A Florida Man, Episode 1

A Florida Man, Episode 1

Suggested Listening: Def Leppard. “Photograph,” Pyromania, Album. 1987.

“What in the world?” Evelyn flung the blanket aside, grabbed her bathrobe, and leaped from the bed. The distant but constant rumble was now a racket and rattled the entire house. Barefoot on cold terrazzo tile and half dressed, she knotted the terrycloth belt. 

Inching to get a closer look, her forehead bounced off the window pane. “For chrissakes — ” She rubbed her sore face and turned a crank three times. The window opened, she leaned across the sill. Floodlights blinded her.

“GEEZus,” she winced. Two helicopters circled overhead. Palm trees swayed in the manufactured wind. Alert, she refocused to see two uniformed men dragging a half-naked man across her manicured lawn. Every neighbor in her swank Coconut Grove neighborhood had to be awake by now. At 3 AM, she imagined the morning headlines:

A Florida Man . . .

Hoisted by his elbows, legs outstretched behind him, the tips of his nylon sneakers left a trail in the Bermuda grass. In rapid Spanish, his face six inches from the sod, he sounded off. Evelyn strained to hear. Then she recognized the navy blue Bermuda shorts. 

“You have got to be kidding me.” She pushed back from the window ledge and fled the room. She raced down one wide flight of stairs and burst through the front door. 

“I know him,” she called out. 

“Clear the area!” A deep voice bellowed a warning through a megaphone. 

She looked up, blinded again. Grit, kicked up by rotors, pelted her eyelids. She shielded her brow. “I know him!” She called up at the sky.

“Move away from the scene!”

Determined, she crossed the manicured lawn. “It’s okay,” she insisted. Her long hair swirled in the gusts. 

“Evelyn!” Diego turned his face from the ground. “You are here to rescue me!” 

“You speak English? One officer tightened his grip. “Do you know this man?” The first officer gripped a sidearm in his holster.

“Did he say ‘Evelyn’?” The second officer cast a beam of light across Evelyn’s face. 

“I speak four languages,” Diego answered them both, undaunted as he’d been in these types of situations a few times. 

Evelyn flinched. “Can you — “

The officer recognized her celebrity status and cast the flashlight away. “You’re Evelyn Woods,” he exclaimed. 

“Yes, yes.” She gripped the robe’s neckline. “Can you just — ” 

Two troopers released Diego’s arms. He dropped to the ground with a thud, rolled, and sat upright. “They know you!” Diego stood and picked wet grass from his torso.

“Ms. Woods, your friend can’t canoe on the Intracoastal,” the first officer complained.

“He’s new here,” she faked a laugh. “I can assure you that won’t happen again. “I’ll just get him inside.” She reached for Diego’s arm. “Will there be anything else, officer?”

“We’ll need to write up a report.”

She led Diego away from the scene. “You can do that on your own time.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the officer agreed. He wasn’t in the mood for a lawsuit.

The helicopters, called off, circled around once and left. 

Evelyn straightened her hair. “What the hell were you thinking?” She laughed under her breath as the two strode away. “Don’t answer that.” Evelyn glanced back over her shoulder and waved at the officers. “Talk about overkill,” she whispered a complaint. “You’re used to that, I suppose.” 

The chaos subsided, they passed the in-ground pool. 

“I was lost in the moment.” Diego picked grass from a mass of dark wet hair.

But Evelyn didn’t respond. Each step they took was accompanied by a squeak and a squish. She looked down at Diego’s sneakers and laughed out loud. 

“Did you fall in?”

“I won’t tell you what I was drinking.” He pulled the soaked shoes from his feet. Diego left two wet sneakers on the stoop and followed his hostess inside the vintage Art Deco manse. “And now we make snacks!”

“Come on . . . ” she teased. 

He followed, passing her library where three Academy Awards held center stage on a middle shelf. The kitchen lights, dark when she retired for bed, were ablaze. Evelyn stood in the doorway, amazed. 

“You’re home.”

Thank you all for reading. Thanks for sharing, too.