Crickets. Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe more, all chirping at once. It was easy to get lost in that sound. Easy to feel small. Sipping moonshine helped.
The put-put-putter of an old two-stroker echoed over the swamp’s water. Bounced off the islands of algae, the trees, and cattails. No one looked up. The particular sound well known to them. Each man’s boat engine was as unique as his voice.
“Think he remembered?” Jerry asked.
Stan huffed. Drew a deep breath and sighed. “Doubt it.” He rolled his lips and spit into the water. “I’m surprised when he remembers to wear pants.”
A couple minutes later Teddy’s boat glided up to the bar’s dock. With practiced ease he hopped from the front of his boat to the dock, trailing a line. A few quick snaps of his wrist and his craft was secured.
“We were taking bets.” Jerry said. “Guessing if you remembered or not.”
Teddy patted his pant’s pockets, front and back, eyes wide, like he was looking for something. Like he’d left his keys behind and was hoping against hope he hadn’t. He froze, broke into a grin, pointed at Jerry, then Stan. “You thought I’d forget? Come on.”
Jerry and Stan snorted half laughs.
“You’re always forgetting something.” Said Jerry.
“Not this time.” Teddy pulled a rolled up magazine from his back pocket. “Latest issue, right here, straight from the city.” Teddy held the magazine forward, waggling it like a piece of meat in front of dogs. The other two men leaned forward, eyes widening. Teddy pulled the magazine back. “Ah-ah-ah, one at a time. Flip for it, or rock-paper-scissors.”
Jerry’s eyes flashed, he snapped his gaze to Stan. “Which one?”
Stan thought for a second, weighing his options. He hated both. Flipping a coin took no skill. Rock-paper-scissors usually ended with him losing. “Coin flip, I guess.”
Jerry smirked and dug into his pocket. “You want head or tails.”
“I’ll call it in the air. And no catch-n-slap. I know that trick. Let it fall on the dock.”
Jerry eyed Teddy. Teddy shrugged. “Alright,” said Jerry. “You ready?”
“Ready.” Said Stan.
Frogs croaked. A gentle breeze had picked up since Teddy arrived, carrying a heavy swamp smell. Thick water lapped at the bar’s dock. From behind the men, inside the bar, came sounds of dishes being washed and stacked.
“Come on,” said Stan. “Flip it already.”
“Here goes.” Jerry flicked his thumb, sending the coin into the air.
At the peak of its arc, Stan said, “Heads.”
A second later and the coin fell to the dock, spun, rolled, and slipped between a crack where it made a soft plip in the water below.
Teddy laughed. “New plan, buy me a drink and I’ll give it to you.” Both Jerry and Stan spun to be the first to do so.