Anyplace Else

By: Kim Fielding

GRANT BEAUDOIN leaned back in the lounge chair, watched the blue-green waves dance, felt the floral-scented breeze skim playfully over his bare torso and legs, and wished he were anyplace else. He mustered a weak smile when the cute waiter strolled over.


“Another margarita, sir?”

That would make three today. No, four. And it was barely midafternoon. “I probably shouldn’t,” Grant admitted.

The waiter tucked his bamboo tray under one arm. “Tell you what. I got something special I’m gonna have Kane mix up for you. I guarantee it’ll make you feel happier.”

“I should feel happy already. It’s December and I’m sitting on a tropical beach getting a mild sunburn instead of freezing my ass off in Minneapolis.”

“Sometimes it takes more than good weather and pretty scenery to lighten the heart. How about that drink?”

Grant shrugged, thinking it also took more than booze plus guava and pineapple juice—or whatever the overpriced special drink included—to lighten a heart. “Sure. Why not?” He’d leave the waiter a good tip for his efforts to cheer him. Of course, he’d have tipped well anyway because the kid was adorable and attentive and because, back in college, Grant had waited tables to pay the rent. No matter how gorgeous the setting, it was hard work.

The waiter grinned before heading back to the bar. He navigated the beach well, although Grant wondered if he got tired of the sand. It was the sugary-fine kind that worked its way into pockets and under clothing. It was probably going to give Grant a rash in the most unfortunate places. “Stupid sand,” he grumbled. Stupid beach. Stupid Hawaii.

Maybe he should have joined the rest of the wedding party in their drive across the island to Volcanoes National Park. The excursion had been organized by Grant’s brother’s fiancé, Filip, who also had the idea to get married in Hawaii at Christmastime, who arranged plane tickets and hotel rooms for family and close friends, who was so amazing and perfect and wonderful that Grant would have collapsed long ago from fatal jealousy were it not for the fact that Filip and Ulysses were so perfect together. People used to have a hard time telling Grant and Ulysses apart—they were identical twins—but lately that problem had disappeared because Uly was the one always beaming blissfully. Grant mostly scowled.

“Here you go, sir.” The waiter set a tall, narrow glass on the metal table beside Grant. The straw matched the chartreuse liquid, and a plastic sword speared pieces of colorful fruit that floated in the drink.

“What is that?” Grant asked doubtfully.

The waiter grinned. “Magic.”

“Rum? Tequila? Vodka?”

“Nope. Some lilikoi, papaya, mango… and this and that.”

Grant wondered which this or that gave the stuff its nuclear hue. He was more than a little hesitant to try it. But the waiter was, well, waiting, seemingly anxious to find out whether Grant approved. So Grant lifted the glass, gave a tiny salute, and took a sip.

“Well?” the waiter asked.

“Um, interesting.” Not as sweet as he’d expected, which was good, and it had a weird spicy kick that took him totally by surprise. He couldn’t taste the alcohol. He tried more. “I think I like it.”

“I knew you would. It’s one of Kane’s specialties.”

“I guess I’m glad I didn’t go to the volcanoes today after all.” And as he said that, he realized the statement was true. He was almost enjoying sitting on the beach, drinking something exotic, and chatting with a good-looking guy.

“I’m glad to hear it. I don’t really trust the volcanoes anyway.” The waiter shuddered. “Pele has a temper.”

“Are you from here?” Grant asked. The waiter didn’t look Polynesian, but why else would he act like a volcano goddess was real?

The waiter’s answering smile was very toothy. “No, not me. I was born near Cusco.”

“Peru?”

“Now it’s Peru, yes. But I like it here.” He tilted his head slightly. “But you don’t?”

“It’s nice.”

“Faint praise.” The waiter chuckled. “Is it islands you’re opposed to?”

“No, I have nothing against islands. It’s just… it’s Christmas. And my brother’s getting married.”

“Those are bad things?”

Grant sighed. “No, they’re great. But I’m the only member of the wedding party who’s single. I’m tragically single. Thirty-six and I’ve never been serious about anyone. And nobody’s ever been serious about me. I’m a middle manager and my career’s going nowhere. I can’t even remember if I once had ambitions. Dreams. Fuck, even my dreams are boring nowadays. And now I’ve got my twin’s wedding, the holidays, and a tropical island, and I’m all by myself. It sucks.” Shit. Too much tequila for sure. He took another sip of the green stuff anyway.