“I think she looks super sad.”
“You don’t know her,” I hesitate, “she could be happy.”
“I bet she isn’t,” Jacob bites his lip when he says it, I’m not sure why. It bothers me. Then he turns towards me as if he suddenly has had some kind of realization, “You think her husband beats her?”
“What? No, I don’t think so,” but I really can’t tell when she sits in the light from the bonfire like that, too many shadows dancing across that face of hers. “Probably not a lot at least.” He laughs. Really loud, as if I have said something that was too funny.
“Well then she must be happy, you know, if he doesn’t beat her a lot,” he even winks at me when he says it. I don’t get it. Nothing is that funny and nobody laughs that loud for real. He did it for the attention. It worked. She is looking at us. She and everyone else. Probably thinking that he is an idiot.
“She is very beautiful, don’t you think?” he leans towards me, talking very quietly as if it’s some kind of secret. Worst kept secret then. Surprise, surprise, he likes her.
“She is too pretty for you at least.”
He laughs again.
“What?” he holds his hands up in the air, as if I’m attacking him or something, “I couldn’t have someone like her, come one?” He isn’t as handsome as he thinks he is. He really isn’t. I shouldn’t have come back. I really shouldn’t. You know how you realize something too late sometimes, but then you can’t really change it. No matter how much you try. This beach. This place. Even this stupid party. They are all wrong. It just doesn’t matter. Too late to change it. I’m here now. I even put on a dress for this. Stupid dress with too many flowers on it. No idea why I bothered.
“I bet she is a robot.”
It is so typical of Jacob. He sees robots everywhere.
“No, she isn’t.”
“How can you be sure?”
I can see some people get up. Walk across the beach to the big bonfire. Towards the band.
“Tropical,” they shout, “play Tropical Tonight.”
“Yeah, do that,” Jacob chimes in, “we need something fun, something to dance to.”
The singer smiles. Takes a few sips of her beer and the song starts. Just another happy beach song. Nothing special.
I’m gonna stay on the beach tonight
“Yes, I am baby,” Jacob whispers, but not really to me. He is still looking at her. She is very beautiful. He is right about that.
Not gonna find myself any sort of bed or anything. Just gonna lie in the sand
“With you,” he mumbles, still definitely not talking to me. “Doesn’t she look tired of that husband of hers,” he says turning towards me, remembering that I’m still here I guess, “You know, he probably bought her or something.”
“Oh cut the crap, Jacob, he hasn’t bought her and you know it, “
I’ll bet there’ll be a party tonight. Inviting all of my beach bum friends
“There already is a party,” he says, smiling to me, “and you are my beach bum friend, aren’t you?” I don’t say anything. Sometimes it is just better to shut up.
Oh we’ll be tropical tonight, tropical tonight
“Oh, yeah let’s,” luckily still not talking to me.
“Stop being an idiot, Jacob, she isn’t a robot,” I hesitate, as her husband seems to ask her to dance, but she just shakes her head and stares into the fire again. She isn’t happy though that is for sure, even if she isn’t a robot.
“Oh just look at that face and that body, come on, when did you last see a human like that?” he rolls his eyes, as if I’m being stupid. He is right. Compared to me she looks amazing. That perfect, blonde hair, those big blue eyes, those red lips that are just the right shape. Her body, hard to tell, but Jacob seems to be more than satisfied. I really wish I didn’t come here. Now I have to sit her in my stupid dress, listening to this shit.
“Stop obsessing about that girl, aren’t you supposed to be with Margo?”
“Nah,” he hesitates for a moment, “We broke up.”
“Oh,” not my best response. I know.
“Again, you mean,” he bites his lip again, different this time. “I don’t know, she just can’t seem to make up her mind. She is always so, I don’t know,” he hesitates,” You know, she always says stuff like Jacob I need this or I want that, but when I give her whatever piece of shit she asked for then she just want another thing.”
“Uhm,” I want to hit myself in the head, I need to get better at saying stuff, “Is that why you’re suddenly so into that girl?”
“Maybe,” he sighs, “I just thought a robot might be better after Margo.”
I can’t help laughing. “Oh stop being dumb, there are beautiful people as well. It is not like every pretty girl you see have to be robot.” He shrugs. Doesn’t seem to care. “I think you just want her to be a robot,” he doesn’t say anything to this either, but I know I’m right. He wants her to be as different from Margo as she possibly could be.
“So you’re really home,” someone is saying behind me, “I didn’t believe it when Jacob said it.”
I know who it is. It has to be him. No one else would care. The voice has changed, darker and deeper. I guess just like you would expect. He has grown up, isn’t 14 anymore.
“Michael,” I say as I turn around. Try to smile, but it feels unnatural. Feels exactly like the rest of this party has felt.
He has changed so much, and yet somehow he hasn’t. Still there is something about him that is just the same. Like he really isn’t this guy, all grown up. Doesn’t feel right, feels like we both are pretending.
“Shit, it has been so long, hasn’t it?” he leans in for that hug, really no way to avoid it, “It must be like 10 years or something?” He smells like the beach. Like one of those healthy guys who would just love to run on a beach like this. Probably surf as well. He smells just like that. I bet he does all those things. Maybe a bit too pale though, can’t be that pale if you’re always at the beach.
“I don’t know,” I shrug. He is right though. It has been almost 10 years. Still too soon it turned out.
“You’re staying at Jacob’s?”
He turns around, seems to be looking for him. Can’t really see him.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to seem casual, “you know, big house, really no problem to stay there for a couple of days.”
I can see her still sitting there. The pretty girl. All alone now, but still sitting at the same place looking at the bonfire. The band has taken a break. So there isn’t even any music to listen to. Most people have gotten up. Gone to find drinks. Not her though. That husband of her must have left her here. Maybe they aren’t even married. Maybe he really is a nice guy. Doesn’t beat her or anything. He might be just looking for something to drink, for the both of them maybe, like a nice guy would do. No problem, he’ll be back. She won’t be sitting there alone for long. I’m sure.
“You still live here?”
I sound nervous, as if I shouldn’t have asked him that, but it’s okay. You can ask people stuff like that. Really, you can. Even if you haven’t talked to them for 10 years.
“Nah, I just come out here to visit my parents,” he takes a sip of his beer, “you know, need to work,” he smiles. Explains him being a bit too pale I guess. Nobody can stay at the beach all the time. Need to do shit.
“So, you’re here alone?”
I don’t get that. He knows I’m not here alone. I’m here with Jacob. “I mean, you know, he hesitates, “no boyfriend or anything?”
Not Jacob at least, that’s for sure.
“No, not really.”
Pale Michael does have a ring on his finger. He does. Golden.
“But you, you found someone?” I smile, nod at the golden thing.
“I guess I did.”
I can see Jacob as he makes his way towards pretty girl. Two drinks in his hands. Some creepy looking drinks. All purple and red with some green in them. Looks like something that would make you throw up. She doesn’t seem to notice him at all before he sits down next to her. Even then she just turns her head slowly towards him. Just for a moment, before she looks at that damn bonfire again.
“You’re staying for long?”
“Nah, just for a couple of days,” it is definitely not gonna be more, for sure, “until I have fixed some things and I’ll be going again.”
Jacob and pretty girl. Still just talking. Although it looks like it is mostly him talking. She really doesn’t say much. Just stares into that fire. No idea why. She really should be paying more attention. What if that so-called husband or whatever he is, comes back to see her sit there and talk to someone like Jacob. He might not be as handsome as he thinks he is, but he isn’t ugly either.
“You know, Jacob,” he seems insecure, “he isn’t in a good place after Margo.”
I don’t get it.
“I mean it might not be a good time to get too involved,” he leans closer, “all he seems to care about these days is that collection of his.”
They are getting up. Jacob and pretty girl. No husband has come back to stop it. They are moving away from the party
“No worries,” there really is no need to worry, “I am not looking for anything serious.”
They are walking along the beach towards Jacob’s house.
“No, who is, right?” Michael smiles, leans closer. “You know I got my own place in the city,” he hesitates, “I could give you the address if you would want to drop by. I mean it doesn’t have to go another 10 years until I see you again.”
Pale Michael touching my arm. Just touching. No worries. The gold thing on his finger didn’t slip off or anything.
“Yeah sure, we should meet up,” I almost can’t see them anymore, “I just need to go now,” I say as I turn around. I know he is looking after me as I’m running across the beach. A little faster than I should. Running after Jacob and pretty girl.
“Hi guys, wait up,” Jacob turns. Smiles, but not for real.
“You didn’t need to leave,” he says, as if I didn’t know that, “We’re just going back to look at something in my house.”
“Yeah,” pretty girl says, “did you know that he has quite the collection?”
Jacob laughs, as if pretty girl has said something funny. “Of course she knows, everyone knows about my collection,” he bites his lip again, kind of an annoying habit he has gotten there. “They all know I got a thing for robots,” he winks at me.
“You got a thing for robots?” pretty girl laughs now, “I never would have guessed.”
“I do, I really do,” he holds her arm a little too tight, “not joking.”
“Yeah,” she only hesitates for a moment, “Might be fun to see this collection of yours,” at least seeming more alive than she did when she was constantly looking into the bonfire.
“Oh my God, this is so freaky,” she is almost shouting, but at least she seems enthusiastic. “Where did you get all these parts?” she says turning towards Jacob who always seems to be staring at her.
“Ah, you know, one part her and one part there,” he winks again, and this time she laughs a bit too loud.
“Look at this head,” she turns to me this time, “it looks real, doesn’t it? Looks like it could open its eyes any minute now and look straight at us.”
I just nod. She is right. It does look real. “And this foot,” she holds it up for a moment, “this looks just like a real foot,” she hesitates, “only the blood missing I guess.”
“Some of the new ones got blood too, you know,” Jacob says from the other part of the room, seems to be looking for something, “I have been to some conventions where you just can’t believe your own eyes when they show you stuff.” Jacob loves conventions. I know. “Look at this, isn’t she gorgeous?” he holds up one of the heads, probably what he was looking for I guess. “She kind of looks like you, doesn’t she?” he says looking at pretty girl. He isn’t wrong. The head is real good-looking and the eyes they are just as blue as pretty girl’s eyes. The heads mouth is a bit more pouty it seems, and the cheekbones a bit more visible. The hair isn’t really blond, more a light brown, but he is right. They could have been sisters.
“How creepy,” pretty girl seems anxious for a moment, “I guess they model them after real people, don’t they?”
I nod. They do. “Do you think someone saw me and wanted to make me into that thing?” she whispers, almost like she doesn’t want Jacob to hear. It isn’t he who has made that head, she doesn’t need to worry. He just goes to the conventions for the parts. Collects stuff. Sometimes I think he did it only to annoy Margo. The one thing she couldn’t make him stop doing.
“I have something that will really blow your mind upstairs, you wanna come see?”
She smiles. “Nah, I’m good.”
“I mean it, I got one upstairs, and she could be your copy.”
“Oh” she seems insecure, but who wouldn’t want to see something that looks just like oneself, “well I guess that would be fun to see.”
“You know what, if you like her, I’ll let you have her,” he says, “then you could have two of yourself.” It does seem to work. Pretty girl walks towards him where he is waiting by the stairs. “You’re not coming?” she says, turning to me.
“Sure, I’ll come,” I say, “I just have something I want to see down here first.”
“Oh,” she stops for a moment. Hesitates. Maybe she is thinking of her husband or whoever he was. What he would think if he knew where she was. Going upstairs with this guy who wants to show her a robot head. She still does it though.
Jacob really collects all kinds of shit. Like he thinks these parts are like fine wine bottles or something. Vintage parts that only gets better in time. All kinds of weird parts. One boob, a hand, part of a thigh. Everything is just parts. He never tries to build something from it. Just likes to collect them, leave them here to rot. Although they obviously cannot rot.
Jacob has always been noisy. He has. I remember all kinds of shit he used to do and he was always noisy. Noisy when he tried to impress Margo. Always making a fuss over everything. Annoying. I can hear the bang when something hits the wall. Louder than expected really. Noisy like always.
I look under the counter. A long foot is sticking out there and an arm. An old-looking arm. Must be really vintage, must have cost him a fortune. They don’t make stuff like that anymore. Doesn’t really look as real. If you look closely you can see the wiring clearly. Just an old robot arm. Can’t even have been a good model. I grab the arm as I can hear another bang. Sounds like something is being crushed. Maybe a mirror or something. Typical Jacob. Being silly.
He really has too many parts. Looks sick with all these parts laying around like this. He got too many heads as well. Probably not a good sign that he really doesn’t seem to want to attach those heads to something. Prefers them like that. Used to freak Margo out.
“No!” I can hear pretty girl screaming as I walk up the stairs to the second floor. Again Jacob loves to make everything so noisy. Loves to throw things apparently. Maybe it is kind of a hobby for him. He might hope that they will fall apart. Become these parts that he loves so much. Fall apart all over his floor. A head, some arms, some feet. He’d like that. I bet.
Another cracking noise as I get to the top of the stairs. He is lying on top of pretty girl. Seems to be struggling to get her dress off. He looks up. Looks at me. Bites his lip. Really an annoying habit that is. He so needs to stop that. The kind of habit that Margo really wouldn’t have liked.
“I know what it looks like,” he says while he holds her down, “but she is a robot, right?” he winks at me again. “You can’t rape a robot.”
“I’m not a fucking robot, you freak,” she tries to push him off, but he is strong.
“Come on, I said you could stay here as long as you didn’t meddle in my business,” he says to me in the same calm tone.
“I’m not a robot,” she bends her head backwards, tries to make eye contact with me.
“Friends let friends play, right?” he says, trying to smile charmingly while he holds her down. Almost manage to pull it off.
I’m still holding the old, vintage arm.
“She isn’t a robot, Jacob,” I hesitate for a moment, “I don’t even think you believe that.”
“Fucking horrible, right?” she is talking so fast, “I really can’t sleep at night after what happened,” turns towards her friend. I don’t think she is afraid at all, she just wants to tell her friend all the creepy details. “I’ve heard they found him with his head all smashed in.”
“Oh God, they didn’t,” her friend holds her hands against her face, truly seeming horrified for a moment, “but I thought he was thrown?”
“Yeah, he was, thrown straight out of the window,” the fast-talking girl seems afraid that someone else can hear her. I don’t get it, most of the details have been in the paper anyway, “but the head was smashed in first, really bad,” she almost doesn’t draw her breath when she’s talking. Really annoying. “He was thrown way to far, you know,” she says, “must have been one of them.”
“No, really?” the other girl looks out towards the beach truly seeming to take all this in. How can she ever feel safe again when good men get thrown out of the window, get their head smashed in like that? A real-life horror story when you think about it.
I love this beach bar. I do. I have always liked it. Being at the beach like this. Looking out at the beautiful sand. Just sitting there all by myself listening. Sometimes you just need to hear some waves. Calms me down. Me and mum always used to go to the beach when I was younger. Make our own little basket, sit in the sand. I loved it. Doesn’t really matter now. Mum’s been dead for a long time. Isn’t coming back any time soon.
I get up as I see her. She is walking across the beach towards the beach bar where I said we could meet. I need to get her another dress, she seems to have been wearing that old lady dress for forever. She like those flower prints too much. I wouldn’t have worn that flower dress if it hadn’t been for her.
“Oh, my God,” I can hear the fast-talking girl say,” that’s one of them.”
“You see that old lady over there,” she is pointing now. I need to go to her, it is never good to get this much attention when something like this has happened.
“I really wish they wouldn’t be allowed to walk around like that. Sometimes I wonder how much shit needs to happen before we get it. It really isn’t safe.”
I hurry towards her. Feel the sand sticking to my feet. Walk a little faster than I should. Grab her arm as soon as I reach her. Make her turn around. Can feel the arm get stuck again. It is really bad that arm. Sometimes it just falls off. Very bad when you don’t want attention to be honest.
“No need to go there,” I hesitate, “We’ll leave.”
“Oh, I thought you might want to stay, catch up with everyone?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“I got you a new arm.”
“What, you did?” she smiles. I know how tired she is of that arm even if she tries to hide it, “You really didn’t have to, you know that right?”
“I know, I just wanted you to have a new one.”
“Where did you put it?”
She looks around as if she thinks I will have an arm sticking out of my bag or something.
“A friend is holding it for me.”
I can see pretty girl standing at the end of the beach. Waving at us. Ready to go. Leave this beach for a while.
“That’s your friend?”
I nod. “She’s very pretty.”
“Does she have a name?”
Jessica, the pretty girl, is waving even more. Seems anxious that we haven’t seen her.
“She’s coming with us?”
“Is she a robot?”
“I don’t know.”
She seems surprised. I get that.
“You don’t know, but I thought you always knew?
“I used to, I really did,” I hesitate, “but did you know that some of them bleed now?”
I hope you have enjoyed “Tropical Tonight”, the story as well as the song, and I really hope that you would like to hear more songs and read more stories
About the song: Vocals/Lyrics/Ukulele/Music composition: Therese J(Me)
Mixing/Bass: Dan Grubbs
Drums: Raul R
If you like the images that have been used to illustrate this short story, they are all from morguefile.com. All the photos have been edited, but the first photo is by jolana05, the second photo (SoundCloud photo) is by Ahborson, the third photo is by rikahi, the fourth photo is by TeslGoddess, the fifth photo is by bandini and the last photo is by iovanni.
© Hilde Therese Juvodden, MyStoriesWithMusic, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Hilde T. Juvodden and MyStoriesWithMusic with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. – Simply don’t steal my stuff 😊