Starfish

This story is undergoing a major revision. Stay tuned!




I was walking barefoot on Cannon Beach with my girlfriend Hailey. The cold, wet sand squished between my toes. It was foggy. Seagulls were cawing. The ocean smelled fresh and sweet. My jeans were rolled up to my knees. Our golden retriever, Eloise, was twenty yards ahead of us examining an empty crab shell. Her head was tilted-- the way dogs heads tilt-- and she was letting out small, concerned barks. Puzzled. This was her first time at the beach.

Hailey had just moved here from Phoenix and was also experiencing her first journey to an ocean beach. I reached in my pocket and felt for the jewel case. I couldn't wait for sunset so I could present it to Hailey.

“I wanna see a starfish,” she said to me, beaming.

I glanced at my watch. “It's low tide. We can probably make that happen.” I squeezed her hand and she kissed my cheek. Her lips were a soft contrast to my rough skin.

We continued walking leisurely, holding hands and enjoying the feel of each others skin. We approached Haystack Rock. “That's it,” I said to her. “That's the Goonies rock. The rock Mikey lines up with his skull key as he and his fellow Goonies seek One Eyed Willie's Treasure.”

She giggled and clapped her hands. Goonies was her favorite movie. “Oh. This is rad! Corey Feldman has stood where I'm standing now.”

“Yeah. Corey Feldman.” I was more of a fan of Chunk. “This is also the tide pool.”

I'd seen the tide pool a hundred or so times in my life but it was especially magnificent on that day. We could see bright colored sea anemones waiting for their food to come and attempt to eat one of their sticky tentacles, barnacle covered rocks, tiny trapped fish swimming in tiny pools of water, a family of fiddler crabs exploring the underside of a hollowed out piece of driftwood. Some seaweed splashed ashore and wrapped around my legs. I flinched and let out a yell, startled by the cold and slimy aquatic plant. Hailey started to laugh. Eloise, hearing my scream, lost interest in the crab shell and began to sniff at the seaweed and growl quietly.

Hailey's eyes widened. “I'm going in!” she exclaimed. “And you can't stop me!”

“You wanna bet?” I replied. This was our game. We pretended to boss each other around, but, really, we were both far too passive to actually be controlling of the other.

She rolled up her jeans and kicked off her sandals. I admired her perfectly shaped legs and her cute little feet and began to have lustful thoughts about her, hoping I would get a chance to act on them later. She got up, kissed me on the cheek and bounded to the tide pool like a child to the tree on Christmas morning.

***

Hailey was collecting shells-- sand dollars, crab, mussel-- and putting them into a pile in the sand next to her sandals. She told me she was going to laminate them into a collage later. She was still looking for the elusive starfish skeleton. The only ones she'd discovered were ones that were still living on the rocks in the tide pool and she refused to peel these away, despite my insistence that they didn't have brains and were non-sentient beings. “They're still living and they're happy. It's not my right to kill them just because they're stupid,” she argued. “Besides, you don't know for sure that they don't have brains and can't feel stuff.”

“Sure I do,” I smiled, knowing I was right but not wanting to press the issue.

I had grown bored of the tide pool and was by the shore building a sandcastle. I was putting the finishing touches on it using an old trick my dad had shown me which was to take wet sand, put it in a bucket, take a handful of the sand and then move your hand in a circular motion over the sandcastle wall while letting the sand drip through your fingers, and letting the wet sand pile up in spirals which resembled people. The end result would be miniature sand sentinels futilely guarding the sandcastle from the malicious waves bent on destroying it.

I had just posted my last sentinel when I noticed Eloise. She was at the far end of the Rock, just inches from falling into the ocean and being swept out to sea. She was barking and pawing at the rocks. I became concerned and called to her. “Eloise! Eloise, come here girl!” She looked up at me, only for a second, her tail wagging nervously, and then resumed her barking duties. Hailey looked over at me without concern.

“Let her have her fun, babe. She's fine,” she hollered at me from across the beach. She was bent over, her perfectly round ass protruding into the sky, her tongue licking her lips in concentration, her hands apparently digging into the sand. I think she was looking for sand crabs.

“I'm worried she'll fall in. I don't think she can swim.”

“Don't be silly. All dogs can swim,” she stated, without looking up.

“I'm gonna get her.”

“Whatever makes you happy,” she grinned.

I got up and started walking over to the edge of the rock. Eloise didn't look up, but continued to whimper and growl. I couldn't see exactly what she was barking at, but I did see what appeared to be a red flannel shirt just below her nose. “It's okay, girl. Just someone forgot their shirt is all.” But, still, she wouldn't come. She continued to bark and growl and paw at the rocks, trying to dig out the shirt. I grew somewhat concerned. She was normally such an obedient dog. It was completely out of character for her not to come when I called her. I climbed the rock, reached Eloise and grabbed her collar. “C'mon gi--”

I froze and screamed. “Hailey! Hailey! Call the police. Now!”

There was a clenched human fist sticking out of the sleeve.

***

Fifteen minutes later, the first officer arrived on the scene. By then, Hailey had stopped throwing up and I had managed to catch my breath and had Eloise tied to a rock, near Hailey's shell collection. She was yelping wildly, and I was concerned that she might die from fright.

The area was being cordoned off with yellow police tape and a healthy crowd of onlookers had gathered, rubbernecking and speaking in hushed tones.

The first officer on the scene was an officer Brigman and he informed us that a body had been found up the coast in Seaside, twenty miles away, missing an arm and dressed in a similar shirt. He suspected that the arm we'd found belonged with that body, but he wouldn't know for sure, of course, until a DNA test had been performed. It was probably the missing hiker we'd been hearing so much about on the news. He took down our information and said they probably wouldn't need to ever contact us, but it was procedure. I told him we understood. He asked if Hailey needed any medical attention.

“No. I think she'll be fine. Nothing a little Jack Daniels won't cure, anyway.”

Brigman chuckled, “Fair enough. But, this is a potential crime scene now, so, I'm going to have to ask you to vacate.”

“Alright, Officer. Thank you.” I reached out to shake his hand, as if he'd just done me some great favor. He took it and nodded. Hailey was huddled next to her shell collection, hugging her knees, and rocking herself back and forth. She was still barefoot. “Come on hon, let's go.”

She looked up at me, a blank look in her tear filled eyes. “I didn't get my starfish. That guy's arm. He lost it. It won't grow back.”

“I know, hon, I know. Let's go. You'll be fine.”

“I didn't get a starfish,” she sobbed. “He's dead. That guy's dead. The Seaside Guy's dead. His arm. Eloise found his arm.” I helped her to her feet and untethered Eloise, who had finally stopped yelping and was now looking with great concern at Hailey.

“She'll be fine, El. She'll be fine,” I said as I patted her head. We walked back up the beach as the tide began to come in and the sun was setting, the waves erasing our footprints as we walked.

The preceding is copyrighted by me, the author, Justin w. Price. The content is my property and is protected by all applicable Copyright Laws. No part of my work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from me, the publisher/author.

Thanks for Reading.

PDXKaraokeGuy, also known as Justin W. Price, is the managing editor at eFiction horror. Husband to Andrea, father to two dogs. writer.poet.baseball fan. tattooed. He is am amateur theologian with a rabid sweet tooth. He resides in a suburb of Portland, Oregon.He has a poetry book available for Amazon Kindle, and also maintains a blog, FirstBlog. His work has been featured in the Crisis Chronicles, efiction Magazine, The Hellroaring Review, the Bellwether Review, eFiction Humor, and the Rusty Nail. Please visit his profile page for more information. Thanks!


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Comments 62 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks a lot SG. That's what I was aiming for. A little surprise :-)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Pamela, thanks for reading. This is actually a work of fiction, though my dad tecah me a trick on how to build sand people :-)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Very good story! I love walking on the beach, it has been a few years, but you made me remember the wet sand squishing between my toes. Great job on introducing the arm. It was totally unexpected. Voting up and awesome! :)


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

As Happyboomernurse said, you sure did change the whole feel of this story -- and very skillfully, too. I was enjoying your descriptions of the sea creatures and everything -- including your dad's trick on how to build a sand castle with sentinels watching over it. But this turned out to be a very serious story. I'm glad your girlfriend was all right. Going into shock can be very dangerous. I've done it and survived, but some people don't. So glad you three were okay.

Voting up, awesome and sharing.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks justateacher!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much, Michael. I'm glad you enjoyed this!


justateacher profile image

justateacher 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

Great story!


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Pretty impressive Justin, had me hooked all the way through. A good read. All the buttons sharing.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

thanks, wmh!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you, Cyndi. I'm pleased you enjoyed this


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Dallas!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Damn, Bri, that would be much more horrifying. You should HUB about that


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks you Laura, but the true master of the surprize ending is WillStar.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Daisy, thank you so much. I don't remember the inspiration for the ending of the story, but, i did know I wanted something unsettling to occur, but nothing cliched or too outrageous. I hope I succeeded!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much, kelly


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

lol, Thomas, What a great comment. Wait... the dismembering of arms, or the discovery of dismembered arms?


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Marissa, it does have a law and order/csi vibe to it, though that was not intentional. Thanks for the share!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Bobbi, I love the ocean, but i don't love easy to read stories. Gotta have something a little off to make it work, as far as I'm concerned. Hope your dreams are gentle!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank, Ardie. I haven't had much time to write fiction lately, but, I think maybe I shall start again...


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Great story. So well written. Engaging from the start with a nice twist at the end. Just the way a good story should be.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 4 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Great hook. Great story. Flag up!


bri36 4 years ago

Dude, about 5 years ago me and my girlfriend at the time were camping up near Show low,AZ and she just happened on a body half buried under some pine needles while she was using the facility's. It took her almost a month to stop having bad dreams and stuff. I really understand what Haily went through. This is a great short story and I liked it very much. yes I voted^


Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

I was completely drawn in and I loved the surprise ending! Great Work!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Justin,

You're a very talented storyteller. I like how you drew me into your story, never suspecting the switch at the end.

Did you get your story idea from fact...the body parts being found on the beaches in the Pacific Northwest?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Great PDX! The characters were lovable and the story was a trip! Voted way up and everything!


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

PDX...

An awesome story Justin! Like Ardie above...I was wishing I was on the beach up until the dismembered arm made an appearance. I can't even begin to think how many dismembered arms have cut short a promising date...

Let Hailey know...all dogs can't swim based on my knowledge of ONE dog who couldn't (his name was Perry).

Great Job!

Thomas


ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

Great story, Justin! I was in no way prepared to read about the arm; I thought for sure the dog was going to have to learn how to swim or Hailey was going to be swept out to sea. It reminded me of the beginning of a CSI or other crime show, where all is going well, but all of a sudden...

Voted up and sharing!


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

I liked the beginning when you were walking in the sand.

And the hub was well written--but I am sure I will dream about that poor person.

And I hope by now the sun and the ocean has made you remember nicer events.

Bobbi


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

Wow, I went from being jealous about young love and a beautiful beach scene to horrified and having the chills. You are a master at the story PDX.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Vellur. I'm glad you enjoyed this :-)


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Great story. Voted up.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Ruchira, I'm so thankful you enjoyed this story. I suppose it is a mystery, of sorts. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Loved the mystery and loved how you narrated the story, Justin.

Was a pleasure to read your hub and will be seeing me more often...cheers!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

WD, I love your comments. They are so thoughtful. You read a lot more into this story then I intended to have it when I wrote it. I really enjoyed reading your comment, and i really appreciate your time. Thanks for the compliments. Isn't there a grain of truth in all fiction? Don't be a stranger!

Massy, thank you

Mama, I'm glad you enjoyed this. It's always hard to find a way to hook your reader!


Mamadrama profile image

Mamadrama 4 years ago from Upstate NY

You had my undivided attention from start to finish.. I want more!! Great job!


massyhoriton profile image

massyhoriton 4 years ago from India

Great story. I really enjoy this story. :)


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

The Lord works in mysterious ways. I got busy in the real world. I said,"Funk HubPages, it is a waist of time. The last thing I need is a new hobby." Something drew me back . . . I felt weird about my last communication on Big Brother's message board. It was to you. I was complaining, " . . . twitter for people who talk too much . . . "

I see, now, that there is at least one real writer here. Is this fiction or fact? It doesn't matter when it is presented with this much talent.

"Her perfectly round ass." This is from God. You had better see your wife that way or retain a divorce lawyer.

"This was our game. We pretended to boss each other around, but, really, we were both far too passive to actually be controlling of the other."

Hello?! This is from God. Some boneheads make a big deal about a wife being submissive to her husband. You can't isolate a verse to appease your own compulsion without being in danger. Read the whole book, "Husbands and wives, be submissive to one another." You got it right, even though you live in a culture that rewards dominate behavior.

Now, I have lived in Florida for the bulk of my life. I have found drowning victims and body parts (sharks, gators, victims of crime) on several occasions. You nailed it. How you stuffed all of this into a hub . . . I will never know.

You don't need to declare the copyright. You are an American and your work is copyrighted by common law. Publishers purchase the copyright, so they make a big deal about it. Rat-weasels ignore this anyway and rip you off. Good luck in court . . . it ain't worth it if you aren't one of the Beatles. Foreign rat-weasels are the worst . . . you know who you are . . . and I'm serving notice, "We are sick of you taking us for granted and exploiting our system. Change yours or become a state. We are going to cut you off real soon. Mark my word."


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

susan. Thank you very much. That's a great compliment!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Wonderful story. I really enjoy how you write.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Scary, Sofs and Audrey, thanks so much the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed this story! I appreciate the reads and the comments!


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago

Well written, amazing story, I enjoyed reading this!!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

The story just grabbed me from the beginning and held me--now that is the mark of a true writer!


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 5 years ago from South Wales

An Excellent hub, voted up.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

xeno and Audrey, thanks for the great compliments! Coming from writer's like you, that's a great compliment indeed!


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 5 years ago

Your stories are the kind that I will read from beginning to end. I love that you don't give anything away and that you draw the reader in. CHeers!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

Great story!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you so much, Rebecca. I appreciate your kind comments!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I like your writing style. An enjoyable short story and extremely well written, Such voice! up and awesome ditto.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

ya, that's MO's, I'm pretty sure. Amazing clam chowder


marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois

I wish I could remember the name of the place, but it was on a corner, and they have pictures of their boat and are very proud of the fact that they catch the fish themselves.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Raympond Carver? I've rnever heard the comparison but that's quite the compliment. He's one of the best short story writers of the last fifty years. He's also a fellow Northwesterner, though he was somewhat more fond of the bottle then I am. Thanks so much for saying so.

Are you referring to MO's? I love MO's, in fact, this story takes place about a mile from MO's.


marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois

Wow. I've been to Cannon Beach - a great place to spend an afternoon walking around - great fish restaurant there too. This was very well written, with an almost Raymond Carver authority. Great stuff


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Alicia, you need to go to amazon right now and buy the goonies! it's an 80's classic! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I loved the dramatic mood change! I was happily enjoying your story about a fun visit to the beach - and then suddenly part of a dead body turns up! I learned something new too - I've never heard of the Goonies. Thanks for sharing.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Till, thank u and thanks for reading. You can't do a story about the Oregon Coast and NOT mention the Goonies :-)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

Wow! You jump from one place to another with ease and keep the reading jumping with you. I was so happy to read about Goonies and the beach but then the dog barking and the arm! Voted up and awesome.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much, Vinaya


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

I loved the setting and I loved the storytelling. You are a wonderful storyteller.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

thanks for the kind words, happyboomernurse. feel free to share


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Beautifully written short story. Love your descriptions of the sea creatures, your attention to small details and the skilled way you brought Eloise's "find" into the story, changing the whole feel of this piece.

Voted up, awesome and beautiful.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

thanks for reading!


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

Outstanding! voted up ,awesome and beautiful:)

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    Justin W. Price (PDXKaraokeGuy)742 Followers
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    Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award- nominated author based out of Portland, Oregon.



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