When the Buick rolled to a halt, they both focused their attention to the stretch of sparkling blue ocean that lay beyond the beach, which was speckled with colorful umbrellas and blankets where people soaked up the sun. As always, a clusterfuck of activity and noise on the boardwalk meant that business in the carnival was also doing well, which brought Jesse a small sense of pride as he stepped out of the car. The King had arrived, his Queen right by his side as they strolled onto the boardwalk, hands interlocked and heads held high. Anyone that knew the modified pair offered a polite nod or some other small gesture of acknowledgement. It was the least they could do for the ones who kept things running smoothly, preventing undesirables from taking over places that had been rightfully inherited. Their reign was of a new generation that still adhered to the old values, and booming business for the carnival meant surrounding establishments received a higher percentage of patronage as well. On many occasions, crowds would spill from the midway then migrate to the boardwalk, spending freely and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of being by the sea.
Jesse led his wife out to that ocean while stray thoughts floated through his mind. Sacha desperately wanted to know what was going through his head, as she could read in his eyes that there was something weighing heavily upon him. Instead, she just held onto his hand, inhaling the salty air and enjoying the warm sun on her face.
“How do you feel about what is going on?” he asked to change the subject. “You have not really said much.”
“In all honesty, this is what we need to do, and I am relieved that we no longer have to take care of so much. The ability to have some breathing room would be rather nice, and I hope you share that sentiment.”
Jesse held her close, his chin resting on her shoulder, pleased that his decision was one she supported. He insisted that they form separate opinions, where one was not influenced by the other. Disagreements would be settled by debate and an anonymous vote from the Carnies. The system ensured that everyone would be in agreement, and no one could declare things were unfair. Since such a rule had been established, there were no arguments from those it governed. To have absolutely no laws would create chaos and anarchy. While Jesse believed that if rules were made, people would go out of their way to break them, a code of ethics and morals kept everything in order, with severe punishment for those that wished to be disobedient. However, the Carnies were not the sort to ask for trouble, so he did not have to worry about chastising any of them. As for rivals and other delinquents, he would happily hand down the justice they so rightfully deserved.
“I expect everything to go smoothly tonight,” Jesse said, slowly lifting himself up from the sand. He leaned over, grabbed Sacha’s arms and assisted his wife to her feet. “You know how nervous I get.”
“You are going to be fine,” she assured him. “This is our night to relax.”
“Of course.” Jesse smiled and gave her a soft kiss. “We must dress, my love.”
“I know just what would be appropriate for the occasion.”
Jesse and Sacha walked up the beach with arms linked, leaving the time spent ocean side behind upon entering their house, the pair promptly heading for the bedroom where a sort of transformation would take place. She wasted no time in removing garments from the closet, not even hesitating once in her selection: blue and yellow polka-dot skirt with a layered yellow petticoat underneath, satin red overbust corset and a short sleeved dark blue velvet jacket. While she exchanged one outfit for the next, Jesse was busy on the other side, somewhat duplicating her efforts with a pair of deep blue denim jeans, red button-down shirt and pale yellow corduroy jacket. Neither of them changed shoes, as they would not be on long once they were at the cove. She picked up a soft bristle brush and ran it through her hair, accenting the white-blonde curls with blue crystal-studded silver combs.
“A present for you, my love” Jesse whispered, arms loosely wrapping around her neck as he placed a kiss on her cheek.
Sacha inspected the long red box, wondering what could possibly be inside. “You remembered…and I greatly honor your gift.”
“Well, you are certainly most deserving.”
She blushed slightly and smiled at the same time. Quenching her curiosity, she removed the lid of that box and was stunned to see a single strand of black pearls. “Oh…it is beautiful,” Sacha swooned.
Carefully lifting the necklace out of the box, he draped it across her neck and gently secured the clasp in back. “It was made for you,” Jesse sighed, admiring their reflections. “Absolutely divine.”
Sacha tilted her head skyward and caught him with a kiss. Growing up, she had always admired other women that displayed pearl necklaces as though they were trophies, often entertaining the fantasy of having one herself. There it was, set off by colorfully inked skin, and it was a heartfelt gift from her husband. Not wanting to get lost in the moment, she slowly pulled away.
“We should get going,” Jesse said, taking her hand in his. “The sun is gone and we do not want to be late.”
The sky was slightly overcast as they exited the house and walked back down to the beach. Once close to the surf, they removed their shoes, cool dark water lapping at their tattooed feet. The setting sun created deep pink and purple clouds, with splashes of orange and yellow on the horizon that slowly faded up to a darkening blue, causing the illusion of green where the colors mixed. Any footprints made in the damp sand were washed away by waves, which was a precaution they took to ensure that no one would follow them. In the distance loomed large rocks covered with seaweed, the ocean roaring as it crashed against their jagged surfaces. Jesse held onto Sacha tightly as they crossed over those slick rocks. One wrong move could cause injury or even death should they slip and fall into the churning sea below. However, they safely stepped onto sand once again, a fire blazing just a few feet before them. The Carnies had spared no expense in laying out a grand feast of roasted pig, sandwiches, salad platters, crackers and cheese, as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables and sinful desserts along with plenty of alcohol. A cheer rose and echoed in the cove as Jesse and Sacha placed their shoes neatly besides the others already lined up. The King and Queen were greeted with warm smiles, many hugs and a general welcome from their friends and anyone else who wished to say hello. With the remnants of day swallowed behind the horizon, low clouds remained to cover the night sky. Jesse and Sacha stood in front of the assembled crowd as Lance joined them. Jesse smiled and embraced his new friend, pleased to have made such a wise decision.
Music suddenly filled the air as dinner was served buffet style. Everyone was occupied on blankets or beach chairs as they shared food, alcohol and conversation. Jesse and Sacha watched from a pair of bamboo beach chairs with Lance sitting beside them. Finally the heavy clouds passed, allowing the stars to shine brightly; the moon glowed orange, a halo surrounding it. Lighting a joint, Jesse observed the entire scene in confidence that everyone would continue to be one big happy family. There was a certain order to maintain, and with so many readily available bodies, he knew that there was no need to worry. Passing the joint to Sacha, he tenderly held her hand, feeling quite confident despite the queasiness rolling around in his stomach. Everything became hazy as the sickness rose, conversations blending together as the music pounded inside his head. He struggled to remain clam, not wanting anyone to know what was happening—not even his wife. Then he relaxed as he drifted off to sleep, surrounded by silence and darkness.