
Dwayne reached into a cooler behind him and held out a soda. I took it, thanked him, and listened to the four of them talk about a beach volleyball game going on next weekend between them and a rival team. They would ask me questions or bring me into the conversation occasionally, but mostly they just planned and strategized. I had no idea beach volleyball was such a serious sport.
A blond in a hot pink bikini, which barely covered the important stuff, walked up behind Rock, wrapped her arms around his waist, and kissed his neck.
"Sadie, this is Trisha, Rock's fiancee, and Trisha, this is Sadie, a friend of mine." Trisha smiled at me and ran her hand over Rock's head. "If you get bored with this bunch's conversation, you are welcome to come lay out with me and the girls."
"Are you bored? Want to go in for a swim and cool off?"