We went to bed Sunday night in our oceanfront room in Panama City Beach Monday night to a pounding surf, bar music and Spring Break. My mom and I were walking back from dinner Sunday night and passed a group of about six college-age boys staying in a room a few doors down from us.
“I need more weed,” one guy said,then spotted me and my mother. “I mean, pass me the Bible.”
“Enjoy Leviticus,” I called out.
The night passed with lots of hooting and howling coming through the walls that woke Gussie up, caused him to twitch his ears, and burrow farther under the bed.
The next morning, the three of us woke up and began packing up the car. I passed the room containing the six young Bible students and saw a half-empty jug of Hawaiian Punch and a lot of wet bathing suits, socks, and crumpled up potato chip bags strewn around the room and on the unmade beds.
“Dude, you totally yakked last night,” one of them said. “That wasn’t me!”
“Dude, it was you. I opened up the bathroom door and there’s yak all over the floor.”
The maid was standing outside, putting on her rubber gloves. I hoped English was her second language.
After a dreadful breakfast at Applebee’s—Applebee’s doesn’t do breakfast—or any meal, if you ask me–we drove up toward the parcel of land my brother bought years ago for about $19,000, sight unseen, on the advice of his brother-in-law. Jim’s brother-in-law is a land speculator and said it was a good deal. They were building an international airport nearby, and the area would grow, he said.
“The airport is the size of a 7-11,” Jim said.
It began to rain, then pour as we followed a narrow road through pine trees and thick fog. When the rain was coming down in sheets, my mother decided she had to have potato chips. She was hungry. The only business we saw was a windowless bar.
“You really want potato chips from a strip club?” my brother asked her.
Of course, she did. My mom got out of the car in the rain and returned with a bag of Cheetos. Her hair hung in wet ringlets and her shirt was sticking to her skin. We began to drive the final four miles to Jim’s land and I turned around to see she had taken her shirt off and was riding along in the back seat in her bra.
“Oh God,” my brother said.
“Don’t turn around,” I warned him.
“Don’t worry,” he said.
“I’m drying out my shirt,” my mom explained, munching her Cheetos.
Soon, we arrived at a calm and deserted lake surrounded with a few cabins and a clubhouse. Jim’s land was less than half a mile from the clubhouse, rich with trees. A blue Prius with “US Mail” on it edged past our Volvo. Jim got out of the car and inspected the land. Very pretty, and exactly what he expected, but after getting a load of the Panama City Beach crowd, he made a decision. It goes on the market as soon as he gets home.
“There was a Trans Am with the hood off that had been there for at least five years,” he said of his nearest neighbor. “These are not my people. These are Dukes of Hazzard.”