John walked the two mile journey home with pride swelling in his chest. He hadn't felt this good since he first began college. The sun felt great beaming down on his back with joy. He held his hands casually in his pockets as he walked along, gravel crunching underfoot as he made his way towards the great white beach house. For a man of 25, someone would think that John lived alone and on his own. This wasn't the case. Naturally, his parents being over-protective, offered him free room and board during his college years as long has he graduated with a major in medicine. He soulfully agreed.
His feet found a change in the underfoot tone as he exchanged different types of earth. His feet were now scuffing against smooth concrete up the walkway to the enormous beach house. He didn't realize, but a small grin had overcome his gentle face. Dimples cornered the soft pink rolls that were his lips, a smile discreet yet revealing plastered his face. The walkway was shorter than he ever imagined it to be, and before he knew it, he had reached the door and twined his fingers around the elegant handle.
John pushed the door forward to unveil the beauty of the beachhouse. The front room always seemed to bring out a cooler illusion with all turquoise couches, white walls, and mixtures of blues and greens coordinating with the scene of the family room. His mother was sprawled out on the L-shaped sofa, holding a martini in her right hand, completely clashing with the atmosphere.
"Hi Mom." John greeted, tossing his keys on the glass table behind the twin chairs side by side.
"Hello darling, have a seat!" She replied, obviously drunk with her slurred words. He smiled.
"Nah, I'll go up to my room. What's for dinner?" Just as he asked, his stomach rumbled with anger.
"The Johnson's have invited us to their barbeque and a bit of hot tubbing. They said I should stay off my feet." She said, taking a long casual drag from the clear liquid.
"For once, I think they're giving you good advice. I wouldn't be going anywhere in your condition.." John teased.
"Oh Johnny boy... Let your mother get a little thrashed. Go to your room." She waved him off with a proper hand he'd never recognized all of his childhood. He shook his head and took a left turn to the stair case, climbing each step slowly and deliberately as he viewed all the dozens of picture frames crowding the walls. He stopped at about the seventh step as he gazed into the picture frame of when he and his older sister were in the backyard of their first house, playing with wiggly worms. His face broke out into a full-on smile. He remembered shortly after the picture was taken that his sister Marie dared him to eat the grey lively worm. And he did.
"John! John! Look what I found!" His nephew Spencer said as he held up a magazine high in the air, expecting the world to see it. John suddenly felt sick. It was a magazine nobody should look at, especially not a five-year old. His sister was going to beat the crap out of him if she ever found out.
"Spencer, um...Spencer, we need to put that back where you found it, okay? I believe I told you not to go in my room without permission?" John scolded.
"I'm sowy Johnathan, but Nana told me I could play with your cars. One wolled under the bed and I found this."
John smacked his forehead with his palm. He probably had scarred the kid for life.
"Gimme that!" John said snatching the deceitful magazine from the child's small hands. He stomped up the rest of the stairs, Spencer on his tail like a lost puppy. " Why did you pick it up in the first place?" John said irratated.
"I saw boobies." His childish voice rang out through the whole house.
"Could you keep it down??" John hushed him. The little boy's face softened and drooped with sadness.
"I was just answering your queston." He blabbed, sticking out his lower lip.
"You mean question?"
"That's what I said!" He declared. John rolled his eyes.
"Now, you promise not to tell Mommy about this?" John pleaded.
"Pwomis." He lisped.
"Alright. I forgive you." He said, opening the door to his room which was cool and nice.
John probably had the most average room in the entire house. He didn't care about the extensive decoration because this was only his room during the summer and then it was back home and back to school. He glanced around the small space with the queen size bed with the blue plaid comforters and wooden dressers and desk. His laptop was sitting crooked atop the finished oak, shining a black screen. The air conditioner was buldging out the window, blowing the dark curtains out like a fat man.
"Now put it back where you found it and get ready for dinner." John said, lightly spanking the child's baggy pants with a smile. He was really a cute kid, his mousy mop of brown hair sheilded his eyes and brown freckles dotted his nose. He squatted down, putting the magazine back nicely under his bed and getting back up to leave the room. John watched him and shook his head, closing the door. He could just barely hear the light pitter-patter of steps receeding down.
John viewed himself in the mirror. A different shirt might do. He made his way to the dresser across the room. His shoes lightly clunking on the hard wood floor. Pulling open the first drawer, he saw all sorts of colors of shirts. Some blue, some red, mostly white, and a little pinch of brown was thrown into the collage. He randomly pulled out a shirt, which happened to be a brownish maroon color with black buttons all the way down the front. It was dressy enough for the Johnsons'. He peeled off his shirt, uncovering his hard earned abs and puffing chest. He glanced over at the mirror and did a serious model look, examining his body and flexing a manly muscle. He inwardly laughed at himself and pulled the brown shirt over his head, carefully unbuttoning the first three and grabbing the silver chain from the top of his dresser. All he needed to do was gel his hair, pop in a mint, and he'd be ready for the traditional barbeque at the next door neighbors.
Everybody was ready ( and sober ) by six o'clock sharp. Spencer had his tangled hair combed, teeth brushed, and clothes changed into a pair of swimming trunks and a white T-shirt. John's mother dressed up fancy for the occasion, always wanting to look better than everyone else in her fitted white dress. His sister was more of a laid back lady wearing a pair of stylish jeans and a cotton hooded jacket. And it was last that John's father, Marcus, got dressed in a classy get-up of tan slacks and a Hawaiian short sleeved polo. Everyone made their short distance to the Johnson's home just 100 feet away from the gargantuan beach house.
Everyone was greeted with a neighborly hug except for John who didn't get one from the Johnson's youngest daughter Katie. She was too shy to hardly look at him, so he put his arm around her and gave her a friendly noogie. She smiled, but didn't look him in the eye. John had no clue what her problem was.
The smoky flavor of the air was a succulent as the ribs themselves. Tender and juicy smothered in honey-barbeque with a side of Jo-jo fries. Everyone licked every bit they could off of their fingers before taking another bite. John glanced at Katie who was using a fork ever so properly. She was behaving very strange. The Katie he knew would talk with her mouth full of food, pass gas whenever she felt like it, and always went tubing with him, having a great time. Now that she had turned 13, everything was changing about her.
"So how was school this year Katie?" John asked her, looking her right in the eye where she definitely didn't feel comfortable.
"It was fine." She said shortly, staring down at her plate with the crispy fries.
"I haven't seen you in a year, give me details." He probed.
"I had my first boyfriend." She said with no expression.
"Oh, how is he?" John asked.
"So Marcus, I hear the new settlement is going over well?" Mr. Johnson asked, taking the awkward air away from his daughter.
"Just fine, all merry. We bought out this new land where a tornado swept out an entire farmer's community back in 1987. It's been abandoned ever since." John's father said, clearing his throat before he began.
"Oh... I heard about that. Every person killed, it's a shame..." The conversation dragged on and on. All about work and school and more work. John was getting quite bored and grabbed more fries onto his plate.
There was small bit of silence before the giddy Mrs. Johnson spoke up.
"Oh dear! I forgot the fruit salad!" She said, getting up from the table outside by the hot tub.
"What time are we hot tubbing?" John asked.
"Oh yes, probably in about another half hour or so. After Ginny's famous fruit salad." Mr. Johnson said with a loving smile to his wife who had just came out with the large tupper-ware bowl of the supposed delicious fruit salad. John couldn't hardly stand another bite.
With a delayed time of forty-five minutes later, everyone got into bathing suits and jumped into the steaming and bubbling cauldron of a hot tub. John let the hot water engulf his body and layed back to relax. Most of everyone else did except for John's father and Mr. Johnson who were talking about the ever-unenjoyable politics. Marcus and David had completely different views of what was right and wrong. One year, their differences had resulted in a whole summer of booby-traps and attempts to kill one another. The war soon ended with the help of the wives stepping in and pointing out each of their husband's immaturities.
John began to get drowsy hearing the drawling voices of everyone around him and the hot water taking in his body. His body drifted farther and farther away from his mind of each word that the two families spoke. His neck was getting hot and his head was getting clouded up with dreams and images of certain things. His last thought before he completely fell asleep was his date tomorrow with, what he figured, was the prettiest girl...