Sunday, 21 July 2013

Two Mirrors.

The Sun bounced off the water. If it weren't for the clouds making their way across the sky you wouldn't even be aware of the slight breeze over the stifling humidity. The reflection of the sun off the lake's surface adds to the heat like being sandwiched between two mirrors. It is a weekday. The only families there are on vacation or able to afford to take a day off during the school summer break. The beach is busy, but not crowded. A couple of old ladies under the shade of a tree with two toy-sized dogs, watching and commenting on the passerby if only to make their own uninteresting lives seem justified. Three teenage girls stand offshore, the water only up to their waist; wading and splashing with their hands, idly gossiping about how boring the summer has been thus far... nothing to do but watch TV and Facebook, anticipating the start of the school year in six weeks time, having only been gone for two weeks, just fresh from the stress of writing their last exam.

A young family has come prepared. The father overloaded with a cooler, umbrella, mask, snorkel and fins, lawn chairs, towels, buckets and spades, water wings, flutter boards, water pistols and super soakers.

The three children; 5, 7, and 10, two girls and the oldest, a boy.

Being a boy and the oldest, he has a "too cool for school" detachment. He follows after his father, a puppy and his litter-mates, with Mama taking up the rear. Engarde, watchful, picking up the slack her broad leaves in a wake behind them of dropped lawn chairs, tripped over towels, tissues and candy wrappers, discarded sippy cups from the youngest girl-- all Shirley Temple-like in her innocence-- the almost deliberate littering by the middle girl, like a cry for attention-- as they make their way to the beach. The father's brother arrives in another car with his girlfriend as the family sets out from the parking lot to the beach.

They troop along the beach, searching out a clear spot near some trees. It's early afternoon. Many prime locations have long been staked out. Semi-permanent summer campers with barbecues set up and smoking in time for a late afternoon feast. One by one, the children start complaining with the youngest, the first to break, followed in quick succession by her two older siblings. The hot sand pushing in resistance against young tender feet, sandwiched between two mirrors. The boy holds out the longest, clinging to his duty of carrying his half of the cooler in both hands, struggling as his father effortlessly seems to carry chairs and umbrellas in one hand and his half of the cooler in the other. It is far from effortless though, as the father is just better at hiding his struggle after 20 or so years.

He finally hunts out a suitable spot and with a satisfied grunt, drops his load. The kids, eager to help and join in, are more if a hindrance than benefit, but things are quickly sorted with mom issuing orders like a drill sergeant, setting up shop with ease.

With the tent pitched and camp made, the water wings and other various water toys are inflated. The two girls pump and jump on the bellows. Their efforts seem almost futile as the toys slowly inflate. The notable difference causes the two girls to try harder. The boy has other concerns. He kneels down by the water, more concerned with the task at hand than the three slightly older girls gossiping hip deep in the water in front of him offshore.

He has a few pistols of neon plastic. Their cheap innards exposed under the molded facade of a Colt .45. Lined up in a row, are five cylinders, like miniature propane tanks filled with a different gas in liquid form lapping at his feet. He's a veteran in his 'hood. He knows to be prepared ahead of time for the coming war. Hours behind the X-box have trained him for this moment. His uncle and father are now the enemy. A battle is eminent.

His task complete, he gathers up his munitions and makes his way back to the base camp. He sees his uncle wandering down to the water, but fails to notice the black shapes carried under his uncle's arm. The girlfriend (Amy? he thinks) is talking with mom. Dad is busy starting a pit to start a fire. Jr. hands a pistol to each of his sisters. To Jill, the middle child, her arsenal is supplemented with a super soaker and a full spare cylinder.
Jr. & Jill instinctively circle around Jean, the youngest. Oblivious to the goal, unaware of the toy weapon of mass destruction and any meaningful symbolism, she puts the barrel in her mouth and squeezes the trigger, squirting dirty lake water down her throat to sub-consciously cool down from the heat of two mirrors.

The three children prowl the campground for Uncle Chris and dad. Jean only keeping up because she's aware something special is happening since her two tormentors are working as a team, cooperating in face of a common enemy, her thirst quenched by a funny looking sippy cup. She pulls the trigger again. Her head suddenly tipping back slightly as the water hits the roof of her mouth.

Jr. spots his father and brother standing around the newly created fire pit. A steady, thin stream of smoke the only indicator of a fire, the flames rendered near invisible in the brightness of the afternoon sun. Jean suddenly discovers the importance of her new sippy cup as her siblings pounce on her father and uncle. Arms flailing, shrieks of laughter, streams of water shooting wildly in all directions, the lessons of X-box soon forgotten in the excitement of a successful ambush.

Dad and Uncle Chris duck and cover. Chris snatches the black cases he took to the lake's shore. He tosses a couple of his ample supply to his brother-in-arms, their own super soakers snatched from the ground in an equally fluid motion.

The cases, or more aptly named cartridges, are slapped into place under the barrels of the two super soakers with a satisfying click. The patented seal quickly floods the chamber in the body of the gun as the men pump the air via the realistic machine-gun rachet of the hand-pumped compressor.

The two brothers look at each other and smile. Their X-box training has not been forgotten as they take up indoctrinated stances. Legs straight, knees loose, they bring their assault weapons to their shoulders, elbows jutting out to help with stability, neck slightly bent, bringing the eye in line with the plastic crosshairs. A steady squeeze, no jerk, depresses the trigger. The barrel bursts forth with gattling gun efficiency as the barrel rotates at 50 rpm with 6 streams of hydro destruction.

The flailing arms and screams of laughter soon turn to squeals of protests as the three children start flailing in desperation instead of excitement under the deluge of water from the two brothers. They systematically mow the poor children down, their brief cooperation decimated. Ranks are broken as they all split in different directions. Jean standing in dumbfounded awe, plastic neon pistol in her mouth, as if giving up on the fight, her older brother and sister hunted with ruthless efficiency around her by her still dry father and uncle.

Mother comes to the rescue with a bucket of water dumped on her husband's head. The children cheer and the water assault rifles are turned on mom, her own squeals matching the children as the adults run around in reckless abandonment like children at the beach sandwiched between two mirrors. It's a good day.