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chris grabenstein

(In Death's Excellent Vacation)


I don't know why I'm lying here dreaming about 1975 and the demon in the dunes.

It's summer. Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Saturday. August 15th. 1975. The night I first saw the demon lurking in the shadows at the dark edge of the sand.

Kevin Corman and I are running down a moonlit street away from the Royal Flamingo motel and our families.

"You score?" Kevin asked.

"Yeah." I held up two warm beer cans. "Schlitz."

"Your old man won't notice?"

"I don't think so," I answered—nervously as I recall. I wasn't a big rule breaker when I was a teenager. I usually stayed quiet. Stayed out of trouble.

"Far out," said Kevin, taking my two Schlitz cans and stuffing them up underneath the flapping coat of his leisure suit. He was dressed to score that night. Dressed like John Travolta would dress a few years later when he had the same sort of Saturday night fever.

Kevin and I were on our annual two-week family vacations down the shore. We were neighbors back home in Verona, New Jersey; went to the same high school.

"Uhm, were you able to get any, you know, booze?" I stammered as we tried not to look too conspicuous: two teens—one nervous, the other cocky—skulking down Ocean Avenue at 9:30 at night. When we were younger and on vacation, this is the time of night when we would've badgered our parents into taking us up to the boulevard for swirled soft-serve ice cream cones. Now, our mothers and fathers stayed by the motel pool to play cards, smoke cigarettes, and drink highballs out of indestructible plastic cocktail glasses while we lied about heading over to Funtown Pier so we could go out drinking ourselves.

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