The Sand Sculpture
A Short Story by Tim Josephs
Written using the suggestion "Surfboard"
Originally featured on 05-23-2008
As part of our series "Summer Indulgence"

In retrospect, building a five-times life-size replica of Bob Brantley’s wife naked on a toilet for the big sand sculpture competition might not have been the best idea. But looking back, what were my options? Then again, on second-thought, I guess I could have gone another route.

I once overheard Bob Brantley described as looking like a longshoreman trapped in a dentist’s body. I liked the description (although despised the woman behind the hardware store counter who uttered it) and said it to myself several times as I walked home so I could recite it to my wife Mindy. But somehow — perhaps it was all those pigeons — I got distracted and could only tell her “Brandy cooks surely like a man crapped in Dennis’ potty.”

When I finally remembered the correct line — and reassured Mindy that although senility does run in my family, I was at least several years away from its onslaught — I recalled why I had liked it so much to begin with. Bob Brantley did resemble a longshoreman with his weathered face and constant faint odor of tuna. And the beard of course. Much to the chagrin of his wife, Bob refused to shave the beard off. He did keep it at a respectable length, however — he made sure it would dangle no more than six inches below his chin. (Perhaps demonstrating yet another longshoreman-like quality, Bob always kept a small tape measure with him to ensure it was at the right level.)

Sure, sitting in the dentist chair, mouth agape, with Bob leaning over, a tiny mirror and pointy explorer in his hands, sometimes a strand or two would tickle your lower lip. Or a hair might fall off into your mouth or maybe just some beard dander. But, as everyone would say — me included — it was a small price to pay for quality dentistry. Bob Brantley was by far the best dentist in the tri-county area and he knew his beard wouldn’t stop people from coming to see him.

But back to Bob’s wife. She was a handsome woman of a not entirely displeasing girth. I once described her to a blind man at a temporary bus stop as a plump holiday goose in need of a basting. I wasn’t entirely sure what I meant but the blind man nodded knowingly and then boarded the number 57 bus for the highlands.

This all leads, of course, to the big sand sculpture competition. Having won four years in a row with, in chronological order: a 1950’s diner, a triceratops fighting a wooly mammoth, the Eiffel Tower, and the contiguous United States complete with all the important topography, I was expected to once again triumph. But, the night before the contest, when I should have been carbo-loading on spaghetti, I found myself pacing around the house, stumped for an idea.

As I walked towards the bathroom, I was suddenly reminded of the previous New Year’s Eve at the Brantley’s, and inspiration struck. On that fateful night I had wandered upstairs and, after knocking (though perhaps not loudly enough) opened the bathroom door. There, perched on the edge of the toilet, wearing nothing but a slightly smudged shade of pink lipstick, sat Bob’s wife. She smiled at me, raised her wine glass in a “cheers” motion, then drained the rest of the champagne. After a moment I returned the smile and slowly backed out of the room and rejoined the party.

The incident was never mentioned and in fact I had completely forgotten about it until I walked past my own bathroom. I immediately ran to my office and began working on the blueprints.

The next day I arrived at the beach earlier than anyone. Due to the somewhat risqu

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