"Woohoo!" Hariman Smith, better known as Harry, went dashing across the sand towards the waves, a surfboard tucked under his arm. "Last one in is rotten tuna!"
Harry's best friend, Robertson Hoenig, or Robby as he preferred, let out a hearty laugh as he raced after Harry, carrying his own surfboard. "We'll see about that!" The two threw their boards into the water and jumped on them, paddling further out to sea. A wave came towards them and both stood up to catch it. Here, Harry showed his expertise. He was the better surfer of the two, while Robby was quickly showing that he was the better swimmer to any passerbys. One look at them would make others think they were from Hawaii, what with their surfer haircuts, their tanned skin, and relative ease in the water. Or at least California, where both boys were from. Robby in particular lived in the sea. Both of his parents were marine biologists and had their station a ways away from Point Loma and had a P.O. box in San Diego. It was in fact how the two families met, and a fast friendship grew. Now Harry was with the Hoenigs in Hawaii to visit Robby's grandfather, Jacob Von Hoffer, before both boys started college in the fall.
"Hey Robby! Look! Your mom's waving at us!" Harry pointed towards the bungalow the Hoenigs were renting for the summer. Robby looked, his mother, Miriam, was waving at them.
Robby waved back. "Guess breakfast is ready."
Harry grinned. "Good because I'm starving!" Robby kicked him off his board. Harry came back up, coughing. "Hey!"
Robby just laughed. "Last one back is rotten tuna!" He began paddling back.
"Hey! No fair! You little cheat!" Harry clambered back onto his board and began paddling as quickly as he could to catch up to Robby. Both boys were whooping and laughing as they dashed back across the sand. They stood up their boards against the porch and burst into the kitchen.
Miriam turned to them and placed a hand on her hip. "No running in the bungalow, boys."
The boys grinned sheepishly. "Yes ma'am."
"Besides, if you walk slowly, you might make it to the table at the same time as the food," said Robby's father, James, from his post at the stove. He was frying up some eggs and thick slices of bacon. Miriam went to the counter next to him and grabbed a couple bowls of rice and brought them to the breakfast table.
"Is this a Hawaiian breakfast?" asked Harry, looking at the rice as he and Robby sat down.
James laughed nervously. "Well, sort of. Just found out it's supposed to be sausage, not bacon. And I wanted to try duck eggs, so . . ." He shrugged as he placed two plates of bacon and eggs on the table. "Well, hope it tastes good."
Miriam patted her husband's back, her hazel eyes twinkling merrily. "Oh I'm sure it's fine, James, Hawaiians eat a lot of pork."
Harry waved his hand dismissively. "Oh don't worry, Mr. Hoenig, you and Mrs. Hoenig are great cooks. It's going to taste great. Besides, it's bacon, you can't go wrong with bacon." The others laughed.
"Is there something to go with the rice?" asked Robby as he got up and got forks and knives for everyone.
"Well, you can mix the eggs and the bacon in with it," suggested James. "Otherwise, maybe some butter and syrup? Make it into a sort of rice pudding?"
Robby nodded slowly. "That could work." Harry was already cutting up some eggs and bacon and adding it to his rice. Everyone watched as he took a big bite and chewed it. His face lit up and he gave a thumbs up.
"It tastes great!"
James let out a sigh. "Oh good. But next time, we'll have a real Hawaiian breakfast for sure." The others chuckled.
His wife kissed his cheek. ""Don't worry about it dear. These two are like garbage disposals, they'll eat anything you put before them."
"Aw, Mom!" exclaimed Robby. "We like it when our food tastes good too, you know."
"Yeah!" said Harry. "This is great, by the way." He took another bite.
"Well I'm glad you like it. We do need to hurry it up though, your grandfather called while you were out surfing."
Robby's eyes brightened. "And? What did he say?"
Miriam smiled. "He's got tickets reserved for you two to look at the museum and the dolphins."
"Really?" chorused Robby and Harry.
Miriam nodded, grinning. "And he has special permission for you to stay after the museum part's closed and play with the dolphins."
Harry and Robby threw up their hands. "Yes!"
James chuckled. "Just remember, these aren't Risso's dolphins like Balthazar, these are your more common bottlenose dolphins, like Flipper."
Robby bobbed his head. "I know Dad, they're different yet similar . . ." He paused and laughed. "But why should I be telling you that, you're a marine biologist!"
"Yeah, I was going to say, I've finished all my lectures years ago, I don't need another one." James winked and grinned. "Besides, I'll probably be getting my fair share from your grandfather." He snuck a glance at Miriam.
Miriam chuckled. "I'm sure we both will."
"You're coming with us?" asked Robby.
Miriam and James nodded. "Except while you two get to enjoy the museum . . ." began Megan.
"We'll be hanging out with your grandfather behind the scenes until the tour's over," finished James. "And then we'll join you."
Miriam glanced at the clock. "And we'd better hurry it up. The museum's only open one day a week, and it's going to be busy. We need to leave soon."
The boys nodded. "Alright!" The four quickly finished eating their breakfast, cleaned up, and changed into nicer clothes. The next minute they were in the rented Jeep and taking off down the road towards the Institute of Cetacean Studies. When they pulled into the parking lot of the crisp brick and white trimmed building, there were already hundreds of cars there. A long line of people were already waiting by the front doors. Miriam glanced at her watch.
"Looks like we got here just in time. The doors should be opening in a couple of minutes. Let's hurry up and get in line."
James nodded as he turned off the Jeep. "Sounds like a plan." The four got out the Jeep and walked towards the end of the line, right as the doors opened. Everyone began filing through the doors as two women greeted them and handed out tickets and pamphlets. The one on the right was a strawberry blonde while the one on the left was Hawaiian.
"What are the tickets for?" asked Robby.
"Forget the tickets, man, those babes are hot," whispered Harry. Robby nudged him and glanced back at his mom for an answer to his question.
"Dad told me that only one person is allowed to swim with the dolphins each week, so they have a lottery to do it," said Miriam with a slight chuckle.
"Oh, well, we're going to get to swim with them later, so . . ." began Robby.
"I just want a ticket to know the names of those lovely ladies."
Robby rolled his eyes. "Of course you do. Just remember you're no Mitch Buchannon," he said, referring to Harry's favorite show, Baywatch.
Harry punched his shoulder. "And you're no Sandy Ricks," he said, referring to Robby's favorite show, Flipper.
Robby leaned into him. "Yeah, whatever, I'm not looking to get their numbers, like you are."
"Alright you two, knock it off, or I'll take you right back to the bungalow," said James.
"Yes sir," the boys chorused. But they were grinning at each other widely.
They approached the Hawaiian. Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a neat bun with a couple of loose ringlets framing her tanned face. When she smiled, it seemed the smile went all the way into her grey-green eyes. Her eyes reminded Robby of the sun shining through the sea. "Hello! Welcome to the Institute of Cetacean Studies. We understand that's a long name, so we go by ICS for short. Here is a pamphlet to accompany today's tour and tickets for the raffle for a swim with the dolphin."
"Thank you Miss, but . . ." began James, but he was interrupted by Harry, who was trying to read her name badge.
"Ilith-yia?" he said slowly.
"Ilithyia Marshall," she said with a little waver in her smile.
"Greek, is it?" asked Miriam. Ilithyia nodded slowly. "I've never heard of that name before. It's very charming."
The smile seemed to come back in full. "Why thank you ma'am. Ilithyia was the goddess of childbirth."
"She was? Well it suits you quite well, and for your job too! It's wonderful when that happens."
The smile really came back for sure. "Oh, thank you so much! You're so sweet!" She held out the tickets. "But don't forget your tickets!"
James waved his hand. "No need, as I was trying to explain before I was interrupted by Harry here trying to pronounce your name correctly, we're not going to swim with the dolphin."
Harry held out his hand. "But I would like your number, please."
Ilithyia chuckled before placing a hand on her hip. "Aren't you a little too young for me?"
Harry seemed to deflate though he kept a grin on his face. "Say what?"
"You're, what, eighteen, nineteen?"
"Eighteen," said Robby.
"Yeah, I'm twenty-five."
Harry's face fell. "Oh."
Ilithyia laughed. "But I do have a sister who's your age, and she is here volunteering with the dolphins. I could point her out to you at the swim."
Harry glanced at the Hoenigs with puppy eyes. James sighed. "I guess these two can have the tickets, but none for my wife and I, please."
Ilithyia nodded. "Sounds good."
"Yes!" cheered Harry as Ilithyia handed him and Robby a ticket. They went into the museum and the tour began. Ilithyia, along with her coworker, Maggie Cone, gave the tour and answered any questions. Around nine-thirty, the two suggested that everyone get a mid-morning snack if they wanted, but no one could eat anything after ten-thirty if they wanted to go swim with the dolphins. But everyone was free to wander around the museum until the winning raffle ticket was drawn at noon.
"Man, I wonder if her sister looks like her," whispered Harry as the two boys meandered around the museum. Robby's parents had already left the tour to search for Robby's grandfather.
Robby chuckled. "Got over her that quickly already, huh?"
Harry scoffed as he tapped Robby's shoulder. "Does me no good to get hung up over a girl I've got no chance with."
Robby nodded. "A good philosophy to live by." He turned away from the display of dolphins he had been looking at to give his best friend a smirk. "It just makes you look like some kind of playboy."
Harry scoffed as he pushed Robby. "Says the wealthy one."
Robby laughed. "Yes, exactly." The boys returned to meandering around the museum, looking more at quizzing each other than learning new things. Robby especially knew a lot about dolphins, thanks in part to the books his grandfather gave him and his own dolphin friend, Balthazar. Harry needed to brush up on a fact or two, but he pretty much knew about as much as Robby.
Finally, the noon hour struck, and everyone excitedly went outside to the little stadium overlooking a lagoon separated from the sea by a coral reef. Ilithyia and Maggie were already there, waiting for them. There were two others, sitting on the edge of the wall that separated the stadium from the lagoon. Harry pointed them out. Both Hawaiian girls looked to be around their age.
"Think one of them is her sister?"
Robby whacked his shoulder. "Stop worrying about it, man, she'll get to it when she gets to it. We're going to be here a little longer anyways. We've got time."
Harry huffed. "I know, I know, but the one in the green one piece looks really pretty, man."
Robby glanced at her. "Yeah, she is."
"Hey, am I going to have to fight you for her?"
Robby chuckled. "Oh cut it out, Harry, a guy can admire pretty things, can't he? I was just agreeing with you."
"Alright, alright, as long as that was the case. I will fight you for her if you start liking her too."
Robby rolled his eyes. "That won't be necessary. She looks more like your type anyways. It just depends on if you're her type."
Harry crossed his arms. "And what does that mean?"
"Thank you all for coming," said Maggie, breaking into their conversation. "And now comes the moment you've all been waiting for. We have in this enclosed pool one of our dolphins. His name is Kalea. He's going to pick a number from that hat." She pointed, there, in one of the girls' hands, was a hat. She was holding it over the water. Kalea was splashing around. Robby grinned. The dolphin seemed to be looking forward to the swim as much as anyone else. "Be sure to have your numbers out so you can see them. Whichever number I call, get on down here."
Harry glanced around at the other contestants. "Well this should be fun."
Robby nodded. "I do wonder who'll get it."
Maggie had turned around, whistled, and gave Kalea a few hand signals. The dolphin whistled in reply and nodded before swimming towards the hat. The girl lowered the hat and the dolphin plucked a number from it. He swam back to Maggie and dropped it in her outstretched hand. She straightened up and read the number out loud. "Ah, the lucky number is one of my favorites, in fact. Number thirteen!" There was a mumbling as everyone checked their numbers, but no one seemed to have it. The boys glanced around in surprise. Did no one have that number? "Um, number thirteen?"
A young girl stood up. "Maybe that number wasn't given to anybody."
Maggie shook her head. "We always put in the numbers that we hand out. Someone has to have it."
"Can you draw again?" asked the little girl.
Maggie then locked eyes with Harry and Robby. "Hey, you two don't have your numbers out!" Everyone turned to look at the boys. They sheepishly pulled out their numbers. They had completely forgotten that they had taken a ticket.
Harry gasped when he saw Robby's number. "Robby, the dolphin picked your number!"
Maggie cheered with relief. "Come on down!"
Robby stood up and raised his hand. "Um, could you pick someone else?"
Maggie blinked. "Don't you want to swim with the dolphins?"
"Well, yes, but . . ."
Maggie waved him down. "Then come on! We don't have all day!" Robby and Harry glanced at each other, sighed, and shrugged. Robby went down to the jumping board. He took off his shirt, shoes, and socks, and was fitted with a life vest. Maggie explained all the rules, to be relaxed, to let the dolphin come to him, to not grip the dorsal fin too tightly, that he was a guest in the dolphin's home, but Robby practically ignored her, only listening to nod to show he understood what she was saying. He already knew everything on how to ride a dolphin, he had been riding Balthazar for years now. The refresher he knew was mandated by law, though, so it wasn't like he could blame her. That, and she didn't know about Balthazar, so that wasn't her fault either. Finally Robby eased himself into the water and swam slowly towards the dolphin, looking for signs of agitation or playfulness.
"Remember, let him come to you," said Maggie, right as Robby stopped swimming and was letting Kalea do just that. Kalea swam around him once, and then splashed him playfully. Robby grinned, that was his cue. He splashed back at Kalea. He laughed when Kalea splashed him again and nodded his head. He went under and popped up between Robby's legs.
"You're doing great!" shouted Maggie.
"Alright, buddy, let's do this." Robby grabbed a hold of Kelea's dorsal fin and took a deep breath. The next second, they had gone under. Robby knew that to make it easier on Kalea, he had to relax and let his body move with Kalea. They shot out of the water, and Robby took another breath before going back under. It was on his third jump that he realized everyone else had been quiet, except for Harry.
"That's it, man, ride him, you old-timer!" Harry's laugh was cut short when Kalea dove again. Kalea shot through the water before leaping again. Robby let out a whoop before taking in another breath. Yes, this wasn't Balthazar, but it was pretty similar. And he kinda missed it.
A whistling brought the fun to a stop. "It's time to come in!" shouted Maggie. Kalea started to, but then paused. He turned his head and looked out to sea.
"What is it, boy?" Robby glanced in the direction the dolphin was looking. They could hear things humans couldn't. Had he heard something?
Maggie blew the whistle again. "Kalea, come in." She blew it again. "Kalea!" Kalea glanced at Robby. Robby nodded and braced himself for another run. "Kalea! Come!" But Kalea took off, towards the sea, with Robby hanging on. The dolphin kept Robby mostly above the water line, but they were going so fast, it didn't feel like he was staying above water for very long. At least he could breathe a little more normally. Kalea began making squeaking noises and whistles. Another whistle was heard in reply. So he had heard something! Robby scanned the water for the other dolphin. It must be in danger, but he couldn't see it. Then he did, when Kalea slowed down near the reef. It was flapping around the reef. Robby let go of Kalea to get a better look, and Kalea jumped over the reef. Robby gasped. There was blood coming from the dolphin's side!
(Author's Note: Hey everyone! I'm back! But only for a bit. I realized I took more time, but that's to deal with the news. We're moving to Texas, and the plans have changed so many times in the past couple of weeks that I haven't even put in my resignation. Since school's out for the summer, it can be a last minute thing. That, and if it changes again and we end up staying here a little longer, I'll still have my job. But I am kinda hoping to stay for another year, that was the original plan, that we stay here for another year. We'll see. We're still planning on leaving at the end of the month, so I'll try to post quite a few chapters before we head out. We're set to stay in a cabin in Texas for a few days, and part of the plan is to look for places to rent while we're down there. I was not able to get as much writing done as I would have liked during this break because I've been packing and going through things to get rid off. My mom wants me to get rid of even more, but I've gotten rid of everything I can or want to. So that's a battle. Ugh, and I had only recently began a new position at work too. I hate having to leave them after only working it for a few months! But, we'll see how things roll. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this new story! With this new development, it's thrown a wrench into my plans for the summer, so writing and posting is going to be sporadic. Thanks for being so patient with me! Hope everyone is safe and having a wonderful day! God bless!)