After that weekend, I went to King's Bay whenever I could. June somehow turned into July without me noticing. I spent as much or more time at Callie's place than I did at Manny's. Manny invited me to various parties and barbeques and get-togethers, but I always begged off. I wanted to be with Callie as much as possible.
One day I came down with some kind of virus that made me as sick as a dog, and only Manny hiding my car keys kept me from going to Callie.
"For fuck's sake, what is wrong with you?" he'd asked. "You have a fever and can barely keep water down. You want to get her sick, too?" I didn't, but it didn't make me want to stay home any less.
After I was better, the time sped by again and July faded into August. Everything I did was measured against seeing Callie. I loved being with her.
We developed a little routine. Swimming and surfing in the mornings, then some lunch followed by a relaxing afternoon where she'd work on any weaving projects she had going on. I was fascinated by the way her hands manipulated the threads on the loom to make the various designs. She sang when she worked and it made me think of the sirens from mythology. Callie was on land, but she'd lured me in just the same.
Time and weather permitting, we'd take another afternoon dip in the water. In the evenings we sometimes got together with friends of hers. I enjoyed getting to know them and was pleased to find a couple of baseball fans in the group. When I was able to talk one-on-one with someone, we were surprised by what we didn't know about Callie.
"Isn't it funny," I said to a girl named Amber one night, "how King's Bay is never crowded? Not even on the big days like Fourth of July? It's like there's some kind of force field around the place."
Amber didn't laugh like I thought she would. "I have noticed," she said. "Sometimes I think only certain people can come here, and only if Callie lets them." She was silent for a moment and then shook her head, chuckling. "Listen to me. I think I've had too much wine."
I gave a quiet laugh and nodded as though I agreed. The idea was too far-fetched to take seriously, but it seemed plausible at night in King's Bay.
One night as I getting ready to go see Callie the next day, my parents called. I'd been talking to them every week or so since coming out to California. They'd been supportive of the idea, even paying for my airline ticket. Mom was always after me to send pictures, and Dad joked about sending her out to stay with me.
Instead of the usual pleasantries and a discussion of baseball standings with Dad, they had something to say and it floored me. Someone had made an offer on the house in Ithaca. The house that I lived in. That I'd grown up in. The house that I'd always considered mine.
"I hate to push you, son," Dad told me. "I know you wanted more time out in California. But to tell the truth, you haven't said much about coming back. If you can give us a firm date on when you'll go back to Ithaca, we'll turn this down. But if you aren't sure, then honestly, Diz, we could use the money."
He went on to say he thought I might be tired of living in the house anyway, that it wasn't suited to a single guy like myself, but I barely heard him. He said they didn't need a decision right away, but they did need to have an answer within a week to ten days. I said I'd sleep on it and let him know in a couple of days. We said our good-byes and I mulled over the conversation as I went back to packing.
Manny came into the kitchen. He grabbed a beer and leaned against the wall. I was glad to have something to distract me from my thoughts. Reaching for something to say, I realized that I hadn't seen Helena in a while, and asked Manny if she was okay.
He frowned. "Yeah, I guess. She's been talking to some guy at work. Perry." He scoffed. "Perry, can you believe that? Sounds like some Ivy League prick. She says she's just training him and has to spend a lot of time with him because of that, so what can I say?"
"You think she's lying?" I stared at him. That didn't sound like Helena, but I didn't know her that well.
"I don't know." Manny shrugged and drank his beer. "Never mind, let's change the subject. You got a plan yet?"
"Sure." I went back to packing. "I'm heading over to King's Bay to see Callie. I'll be back in a few days."
"No, dickhead." He rolled his eyes. "A plan like an 'I'm going to get a job' type of plan. It's August, Diz."
"I know. I'm good." My money was still holding out. I didn't go out a lot or drink or anything, so my expenses were mostly food and gas for the car aside from what I gave Manny.
"Yeah, I know, and I appreciate the money you've given me towards rent and all. You know you don't have to."
"I know, but hell, I'm not a freeloader."
"Of course not. But Diz, what I mean is, what about Ithaca?"
"What about it?"
"For Christ's sake, I'm asking you
. When you came out, the whole idea was you would go back. I don't care how long you stay, that's not the issue. I'm just surprised you'd consider not going back. You said you'd die in Ithaca; you told me you'd have them scatter your ashes in Cayuga Lake."
I had said all that, but talking with Manny made me realize I'd been losing my reasons to go back all summer. My job, Penny and now the house. I couldn't even remember the last time I'd spoken to any of my friends back there. It hit me that almost all I had left of Ithaca was memories.
Truth was, I'd gone days without so much as a thought of Ithaca and hardly noticed. It seemed farther away all the time. Sometimes it felt like I'd always lived in California, and Ithaca was a place I'd dreamed about.
I thought a little more, then called Dad back and told him to take the offer.
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/kings-bay-ch-05.aspx">King's Bay Ch. 05</a>