A week went by before Tim showed up at my front door.
“Hey, how’s the Skateboard King?”
“Pretty good,” I replied. “I’ve been practicing.”
“That’s good ’cause it’s time you learned how to surf.”
“Well, yeah, you can’t live on the beach and not surf, but you’re going to need some money.”
“How else are you going to buy a surfboard?”
“How much do I need?”
“I don’t know, thirty bucks?”
“All I got is twenty.”
“Can you borrow ten from your sisters?”
“Maybe? The other day while we were cleaning the front room my sisters and I found a roll of twenty dollar bills tucked inside the curtain holder.”
“You’re kidding! Who put it there?”
“My grandmother. She didn’t believe in banks, so she hid money around her properties.”
“Wow, I’d like to have a grandma like that!” Tim replied. “How much did you find?”
“A hundred bucks.”
“A hundred bucks!”
“Yeah, my sisters each took forty. I got twenty.”
“You got gypped.”
“Yeah. They owe you.”
I thought about it for a moment. Then I turned and stormed down the hallway toward my sisters’ bedroom. I knocked on the door, but didn’t wait for a reply and burst in.
“What do you want?” exclaimed Diane.
“Get out of here!” Sue shouted.
“I will as soon as I get my share of the money.”
“Your share of the…what?” Sue added.
“You know, the money we found the other day. I want my share of it, or I’ll…”
“Or you’ll what?” Diane threatened.
“Or I’ll tell Mom about you and Shark Man.”
“Don’t you dare!”
“You and Shark Man?” Sue said, turning toward Diane.
“Yeah, I saw them the other day at Buddy’s Burger….“
“Quiet,” Diane snapped.
“Okay, but I’m going to tell Mom unless each of you give me five bucks. It’s only fair,” I said. “Why should each of you get forty and I only get twenty?”
Sue and Diane looked at each other and giggled.
“You see. You gypped me and you know it. Now pay up or I’ll tell.”
“Okay,” Diane replied, “but you better not say a word.”
“Not a word,” I said.
“You and Shark Man,” Sue repeated, looking at Diane.
Diane glared at her, then at me.
After each one had handed me five bucks, I turned and left.
“All right,” Tim said, grinning. “Let’s go.”
“Sonny’s Surf and Sail, where else?”
We headed toward the pier, but didn’t stop until we came to a small shopping center a couple of blocks from the beach. Tucked between a sandal shop and a seashell store was Sonny’s Surf and Sail.
You could tell it was a surf shop a mile away. Beach bikes, rental boards, umbrellas, and a clothing rack marked Sale Items littered the sidewalk in front of the store, along with two giant plastic palm trees that framed the store’s entrance.
We pushed the door open and headed toward the rear of the store where we found Sonny talking to a customer. Sonny was a large man with a big smile and a belly that jiggled when he laughed. His hair was long and windswept. His skin was sun-dried and leathery. He wore colorful beach shorts, a tie-die T-shirt, and a pair of worn-out flip-flops.
“Hey, boys,” Sonny beamed, turning to us after the customer left.
“Hey, Sonny,” Tim replied.
“Looking for Mae Beth?”
“Nope, looking for a surfboard for my friend here.”
“Hi,” I said. “My name’s Billy.”
“Well, hello, Billy-Boy,” Sonny bellowed, turning toward me. “What kind of board do you want?”
“Ah, I don’t know,” I said, mulling over the addition to my name.
“He’s looking for a deal,” Tim said. “He’s got thirty bucks, that’s all, and he needs a board.”
“Hmm, thirty bucks,” Sonny repeated, rubbing his chin.
“I know he can’t afford a new board,” Tim continued, “maybe you got something used he can have?”
“I think we can find something. Follow me.”
We followed Sonny through a doorway hung with a curtain of beads. On the other side of the curtain was Sonny’s workshop.
A crate of foam slabs rested on the floor. A couple of sawhorses held two half-finished surfboards. A stack of used surfboards leaned against the wall in the rear corner. Sonny headed right to the stack, picking through it until he found what he was looking for.
“Here,” he said, pulling out a board from the stack. “How ‘bout this one?”
The board was powder blue with green pinstripes running down each side. It was definitely used as it sported several dents along the edges, a large crack on top, and a shoddy repair job on the bottom.
“Pretty beat up,” Tim mused, looking the board over.
“You might have to repair a few cracks, but otherwise it’s solid.”
“What do you think, Billy-Boy?” Tim asked, underscoring my new name.
“Sure, why not?”
“Thirty bucks,” said Tim, turning to Sonny, “that’s all we got.”
“Deal,” Sonny replied.
“Deal,” Tim confirmed.
“Deal?” Mae Beth echoed, slipping through the curtain of beads. “What are you guys dealing?”
“Surfboards, Mae Beth,” Sonny replied, “nothing but surfboards.”
“Yeah,” Tim said, “Sonny just sold Billy-Boy a used surfboard.”
“Billy-Boy?” Mae Beth repeated.
“I guess it’s my new name,” I said, digging into my pockets for the thirty dollars.
“Well, boys, thanks for the business,” Sonny said, “but I’ve got a store to run.”
As he disappeared through the beaded curtain, Mae Beth turned and asked, “Want to go surfing?”
“Can’t,” Tim replied. “Got work to do. Your dad sold us a dinger.”
“Dinger?” I repeated, looking at Tim.
“Well, yeah, what did you think you’d get for thirty bucks?” Tim said, laughing. “But cheer up, Billy-Boy, we can fix it at my house.”
“See you, Mae Beth,” Tim said, picking up the front end of the board.
“Yeah, see you,” Mae Beth replied, her voice trailing off.
“See you,” I said, grabbing the other end of the board.