DESTINATION: BEACH • by John A. Mackie

Twenty six hours on the road with nothing to eat but a plate of dry pancakes at the Waffle House. Worth it? Hell, yes. It’s eighty-two degrees, and the only clouds in the sky are stray sheep wandering in a field of blue. Fort Lauderdale. Gotta love it.

First stop, a patio bar looking out over the rolling ocean. Nothing between us and the sand but a strip of road, the sidewalk, and a few folks in parked cars, admiring the sea. We clink glasses, and sip the first beer of the week. Later we will stroll barefoot, letting the waves massage our tired legs. But right now, it’s time to attend to those drinks that have been calling our names since we left Toronto.

We’re well into our second pitcher of beer and mulling over the menu when the first police car shows up. Roars up and jerks to a stop in the middle of the road before us, right behind a Dodge Daytona, black with a goofy red racing stripe down the side. Another cop car, then a third. The Daytona is penned in, and officers are climbing out of their vehicles, guns drawn. I can see two men in the Daytona, one leaning over the dash and the other gaping at the armed troopers surrounding them.

It’s like watching an episode of Hill Street Blues on the world’s biggest screen.

“Put your hands on the dash!” An officer is at the driver’s door, white-knuckled hands holding his pistol not eighteen inches from the window. Other officers begin yelling, and finally one throws the passenger door open and drags a man from the vehicle.

Not more than an hour in Spring Break Central, and we are witnessing live the hostility that we see on TV every night. I glance around the patio to see what the other patrons think of this, but I’m startled to see we are the only ones still seated. The others have sought out cover — most in the restaurant, a few hunched behind a low stucco wall surrounding the patio. One fellow is down on a knee, peeking from the threshold to the dance floor and pointing at the four of us. As he turns to his friends I hear him say one word, and they all laugh.


John A. Mackie practiced law for sixteen years, first with a top Canadian law firm, and then in-house with several companies. Two years ago, personal health issues took their toll, and John chose to take some time off. His health has since returned to normal (whatever that is), and John now works as a freelance writer in the legal field. He also writes fiction, volunteers, and spends time with his wife, their three children and Sam the cat. His friends are concerned they may have lost a target for their lawyer jokes.

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