#HarringroveApril Day 18: Heatwave
Billy was used to hot. He lived and breathed Southern California’s dry heat for nearly two decades that eighty-five degrees had to be comfortable, especially growing up with a father who nickel and dimed every facet of life, and the use of air conditioning dipped too far into his beer budget. Billy was left with only open windows and a fly swatter by his bedside to kill all the bugs who managed to pass through the mesh screen. And he had the beach. The perfect place to go and cool off when temperatures neared triple digits and he was drenched in sweat just sitting still.
He knew he would miss the beach when he was corralled into moving their lives to the Midwest, no ocean within any conceivable driving distance in sight, just land and lakes and rivers and the stench of nature uncorrupted by mass industry.
And there wouldn’t be the heat that left him drinking water like it was heroin to just replenish all that had sweat out of him.
But he was wrong.
Sure, the temperature didn’t really ever hit those astronomical, record setting highs, but just because the number on the weatherman’s screen read only eighty degrees, it was the humidity that made it feel like an actual hell on earth.
And when the unprecedented heat wave hit Hawkins, Indiana, in springtime no less, Neil continued with his tyranny over the thermostat, and let the house on Cherry Lane become just one large oven inside. And he was completely unfazed. He just kicked his feet up on the coffee table and drank room temperature beer and relaxed, just providing more evidence to the case that Neil was truly a cold blooded creature.
He couldn’t just open a window because it only made the place hotter, and fanning himself with magazines was barely doing a thing and he felt like he was just cooking in there.
So he did the one activity that hadn’t been taken away from him by the cross country move, and he got in his car and drove fast. The windows rolled all the way down as he sped through long paths lined with trees, the stream of air blowing his hair back and out of his face and unable to hear the sound of music with the loud roar as wind gusts entered his ears.
Billy didn’t normally pay attention to the signs on the road when he drove through the town, hoping for the day he got lost enough that he ended up in an entirely new city, but he saw the word ‘lake’ in that bold white lettering and made a sharp left turn down the unpaved path because it was about the closest thing he’d get to the ocean.
It was empty, he momentarily figured there would be at least someone else there to combat the heat, but there was more than one body of water in the town. Perhaps he’d just gotten lucky.
Billy pulled off his socks and shoes and shirt and tossed them into the passenger seat of his car, and slowly walked into the cold water, stepping on sharp rocks that made his feet ache, but he didn’t mind it when the low water temperature gave him a chill that ran up and down his body.
He walked in further and further until the water was up to his hips. He splashed some water up into his face and it all just felt so good. There weren’t crashing waves, or the fear of wiping out on his board, but it felt like the ocean on days when it was peaceful. Like the evenings he’d run out to the beach during sunset to the places nobody ever went to and he’d stand on the shore and let the tide wet his feet. Only the sounds of seagulls and small waves.
The lake was more peaceful. The birds here sang instead of squawked and the water only made small trickling sounds due to his own movements. He was protected from the sun by the canopy of trees above his head, and for a moment he forgot he was supposed to hate Hawkins.
Even with how quiet it was, Billy didn’t recognize the sound of a car driving down the same narrow path he took, too consumed by the blissful silence. He only turned around to the sounding of his own name.
He turned around just to see Steve standing by his own car wearing a pair of board shorts and flip flops, and a copious amount of sunscreen on his skin.
“What are you doing here?” Steve asked, looking at him accusedly.
“What does it look like I’m doing here? It’s fucking hot out.”
“Aren’t you from California? I thought you all were just used to the heat.”
Billy just splashed some more water on his face. “Dude it’s over ninety degrees and eighty percent humidity, nobody’s used to that.” Steve just looked at him with a tilted head. “Are you just going to stand there and stare at me all day?”
“Are you going to leave?” Steve asked, arms crossed over his chest.
“The lake is big enough for two people, Harrington. I’m not going anywhere.”
Steve just rolled his eyes and threw his towel on the ground and entered the water about twenty feet to the left of him, as far away from him as he could get.
This wasn’t about the fight. Billy knew this wasn’t about the fight because he knew exactly what the ‘something else’ was. The ‘something else’ was last week. Billy stupidly kissed him behind the house at some Junior’s party. They were both drunk, but neither of them stopped the other from going further and further until they were in the backseat of the Camaro, and by then they were only stopped from stripping their clothes off by the sight of nearing headlights.
Billy drove Steve back to his car after that point. Both of them feeling so dirty for what they were doing that they didn’t talk or even acknowledge the others' existence. It was nothing but heat and regret.
And Steve was stealing glances at him from across the lake, those same eyes he gave him when he slammed the passenger door shut. Purely pissed off.
Billy could allow himself to wallow in his own self pity, swim in the lake until his toes cramped up and his skin pruned, ignoring the shirtless Steve to his left, but where was the fun in that.
He made it a point to get Steve’s attention so that he saw him throw his shorts and underwear all bundled up onto the lake shore.
“Seriously?” Steve asked, unimpressed. His eye roll could actually kill people.
“Come on Steve. Have a little fun.”
“Why? Just so it can end up like last time?” Well at least Billy was right about the reason Steve had been giving him the death stare for the past ten minutes. “So you can kiss me, almost fuck me, and then not say a single word to me for over a week?”
“Quit being such a fucking girl about it.” Billy swam over to Steve, who made no attempts to swim away which was hopefully a good sign. He got all up into Steve’s personal space. They were chest to chest and Billy attached his lips to Steve’s neck slowly, and he wasn’t moving away. Just biting his lip and growing hard enough when Billy bit down that he could feel it through his board shorts. Billy moved up from Steve’s neck and kissed him, juxtaposed from the last time they did it. None of the frantic, messy, pushed up against a wall kind of thing. Just the gentle cradle of Steve’s jaw and soft press of lips that made his knees want to buckle beneath him. “Would it make you feel better if I talked to you this time?”
“Then take off the shorts.”