Jetties and long rock breaks pointed to the center of the half moon bay, making it look like a watery clock with a missing side of time. Just before the open sea, sat a weatherbeaten shack, its front side propped open to shade a bar and several unstable stools. A group gathered near some overturned dinghies, the only sign of life within the still water and wispy sky.
A man with a baseball hat and a fake plastic lei paced in front of fifteen people, all smelling of sunblock and early beer. “Wrestling is not encouraged, but we understand that it happens. Just don’t knock over the remaining cups from the docks.” A few people shifted their feet and gave sidelong glances.
“And remember, the cups have to be whole. No pieces. Cracked is OK. But you can’t bring in a sliver of red plastic and have it count. Whole cups, as many as you can, in an hour. Winner gets my lei and one free beer a day until next year. On your mark, get set, go!”
In seconds the group that had seemed like laid-back tourists, exploded into something different. Stumbling over flip-flops and extra elbows, each pelted to one of the small boats by the shore. Dinghies were flipped upright, launched into the bay, and rowed with a fierce determination.
Janet was the first to reach a dock, claiming one of the three red Solo cups positioned at the end, before paddling furiously to the next station. Marco was next, water sloshing so much his boat nearly tipped.
Bart’s tactic to start at the other side of the bay and work backwards didn’t historically pan out. As he tightened the chin strap on his wide sun hat and struck out across the water, he hoped this was the year for an exception. Janet had been practicing pull ups since last season and had three cups already.
A wrestling match did erupt at the six o’clock dock, while Fi and Ducky tried for the last Solo there. When it split in two, they both jumped back into their boats. Bart got lucky when they decided to stop Janet, and forgot about his back door approach.
In the end, Janet had seven people trying to restrain her from getting her fifth and possibly winning cup. Which was the only reason why Bart calmly rowed back to the bar with six at the end of the hour.
Disheveled and wet, the contestants pushed the boats back on the shore and struggled to climb the small rise. As they approached, Bart already had on the lei and clutched a cold, free beer.
Bart raised his bottle and pointed it at the disappointed throng, and in particular to a woman that looked like she had been in a schoolyard fight. “I’ll buy the first round. But first, I’d like to propose a toast to someone who won’t want it.”
After cups were filled the cheer sounded less melancholy, if not exactly enthusiastic. “To Janet!”
Janna writes to keep ahead of her daydreams (by just a little bit) and has published a few in places like F(r)iction and Andromeda Spaceways. Otherwise, she is a librarian, mother, and minor trickster. Generally, if the toaster blows up, it is not her fault. Follow her @ScribblerMiller