The Locals’ Side

(an excerpt)


Robert Kerbeck

upstreet, number fourteen, 2018

On the beach they found Michael’s wife, Ann, reading a book in one of the Four Seasons’ lounge chairs. Peter was next to her, doing push-ups in the sand. Apparently, snorkeling out to the deep water hadn’t been enough exercise. Either that or he’d seen them coming and wanted to look good for her. He announced, “a hundred!” and did one last push-up, then jumped up from the sand. Ann chuckled.

“Check out what we found,” said Michael, displaying the band. “It was caught on the only black coral in the bay. I never would’ve spotted it otherwise.”

“Looks like a man’s wedding ring,” said Peter. “Might’ve been one of mine.” He flashed his fake white teeth and shoved Michael like they were teenage boys.

“Probably was,” said Ann, without looking up.

“See how shiny it is,” said Michael. “Somebody lost this recently, maybe even today.”

“Glad I’m not in his flip-flops,” said Peter.

“Can I see it?” Lila asked. She hadn’t taken the ring when Michael offered it to her in the water because she was afraid she would drop it. The ring couldn’t have been easy to find once, let alone twice.

“There’s an inscription, but it’s too small for me,” said Michael.

Ann peered up from her book as he gave it to Lila.

“What’s it say? If lost, don’t bother returning?” said Peter.

The ring was light. It wasn’t gold—or expensive. She thought of the man who’d lost the ring and started to tear up.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” Michael asked.

She knew if she answered she’d fall to her knees. Why was she wasting her time, what her mother called “her pretty years,” with another man who didn’t love her? She was on her way out with Peter, had known that backstage at his last concert, as he flirted with the younger girls eyeing him. Lila had been one of those girls not so long ago. She’d harbored hopes that meeting his long-time manager, Ann, might elevate her in his mind, but it seemed that both wished she hadn’t come.

To read the rest of “The Locals’ Side,” purchase a copy of upstreet number fourteen.