Connor ran his hand along the 2010 Sea Ray Sundancer, careful to keep touching the boat at all times. The dimpled, white fiberglass of the boat’s hull changed to polished blue halfway up to the gunwale and that’s where he ran his hand, right at the line where the color started, the top half of his hand moving across the smooth surface, the bottom half along the rough.
Only two other competitors remained in the WKUM—“Where the hits keep coming”—4th Annual Hands on the Boat marathon. Over the last fourteen hours twenty-two people had dropped out.
The boat represented freedom to Connor. Freedom from the pressures of life. Freedom from monotony. Freedom from his parents, that was the big one, freedom from his parents.
Yesterday, Dad had come into his bedroom and turned off his Xbox 360 while he was playing, without even giving Connor a chance to save his game. How rude. But that was Dad for ya, the king of the castle, treating everyone else like serfs.
Dad stood in front of Connor, arms akimbo. “I need to talk to you.”
Instead of replying Conner swung his legs off his bed and planted them on the floor, facing his father.
“I don’t get you. What are you doing with your life? What happened to college?”
Connor shrugged. “There’s plenty of time. Next year.”
“Where’s your ambition?”
Connor shrugged again.
Dad took two steps across the room and bent down so that his face was only inches from Conner’s. “Are you smoking pot?”
“Sheesh Dad. Drugs are for losers. I’m just kind’a finding myself, ya know?”
“In my basement?” Dad threw his hands outward in an overly dramatic gesture of exasperation. “How can you find yourself living in my basement, playing video games all day?”
A loud buzz snapped Conner out of his thoughts of yesterday. Did his hand come off the boat? Or did he nod off to sleep for a second? Those were both ways to be disqualified.
No. It was the Korean guy. Connor had worried about that guy, who had stood like a statue, as if in a meditative trance. It had looked like he was going to last forever. Now it was down to him and the girl. She’d lasted much longer than Connor expected.
The girl was shy. Occasionally, he’d catch her staring at him, but she averted her eyes when he tried to make contact. He’d easily beat this timid girl.
With his free hand Connor unzipped his backpack which lay at his feet and pulled out another Red Bull. He chugged it in one long drink and tossed the empty back into the backpack. His strategy for winning was simple: Massive quantities of Red Bull while wearing an adult sized Depends diaper he had snuck from his grandma’s house last week.
This was so cool. He could picture himself in the boat, cruising across Lake Chickasaw. It was going to be great. He’d definitely take his best friend Jake along. And they’d have a couple bikini clad hotties in the boat. After all, once the boat was his, the girls would come flocking. Maybe he’d even invite the shy girl.
He closed his eyes and pictured himself waterskiing, the sun beating down, wind in his hair, jumping the boat’s wake to the oohs and ahhs of everyone watching him. A broad smile spread across his face.
He relaxed, dreaming of the future that was almost his.
And his hand slipped off the boat.