Cheryl’s blue flip-flops crunched over gravel.
The marina looked rundown and packed. The layout was busy, branching piers going every which way, outbuildings placed without a plan. It was the kind of marina with permanent residents in it, and Cheryl shuddered at the thought of sleazy men just lurking around all day long.
She took the scene in. Random boat parts strewn throughout the lot, rusty exhaust risers leaning against a dry houseboat. Several portable heads littered the landscape, removed for winterization ages ago and forgotten. For fuck’s sake, there were sunken boats tied up to pilings on the far side, bowlines still holding.
Sure as shit, there wasn’t a fuel pump down here. She glanced at the hill where Blaine waited in the truck, and sighed. He didn’t want to get off the main road for fear of getting stuck turning around down here. They were towing his dad’s 32′ Crownline and because of him is how she got pebbles stuck in her new flip flops.
Marine gas pumps looked medieval compared to the regular kind but still very recognizable. Square box about the normal size. Ancient rolling number displays. Twenty foot long hoses and signs offering you the distinct privilege of buying overpriced 89. You couldn’t miss it, yet her boyfriend insisted she walk down and check.
Cheryl was annoyed. Today they were taking some friends out on the Chesapeake Bay and Blaine hadn’t refueled the boat beforehand. Then, instead of taking the trailer through a regular gas station, he insisted on a marine station for a mythical fear of ethanol additives. Now they were running late.
His dad’s misinformed words, coming out of Blaine’s mouth. Every single marina Cheryl had ever been to had shit fuel, still laced with ethanol. Any goddam Exxon would’ve done. They were going to burn through the entire tank soon anyway, ethanol or no ethanol but she got asked to check, and when she got asked, Cheryl always came through. Finishing was very important to her.
She still couldn’t see for sure on the account of a disordered layout. She sighed in annoyance and decided to try walking past the “slip holders only” sign and get a definitive answer. At the far end of the long pier a guy sat at the back of his boat drinking his morning coffee. She approached him steadily, satisfied that this was her last tilt before walking back up the hill. It took awhile to walk 250 feet.
“Good morning,” she said sweetly. Corner of her mouth twisted in her usual manner. Cute, some called it.
The man gruffed with a comparable smile, “Mornin’ yourself.”
“Do you know if there is a fuel station around here?”
“No, there isn’t,” he pointed across the white channel marker, “but there’s one at the bridge marina.”
“Oh”, she said with a tinge of disappointment. She just wanted to get this idiotic quest done and move on. She continued, “Do you know if they’re open on Sunday?”
Cheryl was sure they were, but her boyfriend insisted on her asking anyway. He was so unprepared, she thought miserably again. His dad’s boat was down to fumes and for some inexplicable reason he wanted to first launch it in the water and then take it to refuel at the nearest open station, and … he didn’t even know where that was. None of this made any sense to her.
The man chuckled. Blaine honked at her impatiently in the far distance and she turned around to stare daggers at him. Too far for him to see. Mostly, Cheryl got annoyed that Blaine went so far past his reserve and was now freaking out about unfamiliar locations and hours. What the fuck was he thinking getting the tank that low to begin with? Cheryl never went below a third or her waterman pop-pop would be rolling in his grave.
“Tell you what sweetie,” the man said, “why don’t you come into my cabin and suck on my big pecker while I call them and ask.”
Just as she turned back to face the man, the truck honked again and she wished she had a flare gun in her hand to shoot at Blaine. Wait, what the fuck did that guy just say? Ever the epitome of politeness, Cheryl just mechanically replied, “Um, no thanks.”
He smiled and the smile had a measure of kindness and honesty in it. And apparently he also had some haggling in him.
“You sure? got a two-week load saved up,” he dickered.
He ogled her, Cheryl was in cutoff shorts and an oversized shirt, with her black bikini showing through.
She blinked. The conversation she wanted to have now deviated far from the one she was having. Truth be told, the actual words didn’t startle her. She could be disturbingly direct when people least expected it, like this now, so none of it seemed that unusual to her. He wasn’t ugly, was her first unstructured thought, not ugly by a mile, but this was a seedy marina for has-beens and Cheryl was in a relationship with a guy who had washboard abs. And what the fuck was this first thought of hers and what even …
In the far distance behind her the truck honked more, distracting her. She waved a ‘hang on’ to Blaine even though kızılay escort he probably couldn’t see her very clearly, and tried to concentrate on the moment. Right, wasn’t she supposed to freak out in outrage at this point?
“Uh, two weeks?” she turned back to the faltering conversation trying to reset it, covering her eyebrow in a nervous tick she reserved for avoiding confrontations.
“Yeah, I didn’t cum for two weeks. It’ll spray like a fire hose.”
“Oh, right.” Confused.
He smiled at her, “It’s summer, honey. They’re always open in summer, even on Sunday. They’ll probably open at nine.”
So confused. Girls anywhere learned to tune out unrepentant propositioners but he was lacing his feelers with being very helpful and managed to confirm what she thought she knew, giving her the very answer she did all that walking for. And yet she was visualizing the sick nastiness of being caught alone with this depraved weirdo on his boat, in this seedy run-down marina filled with reprobates, imagining the rare fear and uncertainty of being cornered, that deeply buried fear of the unknown you craved once a year surfacing out of the pit she stored it in, and just then she finally remembered that Blaine existed.
“Uh, thanks?” Cheryl said and briskly walked off toward the truck. It was far more convenient to just walk away and pretend this didn’t happen because it was so disorienting to begin with. But just as she got halfway through the pier he yelled after her.
“I’ll save it for you, hon!”
She turned around and glanced at him in confusion for a few seconds, running her hands through her dirty blonde hair. Of course, a total pervert. No surprise there, she thought. But oddly respectful. Handsome. Newer forty-foot cruiser with twin engines. Going to save his sperm for me. Huh.
“Marina over by the bridge opens up at 9,” she told Blaine as she pulled herself up into the passenger seat. She felt odd electrifying waves of something buzzing through her body as he drove off.
Blaine was handsome and in great shape, but careless and without forethought, she thought bitterly. They drove ten minutes to his uncle’s neighborhood and met the other three and a half couples by the locked community ramp.
“What took you guys so long,” Kevin teased, “had to take a quick roadside break huh?”
Cheryl rolled her eyes at his wink. He dated Brianna- the other couple was their friend Cara and a guy she hadn’t met before, and there was Marlie who always liked to tag along. She didn’t know the last two people, but that didn’t matter. Within minutes the guys went to launch the boat and the girls packed the cooler and zipped up their beach bags, chirping.
Today was just a beautiful day. High tide approaching, no winds, nice and warm. Not a cloud in sight or on radar.
Cheryl shook her head at the ramp. It was so out of the way for everyone and using it made them late. The gorgeous day was just wasting away, an hour of beautiful conditions blown. And Blaine was saving a few bucks in exchange for all that inconvenience and time. Was he actually saving any money, she wondered?
The public launch fee was like $10 and it was right next to a refueling station. His uncle’s ramp was free but it was three miles away to the nearest one by water, about a 15-20 minute trip, and another mile or so to the main stem. The engine burned at what, 4 miles per gallon? Say 2-3 with Blaine behind the helm, she chuckled to herself. He really never understood the concept of a sensible cruising speed.
She turned the numbers in her head. He was saving like… six bucks. And then she immediately realized that he was saving that much in order to buy fuel at $3.25 a gallon instead of $2.40 at the regular gas station. On a 100 gallon tank.
Jesus, her head hurt.
What the fuck was wrong with Blaine, she wondered. He was simply irrational about some things and she hated thinking about it because her dislikes of him were piling on exponentially.
The gang boarded the gratuitously sized white and blue bowrider, the new couple not accustomed to it rolling as they stepped onboard. Cheryl released the lines and lazily kicked the burbling boat away from the pier, jumping on it nimbly just before it drifted out of range. She’d had a lot of practice and two of them could do this sequence without talking.
Blaine backed the boat out and headed toward the inlet exit, about a mile out. Everyone was chirping, guys already cracking beers open. Cheryl stowed the stern line in a transom locker and coiled the bow line neatly into a cushion pocket near the anchor, since they’d need it soon. She walked around and zipped up a few loose purses and moved them to side pockets, out of the way of the upcoming wind tunnel apparently some people didn’t know about. By the time she was done, all the good seats were taken.
No matter. No mood could be spoiled out on the water. The speed limit was marked 6 over the weekends on the barnacled channel marker, kızılay escort bayan which was a random definition of speed that meant absolutely nothing on water. Blaine definitely went over that, as judged by dirty looks given by one or two distant paddleboarders.
Cheryl quietly nursed her annoyances. Would it kill him to be a smidge more considerate, she thought. At this speed he was throwing the biggest wake this side of being on plane. For the hundredth time she wondered why she was so mad at him.
They crossed under the drawbridge and the speed limit disappeared past the buoys. Blaine opened the throttles wide and the boat rose on top of the water throwing a mean wake. In all that engine and wind noise some recognizable music got put on.
Brianna lost her scrunchie within seconds, ripped right off her hair. She half screamed, half laughed, looking behind her in the unlikely hope that it just fell down on the floor. But the wind tunnel cutting through middle of the boat made that impossible, so she thanked Cheryl for putting her purse aside with a knowing look. Cheryl winked at her.
The water got rougher past the inlet exit so Cheryl hovered above the copilot’s bolster seat, entirely accustomed to the rhythmic bow slamming. Like riding a skateboard, lowered just a pinch from upright. Smell of the salty water was just then hitting them, like a promise of fun to be had.
Marlie hovered by the captain’s seat, almost touching Blaine. She held onto a grip bar white-knuckled and didn’t seem to intuitively grasp how stability worked on choppy water, made even choppier by Blaine. Cheryl wondered about that. Was Blaine making the ride hard just to see her tits shake? Because, boy, were they ever.
They spent a few minutes getting over to the neighboring cove and dropped back down to idle, the unprepared passengers now able to reshuffle to more comfy spots. Kevin and Brianna and the other couple sat up front at the bow, remarking inanely about how windy it got when they went fast, and Kara and the unnamed guy splayed out on the sternside bench, sheltered by the captain’s seat.
They docked at a marina with some unnecessary assistance and then mostly pretended to get off the boat during refueling. No one really paid attention to that little rule. Everyone was chattering and drinking either a beer or a hard seltzer except for Cheryl, who was snacking on baby carrots out of a ziplock bag she carefully packed the night before. It took nearly a good ten minutes to get to 3/4 tank and then almost as long to top it off, Blaine slowing down so the tank didn’t burp back. Cheryl hit the blower switch on her way to handing the dockhand a $5 tip.
He tossed them their lines and pushed them off and they were underway. Soon they ceremonially crossed under the Key Bridge twice with woots and scattered snaps, paying their social narcissism tax, then headed toward the White Rocks. Once there, Blaine got off plane and circled the rocks twice for more pictures, pissing off fishermen that’d been there for hours.
White Rocks were probably the upper Chesapeake Bay’s weirdest geological formation, several unexplained million year old house-sized boulders sticking straight out of the silt, all covered with centuries worth of birdshit and minutes of faded spraycan graffiti. Cheryl eyed cormorants voiding themselves on top of the boulders, and for the umpteenth time over the years doubted that the rocks were originally white.
After a few minutes they headed toward the Bay Bridge, giving a shoal on their starboard side a wide berth. The upper Chesapeake Bay was surprisingly shallow in places and the Bay Bridge was always deceptively far. Just as you thought you were halfway there, you felt something was wrong with your sense of scale and that’s because the bridge was two miles across. Whatever you used for a mental comparison just never worked.
As they crossed under the bridge, there was … jubilation. It was crazy, she thought, how people got excited seeing underneath the massive structure. A rare sight? It never got old. Maybe it was seeing all those poor suckers stuck in cars above and knowing they were jealous seeing boat wakes. The smell of saltwater was far more noticeable here, a reminder of how much distance they covered in an hour.
Cheryl thought either Blaine was his usual careless self, or Marlie distracted him. Or her tits. Once or twice, she saw him brace her for a slam when they violently crossed someone’s wake. Was he cutting across them that aggressively on purpose, she wondered? She wasn’t the jealous type but Marlie looked like she was exaggerating needing support. And man, were her tits bouncing, Cheryl smiled enviously.
Blaine was slamming beers and while his tolerance was pretty high, he was obviously getting distracted, talking to her. He almost ran over a crab buoy and Cheryl morbidly thought how she’d never seen anyone catch a cage line on their prop before, and halfway wanted to see it happen. They cruised escort kızlay on for another half hour and anchored in a nice calm swimspot just below Annapolis.
Cheryl finally had a hard seltzer and watched others splash in the water for a time. The sun was just beautiful, she wanted to overheat a pinch before jumping in. By the time her skin felt like it was radiating out, she jumped in and the water temperature was just perfect. All of morning’s annoyances disappeared in a flash, traded for wiggling her toes in the silt and running into a shell every few steps. Strangers, friends talking, music from several nearby boats clashing but harmonizing. Laughter. Splashing. Distant engine noises. A goodly cross-section of humanity in this little place. Mild horniness. This kind of fun just couldn’t be described or substituted.
The hours went by. People took breaks in shifts, sitting in the boat, dangling their feet off the swim platform. Cheryl’s hair got wet and dried out several times and she’d fight the tangles later. While some people obviously went in the water, Cheryl thought it indecent not to use that fancy head on the boat so she climbed aboard and peed in style, like a queen. The gelcoat was still fresh on this damned boat, she admired the reflections. After she washed her hands, she yawned and thought about taking a little nap on the recliner, covering herself up with a blue shark towel.
When she woke, she reapplied sunscreen and again overheated, then screamed in joy and jumped in the water with a running start. More hours went by, them just having indescribable fun. This beautiful swim spot only reachable by boat, god, all those people on the public beach they passed by the bridge didn’t know what they were missing out on. Cheryl wanted her hat so she climbed back onboard and the shark towel beckoned.
Cheryl woke up from her second little nap with her shark and looked around for others. The sun was at about a 4 o’clock position. Everyone was in the water, sipping beers and chatting with other boaters. She didn’t see Blaine anywhere but the bar sink lined with a garbage bag had a pile of crushed cans in it, his way of doing it. After finishing a bottle of water she looked again and still didn’t see him. It made her feel mildly worried. It was too warm outside for anyone to be belowdecks but just to be sure, she walked past the helm and opened the hatch to take a look. That dummy could get a heatstroke taking a nap there.
First thing she saw was a tangle of feet, followed by Marlie’s tits, and Blaine making a oh-shit-I-fucked-up-so-much face.
Cheryl laughed. Just laughed. Two of them were expecting a flurry of anger and were doubly shocked when they didn’t receive it. She wasn’t laughing at them, it was entirely confusing. This was a unfiltered burst of happiness and it made no sense to them. For some time now she’d harbored bad feelings about Blaine and it weighed on her without realizing as much. She bit her lip and briefly pondered jumping in the sack with the two of them and feeling up Marlie’s tits for herself but that was the wrong thing to do. She liked Blaine but hated feeling responsible for him. And now, like a surprise Christmas gift delivered on the wrongest fuckin’ day of the year, she didn’t have to anymore.
In that instant, Cheryl realized she was free.
She mournfully settled for a mere stroke of Marlie’s ankle with the frog tattoo on it, imagining dirty possibilities like herself pumping Blaine’s cock into Marlie’s mouth and other, far kinkier things. But a clean exit would be better. She winked at them and closed the hatch behind her. On the way to the swim platform, she grabbed a hard seltzer and sat down feeling horny. She dangled her feet in the water. Within a minute Blaine and Marlie came out slowly and they both started apologizing.
“We were drunk…”
Cheryl stopped them with her hands, “Hey, it’s cool,” assuring them she wasn’t pissed.
He tried her secret name, “Cherry, it didn’t mean anything,…”
She was still smiling, not the bitter sarcastic angry smile the kind that signaled a later ass chewing, but a good-natured one. The sympathetic kind, the kind that still confused them so much. This wasn’t the expected confrontation.
“Don’t know what came over me…”
“It didn’t mean anything…”
Cheryl thought how their … thing was unplanned, they were just having fun, out on the water, partying. It’d be criminal to sour it. They were in good company. Spontaneous, both a little tipsy and obviously horny. The element of attraction did its thing. She felt jealous of that fun, but, good for them. This was as close to an organic breakup as there was. Amicable. With the least of drama and the best of outcomes.
Cheryl told Blaine, “We must seize the means of production, Mr. Krabs” and giggled.
That botched quotation put Blaine at ease. If she was joking about the meme they always laughed about, then everything was fine. Still awkward, but, fine. He relaxed. Marlie still didn’t know how to act, she was nearly tearing up.
“We should probably think about heading back,” Cheryl said and sipped more of her drink. “Few hours till sunset,” she winked conspiratorially at Marlie. Real shame about not getting to feel up those big tits though, she mused.