The Platform

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Long summer days, and warm nights filled with fun, swimming, boating, and Uncle Mike’s weekend barbeque bashes is what summer is all about. Of course it helps when the family has owned a large cottage with a hundred feet of frontage on a large New England pond for generations. It’s even better when the extended family joins in on the weekend. That is how it has always been for Jay, or at least as long as he can remember. Just a week after school gets out in June, the family packs up and head right here, three hours away from home and stays until the dawn of September.

Jay has his regular summer stomping ground here that has expanded over the years as he has grown. From being handheld at the water’s edge, to walking the dirt private road to find butterflies, to running into town on a Friday night for some fun and young ladies, the horizons have expanded. Jay has held a summer job here in a waterfront bait and gas station for the past two years. Even though this story takes place during his eighteenth summer here and he is heading off to college in the fall, he still had plans to be shelling out the worms the following years in between college terms. It seemed safe to say he has always loved this little waterfront vacation escape.

That day when he had been daydreaming had been a fine Saturday, filled with the usual swimming, eats, and carloads of relatives. Even the longtime summer neighbors joined in from other pond side cabins. The only drawback of it all was the next door neighbor Julie. Although she had been friends with Jay’s sister for what seemed like forever, she had been picking on him since he was too small to pull his own swim trunks up. As the family had arrived here a few weeks ago he wondered if she would be back again with the folks this year. He had thought maybe not since she was twenty two now and had graduated college a few weeks ago. He had been hoping she had her own life now and additionally would not be ripping on some other guy every few minutes.

Two weeks had passed and he has not seen her. He also has not asked anyone. Now on Independence Day weekend there had been no sign of her at the large pond-side annual shindig. But just when he thought he would be safe from this year’s roll of the wet towel smack from behind, he heard a familiar voice.

“Hey turd,” Julie said a second before he heard the snap.

“Dammit!” he exclaimed as he winced.

“Hey little guy,” she smiled as he turned.

“I haven’t been a little guy for years,” Jay said.

“Oh yeah, did you fill out you’re selective service card or did you need help with the big words?” she asked.

“Yeah shut up,” Jay sighed as he rubbed his backside, “You know that hurts.”

“Oh sorry little guy, next time I’ll just goose that cute butt, like this,” she smiled as she pinched him and walked away.

Also there was that too. She had always been a terrible flirting tease. Jay knew she never had any intention of making good on all the comments she gave him. Some had been mild, and others were as graphic and suggestive as they come. She had even played a joke on him once telling him she wanted him, and then didn’t show up. He had swam all the way out to the floating platform in the dark one night only to find a sarcastic note. Of course she had a good laugh.

Jay had always been attracted to shorter girls. Perhaps this is why he had put up with Julie so long. She stands over six inches shorter than him. He had sometimes remarked inwardly about her attractiveness. Her shoulder length auburn tinted hair has always been well kept. It was that and the fact that she is not voluptuous that had given him a physical attraction. He has always preferred, as his best friend Jim had once put it, just a handful.

Jay decided to wander onto the front deck to grab one of his uncle’s famous burgers and a drink. He started thinking that there had to be a better way to make it through the summer than to keep putting up with the usual assault from Julie. As he thought about it, he looked out at the large busy pond. Boats sped by trailed by water skiers. The beachfronts full of kids and adults alike seemed like such a symbol of summer. Of course the tasty burgers helped too.

Jay focused his view away from the panorama and he looked out onto the busy swimming platform. He remembered hearing the story of how and why it was made. His grandfather and his two brothers made it one summer, long before he was born. His grandfather came up with the idea in order to teach his sons how to swim. They would regularly do laps between the shore and the platform.

The large 10 feet square wooden structure had seen a lot of fun, and other sorted things over the decades according to his dad. He remembered helping to repair it a few summers ago and made the offhand comment to his dad about just replacing it. His dad simply looked at him and told him there was too much history with that old heavy thing.

For three decades it has been pushed out into the same position about 20 feet beyond the dock, and to the left in front of the small beach. The weights on rope are pulled off the top and sunk in the bahis firmaları water to keep it in position. Each fall they retrieve it before winter and carry it up onto the lawn to sit until the next spring. Jay started to wonder in all its history, how many people had used it. Then remembering what his dad had said about other sorted things.

“Hey, have you seen Julie?” Jay’s sister, Sandy said as she came up beside him.

“Unfortunately,” Jay said to her.

“Oh don’t tell me she’s at it again,” Sandy said, “We had a long talk last night. It was one of those really deep meaning of life kind of things out on the platform last night.”

“Most likely plotting this summer’s punishments on the lowly neighbor guy,” Jay grinned.

“Actually, we talked about that,” Sandy said, sipping her soda, “She’s feeling bad about all that in her old age.”

“Old age starts at 22?” Jay asked, “As for feeling bad, it’s seems like that’s not true. Since you’re the same age, is it true?

“Ah, did she start in again?” Sandy asked, “And no it doesn’t.”

“Yeah,” he sighed, “But there was the pinch on my ass. She’s never touched me at all before.”

“Oh she did it,” Sandy said with a strange expression, “Thought she was kidding about all that.”

“All what?” Jay asked.

“Well,” Sandy said, “Just girl talk.”

“I really hate that,” Jay said.

“Obviously,” she smiled.

“Oh don’t fight,” Julie said as she again pinched Jay from behind, “It wastes too much energy.”

“Must you do that?” Jay asked as he turned quickly.

“Oh I have a reason for everything little guy,” Julie grinned as she grabbed the other half of his burger and walked off.

“This is unreal,” Jay said as he shook his head.

“Yeah I can’t believe it either,” Sandy said.

“There is something you’re not telling me,” Jay said.

“You’re right,” Sandy said as she also walked off without saying anything more.

Confused and annoyed, Jay walked over for another burger to replace the one that Julie had taken, then quickly went back down to the lawn to find a place to sit. When he found his place, he began looking around thinking that she might try it again, but he could not see her anywhere. Suddenly however he did see a familiar face walking toward him.

“Hey man, glad you could make it,” Jay said to his long time friend.

“Yeah, the boss, or Dad as I call him gave me the day off, so I thought I’d cruise on up.” Jim said.

“Grab some food,” Jay said to him.

“Yeah maybe later,” Jim said as he grabbed a soda, “Let’s catch up man.”

Jay and his friend sat on the lounge chairs on the side lawn and started talking. Even though they were nearly the same average build and height and have even been mistaken for brothers a few times, they had somewhat different personalities. Though they last saw each other a few weeks ago, they still talked about recent events. Of course it became quite easy to slip into some nostalgia about all the fun and trouble they use to get into. It quickly became a conversation not meant for mixed company. The subject matter would prompt them to stop as Julie and Sandy came over to say hello.

“Hey little guy,” Julie said enthusiastically then changed her tone to a dry simple acknowledgement when she saw Jim, “Jim.”

“Little guy,” Jim mocked, “Does she know something we don’t?”

“Probably bigger than yours,” Julie shot back.

“Ah geez,” Jay said nervously, “Wait, what?”

“I have no idea but it works for me,” Sandy said as she sat down on Jim’s lap.

“You’re, you, you two,” Jay stuttered then faced his friend with mild shock, “Your dating my sister?”

“Yeah a while now,” Sandy said as she kissed Jim quickly.

“And you were going to tell me you are dating my best friend, when?” Jay asked with a slight laugh.

“When we name the first kid after you,” Jim grinned.

“Dude,” Jay said trying not to laugh at the uncomfortable moment.

“Probably when we planned to tell mom and dad later today, unless they figure it out sooner,” Sandy said.

“A little gross isn’t it?” Julie smiled as she sat on the edge of Jay’s lounge chair.

“Ah son of a,” Jay gasped as he happened to glance down at his sister’s finger to see an average sized ring on her finger, “Engaged.”

“Yeah but we will wait a year,” Sandy said.

“Can you believe it, a year of this already too,” Julie said as she picked a piece of lint off of Jay’s knee.

“What do you think mom and dad will say?” Sandy asked nervously.

“Maybe ask me to kick your ass or something,” Julie said.

“I have no idea but I think I will be somewhere else when you tell them,” Jay said.

“Hey I paid for cutting that tree down that split your front porch in half. My dad and I rebuilt it, remember? They’ve calmed down about that haven’t they?” Jim asked.

“I know mom saw you already, so maybe,” Sandy said as she became restless.

“This is unbelievable,” Jay sighed.

“I have to pee, then take a walk?” Sandy said to Jim.

“Yeah let’s go up the hill and see if they replanted after the fire last year,” Jim said.

“Ok,” kaçak iddaa Sandy said as she walked off.

“That’s their way of saying they are going to take a walk and find a quiet place to screw,” Julie said as she stood and trotted away to catch up with Sandy.

“Seriously?” Jay said to his friend with a slight laugh.

“Yeah I love her man,” Jim said.

“Ok good because I know you and the conquests we’ve talked about and if I didn’t hear that I swear I would have pounded you,” Jay said.

“For real dude,” Jim said, “But what’s up with Julie. Is she getting sweet on you?”

“Julie hates me,” I said.

“She used to give me such a boner,” Jim grinned, “I mean a while ago, not recently. You know.”

“Yeah I remember, but wait,” Jay said as he stopped to think, “Julie what did she say?”

“She said me getting with her best friend is gross,” Jim said.

“No I mean the other thing,” Jay said, “She defended me. It was that whole probably bigger than you thing.”

“Yeah well what does she know,” Jim laughed, “Dude maybe she’s sweet on you now.”

“Right,” Jay said sarcastically.

“No really, she was so nice because everyone knows I’m bigger than you,” Jim said with a grin.

“Dude shut up,” Jay laughed.

“I have no idea really,” Jim said.

“What’s really going on here?” Jay asked to no one in particular.

The whole day’s events had begun to puzzle Jay. It seemed that all of the usual insults were in place, but there was a definite change with how Julie was acting toward him. As he thought about it, he began to dismiss it as some sort of joke that would reveal itself later. He decided he would not get caught in it this time.

“Ready?” Sandy said as she and Julie returned.

“Yup,” Jim said as he stood to join her.

“Hey”, Julie said to them as they started to walk away.

“Yeah dear,” Sandy said as she caught a wrapped condom Julie tossed at her.

“Use it, just in case you wake up and change your mind about him dear,” Julie said.

“So nice of you,” Jim shot back, “No boyfriend or condoms in your bag. What does that say?”

“Ok you two, the round is over,” Sandy said as she pulled Jim quickly up the path along the border of the neighboring property.

Julie stood a while longer as she watched the two disappear onto the roadway. She let out a deep sigh, and then sat down on the lounge chair beside Jay. For several minutes she said nothing. Jay became increasingly nervous, knowing she would probably start in on him soon. But out of the corner of his eye he could see her slumped down in her chair, seeming somewhat defeated.

“Maybe plant a trap on that path later that only smacks him,” Julie sighed.

“It’s all a bit of a shock isn’t it?” Jay asked.

“Did you hear that asshole, with the boyfriend comment?” Julie asked.

“Yours wasn’t too nice either,” Jay said.

“I know,” Julie sighed.

“It’ll be ok,” Jay said.

“I can have a boyfriend if I want,” Julie said weakly.

“I guess that’s true,” Jay said weakly, and immediately wished he had said it differently.

Jay and Julie had sat in mostly silence for some time. Occasionally she would try to strike up a conversation. Each word or comment seemed as if she was trying to reach for something to say. But the only thing on Jay’s mind was the past. Occasionally he would soften and almost add something meaningful to the conversation. But the whole time the only thing in his mind was how he was waiting for a punch line or for Julie to come out with some sort of insult or joke. However, it didn’t surface this time in nearly an hour of sitting there. Jay became puzzled as he waited for the punch line, but it didn’t come. As Julie stood, waved to him with a smile and walked up the short set of stairs to the cottage, he shook his head in disbelief.

“Have you seen Sandy?” Jay’s mother said as she approached.

“Ah well I, not for a while no,” Jay stuttered as he started to focus on her.

“Well she wants to talk to us, let me know if you see her,” Mom said.

“Ok Mom,” Jay said.

Jay stood and stretched his back a little. He decided right away that he was not about to go looking for Sandy. She would come back in her own time after whatever deeds her and his best friend had been up to. But he knew he was going to keep a lookout for when she came back. When that happened he would take off. He didn’t want to be around when that sorted conversation came up.

Jay decided to simply put those thoughts out of his head. Not only did it involve his best friend and his sister, but he also had a feeling there would be trouble later. It might be best to have a clear head when it all happened. That is of course if he even stuck around for it. With all these thoughts it seemed like an annoying irony when he heard a familiar voice calling him.

“Hey Jay, where did your sister go?” Jay’s father said from behind him.

“For a walk I think,” he said nervously.

“Well can you see if she’s around?” his father asked, “She needed to talk to us, and Mom wants to know what it’s about.”

“Ok,” Jay kaçak bahis sighed as he started to walk toward the road, not happy that he had been dragged into this chain of events that would most likely be uncomfortable.

Jay stood and immediately went up the path toward the driveway and dirt camp road. He had been dragged into it and was not happy about it. As Jay looked across the road toward the thin path through the woods, he sighed hoping he would catch them walking on the way back or simply talking. But he remembered the look his sister had given his best friend before they left and knew what he might find. He thought about just hanging around and telling his parents he didn’t see them. But then looking back across the street and seeing his parents waiting, he didn’t have much choice

“I heard what your mother said,” Julie said as she slapped Jay’s shoulder from behind, “Let’s go.”

“I think I can walk in the woods,” Jay sighed, “I’m a big boy now.”

“Oh I know. Remember what I said earlier,” Julie smirked, “I need to go along for guidance.”

“I can find my way back too smart ass,” Jay shot back.

“No I mean if we find something adult going on, you might need an explanation, footnotes or something,” Julie smiled back at him.

“Oh maybe I better not go then,” Jay mocked with his arms shaking to the side.

“Oh come on,” Julie said as she waved him on.

As the two crossed the narrow dirt road and entered the thin wooded path, Jay thought to himself that it seemed nothing ever changed. Julie was still the same old crab apple despite the somewhat normal conversation they had earlier. He just wanted to get through this to get away from her.

“There are quite a few out of the way pit stops on this path,” Julie said as she walked a few steps in front of him, “You know this path goes all the way over the hill and into town.”

“Yeah almost two miles,” Jay said, “Jim and I made a fort when we were like twelve or so. It was about halfway.”

“Oh the plywood lean-to with the stack of dirty magazines in a plastic bag inside? Maybe about fifty feet off the path? Been there.” Julie grinned.

“Ah yeah, we were kids,” Jay sighed, “Haven’t been out there in years.”

“Well it’s still there,” Julie said as they started to climb a bit, “I hung out there once.”

“Hung out?” Jay asked.

“No further comment,” Julie said, “It didn’t look very lived in when I was there so I permanently borrowed one of the magazines. Hope you don’t mind.”

“Yeah ok,” Jay sighed, “I forgot they were there.”

“I still have it,” Julie said, “Nice one. Graphically well thought out and complete. A decent article too about not getting breast implants.”

“Too much information,” Jay sighed.

“Would that be too much information, the story of my visit to your cabin?” Julie asked as she glanced at him.

“For sure,” Jay said.

“That’s why they were out there right?” Julie grinned, “You adding some pitch to the walls once in a while.”

“Ah no,” Jay said, knowing it was sort of a lie.

“Right,” Julie grinned, “As long as it doesn’t involve both of you helping each other out, I wouldn’t mind a nice little story.”

“Ah no it didn’t so no,” Jay said.

“Don’t need to get defensive,” Julie said, “Everyone has brought out the best in themselves before. Perhaps I shouldn’t say that in the past tense.”

“Aren’t we supposed to be looking and not talking about your encyclopedia of experiences,” Jay shot back.

Julie stopped just above him on the hillside and turned to face him. Her grin slowly went away as her expression seemed to turn sad. She looked him over and it seemed as if she tried to think of something to say. She opened her mouth once, but nothing came out. Her expression turned blank. It was a look from her that Jay had never seen aimed at him. It was kind, but with a hint of hurt.

“You know you never use to talk back,” Julie said as she regained her stature, “You just use to sit back and take it. When did you get so assertive?”

“If it bothers you don’t expect me to lose sleep over it,” Jay shot back.

“Kinda cute the way you stand up to me,” Julie said quickly.

“If you say so,” Jay said.

“Ooh I can’t believe it,” Julie smiled, “You really aren’t intimidated any more are you?”

“No,” Jay said as he lifted his arms to the side with attitude.

“I don’t know what to say,” Julie sighed as she shook one of her shoulders.

“That is actually quite amazing, so let’s keep moving,” Jay said without expression as he started to walk.

The two climbed the medium incline through the thin but moderately traveled path. Jay smirked at his own assertiveness, which is something that surprised even him. Julie had always been the thorn in his side, and he thought that maybe he was finally able to pull it out.

As the two reached the top of the hill, Julie stopped and looked around. She seemed to be searching for something. She said nothing as she tried a path to the right and reached a dead end. As they walked along the main path they found several more and searched those as well. They had been walking well over a mile into the deep woods and as the path started to descend to the other side of the hill, Jay heard the sound of a small tree branch breaking as he watched Julie’s expression change to a grin.

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