Blazing sun-rays glistened off a pulsating vein in his neck, as a crimson hue rolled over Marty’s face. His red-headed fury was about to be stoked again. Betty could always tell by that little muscle on the side of his jaw that flexed when he was angry.
She tried calming her husband, who sprawled on an over-sized towel on the hot sand of Coquina Key Beach. An apparent beach-bum thirty years junior to Marty’s fifty-five was claiming the patch of sand they occupied as his own. Several carefully selected insults were salted throughout his pompous acclamations.
“You should take your ugly woman somewhere else. This beach ain’t for fat old people anyway pops. You guys are messing up the scenery.”
Betty knew her husband’s hot temper and his ability to handle himself well should the altercation turn physical. She rubbed his forearm.
“Honey, don’t pay any attention to that guy. Just relax. We’re here to enjoy our vacation, and we’re not going to let anyone ruin it—right?”
Marty’s decision was visible, as tension ebbed from his body and he began to calm a bit. But the offender continued to irritate.
“Yeah, listen to yer ol-lady dude. This is my spot.”
Though heavily muscled, the agitator jumped reactively when Betty’s husband leapt to his feet. Snatching up the towel, Marty shook out the sand.
“Come on Betty, we’ll find another spot.”
With an exaggerated gallantry he tossed an arm around his wife, and they strode down the beach together. She carried the towel and he swung a large bucket filled with sea-shells they’d collected.
The soft, warm sea-breeze rippled the frilly skirt of Betty’s one-piece swim-suit dappled with colorful spring blooms. She turned her head up with a glowing smile to gaze at her husband’s face while they moved as one. She was proud of how he’d been overcoming his quick temper lately. It warmed her heart to know the extra effort was for her. Their love for each other had matured. And Betty’s thoughts were assuring.
Twenty-three years of marriage—we rarely disagree. So thankful he began attending church regularly. Reading his bible and praying every morning has really made a difference.
It seemed they were both having similar thoughts again. Marty spoke.
“Notice how chill I was? Jesus’ way really is best. So wise.”
Betty simply nodded, smiling. He pointed to a large vacant area on the sand close to two palm trees, where they’d have the option of either shade or sunshine. She bobbed her head in approval.
Ten minutes later they were comfortably snuggled-up on the towel and digging their toes in the warm sand. A voice behind them sounded. It was the same blonde headed beach bum as before.
“Looks like you just don’t get it pops. You’re not welcome on this beach.”
Marty let out an exasperated sigh and shook his head incredulously, searching for the right response. But before he could say anything the bully used a foot to swoop a pile of sand in both their faces. Marty caught the worst of it with both eyes full of the crystal grains. Afraid of what Marty would do once he could see again, Betty stood between the jerk and her husband.
“Chill out!” She chided.
It was a protective reaction. Scooping up the bucket of shells she swung it fast and hard. The trouble-maker was set to give another snide comment when the edge of the heavy bucket caught him square on the chin. He folded up like an accordion on the beach, unconscious.
Dropping the bucket, Betty gasped and covered her mouth with both hands in disbelief at what she’d just done.
After flushing his eyes with their drinking water, Marty moved to the fallen troubler and lifted his head, gently tapping his face to revive him. When his eyelids fluttered open, Marty offered him a drink of water, which he accepted. Now, the formerly verbose fellow was speechless and motionless—seated on the sand. Without a word, Marty handed him a small Christian tract.
Packing up their stuff, Betty patted the man on the head like he was a little toddler, and left him with a parting thought.
“God would not be pleased with the way you’ve been acting young man.”
Fifteen minutes later as the happily married couple were driving off, they saw the same beach bum standing at the edge of the parking lot. He appeared much more relaxed than before, and he was waving good-bye.
(Fiction-open to interpretation)
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