I'll Show You Everything
status: novel completed, currently shopping for agents
length: 60,000 words
The fog lingered in Lake Park like it often did at night, but the park was empty. No Zach Terloy and friends. No homeless man. Just Nolan and his brother wearing sweatshirts and board shorts and riding to the beach in the middle of the night.
Main Street had a different feel than it did during the day. The Electric Chair was the only sign you could see, probably because it was bright pink. Past the bend, the only movement was a couple in their twenties leaning against a motorcycle and kissing.
Riding past the Sugar Shack, Nolan realized it was the first time he hadn’t seen the tables filled with people. A soda can rattled across the street, and a napkin flapped in front of him and stuck against a dew-coated fire hydrant.
“Let’s hope a cop doesn’t see us,” Michael warned. “Curfew’s 10:30 at the beach.”
“You’ve done this before?”
The streetlight shone red when they reached Main and PCH. Checking for traffic, Michael walked the Flyer across the street, the light not changing to green until they reached the other side.
An equal quiet surrounded the pier. The lights were off at Dukes Restaurant. The outdoor market that filled the parking lot to the right of the pier had packed up and left its debris chasing its tail in circles.
They walked the Flyer down the same stairs that Zach had retreated down yesterday. At the bottom, the street lamps along the bike path looked like they were sucking up the fog that blew in from the ocean. The faint crashing of the waves rolled across the sand.
Turning left under the pier, they passed the sand volleyball courts and bonfire pits, some of them most likely still smoldering inside the cement fire rings. Last summer when he burnt himself digging, he’d learned that the pits can stay hot for days.
They passed snack shops and rental stores on the left. Nolan could hear the hum of the soda machines. A couple of runners passed them the other direction. It seemed to Nolan that more people jogged at night than during the day.
“We can’t go out near the pier,” Michael said. “Jake told me about a friend of his who did junior life guards last summer. He said they have sensors up in the tower that can tell if people are out on the beach. I didn’t believe him at first, but he said it’s infrared or something. He said they catch couples on the beach at night all the time.”
Nolan didn’t know what couples would be doing on the beach at night, so he pressed down harder on the pedals and stayed quiet. Straight ahead, the bike path extended parallel to PCH. He could hear Michael wheezing lightly as they pedaled in the chilly ocean air. His cheeks tingled, but the air felt good breezing past his legs.
“Nothing’s ever happened to me, but I always come way down here just in case.”
The ocean spread out to the right. Against its dark backdrop, two oil rigs shone bright yellow and reflected in the water around them. Further up ahead, deep silver plumes from the looming smokestacks disappeared into the night sky.
They stopped riding and locked the bike to a pole, stuffing their socks into their shoes and leaving them by the Flyer. The beach was the darkest Nolan had ever seen it until the moon broke through the clouds and cast its eerie glow along the divots in the sand.
Nolan shivered. “It’s cold out here. Aren’t we gonna get sick?”
“Ha. Get over it. You don’t really listen to all that stuff Mom says, do you? Most of it’s just to scare you.”
At a lifeguard tower, Michael draped his sweatshirt and towel over one of the support beams that was covered in dew. Nolan undressed slower than Michael and felt bad for making him wait. He didn’t want to get his stuff all sandy. Michael held his arms tight against his hair-speckled chest to keep warm. Nolan felt skin-white standing next to his brother.
As soon as Nolan had hung his towel, Michael let out a hoot and darted toward the water. He hurried to catch up, his feet splashing in the thin layer of water draining over the smooth wet sand. Only a few feet ahead of him, Michael was already waist-deep in water. A wave slapped against Nolan’s shorts and soaked them. The water always felt so cold at first. He knew his only choice was to get his whole body wet. Slowly getting yourself wet was torture and showed you were a coward.
Nolan built up some courage and dove into the next wave. The temperature shocked him, but before he had time to panic, the soothing adjustment flowed over him. He surfaced next to Michael. His brother smiled, and it felt like approval.
Together, they bobbed over the top of wave after wave. At times, Nolan couldn’t see the them coming out of the dark expanse and swallowed mouthfuls of salt water, but it seemed worth it to drink of the sea with his brother. Everything seemed worth it now. He scanned carefully for swells in the water, jumping off the sand in time to carry himself over the top of each wave.
“See? Aren’t you glad I dragged you here?” Michael asked.
“It’s a lot of fun.” Nolan’s response was an understatement. He was having the best time of his life. Never had he been more thankful for Michael. Walking out in front of his brother less than an hour ago while carrying wet bed sheets could have ended everything.
Michael had always defended him in front of other people, but this was different. This was an opportunity many brothers would hold onto and wait for the perfect chance to use against you. But not his brother.
“Do you feel ready for high school?” Nolan asked.
“I think so. I figure it’s not gonna be that much different than Dwyer. New teachers. Harder classes. More kids. It seems basically the same thing though.”
“You’ll be at Huntington, right?”
“I guess. I don’t have any reason to transfer. I don’t play any sports.”
“You afraid at all?”
They both dove under a rising wave and came up shaking the water from their hair like German shepherds.
“Afraid?” Michael spit out some salt water. “Now that’s an interesting word. I don’t know that I’m afraid.”
“You know what I mean though.” Nolan had never thought Michael could be afraid of anything. He always came across as fearless, like those surfers that try to shoot the pier, taking their life into their hands as they try to surf their way through the pylons.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s like that when you come across something new. I’m sure high school will be the same. But there’s a whole lot I don’t understand about it yet, and I probably won’t understand it ‘till I’m stuck in the middle of it.”
Another wave rose in front of them, and Nolan launched off the sand to get over the swell.
“What do you think’s gonna be the hardest part?”
“The girls. But that problem starts in junior high doesn’t it?” Michael splashed water at Nolan and laughed.
“What are you talking about?” Water dripped out of Nolan’s nose.
“Oh come on. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Or do I have to call Raina to get the whole story?”
Nolan should have known Michael knew. He knew everything. When Nolan came back from his slumber party last year, the first thing Michael asked was “So, did you get caught?” Sometimes, Nolan wondered if Michael followed him around. Or if he’d hired a private investigator with disguises and hidden cameras. That was ridiculous though, an eighth grader following his kid brother around, so he figured Michael somehow knew everything.
“Go ahead and call her if you want. Or go over to Julie’s and ask her. Don’t sisters talk about everything?”
“Brothers don’t.” Michael threw a sideways glance at him. “What makes you think sisters are any different?”
While they were talking, a wave crept up without them noticing and crashed on top of them. Nolan tumbled in the swirling water and felt the grainy ocean floor with his hands. His feet found the sand, and he shot himself to the surface. Coughing, he leaned forward, and water poured out of his nose. He couldn’t see Michael anywhere. Waist deep in sloshing water, he stepped forward.
A long second later Michael popped up. He stumbled for his footing in the swirling water and wiped the water from his face.
“Whoa. Didn’t see that one coming.”
As Michael opened his eyes, Nolan lunged into him, trying to tackle him as a small wave crashed into their thighs. He held as tight as he could around Michael’s waist, but Michael chuckled and pushed him backwards into the water.
He emerged with two handfuls of wet sand. Michael tried to dodge, but he splattered the side of him with mud. He laughed until Michael knelt to grab a couple handfuls of his own.
He tried to retreat up the beach, but the ocean pulled the water back into the waves, making it hard for him to run. To try to run faster, he picked his feet out of the water as high as he could with each step. Don’t look back. Run.
It didn’t matter. Michael’s wet sand smacked against his back, and it felt like a thousand needles knocking the breath out of him. He stopped himself with his forearms as he fell face down in the water, the thin sheet of liquid rolling the wet sand over his arms and splashing in his face.
Nolan laughed to hide the pain, but the fact that they were having a mud fight on the beach in the middle of the night was funny. It’d be funnier when the pain was gone. Michael came up behind him and put his arm around his shoulder.
“Let’s rinse off and get out of here.”
In the water, Nolan cleaned himself off the best he could. He’d been to the beach enough to know that any sand left in his shorts would grind against his thighs and crotch on the ride home. After they dried off and put their sweatshirts on, they headed up the beach. The sky was still dark, but the lights along the bike path seemed to shine brighter.