"Double Life" Excerpt from Issue 03
I was twelve when my family shared a big gray house on Fire Island with the McKennas. The house was at the end of a series of narrow boardwalks, just over a small dune from the ocean, which was easily visible from our veranda. I believe the house also had a sundeck off of one of the upstairs bedrooms, because I have a vague memory of someone—my mother, I think—telling me not to disturb Mrs. McKenna, who liked to sunbathe “in the nude.” I had never heard that expression before and, at first, could not believe I had understood it correctly. Only the weird blend of excitement and disapproval in the voice of whoever was speaking convinced me that my interpretation was exactly right. I have no memory of the sundeck itself, however, nor of ever seeing Mrs. McKenna in anything more revealing than a one-piece bathing suit.
Doug McKenna was thirteen, and his cheeks were always red, as if he were burning with embarrassment beneath his freckles. He claimed to have “done it” with his sister, Deedee. “You don’t believe me?” he said incredulously, the instant he had made this claim. “Why shouldn’t we do it? She’s too young to get pregnant, so what have we got to lose?” He and I were sitting under the boardwalk, in a bowl-shaped, sand-bottomed hollow we called “the cave.” I didn’t believe what Doug had told me, but I couldn’t help asking, “What was it like?”
“What do you think?” he said irritably. “It was fucking fantastic!”