Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online


Book 1 of the Dawnwalker Cycle

a novel by
Wes Boyd
©2002, ©2008

Chapter 27:
October 1995

Fall can be a gray and dreary time on the Superior shore, but it can produce some nice days, too. As Randy stepped out of the classroom building and headed down campus toward the residence halls, he looked up almost automatically. There was a bright blue sky, painted lightly with the brush strokes of mares’ tails. Around him the trees were a riot of autumn color, but the strong north wind was taking leaves down, and before the day was done many were going to seem much more naked and ready for winter. It was cool, and obviously going to get colder, but the smell of the lake was strong in his nose. There wouldn't be many nice days left; in fact, this might be the last one. A strong front was coming, and at this time of year, he knew there might well be snow on the ground before another day dawned. He knew that winter would be long and dreary, and the loss of a nice day at this time of year would be a big one.

Down at the dorm he headed straight to his room. He dumped his books on his bed and reached for the phone to call Crystal. A little to his surprise, she picked up the phone; he figured he'd have to chase her all over campus. "Surf's gotta be up somewhere," he said without preliminaries.

"Yeah, Jeez," she said in an instantaneous reply that showed that she'd been thinking about it, too. "With that wind direction, it ought to be pretty good if we can get east a ways, say around Au Train. I thought you had a class."

"If there's any class I can blow off once in a while, it's 'Principles of Concrete.' I learned more hands-on from Rod last summer than I'll ever get out of that. How about you?"

"Nothing this afternoon, but I have one this evening I really shouldn't miss. I'm up for it if you are."

"Give me a few minutes to change clothes," he replied. "Let's take my car."

"Ten minutes, eh?"

It wasn't a major clothes change, but he did want to pull on the "fuzzy rubber" shorts he'd gotten earlier in the year to replace his underwear. Most of his wet suit gear was in his car already, but it was too much to want to wear all the way out to some place like Au Train, thirty miles to the east.

He was just about done changing when Matt walked in and noticed him pulling his pants on over the fuzzy rubber. "Holywa, bein' da surfer dude again dis afternoon, eh?" Matt grinned.

"I tink winter comes tonight, yaaah?" Randy said, buckling his belt. "Godda grab it while ya can."

"Where ya headin', eh?"

"East somewhere, maybe Au Train, maybe not dat far, yaah," Randy told him. "Crystal's godda class tonight, so we be back early, eh?"

"Den you're gonna spend the evenin' wid Myleigh, yaah? I dunno how ya get 'way wid dat alla time." Matt was pretty well clued in on how Randy spent much of his free time with the two girls, either together or separately; occasionally, he even made a fourth person on a double date. He was always a little surprised by how Randy could do it without having either or both of the girls ready to kill him. Randy didn't think Matt knew just how close to both the girls he was -- he'd never told him, so if he'd figured it out it would have had to have been on his own -- but sometimes, it surprised Randy as well.

"It works out, eh?" Randy said. "Can't ask for a lot more dan dat."

Matt set his books down on the desk. "Yanno, I tink I figured it out. Myleigh, she appeals ta da intellectual side in ya, eh? Ya can talk books an' music wid her, an' dat's nice, yaah? Crystal, she appeals ta da physical side, an' ya go surfin' and kayakin' and like dat. You fin' one gal ya can put it all tageder wid, an' maybe ya' got somethin', eh?"

"Dat's da problem," Randy agreed. He glanced at the clock on the desk. "Holywa, godda run. Godda get dis in taday, 'cause da wedder is gonna be shit tamarra."

"Grab it while ya can, eh? See ya later."

Matt had a point, Randy thought as he headed down the hall. It was one he had thought about before often enough. Maybe somewhere there was a girl who combined all the points he liked in both the girls, but he'd never found her, unless maybe it was Nicole. Oh, well, there was time enough for that, the rest of his life. The year was flying by, and they were already getting into midterms. The classes were going better than he'd expected, and his grades were holding up. That was good, but between classes, studying, and the girls, he was busy much of the time. Somehow there always seemed to be just enough time to do everything he wanted to do, but little to waste.

Crystal was just coming down the stairs as he entered the lobby. She was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and Randy could see from the loops of the knot tied behind her neck that she had a bikini on underneath. In her hand was the medium-sized blue duffel bag that he knew she used to carry her wetsuit, so apparently she planned to change when they got to wherever it was they wound up going. "You want to do lunch before we go?" she asked.

"We can grab some burgers or something on the way," he suggested. "That'll save some time. Besides, if we sit in the caf for a while talking surfing, we'll be a while getting out of there and we'll wind up having an audience."

"I suppose," she said. "That seems to be happening a lot lately."

"Yeah," Randy agreed a little glumly. Matt had tagged along on one of their surfing expeditions in September, and had done a photo story for the campus newspaper -- for credit -- but now the 'Legend of Crystal and Randy,' as he thought of it, had gotten even more widespread. The last couple of times they'd been out, there'd been a group watching them from the beach, but this trip had come together so quickly that maybe they wouldn't pick up a gallery -- which was fine with him; he wasn't showing off.

Crystal threw her bag in the back seat of the Dodge, and got in. It was a fairly quick trip through the noonday traffic to the storeroom at the PEIF where the boards were kept. Unfortunately, Gary was hanging around the Outdoor Club as they came out carrying the surfboards. "Goin' surfin'?" he smiled.

"Thought we'd go take a look," Crystal told him casually. "See what it's like out at Presque Isle, maybe try up at Big Bay or something. It's too nice to stay inside."

Randy could see that she didn't want an audience any more than he did -- the two places she mentioned were the other way up the coast. "Maybe I'll come out and watch for a while," Gary smiled hopefully.

"Well, yeah, see you out there, maybe," Randy grinned as he carried his board outside. He'd gotten to know Gary a little. He was a nice enough guy, but had a dose of hero worship that Randy found irritating. At least they could use it to dump a lot of the scutwork of the paddling group on him. "We're just going to drive around until we see something that catches our attention."

As they drove away from the PEIF, Crystal shook her head. "He's OK, but he can be something of a pest."

"Yeah, I hate to keep putting him off," Randy said. "But, we don't get enough time together by ourselves as it is."

"Yes, damn it," she said, sliding across the car to snuggle under his arm as soon as they were out of sight of the campus. "I think we shot ourselves in the foot on that one."

"I know we did," Randy agreed, putting his hand on her breast. It felt comfortable there. "We just didn't think it through."

Part of the reason that Randy had gone along with Crystal's idea of taking over the paddling chair was that they thought it would give them the opportunity to get together off campus for a night now and then. Unfortunately, it usually was in a group; there was no way they could spend the night together without word getting around -- it was just as bad as being on campus. They'd been out four weekends camping with the group since the semester had started, including a very rushed three-night whitewater trip to West Virginia, and never once had they managed to be by themselves for the night, no matter what excuses they'd been able to figure out. As a result, they hadn't spent the night together since July, down in Ducktown. Randy had easily picked up on Crystal's frustration and had some of his own. With the need to get back early tonight, it was clear that this trip wouldn't accomplish anything to that end, either.

"Myleigh said you and she had a good time last weekend," Crystal reported. "I'm glad."

"We both enjoyed it," Randy smiled. Without discussing it openly among the three of them, they'd decided that Myleigh deserved the chance to get away with Randy once in a while. The opportunities weren't as frequent, but they were at least private. The previous weekend, Paul Winter had been appearing in a concert down at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point, and the two had driven down, spent two nights, and caught the show. It was pretty good, although both would have enjoyed a little more harp and a little less soprano sax, but that didn't matter; they liked the music. They'd hit a couple of good vegetarian restaurants and caught a movie to go along with the concert, and they'd enjoyed their nights together. Still, they all knew that Crystal was feeling a little left out, so Randy and Myleigh agreed on the way back that they'd better not take another weekend together until Crystal had a turn.

"We've got one more weekend of paddling-group activities, and then the schedule's done," Crystal said. "Maybe we can do something then."

Randy nodded, flicking the turn signal to change lanes. They were south of downtown by now, and the lake was off to their left. There wasn't much surf in this area, but the shore line was wrong here; it was still pretty well sheltered. Once they got more out in the open, it should pick up. "That sort of leads to an idea," he said. "Agawa Bay is the weekend after next. What do you say that we sign out the plastic Skerrys from the club and head over there?"

"What's this all about?" Crystal asked with a frown.

"Agawa Bay is east and about a hundred miles north of Sault Ste. Marie, up in Ontario. When they get a west blow, it's supposed to have the best surf on Superior. If they have a hell of a blow, they're supposed to have up to thirty footers."

"I'm not sure I'm ready for thirty footers in Superior, either in a kayak or on a board," she frowned.

"Me either," he said. "I figure if it gets like that, we watch from shore, inside the car, with the heater running. Anyway, there's this group of kayak surfers who get together there the first weekend of November for this deal they call 'The Gales of November,' and Joe sort of suggested that we might want to think about heading over there. I figure it's far enough away that Gary or someone from the campus isn't likely to follow us."

"Yeah," she said. "That has possibilities. Maybe one of us could sort of hint to Gary that three's a crowd on this trip."

"I don't know if he'd pick up on a hint like that," Randy shook his head. "We'd have to flat ass tell him to buzz off, and we don't want to do that."

"Yeah," she said. "But we wouldn't have to tell him where we're going. On the other hand, you said this friend of yours is going, so there we are again."

"We can be cute and get away with it, I think. What do you say we take off after classes on Thursday, drive over to Sault Ste. Marie, and spend the night in a motel? If it looks like we're going to have a west blow, we can drive up to Agawa Bay on Friday, do some surfing, and camp out. Joe and Rod will probably spend the night in a motel if they go at all. They won't go if the weather's not promising, so they won't know what happens at night."

"Might work," Crystal told him. "I don't mind the winter camping, but it might make other things a little chilly. I can make it work if you can."

"After all the damn money I spent on winter camping gear I'd better be able to put up with it," Randy agreed. He'd taken some of the money he'd earned over the summer to stock up on quality camping gear, much better than the lightweight summer stuff he'd accumulated at home. With Crystal around, he figured that he was going to be needing it. "What I was thinking we could do is drive up into Canada on Friday or Saturday if it looks like there's going to be surf, and if it doesn't we just stay at the motel, and not piss around with camping at all. However it works, we win."

By now, they were driving along the shore east from Marquette. They couldn't see the surf well from the highway, so Randy turned into a pullout to get a better look. The waves were looking pretty good, maybe two feet high with a nice looking break to them. It would have been possible to surf on them if there were nothing better around, but they were on the small side. "This looks promising," Crystal said. "But I think it'll be better farther to the east."

"It's not far to Au Train," Randy agreed, getting the car moving again. "I'd just as soon we had something a little bigger."

"Worth a look," she smiled, taking another long look at the waves as Randy pulled back out onto the highway. "At least the water's still halfway warm, not like up at L'Anse last spring."

"Right," Randy agreed. "In a month, we'll have ice out the wazoo, as cold as it's been this fall. I hate to say it, but I think the surfing season is winding down till next spring, unless you maybe want to consider a trip to Florida over Christmas."

"I don't think so," she said with a headshake. "I've got to put in some serious time at home. I literally haven't spent more than hours at home since last Christmas, and besides, Myleigh will be with me. There's no way in hell we could get away together. Don't get me wrong, it'd be nice for the two of us to get away for a few days, just us, but I don't see it happening for a while."

"Yeah, I suppose," Randy agreed. "Well, there's next year, maybe. We won't have Myleigh around to complicate the issue."

"It may not be as easy then," Crystal shook her head. "Especially if Nanci is here. She's still talking about coming up here next fall. If she does, it'll be even worse than it is now."

"Yeah," he agreed sourly. "That'll make it even tougher, not easier. Any more word on whether she's coming?"

"No decision yet, but the last I heard from Mom she's still talking about it. If she's up here next fall, we'll at least have the paddling club to cover for us."

"Lot of good that's done us this fall," Randy grumped. "But, I suppose we can't have everything. But, I have to ask, has Nanci ever been up here in the dead of winter?"

"Randy, that's an evil idea," Crystal laughed. "I can tell Mom that she ought to see it up here when it's bad. Maybe we can manage a real blizzard for their visit."

"Just our luck we'll have the nicest day all winter," Randy grinned, "But, it's worth a try. It'd be nice to have you to myself next fall, for at least one semester, anyway."

"It'd be interesting," Crystal agreed. "But, you know where I'm coming from, and it wouldn't be fair to you to let it happen, and then we have to break up."

"I know," he sighed. He'd long since resigned himself to the inevitability that there was going to be an end to his fun times with Crystal and Myleigh, and not all that far off in the future, either. "But, I can dream, can't I? If it makes you feel any better, I dream about Myleigh, too. It'd just be fun to not have things quite so damn complicated, at least for a while."

"There is that," she grinned. "Boy, I can't believe that in a little more than a year, this'll all be over with."

"Eighteen months for me," Randy agreed. "It's getting more real every day. I'm learning stuff I'm going to be using, not like the last couple years when it's all been pretty theoretical."

"I think that's part of the difference," Crystal said thoughtfully. "Myleigh and I are mostly learning stuff that we hope we won't ever have to use. Well, use a little of it, maybe. If things work out for Myleigh, the teaching skills will be useful. You and Jon have it over us in that regard."

"Could be," Randy agreed, welcoming the shift in topic. "How's he getting along, anyway?"

"Pretty good, from what Mom says. As well as can be expected, I guess. You know this is the first time he's ever been away from home on his own?"

"Didn't know that," Randy shook his head. "But, I guess it doesn't surprise me. No camp, or anything like that?"

"No, never. There were a couple of school trips, but they were pretty heavily chaperoned, and Mom was on them. But, out on his own, like I did at the Adventure Camps or OLTA, not even close. He's having a tough time coming to grips with it, but I guess his grades are holding up."

"That's gotta be hard," Randy said.

"Mom didn't say it, but I guess it is," Crystal said wistfully. "I guess he's a little homesick, and I don't blame him. I wish I'd pushed him a little harder about getting used to that, but, hell, I'm his sister, I don't know anything, do I? Mom and Dad and Nanci are talking about flying down to Atlanta over Thanksgiving, just to give him a little company."

"You're not going?"

"No," she shook her head. "Myleigh gets into that, too. We've always gone to Glen Ellyn before. It's going to be boring as hell to sit around campus with everyone gone."

"Come home with me," Randy suggested.

"Randy, I can't ask that of you," she said. "I don't think Myleigh would, either."

"So, it's not the two of you asking." One of the frustrating things about the two girls was that sometimes it was hard to be nice to them; their often-fierce independence could get in the way of a friendly gesture. "I'll have to talk to my folks about it, but it shouldn't be any problem. As far as I know, Rachel and her husband are going to his folks. Ruth and her fiancé may be up for the day, but there were noises about going to his folks, too. Even if they come, it'll probably only be for one night, so there'll be plenty of room. I wouldn't be surprised if my folks jump at the chance to have company. They said they wanted to meet you two. This looks like the perfect opportunity to me."

"It does sound better than sitting around doing nothing all weekend," Crystal agreed. "That'd get boring in a hurry."

"We'd have to keep it 'just friends' straight among the three of us, but we do that all the time, anyway," Randy pointed out. "Maybe we can get Myleigh to bring the harp, have a little session. Besides, I'd like to have you meet Gil and Blake and the others, too."

"Well, maybe," she replied glumly, then brightened as the car swept around a curve. There in front of them was a mile-long beach, with nice, big waves crashing in. "This looks interesting," she smiled.

"Yeah," he said, signaling to turn into a pull-off on the lakeward side of the road.

In a minute, they were looking out at some nice surf, three footers, maybe a little higher, some of the prettiest surf they'd seen since the spring before. There was a lot of shore break, but every few seconds a nice wave would break far enough offshore to promise a good ride. "Wow, that rocks," she said with a smile.

"Let's take a look down on the east end," Randy suggested, taking his foot off the brake. "Joe told me the break is usually better down there."

A minute or so later, they were at a little pine-covered rest area alongside the road, and even from the car they could see that the break was better than up the road, consisting of nice, smooth large rollers that broke a ways offshore. Randy shut off the car, and they both got out to look. They walked a short distance through the pines toward the roar of the surf on the beach. "Man," Crystal told him as she took in the sight, "I've been dreaming about something like that for months."

"Me, too," Randy said. "Let's make it a good one. We may have to wait a while before we see it this good again."

"Absolutely," Crystal agreed, eager to be out on the water. She peeled off her T-shirt and got down to her bikini top in spite of the cold wind off the lake. "Let's get rocking."

They changed into their wetsuits in the wind shadow of the car, in full sight of the highway, and no doubt, there were some strange looks in the passing cars and trucks as they unstrapped the surfboards and carried them down to the lake. Shortly, they were out on it, and the waves were every bit as good as they looked. They surfed for an hour or more, yelling and shouting with joy, and occasionally people using the rest stop took a look at the two out surfing the cold October waves, blue sky in the background, a rocky ledge not far off in the corner of the bay.

After a while they got cold to the point of shivering, so warmed up under the car heater as best they could, then went out and surfed some more, until the light got low and they had to be heading back so Crystal could go to class. Sadly, they stripped off the wetsuits beside the car, dried off, and got back in to let the heater get on them some more.

"That was great," Crystal told him. "I wonder if there's any chance we could do it again tomorrow?"

"Probably not. It'll probably be blowing harder, cold, and snowing," Randy replied. "Besides I've got classes, and got to get some studying in.

"It's a shame," Crystal said with a sorrowful shake of the head. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard. "We're not going to have enough time to eat before I have to be in class. I'm not sure I'm even going to have time to change clothes."

Randy laughed. "Nothing adds to the Legend like sitting through a three-hour class showing a wet bikini soaking through your clothes because you've been surfing all afternoon."

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