They were just getting out of dinner at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel Grand Dining Hall, the one where jackets are recommended, where the places of origin of the waiters are written on their golden nametags: Hungary, Kenya, Mozambique. Courtney had had too much to drink, gin and tonics, and Timothy was watching her as she navigated the steps, leaning on the wicker railing.
I’m fine, she said.
At the bottom of the stairs, Timothy waved off the valet, who was rummaging for the keys to their BMW. It had been one of the nicer cars in the lot, which surprised Timothy. Courtney was walking ahead of him, towards the water. He took long steps to catch up to his wife. When he did, she was stopped in the middle of the road, watching six deer stumble gracefully across.
Are those deer? Timothy asked, happily.
Of course they’re deer, she shushed. They were small, canine except for the long legs. They were eating at the seeds in the thick tropical grass in front of them, undisturbed by the human presence.
They should be moving, Timothy said. Like, running away.
Courtney took two steps forward and stamped her feet. The deer looked at her.
They’re caught in the headlights of your gaze, said Timothy.
What’s that? Are you really quoting right now? she said.
Sure, he lied.
He tried to put his arm around her but she shrugged him off. Come on, he said. No, she said.
She walked to the edge of the water, which was the bay. The beach was on the other side of the island. The hotel had been built here a hundred years ago, by JP Morgan and Joseph Pulitzer and Henry Goodyear and all the rest. They had put the hotel on this side for ease of getting the building materials across the water, barged over from mainland Georgia, to the island where they went to forget about their capitalist sorrows. It had been in the guidebook that Courtney read on the drive down from New York, Timothy refusing to change drivers until they were well into Maryland. They didn’t talk on car rides anymore, like they had when they first got married, even when they couldn’t find a radio station. He hadn’t stopped for a bathroom break until DC.