Mack woke to the sound of waves gently rolling onto the beach. The sand was cool and damp, and the air was still. The morning’s sunlight penetrated his eyelids, but he was not ready to open them. Sunburned and hungover, he had no desire to leave his darkened cave of sleep to face whatever carried over from the antics of the night before.
“Hello sir. Time to get up. C’mon.”
The voice startled him, and he sat up. He had to shade his eyes from the sun that was now high in the sky. The person who spoke was uniformed police. Mack looked around, surprised to be on a beach he did not recognize.
“Are you Mack Steadman?” the officer asked. Mack nodded.
“C’mon. Get up.”
“Am I…” Mack gagged on his dry mouth and coughed. The officer handed him a bottle of water. Mack nodded his thanks and gulped down the entire thing.
“OK, I’m taking you to the station. We’ll have your wife come get you there,” the officer held up his phone. “Smile!”
“Rather you didn’t do that,” Mack said.
The officer smiled. “I’m sure you don’t. I have to send it to your wife so she can confirm it’s you, though from the picture she gave us, I’m not sure she’s going to recognize you.”
Mack dropped his head in humiliation. The sudden change in posture threw off his balance and he stumbled.
“Whoa, there, big guy.” The officer reached out to keep Mack from falling down.
“How’d you find me, anyway? I don’t even know where I am.”
“Oh, I’ve been with this precinct for many years. When we get a call from a frantic wife, girlfriend or parent, all we have to do is look at the incidents and complaints filed the night before, check in with the beat cops along the boardwalk and follow the trail from there.”
The officer’s phone beeped. “OK, your wife confirmed its you. Let’s go. You got shoes?”
Mack looked down at his bare feet. “I, uh, did…”
“Nevermind. I keep flip-flops in the trunk. Don’t suppose you got your I.D. on you.”
Mack patted himself down and shook his head.
“Well, not surprising. We’ll take care of reporting your wallet stolen when we get there.”
The two men walked off the beach to the promenade. Mack was aware of the dirty looks he was getting from the people they passed.
“Probably should get you cleaned up. Beach shower is just over there,” the officer pointed to a drab cinder block structure a few feet away. “Don’t want to have to clean all that sand out of my cab. Make you a little more presentable for the wife.”
“Officer, it won’t make a difference, but I certainly appreciate you being a good guy about all this. A fair dinkum cop is not something I deserve.”
The officer let out a laugh. “That’s not what people typically say to me when I tell ‘em I have to bring ‘em in.”
“Hey, um, mind if I ask if there were any other, what’d you call them, frantic phone calls, yesterday, about anyone else?”
“I’m wondering where my friends got to.”
“Oh, I’m guessing they managed to make it back to their hotels, Mr. Steadman.”
Prompts from UnOLWG this week are: Sunburned and hungover; fair dinkum; smiling cameras.
Always comes up with stuff I have to look up! Thanks for intro to “fair dinkum”.