Back In the Shell
Bev Vines-Haines
Dorsal Winner

The invitation seemed vague, a Facebook comment plump with undercurrent, the kind of thing that might later be viewed as a setup, a joke, even a trap. 

Cicada coming out party.  Heathrow Pond.  Semi-formal.  Heathrow Villa, Kent.  Tuesday 3:00 p.m.  BYOB.

It’s too hot to go semi-formal, I remember thinking.  Beyond my office window, past the hedgerow and the courts, I watched wavering heat lines rise skyward, altering reality just enough to make me question my sanity. 

Who would respond to this post?  More importantly, who would wrestle into sticky clothing and show up at Ardon Heathrow’s pond?  For more than three days the metallic buzz, the overwhelming hum of cicadas had served as a raucous backdrop to stifling and oppressive heat.

I knew I’d go.  I might skip the attire and just wear my hiking garb, kind of stumble into the party as if by accident.  I wanted to see who took the bait. Truthfully, is there anything more needy than a soul perusing Facebook in search of activity, validation and human contact?

The cicada caper, tying the event to a secondary event added mystery.   Ardon Heathrow’s money and his enigmatic reputation might attract every kook within fifty miles. Who didn’t long to get a closer look at the Heathrow mansion, walk the manicured grounds and wander back to the pond?  I did it all the time.  Not so much by invitation as by close proximity and a habit of late night roaming. On Tuesday I decided to abide by Ardon’s rules.  I took a cold shower and donned a three piece suit.  Even though Heathrow is next door I took the golf cart.  The thermometer on the garage read 106 degrees.  The air had a rebellious quality, pushing against my skin and yet forcing me to drag in each breath and then push it back out.  An almost instant sheen of sweat coated my body and my clothes stuck tight.

I had to maneuver the golf cart between dozens of cars parked haphazardly on the road.  Could they all belong to kooks?  BMWs, Mercedes, a Corvette and a Viper.  Nice.  Of course there was the ragtag lineup of silver and white Fords and Hondas.

The sound of the cicadas became deafening.  The heat pressed against me more violently.  There was a parade of people walking toward the pond at the back of the property.  Gauzy soft dresses and big hats were favored for the ladies.  The men, like me, wore obligatory suits and ties.  

I noticed flasks and bottles of wine.  I’d forgotten my bottle.  Maneuvering to turn my cart, I ran over a cicada.  Emotions overwhelmed me and I headed back home.

First published:August, 2017
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