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Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Zia Zaman being perfectly lazy

A small mosquito buzzes up to my ear and wakes me from my light sleep. The hammock had two other people on it. One is asleep; and the other I cannot tell. The wind coming off the lake is starting to chill so I reposition the blanket over my feet. The sun has set, the dogs have stopped barking and in the distance, I can hear Cuban music playing in the cabin. God bless Gen.
"The corn needs to be shucked," one of my hammock-mates says existentially.
We sit and ponder some more.

Finally, the three of us roll out of our bed onto a carpet of grass, soaked with Hard Lemonade. One veers off shakily towards the stone path. The other lingers behind, putting her sandals on slowly, fault of getting them on her wrong feet. I careen from tree to tree to volleyball net to steps to Citronella-candled deck to screen-door and finally to cushy chair.

Gen is salsaing with Hannah, a borrowed baby, to Ibrahim Ferrer. Unshackled parents hold hands romantically. Passed-out girl in tangerine shirt twitches her toes in her foggy dreams of mundane workdays and traffic along the 101.
I notice she wakes up, realizes where she is, and smiles.

A hustle bustle enters the kitchen area of the cabin in the form of six hands, willing to marinate, toss, and shuck. Instructions are exchanged in an explanatory tone. The commotion increases. Its natural. Thirty mouths need to be fed. I cower in my chair and hope I don’t get called on. It’s like business school all over again when I hadn’t read the case.

The work starts getting done. Spoken words subside as everyone seems to know what to do. One cutter of vegetables rocks her knees as she slices and dices to the plaintive tones of Buena Vista Social Club. A margarita is conceived as an idea. Shared with the group, she says, "If I were to make frozen margaritas, how many people would have one?" Hands are shown. Writing away, I don’t bother lifting a finger even though I’m thirsty. I figure in this house of hospitality, someone somewhere will find a way to get a beverage by my side. A member of the family is summoned to find kitchen accoutrements. A Trivial Pursuit box is opened, a few questions asked to the crowd, and the game is put aside in favour of a little dance. Three women and one sprightly young man lambada up and down the blue carpet.
Again, I want to join but I’m too lazy to get up. A camera is brought in and a couple of not-really-candid-but-not-posy-either shots are taken with flashes illuminating the room in a strangely apt strobelight kind of way. A couple coyly kiss, their snatched moment missed by Kodak.

Peoples hair has that often-wet, often-dried look that one can only achieve on vacation. Carefree glamour. Unstudied elegance. "The marketing people would eat this up for a Nautica ad," someone says.
A screen door is opened and Sue announces, "Does anyone want to claim these?" Her arms are full of towels, tee-shirts, and tube tops; some wet, some wind-dried. They are placed on the floor like hockey sticks on the ice before a pickup game.
"Fred will be ready in ten minutes," the barbeque chef announces, sans hat, but with aplomb. The sleepy air of the late afternoon has given way to the excitement of the evening, the anticipation of shared food, and the certainty of unpredictable fun.
A Scottish impersonation can be heard. "My voice is gone. I don’t know why?" Gen tells her sis. "Its not as though we were yelling like belligerent drunks." Tom walks in with his Dennis-the-Menace crossed with Winnie-the-Pooh swagger, and asks, "Who here is good at math?" Cautiously, a few hands are raised and lowered as they wonder what he’s up to.
"You, Abby?" She nods no.
"Kim?" Another no. Finally, a relative newcomer obliges and Tom finishes his ruse, "How many Sea Breezes do I have in my hand?" His hand is held out like the cupholder in his Saab and the newbie gets up and starts mixing drinks amidst a gaggle of giggles.
In the meantime, Tom takes his sister-in-law in his arms and proceeds to rumba.
I can feel my hunger grow but my hope is that dinner isn’t quite ready, so much am I enjoying this moment.

© Zia Zaman 2002
Buy his new collection of short stories now

Zia Zaman's new book 
now on sale!
Zia Zaman's collection of travel stories is now available on Amazon.
ISBN: 0973288302

More travel stories by Zia Zaman in Hacktreks
Cape Cod
Danny Desai


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