Walk Down Misery Street

***

At one of our city beaches, an annual sand castle-building completion took place. Vicky and I decided to spend the weekend there.

It was a clear, cool day in August. We stood next to the other spectators and watched as the architects erected sand forts, temples, and palaces. They worked with special blades, brushes, and sharpened sticks, removing the extra grains from columns and bridges. The beach grew into a real city, like Rome or Paris! Cell phone cameras clicked and video cameras filmed the architects. Even journalists were present.

We did not wait until the end of the contest and left the sand architects to go swimming.  We picked a spot on the beach. Victoria pulled a striped beach towel from the bag and laid it on the sand. She took off her dress to reveal a black bikini. “Because of these corporate parties for the last month, I gained almost an extra pound. Disaster! Tomorrow I will go on a strict diet.” She pulled up her black hair into a bun on her head and went swimming.

Rolling up my jeans, I walked along the water.

Night was falling. Beachgoers were starting to leave. Those sand palaces and castles of that enchanted city remained in my mind’s eye. Still, why wouldn’t God make the world pure and beautiful, and let it remain so? That’s what I was thinking. This way, beauty wouldn’t disappear and collapse the next day, like the sandy city, but exist forever.

I stood by the jetty and, while contemplating, I looked at a man lying in the sand not far from me. He wore jeans and a red shirt. He was on his back with his arms and legs outstretched. There was something familiar about him. I walked up to him.

Unbelievable! It couldn’t be!

“Frank?! Where have ya been? How is your dad doing?” Bending down, I shook his shoulder. “Frankie! Bro!”

No reaction. His face was unusually pale. His mouth was slightly open and his eyes were closed. I started to shake his shoulder more vigorously, then slapped his cheeks.

“Hey, Frank, bro, wake up!”

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