Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Synopsis: Sam decides Edgar and Alan need a break from working and hunting. They don't agree, but Sam won't take no for an answer.
Notes: At the start of the year, I set myself the challenge of writing something lighthearted and non-angsty about the Frog brothers. This is my attempt.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lost Boys or any of the characters
It was the height of the tourist season. Even now, not long before closing time, the boardwalk was teaming with people in various stages of inebriation, couples with kids pulling on their sleeves, and even the occasional older person taking an evening stroll down what probably used to be a quiet stretch of beach when they were younger.
The comic shop was busy. If usually was at this time of night. Like vampire hunting, it seemed that selling comic books in Santa Carla was best done after dark. All around the place, customers were leafing through pages, standing in small groups talking, or quickly flicking through boxes of comics searching for the one missing issue that would complete their collection.
Edgar watched them warily, his eyes narrowed in suspicion under the fabric of his ever present bandanna, black today, matching his t-shirt. Sam noticed these things. Edgar may pretend not to care about fashion, but Sam filed away tidbits of information, you never know when they're going to come in handy.
As their parents slept in the corner, somehow oblivious to the noise and heat and dust, their sons ran their business for them. Alan took payment for a pile of comics while Edgar folded his arms and stared at a couple of kids, maybe slightly older than him, who were handing around outside the store.
“What are you thinking, vampires or shoplifters?” Sam asked.
Edgar shrugged, staring harder. “Maybe both,” he said.
The two kids laughed loudly as they finished their not so careful search through the box of comics outside the store, glanced briefly inside, and then wandered off without buying or stealing anything.
Sam clasped Edgar on the shoulder and shrugged, “Too bad. Maybe you're losing your touch.”
Edgar sidestepped away from the contact and shook his head. “They could still be vampires.”
“Somehow, I doubt it,” he said. “You guys just spend too long obsessing over this stuff. You need to relax every now and then. You know what? You need a vacation.”
Edgar turned and stared at him until Sam started to feel uncomfortable.
“Or not,” he said.
“Look around, Sam. We're trying to run a business here, not the mention keeping all these morons safe from the vampires. Do you think we have time to take a vacation?”
A thin girl dressed in a denim skirt and a black spaghetti strap top turned and stared at him over her shoulder as she walked past. Edgar stared defiantly back at her until she had gone. “What was her problem?” he asked
Sam folded his arms and made a show of assessing the situation, looking from Edgar to the rapidly retreating girl as he chewed on his bottom lip in a way he hoped looked thoughtful. “I think she might not have liked being called a moron,” he said eventually. “Plus, the vampire talk. She probably thinks you're crazy.”
Edgar demonstrated his complete lack of caring with a dismissive shrug. “People need to know the truth. Is it my fault they're too stupid to realize what's going on around here?”
Sam glanced after the girl again as she disappeared into the crowd. “You can't blame people for not believing something they haven't seen proof of,” he said. “I didn't believe you guys at first either, remember?”
“Yeah, well, no offense Sam but you're not the sharpest stake in the hunting kit, are you?”
“Hey, compare my grades to yours and we'll see who's smarter.” Sam bit back a smile. “Anyway, we were talking vacations. The fact that you guys are busy means you need one even more. You need to get away from the vampire stuff before you drive all your customers away. Travel broadens the mind, you know. And getting away from your life for a while is relaxing.”
“This from your extensive experience traveling around the world?” Edgar crossed his arms in a superior way that Sam didn't like. “So, where do you take your vacations? Hawaii? Cancun? France? What's the view like from the top of the Eiffel Tower?”
His friend had him beat.
Alan, noticing the conversation happening out of his earshot, slid down from his perch behind the cash desk and sauntered over. “Did you see those possible vampires outside a minute ago?”
Edgar nodded, “Yeah, but they left before I could check them out. Sam was just telling me about his backpacking journey around Europe.”
Sam shrugged and felt his cheeks color slightly. “Yeah, okay, fine. I've never done any of that stuff. Mostly we just came here, visited my grandpa, and grandma when she was alive.”
Edgar and Alan exchanged a look.
“Hey, at least it was a vacation.”
“To Santa Carla,” Edgar said.
“Murder capital of the world.” Alan added.
Sam shrugged again. “It was still a vacation. I don't know if you guys have noticed, but if you don't have to live here, and if you don't know about the vampires, it's actually not a bad place.”
Edgar shook his head dismissively. Sam couldn't help but notice that the strip of fabric tied around his head was damp with sweat. The day had been absolutely sweltering and the shop somehow had the ability to retain heat like a greenhouse. The tiny electric fan buzzing in the corner did nothing more than move hot air around the room, and even the open shop front provided no relief. They needed air conditioning. Edgar insisted it was fine, that the heat drove out the casual browsers who were just going to take up time and space and not buy anything, making room for the serious collectors, but Sam suspected they just couldn't afford it.
“We do know about the vampires, Sam,” Edgar reminded him. “And we do have to live here. And unlike you, we also have to work here, so if you don't mind, I'd like to get on with that without having to listen to you go on about something that's never going to happen.”
Sam felt a stab of guilt at Edgar's words. He looked again at the fan spinning ineffectually in the corner, and the two stoned hippies sleeping next to it, oblivious to the world around them. Of course Edgar didn't go on vacation. His parents were too busy taking trips of another kind to take their kids anywhere, leaving Edgar and Alan to the adult responsibility of running a business in addition to their schoolwork, and their... extracurricular nighttime activities.
“Fine, sorry,” he muttered.
He wondered when he and his family would be able to get away again. A promised trip to Phoenix for him and Michael to stay with their dad at some undetermined point in the future didn't exactly count, and now they lived in the one place they used to visit, the beach and the boardwalk didn't seem as special.
Edgar turned away as though he had lost interest in the conversation, and began to rearrange the comics on the shelf that had been displaced by some overzealous shopper. Alan watched him work, as though he was waiting for something. When nothing happened, he shrugged and turned away, focusing his attention instead on staring intimidatingly at a gang of kids who had just entered
Sam snatched a comic from the shelf and batted it through the air, fanning his face. Outside, a family walked past, hand in hand, two parents, two kids. All smiles, not a care in the world. He envied them.
“Guys?” he said.
Edgar turned to look at him. Alan continued to watch the gang by the door. His stare morphed into an aggressive glare as his keen eyes looked out for signs of shoplifting.
“You know what? It is gonna happen. We're going on vacation. To Santa Carla.”
At that, Alan turned around to look at him, then exchanged a glance with his brother. Sam watched a burst of silent communication, and then they turned identical looks of confusion on him.
“Sam, I think you're missing the point of a vacation,” Alan told him.
“Look at all the pretty people,” Sam tried, glancing around the beach at oiled bodies clad in bikinis and swim trunks.
It was mid-morning, and they had claimed a spot of rapidly filling beach space, laying down towels on the sand while the man charging for the sun loungers and umbrellas looked at them with open hostility. Sam's beach towel had Batman's symbol in bright yellow on a black background. Edgar and Alan had no beach towels, and used old white bath towels instead.
The summer sun beat down oppressively on its beach dwelling worshipers as they lay in their tiny strips of elasticated fabric that almost nothing to the imagination, exposing bronzed skin to the rays, desperate to go home a few shades darker than when they arrived.
Sam took off his t-shirt and dropped it onto the sand next to him.
Alan stared around in silent disapproval at the holidaymakers, while Edgar sat himself down on his old, graying towel and carefully examined his fingernails, pointedly not looking at the people around him.
“Guys,” Sam told them, “you're doing it wrong.”
“We're sitting on the beach.” Edgar told him. “How can we do that wrong?”
Sam looked carefully at the brothers, with their stiff, self-conscious postures and street clothes that would be too warm anywhere on a day like this. They looked completely out of their element, on unfamiliar territory.
“How can you guys have lived on the boardwalk all your lives and not know how to act on the beach? Just lay back, feel the sun on your skin and...” he paused. “Guys, you're both dressed like you're on a nighttime vampire hunting mission. All that's missing is the camouflage facepaint. Take off your t-shirts or something at least.”
Edgar shook his head. “I agreed to come to the beach. I didn't agree to take my clothes off.”
“Fine, whatever. As I was saying, you just lay back, feel the sun on your... camouflage pants and black t-shirt... and enjoy the view.” He glanced around the beach demonstratively.
Edgar followed his gaze, taking in the bodies bathed in sunlight around him, tanned skin shining with seawater and sun oil. For a moment, Sam thought he had him, until Edgar shook his head again. “Sam, we've got better things to do with our time than look at half naked girls.”
“Half naked guys?” Sam tried as a boy a little older than them walked past dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts and a baseball cap.
“We can see all these people from the shop,” Alan pointed out. “Most of them wander in eventually, when they've got bored of baking in the sun.”
Sam shrugged. It was true that they did get the widest variety of people wandering in the shop. Its location right in the center of the boardwalk and its late night opening helped.
“Yeah, but from down here you can see more of them,” he said. “More is better,”
An overweight man, his tiny speedos almost completely obscured by the overhanging flab of his belly ambled past, slurping from a can of Coke. He belched loudly and dropped the empty can onto the sand.
Alan winced and looked away. “I could do with seeing less of that,” he said.
Sam shrugged. “Okay, yeah, that didn't exactly prove my point.”
Edgar leapt to his feet and picked up the discarded can that had landed by his foot. “Hey, asshole, use a trashcan. Some of us have to live here, you know!”
This wasn't working. Sam sighed to himself.
Edgar tossed the empty can at the man, it hit his back and bounced off, apparently unnoticed by him, hitting a girl in a pink bikini with hair bleached blonde from sun and surf. She sat up, looking around in puzzlement. Edgar quickly dropped back to the sand and lay on his towel, faking nonchalance.
“At least we can rule out all of these people as vampires,” Alan said.
“Okay, good point. How about this?” Sam tried. “Lay back and feel the sun on your skin. Feels good, doesn't it? Reminds you you're not a vampire.”
“They could be half vampires though,” he added. “Explains the way they're all just laying there not moving in the sun.”
Sam ignored him and lay back down on his Batman towel. He interlocked his fingers and placed his hands underneath his head. He watched his friends out of the corner of his eye. “Just shut up and enjoy the sun. If you just try it, you might find that like it,” he said.
Edgar frowned, glanced uncomfortably at Alan, and then lay down experimentally. Alan followed his lead.
Sam continued to watch them, smiling to himself. “See, it's nice, isn't it? It relaxes you.”
“Maybe if we were recovering vampires, this'd be great,” Alan said, “but neither of us are stupid enough to get into that situation in the first place.”
“Maybe you should try this with your blood sucking brother and his girlfriend,” Edgar suggested.
“Anyway, the sun's not that great, it's way too hot out here.” Alan added.
Sam opened his eyes and sat up. “Well maybe if you'd worn something more appropriate it wouldn't be,” he said.
Still laying down on the sand, looking completely out of place and, if Sam was brutally honest, ridiculous, Edgar cupped a hand over his eyes and squinted at Sam. “We didn't want anyone to think we were tourists,” he said.
Sam got to his feet and brushed the sand from his clothes. “Alright guys, next activity. You're not going to get away with this.”
“Swimming?” Edgar repeated, frowning in confusion.
They had gathered up their towels and followed Sam as he picked his way through the semiconscious sun worshipers, down to where the ocean met the beach. Further out, surfers floated on their boards in the relatively calm water, waiting for a wave to ride.
“We don't have the right clothes for swimming,” Edgar said.
Sam kicked off his plastic sandals and left them on the sand. “Your own fault,” he said. “But no, not swimming. You just need to get your feet wet. Take off those heavy boots, roll up your pants legs and stand in the shallow water. Then next time we do this, we might go swimming. Or surfing. I've always wanted to try surfing.”
Alan looked at the small waves lapping on the shore.
“Next time?” Edgar said. “You never said anything about a next time.
“Just take your boots off and give it a go,” Sam insisted. Then, leaving his towel and his shoes behind, he walked down the slight incline until his legs were submerged to the knees. He ginned widely. “Guys, you have to try it. The water's great!”
He watched Edgar make a show of sighing and then reluctantly untying the knots in his boots.
The water felt wonderfully cool in contrast to the heat of the sun. Sam stepped in further, until the water began to soak into the bottoms of his shorts. His hands rippled the surface of the water, and each wave that swelled around him brought the water level a little higher, until his shorts were so wet he might as well swim.
On the edge of the beach, Edgar was venturing forward. His jeans were rolled up almost to the knees, his boots abandoned on the shore, guarded by Alan, who was standing with his arms folded tightly across his chest, observing.
Sam grinned widely, beckoning his friend. Edgar moved slowly toward the water.
“Come on!” Sam called.
Edgar paused with his feet just wet. His bare feet sank into the wet sand as waves lapped up the beach, covering his toes before retreating back into the vast expanse of ocean.
“Okay, I did it.”
“Get in a bit deeper than that. Get your knees wet, at least!”
Edgar turned to Alan in exasperation. “Come on, if I'm doing this, so are you.”
Alan looked from Edgar to Sam before his eyes drifted along the coastline, taking in the surfers and swimsuited bathers. Then he looked back to Edgar and shook his head. His mouth twisted into a smirk. “No, I'm fine here. Have fun.”
Edgar glared at him, before he turned back to Sam, and took another small step forward. A wave drifted into shore as he did, unexpectedly raising the water level by a foot, drenching the bottoms of his rolled up pants.
A little further out, Sam laughed at the sight of Edgar glaring at the ocean as though it had deliberately attacked him. He moved a little further inshore so that Edgar would be able to hear him without him yelling. “”Didn't see that one, huh?”
For some reason, the sight of a damp, uncomfortable looking Edgar standing, arms folded, knee deep in the water, wearing a scowl along with his bandanna and army surplus store wardrobe struck him as hilarious. Over on the beach, the expression on Alan's face said that he was probably having the same thought.
“Can't you make Alan come in?” Sam asked.
Edgar shook his head. “He always did have more sense. I'm out of here.” He turned to walk back to shore. Before he could, Sam reached out and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him backwards. The unexpected attack caught him off balance and Edgar toppled backward into the water with a huge splash.
Sam shrieked in delight and fear of retribution, and dove into the water, swimming several strokes away, until he was so deep that he couldn't reach the bottom. He turned around, allowing himself to float up and down with the rising and falling of the waves as he watched his friend picking himself up. Seawater dripped down Edgar's face from his drenched hair and he glared daggers, swords and wooden stakes at Sam.
“Sorry, bud,” Sam called
“What the hell, Sam?”
Sam kicked in the water, propelling him forward, then allowed the incoming tide to carry him inshore.
“It was an accident,” he said. His bare feet made contact with the sandy ground next to where Edgar was standing. “How was I supposed to know you were going to just fall over like that? I...”
His apology was cut short when two strong arms reached out, hands pushing against his chest and shoved him backwards into the water.
Sam struggled to keep his balance, but the flow of the water around him worked to Edgar's advantage, and he too plunged into the salty depths. He emerged, coughing and spluttering up a mouthful of seawater.
“Sorry,” Edgar deadpanned. “Accident.”
Sam's glare morphed into amusement, and finally into a wide grin. He pushed back his dripping hair out of his eyes and splashed a handful of water in Edgar's direction. Already soaked through, Edgar ducked, allowing himself to sink into the water again, before emerging with a retaliatory attack. Cold saltwater hit Sam in the face.
“Don't take me on, Sam Emerson. You'll lose!”
Sam brushed the water from his eyes and blinked at Edgar in amazement. Edgar Frog, fully clothed and standing up to his chest in the ocean, drenched from head to foot, was laughing. Over on the beach, unless it was Sam's imagination, Alan actually looked jealous.
Overhead, the sun was still beating down, pleasantly warm instead of oppressively hot when combined with the coolness of the water. Sam pushed another wave of water in Edgar's direction, then kicked off from the ground and began to swim back to shore.
Edgar frowned. “Where are you going?”
“Dry land,” Sam told him. “Before Alan throws my towel in the sea.”
Edgar followed him out of the water, and then stood on the sand, shivering in his sodden clothing. Sam allowed himself a moment to appreciate the view of his friend's t-shirt stuck tightly to his skin.
“Great, now I'm wet,” Edgar muttered.
Alan stared at him for a moment, then smirked. “I wonder why?”
“Shut up,” Edgar told him.
Alan, handed Edgar both bath towels, and watched with undisguised amusement as his brother shook off the sand and began using them to soak the worst of the water out of his heavy clothes. He pulled off his bandanna and wrung it out. Water dripped down in a stream onto his feet, washing away some of the sand that coated them. Sand was stuck not only to the soles of his feet, but the tops too, and in between his toes, as well as half way up the backs of his legs. He looked at his boots, thought better of it and picked them up instead.
“Now what?” he asked.
“Now anything we want. We're on vacation, remember? I suggest drying off in the sun for a bit, then maybe get an ice cream.”
Without giving his friends the chance to object, Sam began to walk down the beach in search of a less populated area, somewhere where they were in the a chance of claiming an plot of sand.
“I would say you'd be more comfortable if you get out of your wet clothes, but I know that's not going to happen,” he added.
Edgar shook his head with a ghost of an exasperated smile. “I'm not stripping for you, Sam.”
The cafe was busy, but not overly so. The proprietor had set out tables and chairs taking up part of the boardwalk outside in the sun. Sam snatched eagerly at the menu and began reading greedily, his eyes devouring the descriptions of increasingly elaborate ice cream creations.
Across the table, Alan pulled a quarter from his pocket and spun it on the metal tabletop. Edgar's hair had dried filled with saltwater. It had expanded to twice it's usual size, and without his bandanna to keep it in check, had begun to stick up and out at odd angles.
Sam made his choice and pushed the menu across the table to Edgar, who gave it an uninterested glance and shoved it toward Alan.
“Not hungry?” Sam asked.
Alan gave the menu an even quicker glance before he looked up. “It's way too expensive. All that just for ice cream?”
“We're on vacation,” Sam reminded them.
Alan looked briefly at Edgar, then shook his head. He pushed the laminated menu into the center of the table. “That doesn't mean we're suddenly able to waste money,”
“It's my treat,” Sam insisted.
Edgar frowned. “Like you can afford three of these? What, you won the lottery and forgot to tell us?”
“Hey, I dragged you guys along with me. I really needed today, and you put up with it better than I expected. I think you needed it too. Anyway, my allowance suddenly stretches much further now I don't have to pay for my comic books.”
“You still have to pay for comics, Sam,” Alan told him. “The instructional vampire ones were free, but we told you, all the others are on credit. You need to pay your tab sooner or later.”
“I will, I will,” Sam promised. “As soon as I get my birthday money.” He opened the menu again, “But for today I'm thinking a double scoop of double chocolate with crushed Oreo sprinkles. How about you guys?”
Edgar and Alan exchanged a quick glance and Sam watched a silent conversation debating whether or not to take him up on his offer. When they broke eye contact, Sam pushed the menu back toward them without waiting for the verdict. Edgar opened it placed it between them, and they began to read.
The sun had long since finished its slow nightly descent into the ocean. The last traces of daylight showed themselves in the hint of blue on the horizon, but for all intents and purposes, it was night time, with all the danger that darkness brought.
The boardwalk came alive at night. Bright flashing lights lit up the darkness, lulling visitors into a false sense of security, making them believe that no monsters would hunt in such a well lit and densely populated area. The sounds of screams punctuated the nighttime as the roller coaster continued its seemingly endless circuit of the track. Street performers juggled, small stalls covered with homemade jewelry appeared, the smell of cotton candy and hotdogs mingled with the sea air.
Sam breathed it all in, looking around him appreciatively at the permanent carnival that was his new hometown. He turned to his friends. “So, how did you like your vacation?”
Edgar shrugged noncommittally. “It was fine,” he said. “It's just too bad it had to be in Santa Carla.”
“It's not that bad here, guys. Look around, it's a nice place.”
Edgar carefully surveyed the boardwalk. Sam watched him take in every little detail as his gaze moved from left to right, over the crowds, the cotton candy stall, the carousel. He stopped, nudged Alan with his elbow and nodded in the direction of the fairground attraction.
“Could be,” Alan grunted.
Sam scanned the area using the skills Edgar and Alan were teaching him to pick out the person that looked out of place. He found him standing by the carousel. He was maybe eighteen or nineteen, dressed in blue jeans, worn and frayed at the knees, and a t-shirt advertising a band Sam didn't know. His hair was brown, medium length and carefully styled in the latest fashion . Just a normal kid. There was nothing unusual about him at all. But just like Edgar and Alan, Sam had picked him out of the crowd. Possibly it was his very ordinariness that made them suspicious.
To Sam, nothing about him said vampire. His hands alternated between resting in the pockets of his jeans and fidgeting with his hair, tugging the creases out of his clothes and drumming his fingers on the top of his leg. He looked like a guy waiting for his date, terrified that he was going to be stood up.
He shook his head dismissively. “You think that guy's a vampire? Come on, guys!”
“Mirror test.” Edgar said. He and Alan turned expectant glances on Sam.
Sam stared at them blankly. No further explanation was offered. “What?” he asked eventually.
Alan rolled his eyes. “Come on, Sam. We know you've got a mirror somewhere.”
“Pretend to check your hair or something and see if he's got a reflection.” Edgar added.
Sam sighed theatrically. He reached into the pocket of his still slightly damp shorts, fingers exploring carefully until they found the hard plastic of his compact mirror. He pulled it out and flipped open the lid, revealing the reflective glass inside. He turned around nonchalantly, holding it up in front of his face and rotating it until the carousel was in view, then he carefully examined the scene, searching for the kid. Edgar and Alan watched eagerly, but the young man reflected just as he should. Not even a half vampire. Sam shook his head.
“Damn it,” Edgar muttered
Sam rolled his eyes as he pushed his hair back into place, turned back around and pocketed the mirror. “Yeah, no bloodshed tonight. Too bad,” he said, feigning sympathy.
Edgar and Alan lost interest in the boy instantly. Alan began looking around for more potential vampires, while Edgar turned to Sam. “It was fun,” he said gruffly. “Your vacation. We should do it again, and maybe wear something different next time. I'm still wet.”
Sam grinned. “Me too.”
Over by the carousel, a girl approached the guy. She was short, pretty with long blonde hair tied back in a loose ponytail. She wore a simple white dress and a leather strip with a charm on it tied around her neck. The guy waved at her across the sea of humanity surrounding them. She approached, they embraced, and walked off together.
Something was off about her, the way she moved. Sam's hand went back to his pocket, but before he could open the mirror, they were gone; disappeared into the crowd.
Probably nothing. Hanging out with Edgar and Alan was making him paranoid.
He glanced at both of his friends in turn. Neither of them seemed to have noticed anything. If Edgar and Alan weren't suspicious, that meant it was probably fine. Unless, of course, they just hadn't seen. He scanned the crowd again, looking for the girl.
She had walked like a predator. She was one of them, he was sure of it.
Sam turned to Edgar. “You guys have weapons, right?”
“Of course,” Edgar said.
Sam took a breath, giving himself a chance to consider whether he should say anything. Technically, they were still on vacation. They were supposed to be riding the roller coaster by now. But if that kid's face turned up on a missing poster, Sam wouldn't be able to forgive himself. “The guy with the reflection, I'm not sure his girlfriend has one.”
Living in a resort town didn't mean life became a permanent vacation, unfortunately. Sometimes they could take a day off, but sometimes there was work to do.
Alan sprung instantly to attention. From the holster around his waist, he retrieved a wooden stake.
“Which way did they go?” Edgar asked.
Sam pointed into the crowd and then chased after the Frog brothers as they forced their way through. Truth, justice and the American way. He was part of it now; part of the team. And anyway, they were heading in the direction of the roller coaster. Maybe they could still ride it when they were done.