Sunday 11 December 2011
The sound of the traffic filtered down into the valley. This was one of the irritations of living in a resort town. Come winter, the tourists invaded like locusts, swarming in an apocalyptic mass of bodies eager to take over the town. Amber felt that very few of them had any consideration towards the locals; no, the tourists were entitled to anything they thought they might want, from the best accommodation, to parking bays, restaurant reservations, and worse still, the male tourists considered themselves entitled to the local women.
Sitting on her front stoop, Amber watched the first steady stream of traffic descend the hill via the often-treacherous corkscrew road, and spew into the town. While the snow fell, this would be a continuous pilgrimage for many who sought the almost complete privacy of the tiny resort town, the population of which would increase astronomically during the winter months. She understood that winter was good for business, and that it was a necessary evil to welcome the tourists who brought their fat wallets with them, but she hated what it did to the two hundred and fifty strong, local population for that time. Over the years, she had witnessed the corrosive attitudes of the tourists infiltrate the locals, and divide the town into those who wanted the tourist trade to increase, and those who didn’t.
Sheriff Barber rolled past in his work SUV, and waved a salutation to Amber. She returned the greeting, despite her true feelings for the man.
‘Moron,’ she said as his SUV drove out of sight and into town. She’d known the Sheriff since she was a child, and technically speaking, he’d known her longer, having delivered her in Watson’s barn out on Whitford Road, when her mother had gone into premature labour whilst helping Sheryl Watson with her Thanksgiving preparations. Regardless of his baby delivery skills, Amber thought the man was an inept Sheriff, who was apparently terrified of the tourists because he seemed to condone the deplorable behaviour aimed at the locals. Had he not been the only person in town willing to stand as Sheriff, Amber believed that he would not be re-elected to the position.
Hypnotised by the stream of automobiles, Amber failed to notice John Hardy approaching from his house, to her left. His solid footsteps on the stoop startled her. Only three years older than Amber, John had not aged well. At thirty-seven, his face was weathered and wrinkled, and his hair thinning to baldness. He smiled and nodded when she snapped her head around to see what had startled her.
‘God damn it, John, you scared the shit outta me. Couldn’t you have warned me that you were coming up, instead of coming around like creeping Jesus?’ she patted her hand on her heart to emphasise how much he had frightened her.
‘Sorry,’ he mumbled, ‘thought you heard me fall ass up on my walk. Forgot to salt the walk, paid the price. Wet and sore ass now.’ He turned around to show Amber the large wet patch on his behind. She couldn’t hold back the giggles.
‘Oh dear Lord, I’m sorry, John. It’s just the sight of you with that wet patch, makes you look like you pissed your pants again.’
‘Hey,’ he retorted, ‘it was only that one time when I passed out, when you sliced your hand open on Jerry’s harvester.’ He smiled, and sat next to her on the battered cane sofa that Amber’s mother had once loved so much. She handed him a steaming cup of coffee, and an Oreo cookie. It had become their daily ritual to visit each other in the morning for a coffee and a chat.
They sat in silence, watching the tourist invasion. Eventually, John spoke.
‘Saw Sheriff Barber give you a wave.’
She nodded in reply.
‘Still think he thinks he’s gonna marry you?’
‘I surely hope he’s got that idea outta his thick head. The man’s old enough to be my grandpa. You know what’s worse though, John? That man’s seen me buck naked.’ She shuddered. John laughed. She punched him hard on the upper arm.
. . . To be continued . . .