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THIRTY-SIX
Beth, Bryan and Joe strolled north-westward on Pilitas to the beach where they scanned the columns and rows of beach chairs and umbrellas that dominated the regions of beach farthest from the lapping waves. “Busy, huh?” Joe commented. “It looks as though it was a good idea to come today rather than wait for the weekend, yah?”

“That or we need to get here earlier if we want our choice of where to sit,” Beth replied. “This is like a sea of umbrellas, isn’t it?”

“‘A sea of umbrellas.’ I like that. Very poetic. But I’m not sure what image the words would create if I didn’t have this expanse of oiled bodies beneath the sun to burn a picture in my mind. Perhaps a flotilla of umbrellas being used as pleasure boats?”

“That’s a fun image. Sailboats. With the sails attached to the handles bobbing blissfully along.”

“Blissful bobbing sounds nice but how would we steer? Where are the rudders?”

“Too deep, sweetie. Don’t go so far below the water line. It’s just a picture.”

“Ha! You just said, ‘Don’t go so deep,’ and the subject is sailboats. You’re a genius even when you don’t try. Hey, Brian? Do you know how wonderful your mother is?”

“Uh-huh. Brian knows. Love you, Mama.”

“Well that’s settled,” Joe said with a laugh. “Unanimous.”

“And I love you, sweeties,” she replied, kissing her fingertips and throwing kisses. “Beach chairs or just spread a towel out down closer to the ocean?”

“Sun’s rays are pretty strong right now so we should probably get an umbrella. Shall we reconnoiter first and then we can figure out the best place to land?”

“Good plan,” Beth said with a nod. “Brian? Let’s take off our jerseys so we can get in the ocean,” she added as she laid her bag on the ground and pulled her shirt off.

“Yah. Let’s get wet,” Joe replied, pulling first Brian’s shirt off then his own. “Brian? Want to fly in the sky?”

“Pabbi make me fly?”

“Say the word and you’re a bird!”

“Brian Fly! Fly, Pabbi! Fly!”

Joseph scooped up his son, lifted him high overhead and placed the palms of his hands beneath Brian’s hips as the boy arched his back, outstretched his arms plane like and commanded, “Run, Pabbi! Brian fly!” as he squealed in delight which in turn made both of his parents laugh in appreciation of his joy

“To the ocean, my sweet! It’s time to get wet!” Joe hollered unreservedly as he ran into the ocean kicking sand, making waves and catching the attention of the languid loungers that soaked up the sun’s rays.

Zach opened a single bleary eye and looked up from his state of semiconscious. Peering uncomprehendingly toward the squeals and shouts that wafted up from the surf what he saw made him smile and nod once before his eyes shot open in a terrorizing moment of déjà vu. The man from the hotel again had Bryan in his arms and was running with him away from Mary.

“Stop!” Zach shouted at the top of his lungs as he struggled to his feet. “Stop that man! He has my son!” he added as he sprinted pall mall through the sand and towards the surf.