Jasper wandered around in circles, absently kicking at the glass bottles and other detritus discarded on the fringes of the underbrush. An obviously man-made cul-de-sac at the end of a dirt road hidden behind the scrub pines along the highway right-of-way, the clearing overlooked a stretch of shoreline that was accessible only by climbing down over the scree from a long ago landslide.
A rocky outcrop, and the monstrous sun-bleached bones of uprooted trees, closed off the beach from the east and west, making this particular expanse of sand a well-concealed lovers’ rendezvous.
The less adventurous and acrophobic, remained above the waterline, drinking cheap beer and boxed wine, casting off their empties into ceremonial cairns dedicated to youth and lust.
When the moon was full, and the lunar spotlight bathed the beach in a pearlescent shimmering, the fearful congregation would assemble at the very edge of the earth, raising their bottles and red Solo cups in admiration for the live performances of the bodies writhing in the soft, still sun-warmed sand below. Hooting and whistling their applause at particularly splendid agility.
A mélange of disgust, regret, and yearning swept over Jasper. Remembering the nights when he and a partner took the stage, or sat in judgement of other actors, he felt nauseous imagining the jeers and catcalls from recent spectators.
One more pass around the woodland gallery, and Jasper found what he was searching for. Toeing the trinket with the tip of his boot, he bent to brush away dirty sand and crumbled leaves to expose the buried treasure. Without picking it up, he studied his find, wondering if he should return it to its owner, and in doing so reveal he knew her secret.
When he finally did retrieve the silver pendant from the dust, he raced to the edge of the clearing and heaved it as far out to sea as he could.
Once back in his car, he thumbed on his phone. A familiar voice answered.
“Hey! Any luck?”
“No, sweetie, I looked all over the soccer field and couldn’t find it,” Jasper lied. “You may have to give up and admit it’s gone forever.”
“I’m sorry, Sweetheart,” a middle-aged woman said. “I shouldn’t have worn it to the game.”
“Don’t worry, Baby, I can get you a new pendant,” he said. “I’ll be home soon.”
Sitting a while longer before starting the engine, Jasper shuddered, fearful over what his wife was doing at the rendezvous, and how much she saw.