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Tiki Wiki by Mike Bozart - HTML preview

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We, my wife Monique (Agent 32) and I (Agent 33), checked into the Golden Sands, a mid-rise oceanfront hotel on Carolina Beach (NC, USA), at 3:33 PM on Wednesday, November 23, 2016. The friendly, middle-age, Caucasian female desk clerk gave us a card key for room 223. She looks familiar. / I’ve seen them before.

“It’s a nice private end unit with a king-size bed,” she said.

“Does it have an ocean view?” I asked, wondering if it was blocked by lower structures, since the room was only on the second floor.

“Yes, it has a nice Atlantic Ocean view, sir. The balcony is just above the indoor swimming pool building’s roof. No visual obstruction.”

“Sounds great!” Monique exclaimed. 

“You two look very familiar. Have you stayed here before?”

“Yes,” I answered. “We were here exactly two years ago. [chronicled in the short story The Balcony] It’s another family Thanksgiving on the coast.”

“Well, I’m glad that you guys came back. Enjoy your stay.”

“Thank you,” Monique said as I began to shuffle away.

Once inside our room, Monique unpacked the luggage while I poured a couple of cordial liqueur drinks. I then wandered out to the narrow balcony that had accordion-style storm shutters just behind the railing. I began to close one of the heavy-gauge metal screens a little bit, which was difficult as the leading edge had come out of the track. The scraping of the front peg on the concrete made a lot of noise.

“What in the world are you doing out there, Parkaar?” [my ailing alias] Monique asked.

“Oh, just shielding my chair from the solar rays. You know that I’m a vampire when it comes to the sun.”

“As am I. Pull the other side out, too.”

“Sure thing, mahal.” [love in Tagalog]

“Salamat, [thanks in Tagalog and Cebuano] my bana.” [husband in Cebuano]

Monique came out a few minutes later and took her seat on the other side of the narrow balcony.

“A little chilly goo-goo,” [sic] she opined. (It was in the upper 50s Fahrenheit – 14 to 15º Celsius – with a slight breeze.) “Glad I brought my jacket.”

“I’ll take it over scummer, [sic] though.”

“Likewise, Parkaar. No complaints.” I bet he’s recording.

“And no bugs. Funny how the summer lovers conveniently forget about the millions of annoying insects.”

“Agent 33, are these blinds really just for blocking the sun?” she questioned.

“No, honey; they are storm shutters. They are pulled together and locked when a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching. They protect the sliding glass door and windows from shattering.”

“Well then, they serve at least two purposes,” Monique stated.

“They certainly do,” I concurred.

We had a chuckle. Then I got up and looked at the flat rooftop that was only about six feet (about two meters) in front of us, and about three feet (about one meter) lower than our balcony.

“You know, if we really had to, we could jump from this railing onto that roof,” I posited.

“Why in the world would we want to do that, 33?”

“Well, what if some violent meth-heads [methamphetamine addicts] were kicking in our door …” Why does he come up with such scenarios?

“Hold on, Parkaar! Once we leaped to that roof, we would be trapped. There’s no ladder or stairway to the ground. We would have to drop 15 feet [4.57 meters] to the hard sidewalk, leading to a broken foot or ankle.” [Coincidentally, Liverpool Football Club’s Philippe Coutinho would suffer an ankle injury three days later against Sunderland at Anfield.]

“But, if there were a fire engulfing the hallway …”

“Ok, in that case I guess it would make sense, 33. But, please don’t attempt to jump that gap tonight. I don’t want to have to call 9-1-1 for a medic.” I wonder if he sprinkled some of those ‘granules de grandeur’ into his drink. He’s such a sly thing sometimes. Wonder if he put some in mine. I guess that I’ll soon know.

“Hey, Agent 32, look at that little bar on that short pier.” He’s definitely recording.

“Might you take a long walk, Agent 33?”

“Ah, you remembered that old American zinger.” Does he really think that my memory is as bad as his?

“Of course, I did. Let’s go check it out.”

We strolled across the parking lot to a three-story, lurid green, shake-sided, yellow-trimmed building. The sign read:

Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar

There was a white, 20-something, ball-capped, long-brown-haired dude sitting on a railing smoking a cigarette. We walked towards him.

He then looked up at us when we were 17 feet (5.18 meters) away. “No, this isn’t the dining entrance. Go down the little wooden alley to the right.” Oh, that’s just an employee entrance to the kitchen. / What was he thinking? / Tourists.

We found our way to the correct entrance. Once inside, Monique looked at the trinkets for sale. She settled on a refrigerator magnet of a marlin with spring-mounted fins that flipped back and forth when thumped or suddenly moved.

After paying at the gift-shop register, we moved towards the central stairway that led up to the main dining room. There was a 50-ish Caucasian woman wearing a black windbreaker with the Carlsberg logo on the back. That was once Liverpool’s sponsor. Need to see the front of her jacket.

We walked past her and a mid-40-something Caucasian couple that she was conversing with in a Scouse accent. There was a red LFC (Liverpool Football Club) crest on her jacket. I knew it! A Reds supporter.

“Hello, we’re Liverpool fans, too,” I announced to her. “Our Reds gear is back in the hotel room. Where are you from?”

“Wirral, it’s just across the River Mersey from Liverpool. You are American?”

“Yes, from Charlotte, some 200 miles [322 km] inland,” I answered. “My wife is from the Philippines.”

“Ah, I see. Very pretty.”

Monique smiled. “Thank you,” she said.

“Well, I just wanted to say hello to a fellow LFCer,” [sic] I said. “I’ll let you go now.”

“You’ll never walk alone,” she then said.

“That’s for sure,” I replied. “We have run into Liverpool fans all over the United States and in Asia. Take care.”

“Likewise,” she said with a smile. She then turned and rejoined the conversation with the couple.

Once upstairs, seated at a whole-wide-ocean-view table, I realized that we didn’t have enough time to eat a full meal (an appointment that we couldn’t break). I looked down at the chopped-off pier and remembered our initial idea: Check out the bar on the planks.

“Hon, we are short on time,” I said to a travel-weary Monique. “Want to just grab a beer on the pier?”

“Sure. Wasn’t that our original intention, 33?”

“It was, 32. My mind got distracted by the seafood aroma.”

“We’ll just eat here tonight, Parkaar.”

“Ok, sounds like a plan.” Agent 107 [deceased] used to say that. I’m stealing his lines. Hope he would approve.

We marched out to the stand on the short pier. It was a wooden hut, the Tiki Bar. We ordered a couple of Unknown Brewery (based in Charlotte) IPAs. There were a few people watching sports on the TV screens.

Three minutes later we wandered out to the end of the petite wooden pier, which was above two whole inches (5 cm) of surf. Well, no fishing off this pier.

“Parkaar, why is this pier so short?”

“See those broken pilings in the waves, Monique? It was once a hundred yards [91.44 meters] longer. However, they shortened it due to the drunks who kept jumping off.” What?!

“Sorry, 33; nope, I’m not buying that – not for a minute. What’s the real reason?”

“Hurricane Fran lopped it off in 1996, 32.”

“Twenty years ago. Wow.”

“Yep, yep, yep.”

“Please don’t start with the Mr. Malloy [a character in other stories] impersonation yet, 33. It’s way too early for that.”

We hung out on the storm-truncated pier for seven minutes, watching petrels mutate their flying formations, which looked like small, quickly appearing and disappearing, human figurines. Tiki wiki. 

Then we headed back to our car and took care of the scheduled business.

Ocean Grill closed early. So, we ate at The Deck House.

Back in our hotel room, we found no clues. Though, as I searched, I wondered who found the cards on the 7th floor.

The next morning was mostly cloudy. Then the sun emerged. It turned out to be a warm Thanksgiving.

Our feast time was at one o’clock; thus, we just hung out in the hotel room. At 10:23 AM, housekeeping was knocking on the door.

Monique let in two white-uniformed ladies. One was from Estonia and the other was from Ecuador. I engaged them in some small talk as they changed the sheets and restocked the towels.

“How long does it take for you to completely clean a really messed-up room?” I asked the 30-something Estonian lady.

“Forty minutes if it’s really bad,” she answered.

“Are you planning on trashing this room tonight?” the late-20-something Ecuadorian lady asked us as she emerged from the bathroom.

“Oh, certainly not!” Monique retorted.

“No, not us,” I added. “We’ll leave it as tidy as possible.”

“Thank you,” the ladies said together.

Then the Estonian lady noticed our LFC shirts. “Is Liverpool playing today?”

“No, they play on Saturday,” I said. “We met a fellow Liverpool fan from England yesterday at the Ocean Grill. Maybe a fellow fan will strike up a conversation with us today when they see our shirts. It could be the source of another short story.”

“Oh, you’re a writer,” the Ecuadorian housekeeper said to me as she grabbed a trash liner and tied it closed.

“Don’t be surprised if this conversation is mentioned in his next tale,” Monique inserted.

“Have you ever written the long story – the novel?” the Estonian housekeeper asked as she replaced the last pillow case and prepared to exit. 

“Why, I certainly have,” I replied. I then gave them a cash tip with two Gold, a summer story (my e-novel) cards.

“Is it a sweet story?” the Estonian lady asked.

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