Continued from: Earworm: Part 55 — The Invite
Things felt right again. Starling was back. It was Memorial Day weekend. The weekend of Glenn’s big fishing trip. And Starling and Emily had the entire weekend together. They spent little time together lately—awake, anyway—thanks to good ole Gordon Webster. Gordon told Glenn he saw Emily with a bunch of guys on Bridge Beach. Now Glenn barely let Emily out of his sight. She was somewhat surprised he didn’t drag her to Maine for his annual trip, probably thinking she was having an affair with Bert, or Ernie maybe… if he only knew.
He should know, he’s had enough dreams to…
In the distance, a twig snapped. Emily pushed Starling away. She sat up, her eyes flashing to William lying on the far edge of the blanket, asleep in the moonlight. Distant footsteps approached. Slow and tentative, yet heavy and trudging. Like someone trying to announce his arrival. “Hellooo,” Ernie called from the dark. Emily and Starling sat a few feet from one another, arms hugging their knees like chastity belts. Ernie’s face came into view, reflecting the pale blue tinge of the moonlight. He stepped down the rocks and onto the sand. “Hey,” he said, looking uncomfortable.
“What?” Starling snapped.
“Nothing,” Ernie said, regarding the two girls. He shifted his feet and rubbed the back of his neck. Starling glared at him. Emily pretended to attend to her sleeping son. “I just wanted to see if you girls were all right.”
“We’re fine,” Starling said. “We were just talking.”
“Uh, yeah, I know,” Ernie said, as if Starling accused him of voyeurism. “Um… it’s just that, we were up at the parking clearing, and I was talking to Danno…”
“We don’t need to hear your memoirs, Ernie,” Starling said.
“No… No, it’s just, I saw an empty truck parked up there, you know, down the road a bit, just sitting there.” Ernie turned and looked toward the direction of the road. “I mean, it’s gone now, but we were all just… nervous, you know, with you two girls down here alone and…”
“We’re fine,” Starling said. “We can handle ourselves.”
“Okay,” Ernie said, throwing up his hands and turning to go. He then seemed gripped with a sudden epiphany. He turned to face the two girls.
“What now?” Starling said.
“I was just…” Ernie said, looking unsure how to phrase his question, and for a brief moment, Emily thought he was going to inquire about her and Starling’s activities. Emily knew Danno, Bert, and Ernie suspected what was going on between the two girls, but now Emily wasn’t ready to hear the concept put into words. If it was left unspoken, it felt as if it was only… a dream. “I was just wondering,” Ernie continued, “Emily, what kind of truck is it your husband drives?”
“A maroon Ford.”
“Oh, yeah, okay,” Ernie said, as if confirming the name of a one-hit-wonder or obscure film. He turned to walk away.
“Why?” Starling groaned.
“Oh, nothing,” Ernie said. “Just holler if you need anything.”
“Ernie, stop being a dick,” Starling said. “What kind of truck was up there?”
“A maroon Ford,” Ernie said with a shrug.
Continued in: Earworm: Part 57 — The Visitor
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