Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trooper Bob and His Girls

Trooper Bob had moved to the Houston Area. He left his family behind in order to make a living. Gladys and Matilda packed their suitcases and awaited the trek to visit for their summer vacation. They talked about all the things they would and could do.

Trooper Bob arrived and spent the weekend puttering in his garage, sitting in his favorite recliner and listening to his youngest daughter prattle on for hours about whatever was on her mind at the time. Sunday afternoon arrived and the girls kissed their mother goodbye loaded their suitcases into the trunk of the big blue Belvedere. Matilda, just obtaining her learner’s permit, climbed behind the wheel, Trooper Bob took the shotgun position and Gladys lounged in the 40 feet of backseat all by herself. They headed out of town with a stash of Frito’s and candy.

Trooper Bob promised the two girls a trip to the beach. Matilda and Gladys, although they loved the water, had never set foot on a beach. They had never seen the Gulf of Mexico and most definitely had never swum in salt water. They didn’t know the dangers that lurked in the murky waters. Jaws, the movie, had not been released so the term “great white” meant nothing. He told them of daily rain showers and lush green yards that don’t have to be watered. He told them of a city full of bright lights and all night grocery stores. They listened to his stories eyes wide and thinking he must be extending the truth.

He occasionally would direct Matilda to pull to the right and allow the car behind them to pass or to pull into the local Sinclair station for a fill up. The trip went pretty smooth until they approached the outskirts of the big city. Matilda had never seen so many cars on one road at one time. Trooper Bob remained calm and talked her through traffic until the threesome arrived at his home away from home.

The girls were impressed at the size of the city but the most impressive thing was that he lived in an apartment complex. It was huge and had a swimming pool just outside his door. There were lush green plants all over the grounds and strange flowers that the girls had never seen before. Trooper Bob got his daughter’s settled in and explained the rules. They could go to the swimming pool while he was at work, but that was all. There were not allowed to walk around the neighborhood or leave the apartment complex. They obeyed these restrictions happily knowing that in a couple of days they would be taken on their very first outing to the beach.
The day finally arrived and the group loaded up the big blue Belvedere with lawn chairs and beach towels. They stopped and bought big floppy hats to screen their already bronzed skin from the seaside sunshine. They arrived at the Port Bolivar ferry to await the trip across the gulf to the island of Galveston. Matilda chauffeured her little sister and Trooper Bob to the gate to await the arrival of the next transport. The sign said it would be a 45 minute wait. The girls anxious to see the beaches and the gulf unloaded from the car and sat on the hood to watch the foreign process take place.

Finally the ship arrived and Matilda drove aboard. They waited until the ship was loaded then explored the decks of the ferry amazed at all the water around them. You see the girls were from west Texas where water is a rarity. It is a regular action of inhabitants of west Texas to look into the abyss under every bridge over which they travel to see if there is indeed water or just a dry gully. A roar of excitement will ensue if there is indeed water with statements such as “there is water in that creek”. The girls were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water all around them. Then all too soon the ferry ride was complete and it was time to exit the seagull infested vessel.

They drove onto the island with the excitement of adventurers. The drove along the sea wall and on down past the strand. Trooper Bob informed the girls of the 1900 storm that engulfed the island and floated coffins right out of the cemeteries. He told of houses washed away and bodies floating inland. They drove past mansion houses were valuables were hoisted to the roofs to save their treasures at the risk of life and limb. Finally they drove out onto the beach and found a spot to park.

Full of trepidation and suspense the two young teenagers grabbed their hats and ran into the surf. It was everything which they had not expected. It was salty to the point of burning their eyes and stinging their newly sunburned skin. The sand was squishy and mushy and filled with creatures. They splashed in the shallows and got felled by the crashing waves.
Trooper Bob methodically and meticulously baited the hook on his pole. He put his hat on his head and waded out into the surf to fish. He located a sand bar about 30 feet out into the rushing gulf. He found his footing and cast out his line. The girls stopped their reverie to watch their father fish. They had fished with him their hole lives but never like this. They were curious as to what he would catch. Would there be giant sea catfish that could be deep fried and served with hush puppies? Would there be big mouth bass that would need no added salt. They watched and waited. Then it happened. Matilda screamed. She flailed about jumping and hopping trying to run back to shore but the waves kept sucking her back. She was high stepping and grabbing her little sister trying to pull her along with her. Then Gladys began to scream. Something had grabbed her by the thigh pinching like she had never been pinched before. Matilda screamed and started kicking at the surf. Her foot coming out of the water showing a blue crab securely fastened to her big toe. The girls high stepped and ran as fast as they could battle the surge to the shore where they collapsed on the towel.

The two collapsed in a frightened heap inspecting their wounds. Matilda looked at Gladys and cried “Where is daddy? I can’t see him.” Gladys searched in the direction she thought he had been afraid that the giant sea creatures had carted him away. All they saw was a hat floating on the surf in just about the spot he had last cast his line. Then they saw a hand come out of the water and grab the hat. Then the surf receded and they spotted Trooper Bob soaking wet, hat on his head, wet cigar in his mouth still reeling in his line. They watched in amazement as this was repeated several times over.

Finally Trooper Bob slogged his way to the beach where his daughters were waiting. They were hot, sunburned and hungry. He put away his fishing gear and toweled off as best he could. He walked over to the girls and said “I’m starved how about you?” The girls nodded in agreement. Trooper Bob gave them a smile and said “well, then let’s go eat some crab.” The girls screamed and ran to the car to hide. Trooper Bob opened the door and said “what is the matter? Don’t you like crab?” Matilda shook her head and said “only if it’s dead. Those suckers tried to eat me and Gladys alive. I guess we can return the favor.” Trooper Bob shook his head and said “it will be alright, these are dead.” The trio found their way to Guido’s and had a meal to fit a king, but not a king crab.


Staci said...

Great story as usual! Those cars really were that big - I mean, if you were sitting in the back seat you had to wait through a red light twice before you got through the intersection.....

Bob said...

It could have been worse -- coulda been a jellyfish. (Galveston's still got a way to go before it's back to where it was then. Ike was one mean vato.)