Flash Fiction: Vacation

I’ve mentioned wanting to write Tintin stories before, and Chuck Wendig’s “vacation” prompt for this week finally sparked something. This is mostly an experiment with transposing the voices of the old characters onto new faces and updating the setting, while still trying to find appropriately Tintin-ish things for the characters to do. Enjoy!

***

Rin lay back on the beach chair, sunglasses perched on her nose. “This is the life, eh Romeo?”

Her friend plucked at the places where his bathing suit still stuck, grumbling to himself. “Yes, certainly. No doubt about it. Having a grand time.”

Rin glanced over at her friend, lifting her sunglasses just a bit to look at him clearly. “Are you alright there, Romeo?”

Romeo could feel his face heating in embarrassment.

“Fine, Rin. Fine.” He stood up, startling Rin’s dog Lede from where he lay between the beach chairs. Romeo plucked again at his trunks, then started twisting around, trying to pull them away from his body without undressing himself in front of everyone else on the beach.

“What’s the matter?” Rin took a sip from her drink, watching her friend cavort across the sand.

“Sand! Salt!” Romeo stopped, then shook himself vigorously, a look of desperation on his face.

Rin tried to hide her smile. “You do know that there are showers for that sort of thing, don’t you?”

“Showers? Where?” Romeo was the embodiment of hope. Rin laughed outright.

“Over there! In the pavilion.”

“Well!” Romeo trotted back to their chairs, grabbing up his towel and the little backpack he’d tucked beneath his chair. “Why didn’t you say so earlier?” Beaming, he nearly skipped towards the pavilion. “Civilization, here I come!”

Rin laughed as she watched him go, then got up with her dog. “Come on Lede, let’s go get popsicles.”

Walking into the pavilion, Romeo stared aghast at the grungy, sandy floors and open shower stalls. He looked at the wide variety of dirty and well-used facilities, and stared down into his little backpack. Steeling himself, he strode into the shower stall and pulled out his soap, shampoo, moisturizer, and lotion, clutching them to his chest after another cringing look at the floor. He looked up at the shower head, down again at his hands full of backpack and shower products, then sighed and hung his backpack on the outer edge of the shower stall.

“If there’re no curtains, why bother with a stall at all?” He muttered as he turned on the shower, then yelped in surprise. “Oh! Ah! Too cold!”

Frantically pushing at the controls, he tried to adjust the temperature and instead turned off the shower. He stared at the shower, sputtering and fuming, before finally taking a deep breath and trying it again.

A few stalls down, a kid leaned out of another shower stall and watched Romeo shower. When Romeo was facing away, she crept another stall closer, again and again until she was in the stall right next to Romeo’s. She peeped around the corner, and smiled to see Romeo’s eyes closed as he rubbed in his shampoo.

In a skittering sandy dash, she grabbed Romeo’s backpack and ran out of the pavilion at full speed.

Romeo, surprised by the sound of running feet scraping over the sandy tile, leaned out of the stall to see what was going on. He could just make out the young girl running away from him, his backpack slung over her shoulder.

“Stop! Thief!” Romeo ran after, still clutching his shower supplies to his chest. “Miscreant! Villain! Get back here!” He gave up on shouting and saved his breath for running.

The young thief darted through a large tunnel beneath an old embankment, pedestrians flinching and leaning back out of the way as she passed. Moments later, Romeo ran by, flip-flops smacking loudly. Shampoo still dripped down the back of his head, and his shower supplies were still gripped tightly against his chest.

Rin and Lede watched in surprise as the small girl ran past them, strolling back from the popsicle stand towards their briefly vacated beach chairs. “That looks an awful lot like Romeo’s backpack.” Rin stared backwards as she kept walking.

BAM! Romeo plowed into Rin, bath products flying through the air. Lede caught Rin’s popsicle and happily lay down to lick it. Shampoo ran down into Romeo’s eyes, and he clutched at them.

“Ah! You ingrates! It burns! Someone’s stolen my bag and now you’ve helped them escape!”

Rin shook her head to clear it, stumbled back to the popsicle stand for a bit of water, and poured it over Romeo’s face.

“Oh!” Romeo shook his head and sputtered. “Oh, Rin! Did you see that thief’s accomplice? They just stopped me from catching her, the little scamp!” He rubbed his eyes again, blinked. “You bought a popsicle for Lede?”

Rin turned around, surprised. “Drat! No, no Lede, that’s not for you.” She fished for the popsicle and snagged its stick, watching in dismay as the soft ice plopped off and landed between Lede’s paws.

“Well never mind your popsicles, Rin. There’s a thief who’s run off with my bag. They’ve got my camera!”

Rin hoisted Romeo to his feet. “I think,” Rin looked down the path, then up towards the woods near the top of the hill further from the path where she caught a faint glimpse of , “she went up towards those woods.”

“Well then,” Romeo didn’t even bother to gather his shower supplies, “what are we waiting for?”

Together, the two of them and Lede crept up towards the wooded hill. They were careful to keep the trees between themselves and where they thought they could hear voices, coming from the woods.

“But there’s a camera in there! That’s worth something!”

“Alright, fine kid.” There’s the sound of riffling cash.

Rin and Romeo peeked out from around the side of a tree. Rin held up her phone and started recording. The young thief stood in the middle of a little grove, facing an older teen and a young man. A cigarette dangled from the young man’s lips, and he nodded to the teen, who handed over a wad of cash to the young thief.

She counted it. “Eighty bucks? You’re stiffing me here.” She pointed to the backpack in the young man’s hands. “That’s worth at least five hundred.”

“Pfft, right.” The young man smiled at her, “And where are you selling it?”

She planted her fists on her hips. “At least give me another twenty.”

The teen shoved her back, a strong push to the shoulder. “Bring us another good haul, you’ll get a bonus twenty then.”

Lip stuck out in a fierce pout, the young girl stalked out of the grove.

“You got all that?” Romeo whispered to Rin. Rin nodded, finger over lips as she continued recording.

“You think Jackie will want that camera?” The teen asked the young man.

The young man shrugged. “Probably. Probably make money on it too. I’m more curious about what’s still on it.”

They pulled out the camera, pawing over its unfamiliar buttons in an attempt to turn it on.

Rin whispered nervously to Romeo, “Do you still have the photos from our article on Mr. Limmel’s murder?”

Romeo nodded back, eyes riveted on the scene in front of them.

“Crap.” Rin stared at her phone, then at the two men in front of her. “How are we going to get it back?” She looked around again, noticing something wrong. “Wait, where’s Lede?”

Romeo looked around them, then stared into the grove. He pointed. Lede was snuffling around the small brown paper bags at the far end of the clearing, next to a variety of small handbags and purses.

“Oh, no.” Rin whispered.

The teen looked back at the sounds Lede was making. “Hey! There’s a dog sniffing our lunch!” He stepped towards the dog, back to Rin and Romeo, “Get out of here! Go on, get!” The young man looked at the commotion as well, camera dangling forgotten in his grip.

Lede stared up at them like they were stupid.

Romeo looked at them, then at Rin. “Here goes nothing.” He stepped out from around the tree, picking up a branch. Rin winced, then tucked her phone away before picking up another stick and following Romeo.

“Stupid dog! Get away from my food!” The teen stepped towards Lede, failing to look menacing. Lede growled at him. The teen’s foot lashed out, kicking Lede in the side, and then Lede bit the teen’s leg.

“Oww! Bad dog! Bad dog!” The teen leapt around, trying and failing to shake off Lede while the young man watched and laughed. At the last moment, the teen saw Romeo sneaking up behind the young man, shouting, “Hey, watch out!”

But he was too late. Romeo’s branch connected solidly with the back of the young man’s head, and the young man stumbled to the ground.

Rin stepped up to the teen, branch in hand. “Lede, drop it.”

Lede let go and sat, growling at the teen.

The young man pushed himself up to all fours, only to feel the branch tap the back of his head again.

Romeo leaned down and picked up his camera. “I’ll take that, thank you.”

He smiled at Rin. “Vacation, and we already have a story.”

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