The Florida Vacation

 

With the FINAL draft out the door, this was the LAST cut.

I hated to cut this scene because Joel is just so darn cute. However, Bobbi's remembrance of the event in Chapter 24 was enough. The scene does give you a little insight into Chuck though. He wasn't always the bad guy. He does have a good heart. He just got way off track chasing status and success.

 

 

Bobbi stretched her legs out on the lounge chair and lay her book aside. She wasn’t reading it, anyway, and wondered why she even brought it to Florida.

“Mom! Watch me!” She waved as Brad bounced, then twisted himself off the diving board into the hotel pool. Even with all of Disney World just a monorail ride away, Brad insisted on a daily swim. The eight-year-old swam like a fish, and Chuck never strayed more than ten yards away from him there in the deep end, but he looked so small.

Four-year-old Joel was a different story. He seemed perfectly content to play with his truck here by her lounge chair. “Don’t you want to go swim, Baby?” She pushed her sunglasses up so he could see her eyes.

He shook his head without looking up.

“I’ll go with you.”

“No, thanks.”

“Sit with me a minute.” She moved her legs and patted the chair. Joel climbed up beside her. “What scares you about the water?”

He turned his head slowly toward the pool. “It’s too big.”

“The pool’s too big?”

“No, the water.”

“You mean it’s too deep?”

He nodded. “I’ll go down, and I can’t see nuffin, and I can’t get back out, and I’ll drowned.”

She pointed to the shallow end. “It’s not over your head down there. Just up to here.” She drew a line across his chest with her finger.

“But if I fall down, it’ll be to here.” He stretched his little hand as high over his head as he could reach.

She glanced behind her and saw Chuck pulling himself out of the pool. She tossed him a shirt. “You’re gonna get burned. Those pecs haven’t seen the sun in a while.”

“Thank you for saying that I still have pecs.”

“Not as defined as they used to be, but still there.”

He pulled the shirt over his head and down across his chest. “Ready for a swim, Buddy?”

Joel shook his head and gripped the edge of the lounge chair.

Chuck knelt in front of the boy. Water dripped from his trunks making a growing puddle under him. “Do you like jumping on the bed?”

Joel looked around at his mother, then cupped a hand around his mouth, and nodded.

Chuck smiled. “How about if I get in the water, and you jump, just like you’re …” He raised his hand, and whispered, “Just like you’re jumping on the bed.” He dropped his hand. “And I’ll catch you.”

“In the water?”

“Yeah! You’ll make a big splash. It’ll be great.”

“But I’ll go down.”

“I’ll catch you, Buddy.” Chuck reached out a hand. Joel looked at Bobbi, then at the pool, and finally slipped his hand in his daddy’s.

“You watch, Mommy.”

“I will, Baby.” Watching Chuck and the boys together all week was the highlight of the trip for her. For six days now, the words ‘case’ or ‘client’ or even ‘work’ had not come out of Chuck’s mouth. Maybe now that he made partner, the pressure was off. He laughed. He rode every ride. He bought ice cream and cheap souvenirs. He had transformed into super-dad, and she fell in love with him all over again.

Chuck slid into the water and motioned for Joel, but the little boy backed away. “Joel, I’ll catch you. You can do it.”

Joel paced along the side of the pool, never taking his eyes off the water, Chuck calling his name the whole time. Finally, he inched his toes over the edge of the pool. He rocked back and forth twice, and stepped off the edge into Chuck’s arms. And Chuck let him go under.

Bobbi saw Joel’s mouth open before his head broke the surface of the water, and a loud wail caused parents all over the pool deck to look up. She ran to the side of the pool to scoop Joel up, but Chuck raised a hand to stop her.

“Joel, Joel, look at me.” Chuck pried the boy from his shoulder. “I had you the whole time, Joel. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to you.” He wiped the tears from Joel’s cheek, and pushed the hair back from his eyes. “I don’t want you to be afraid. I don’t want you to be afraid of anything.”

“But I went down,” Joel snuffed.

“And I never let go, and you came back up.”

 

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