The Lake

by Dolores Esteban

After losing his job, Rick had fallen into a deep depression. His mental state only changed when he read an ad in a magazine. Rick saw his chance. He made a trip to Las Vegas and won 18,000 dollars, more than he had earned in the previous two years. Fortune had favored him. Rick was on a winning streak.

He was looking out on the lake, his arm placed around Frank's shoulder. The midsummer night was quiet and warm. A few crickets were chirping. Rick looked at the full moon.

"The moon is very big," he said.

"Yes, it's this time of the year," Frank replied.

Rick had met Frank on his last night in Vegas in a crowded bar where Rick had been throwing a party. He had been drunk when Frank had chatted him up, and he did not quite remember how the handsome man had managed to persuade him to come to his place, a farm far from Vegas. Anyway, Rick saw his chance.  

He had gotten his luggage and had climbed into Frank's van. They had driven all night. Rick had fallen asleep in the car. Frank had woken him at sunrise upon their arrival at the farm where Frank lived with his father, a grumpy man with a constant frown. Rick didn't like the man, who had given him a curt nod and a dark look as a greeting. Frank told Rick to ignore his father. They didn't see the man much anyway, as they spent  the whole day in Frank's room and his bed. Rick was tired because of the party and the long drive, but Frank had a ravenous appetite. Rick was happy when Frank finally let him sleep. It was late in the afternoon by then.

Frank woke him a couple of hours later. Night was just falling. They were going to have a barbecue. Being hungry, Rick followed Frank outside to the lakeside where Frank had placed the barbecue grill. Frank brought fries and tomatoes and grilled hot dogs and burgers. They ate plenty and drank a couple of beers. Rick was feeling good.

They were sitting on the grass, looking out on the lake. Rick looked at the almost-black surface. The lake was quiet. Rick yawned, the food and drink and the warmth of the night lulling him softly to sleep. He leaned in to Frank. His thoughts were drifting off, but then he was startled at a desperate yell. Rick jumped to his feet, but Frank didn't move.

"Did you hear it?" Rick called out. "Someone needs help. Can you see them?"

"No," Frank said, wrapping his arms around his knees.

There was another yell, a male voice, sounding desperate. Water was splashing in the distance. Rick looked at Frank, but Frank didn't even glance up. Rick looked back at the lake. More water was splashing. A man called out for help. Rick, dressed in t-shirt and shorts, took off his shoes and hurried into the water.

The water was not as cold as he had expected. It was soft, cozy, and warm. Rick was taken aback for a moment at the squirmy warmth, but then focused on the drowning man in the distance. He swam with long and efficient strokes. The water got colder the closer he came to the spot where the man was struggling. Water was splashing about. Rick didn't see the man, but he heard his desperate yells. The ripples turned into waves the closer Rick came to the man. He increased his efforts but wasn't able to cover the distance. He tried harder, his strokes forceful, but he didn't reach the man, although the splashing was only a couple of meters away.

The water had become icy meanwhile. Rick gritted his teeth. Only five minutes had gone by, but it seemed to him more like an hour. Rick struggled through the waves. The water was sloshing, spurting, bubbling. It was gurgling, giggling and chuckling. And then the water erupted and splashed over Rick. The waves tossed him about, and then icy claws grabbed his ankles and dragged him under the surface. The waves broke into a ripple of laughter. Rick yelled and fought, but his struggle didn't last long, and then there was silence once more.

The lake was quiet. A few crickets were chirping. Frank looked out on the water. His father stood behind him.

"It's been like this since my great-great-grandfather drowned his wife. The lake wants a sacrifice every year, else the water floods the land and ruins the fields and the farm. It's not a big thing. I don't think it's nature's wrath,. It's just this time of the year," Frank's father said, looking at the big moon.

Frank pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He nodded his head.

"It wasn't hard to lure him here, was it?" his father asked.

"No. People come and go in Vegas. He was drunk. I took his cell phone before he could make a call. The phone's in the car," Frank said.

"You better get rid of it and his other things," his father replied, turning away after having another glance at the moon.

"Yes, Dad," Frank said, looking out on the lake.

In the distance the water was chuckling.



© 2014 Dolores Esteban


First published at GA Gay Authors - Gay Quality Fiction