Sun Shine on Our Noses

Approaching demented shadows dancing against perpendicular dunes, driving closer to the ocean we can smell the Atlantic rising from the golden morning currents like an ethereal serpent and the tides have begun to change.

“It’s getting rough Dude.”

He sits in silence with his chin tucked under his chest, squinting against the reflection of sunlight bouncing off his seatbelt.

“See the sun over the horizon?”

He hasn’t said a word all morning. Last night I picked him up from camp, took him out to SUBWAY in the rental car. Summer camp ended early for some of the boys. Still can’t believe the indigestion that a six-inch Chicken Teriyaki on toasted oregano and a six-inch Meatball Marinara on parmesan can fusion in a man’s stomach. As a plumber, the mess I made was an insult to my profession.

“Everything?” he asked, emerald green hat with matching shirt; black apron, black pants.

“Yes please,” I said, “on both—with extra jalapeños.”

The teen reposed himself, as if to give me an extra second to decide whether I had made the correct decision. SUBWAY employees are wizards sometimes. He laughs and goes back to garnishing my sandwiches, grinning like a Munchkin. Preparing jalapeños and olives like laying bricks amid lettuce and fresh tomatoes—cannot stand when the middle hole of the tomato is green—he shakes his head and I grip the sneeze guard like a mime and only the presence of my son keeps my temper in check instead of jumping the goddamn sneeze guard and chucking those sandwiches against the analog clock.

“Thank you,” I say, leaving a six-cent tip just for the hell of it.

Dude’s sitting at the table, munching some chocolate chip cookies. I found something in his eyes. Pupils spoke symphonies. I lose my sandwich in the men’s room while Dude stares at his Cold Cut Combo.

“What do you think Jared eats, Daddy?”

That’s the last thing he said. Camp counselors have always crept me out. District attorney is now on speed dial.

“What do you think Jared eats, Daddy?”

“The Big Philly Cheesesteak,” I say.

I can see Dude doing math in his head—face all screwed up as he looks upward and does the numbers and discovers that’s more than one thousand and forty calories for a foot-long. Damn precocious kid memorized the SUBWAY nutrition list. It’s his favorite restaurant.

We park on the beach; a demented flock of seagulls leaves us a present on the windshield. I turn on the wipers, but it doesn’t help, just smudges it worse.

“Do you want to sit here or go sit on the beach?”

Dude unlocks his seatbelt. He hasn’t mentioned intimate details. Sure he never will. His letters were getting stranger, but it’s tough for an eight-year-old to know what’s right from wrong. Crayon letters in red and blue, young minds can’t decipher the obvious, don’t know what to do, like SUBWAY employees when they’re hiding in the back and you can hear them and wonder if they give a shit whether you’re waiting as you hunch over the counter by the register with the SUBWAY crayon paper EAT FRESH logo they use to wrap up the sandwiches.

“I love you always,” I say, kissing Dude between the eyes.

He doesn’t move. We just sit in the car and stare at the Atlantic, fishing rods, bait, and bucket in the backseat. Who would have thunk it? Me and my son sitting as the sun rises above the windshield and we open the moon roof just to feel fresh sunlight on our noses. We face it, waves and seagulls and complacence lost beneath the currents forever. Porta-Potty becomes our fishing boat. When it gets clogged up I fix it with my fishing rod. Then when the sun starts sinking behind us I start the engine and drive back to town.

Matthew Dexter is an American writer living in Mexico. He survives in Cabo San Lucas.

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2 Responses to Sun Shine on Our Noses

  1. Pingback: Stories and Poetry by Matthew Dexter « Stories by Matthew Dexter

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Love the setting and the imagery you describe in this piece. Thanks so much for the good read.

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