Wildest Dreams (Thunder Point #9)


by Robyn Carr

One

Not much that happened on the beach got by Charlie Simmons. He was fourteen and his mother was the nurse who tended Winnie Banks, a lady with ALS who lived on the hill overlooking the beach. Charlie came to work with his mother every day. He hung out around the house, the town, the beach. He was, more than anything, a practiced observer. More observer than participant, something he’d change if possible.

It was the third week of August, the house next to Winnie’s was complete inside and out, and a moving truck had finally backed up to the garage. Charlie had seen the new owner back when he’d first looked at the house. He’d ridden across the beach road on a bicycle—a very expensive-looking road bike. He’d visited with Cooper on the deck that faced the bay. They went into the house together and didn’t come back out, at least on the beach side. Cooper had later reported the guy with the bicycle was interested and made an offer.

When the moving truck pulled up and began to unload, Charlie went out front to have a look. All the houses along this ridge backed up to the Pacific, with the perfect view from their decks and living rooms, but their front doors and garages faced the road at the top of the hill. Charlie saw Cooper talking to the movers so he waited patiently until he was finished.

“Just be sure that gym equipment goes downstairs—it’s heavy. He’s making the game room on the lower level his workout room. Living quarters on this level. You should be able to identify the master bedroom, kitchen, living room, bath, on this floor for everything else. I’ll be down at the bar when you’re ready for me to sign off on delivery.”

When Cooper was walking back to the bar that he owned, he passed right by Charlie. “Who’s moving in, Cooper? The guy with the million-dollar bike?”

Cooper grinned. “The same. He’s out of town right now.”

“In a race?” Charlie asked.

“Big triathlon in Australia.”

“Holy smokes,” Charlie said. “He’s an Ironman?”

Cooper laughed. “He is.”

“What’s his name?” Charlie asked.

“Blake Smiley. You going to look him up?”

“It’s what I do, Cooper. You want me to fill you in?”

“I think I have enough information, but thanks.”

“You ever want to compete in a triathlon, Cooper?”

“Absolutely never,” he said, clearly amused. “Not that I don’t admire the folks that can do that...”

“When’s he going to be here?”

“I’m not sure. Any day now, I guess.”

“I’m going to track the race. Do you know where in Australia?”

“No, I don’t know where. Can there be a lot of them?” Cooper asked.

Charlie was on it. He got out his laptop and looked the guy up. This was what Charlie had been doing for a long time—finding information and learning on his laptop because he didn’t have a lot of friends and couldn’t run and play like the other kids. Charlie had suffered from some serious allergies and asthma as a little kid and was therefore confined to a quieter life. He believed it was his frequent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia when he was younger that resulted in him being a little undersized for his age. Either that or his Vietnamese roots through his mother’s side of the family. But then one day someone passed on an old laptop, showed him how to use it and all those indoor days had resulted in a smarter than average fourteen-year-old.

Charlie’s mother, Lin Su, was Amerasian. Since Charlie’s biological father was white American he supposed that made him Amer-amerasian. He could see Vietnam in his black hair and dark eyes.

He looked up Blake Smiley. The man had been racing for fifteen years. He went to college on a scholarship and was thirty-seven years old. Smiley was a triathlon champion many times over having scored his first win in Oahu; he held a couple of records, had a degree in biology and physiology and was sponsored by a few corporations and even made a commercial for a fancy juice mixer. A juice mixer? Charlie wondered. Smiley was also a coach, consultant and sometime motivational speaker. Charlie was in love with TED Talks; he’d love to be smart enough or experienced enough to teach or inspire people with his accomplishments. “He’s a god,” Charlie muttered to himself. And then there was his size. He was five-ten and one hundred and fifty pounds. Not huge. Charlie found that encouraging.

He’d seen the guy. He looked so strong. So ripped. He saw him ride his bike down the beach road, pick it up and jog up two flights of stairs to meet Cooper on the deck of that house he bought. But as pro athletes go, he was small.

The second thing to intrigue him—Smiley had to teach himself to swim. He gave speeches about how he built his athletic career on survival instincts and practice.

Charlie couldn’t swim. His mother freaked out if he even ran and he sure hadn’t had a pool in the backyard. He wanted to swim. He’d spent the summer hanging out here on the beach watching the older kids paddleboarding and, lately, windsurfing. He’d had a ride on a paddleboard with someone else paddling. And he’d been wearing a life vest...

Charlie closed the laptop and went to Winnie’s bedroom. He knocked lightly on the door. There was no telling what was going on in there. It could be bathing, primping, reading or maybe Winnie was sleeping. “Come in,” his mother said.

He pushed open the door and saw that his mother had been giving Winnie a manicure. Winnie loved manicures. Winnie had become a good friend; they spent a lot of time on their laptops together, talking, figuring things out.

“You are never going to believe this,” he said, pushing his glasses up on his nose. “The new guy next door? He’s an Ironman!”

* * *

Blake arrived from Australia late at night. He’d slept on the plane so he was up for a few hours knowing that in the next couple of days jet lag would kick his ass. Then it would pass.

He was creaky and stiff. His body had become a little less responsive in the past few years. Things like prerace training and international travel were beginning to take their toll. And it was odd going home to his own house. It was his first. People wouldn’t guess that. He was almost forty and had never owned a home. Not even a condo or town house. He’d given the location a great deal of thought. He wanted to be near the ocean; he liked the cold of the Pacific. As a workout it was more taxing than warm water; the unforgiving nature of the ocean was more realistic than a lake or pool for training. He needed altitude training and he had that in Oregon. Everywhere he looked...mountains. He had seriously considered Boulder or Truckee but at the end of the day he liked this little spot. When he wasn’t racing he was training and when he wasn’t training, he was living. He could get his training done here. And while he might keep up with the training for life, he wasn’t going to race professionally forever. For living he wanted a quiet place that wasn’t overrun by professional athletes and Olympians. Shake a tree in Boulder or Truckee and ten Olympic contenders fell out.

Cookbook | Amateur 205,659 hide | April 2014 (665)