~ 。Δ 。Δ 。CHAPTER 1 。Δ 。Δ 。~
「A simple little life...」
As the sun's rays glibbed the distant mountains at close of day Jesse was reminded that this was probably the end.
He and his girlfriend sat lazily above the slow moving current of water, intrusively at the end of a private wharf. The posts by their dangling legs, like the ones supporting the countless salt-crippled wharves by the water's edge were clustered by oysters, barnacles and tangles of seaweed. Across the waters of their town were various isles and coastal shelves – in the dying light Jesse could see one a hundred metres away heavily populated by both seagulls and pelicans. They huddled together like one big colony. A crooked sign poked out of the water beside him.
Warning: Variable Depths. No Diving. No Jumping.
Their hometown fishing village was undeniably a beautiful place, especially on spring nights like these. It was why the silence could fall so easily between them here. The sound of the lapping waves was gentle, and instead of breaking the quiet Jesse forced himself to admire the view – which wasn't hard. His blue eyes noticed a bobbing green buoy in the distance, lighting up to warn boats. Then they found the great old bridge that connected them to the closest city and train station: Tuttle Bridge. Traffic moved across it like tiny bugs. Then he was admiring the mountains again. They dominated the horizons, tree covered masses safe for their rocky cliff-faces. Electrical conductor towers with drums and power-lines were just visible on the tops of them.
He really didn't want to have this conversation with Mackenzie.
Jesse sighed, because he knew he was dragging this out. A heavy beating sound startled them as a pelican flew overhead, its wing-beats rustled the soft black curls of Mackenzie's long hair. She looked up at it and her soft lips parted – before she could say anything Jesse beat her to it.
"Mackenzie, I have to tell you something." he watched her surprised eyes turn to him. She knew straight away something wasn't right. Of course, they'd dated for nearly three years after all. She knew everything about him. She was his high school sweetheart.
"What is it?" she asked when he'd paused for long enough. He couldn't look her in the eyes, he faced forward with a sigh and watched the pelican as it stood on a submerged skeletal trunk by the marshy isle opposite. He was nipping and dragging his head across his feathers. Then the bird stretched the gullet of his fleshy beak sack along his neck as if he were yawning.
"You see... the thing is..." he moved his arms so he could lean back but then ended up sitting forward "I've been wondering to myself for a while about whether I should tell you..."
"Did you cheat on me, Jesse?" her voice immediately became serious.
"What? No!" he quickly turned to her.
"I swear if you cheated on me I will push you, and then you'll be pulled out the next day in a fishing net!"
"I didn't fucking cheat on you, calm your tits!" he said with his hands open and she punched him playfully on the arm. So he continued "de-stress your breasts."
"What is it with you and boobs?"
"Hakuna your tatas."
"Don't have a rack attack."
"Jesse..." but she was fighting the laughter now.
"Adjust your bust before it combusts." he said and then she lost it, filling the serene landscape with her loud giggling. He watched her calm herself down with a slight smile on his face. Even when things were at their darkest Jesse liked to make people laugh, regardless of what he was feeling on the inside. It was just the way he was.
"Jesse..." she sighed in defeat and fell sideways into him, her head pressing into his shoulder. Her hair smelt of something girlie like strawberries. "Can we do real talk now please?"
"Yeah alright," he said and she sat upright so she could see his face. "Mackenzie... I think I might be- bisexual." as he said it he felt himself deflate. Her eyes searched his face before realisation set in.
"Are you breaking up with me?"
"What? No! Kenz, I'm not. It's just... something I think you should know."
"Why? Have you ever done anything with a guy?" her questions were very frank and Jesse answered her like she was an interrogator. Fighting other guys came easy but against angry women he withered.
"No, Kenz. Otherwise I would've told you."
"So you want to do something with a guy?"
"You're asking for my permission to let you experiment with a guy?"
"No! Jesus Mackenzie!" and then he stood up "I haven't told anyone this. Not Dad, not Joey, not anyone! I just thought I'd tell you because you're my girlfriend. I love you and I want us to stay together." there was so much meaning conveyed as he said it. He meant it, it was the truth.
"I'm sorry," Mackenzie whispered, her eyes fell to the rotting planks "Are you sure?" she looked up again and he just nodded solemnly. "I'm just surprised," she tried a laugh but it sounded a little desperate "I used to tease you about being gay... oh-!"
"Mackenzie that's normal, that's what couples do! I teased you as well!"
"Are you sure you're not actually just gay?" she checked with worry lining her face. He raised his eyebrows at her incredulously for a few seconds before stepping over and bending down "Honk," he squeezed her left boob gently and she slapped his hand away.
"I like having sex with you, Kenz. I really like it. I thought that was obvious."
"Yeah well..." she got to her feet also. "Sorry, I'm just trying to absorb a lot... I want to go home now..."
"Okay," and then the unspoken thought drifted a few seconds in the air between them before he asked it "Do you want me to walk you home?"
"Yes..." she was strong enough and brave enough to walk home by herself. Jesse was glad she still wanted him by her side. With her arms folded beneath her pits as if it were cold she made her way back to land. Jesse followed a little behind her avoiding the white flecked stains of seagull shit.
"Careful," he mumbled as they drew near the missing plank.
"I know," she mumbled back and stepped over it.
They walked over the rocky barrier that protected the grassy edge from the drop and erosion, the salty smell and taste left their lungs as they headed deeper inland. Past the well-kept war memorial park and the Tuttle Town grand pub – a classical building as old as town's hall. In silence they passed the red bottle-brush trees swaying in a warm night's breeze to get to the playground shortcut. They stepped up the bark-covered area without a word and passed the swings – despite the fact this was the place he'd first asked her to be his girlfriend way back when, and a month later confessed that he loved her.
Mackenzie said nothing except for a gentle goodbye when he left her at the brick government housing complex.
Several bangs on the lintel of his bedroom door shocked Jesse awake. He was in his cluttered bedroom, boat magazines mixed with poorly concealed perhaps-inappropriate ones were scattered on the floor among clothes and papers for school. Photographs of him out fishing on the sail-boat with his father hung from the walls. None other than the man himself stood in the doorway, his wild tangles of hair mostly grey and a small colourless beard on his chin. He seemed perplexed and undecided of whether he should be cross or not.
"Wake up, Jesse. You need to look at something." and then he moved out the doorway with a waddling limp. Dragging a hand through his untidy brown bed-hair, Jesse fought his legs out of the tangled mess his sheets had become. Then with a tired morning yawn and stretch he got up and quickly followed his Dad out into the kitchen. The whole of their modest home was practically a mess but Jesse's Dad couldn't do much housework in his condition, and he didn't expect his son to keep the whole place tidy for them both. Friends who'd come over had actually asked if squatters lived here.
Jesse quickly noticed his Dad had gone into the front room so left the cluttered dishes of the kitchen (it smelt but he was used to it) to the cluttered happy photographs of them in the front room. To his surprise he saw Mackenzie in her school uniform – indigo cardigan and grey pleated skirt – standing by the door looking nervous. She raised her hand in a quick wave.
"I thought we could walk to school together," she suggested and he tilted his head questioningly while in the other room his Dad was struggling to find something to pull over his singlet. She swivelled her head and eyes as if to say 'what of it'.
"Come on, Dad." Jesse pushed open the door to his room while the older man struggled with his faded jumper "I'll help you with your brace." finding the bulky beige belt as thick as his forearm from a corner of the room, Jesse went over to his Dad who lifted both arms as high as he could. Jesse lifted up the singlet and strapped it tightly around the man's rounded gut. Then he pulled down the singlet and top.
"Thank you," his Dad said and Jesse stepped away.
"I'm sorry for waking you, Grant. I thought you'd be at the workshop already," Mackenzie apologised sweetly while absent-mindedly adjusting the ponytail her black hair was in this morning.
"It's alright, Kenz." he answered gruffly "Business has been slow this month but I expect it to pick up soon. It's always that way with new businesses. As it happens I'm glad you woke me up, you brought something quite interesting to my attention. Come look at this, Jesse." and the man opened the screen door and waddled out on his unsteady gait. Jesse eyed his girlfriend confusedly before following his Dad outside. "Do you have any idea what the hell this thing is doing here?"
It was sunny again this morning and staring off the porch they looked at one of those great big steel green container crates. It was parked on their front lawn and Jesse merely blinked at the huge thing.
"I have no idea why that's here."
"Well that makes two of us."
"Don't the recipients have to sign something before delivery companies just dump a crate on their property?" Mackenzie asked, following them outside.
"Apparently not," Grant reached for the paper taped to the vine trellis "This was stuck to the front of it."
"Let me..." Jesse took the paper and skimmed it. "Well they want you to come in and sign for whatever it is... but no where do they say what it is."
"So you have no idea what's actually inside that thing?" Mackenzie stated.
"We could check," Jesse suggested but was quickly cut off by his Dad who snagged the paper.
"No, no, absolutely not. Whatever is in there is not ours. It was delivered here by mistake."
"And it's locked." Mackenzie pointed and they followed her line of vision to the heavy duty pad-lock that was keeping it closed. The three of them turned their heads as they stared at it.
"Huh," Jesse spoke absently.
"I'm going to get their number and tell them to take it back," Grant announced as he made his way back into the house "You're going to want to get a move on and not keep darling Kenz waiting."
"Roger that!" Jesse called after him and then kept his voice low as he talked to his girlfriend "Are you alright? What's going on?"
"I'm fine," she whispered back with her arms crossed "I came to apologise, properly this time. I wasn't fair on you. I'm sorry."
Jesse leaned forward with a glee and fluttering in his chest. He kissed her right on her soft full lips.
"I forgive you," he breathed.
"Your breath smells, and you kinda smell," she laughed while covering her lower face.
"Then I shall shower quickly and brush my teeth, then I'll be back!" he bowed slightly with the promise and followed his Dad back inside the house with the white peeling paint.