Shell Game 2

By Hypnothrill published February 6, 2019

Shell necklaces are the hot new trend at the beach this year. Soon everyone will be wearing one…

{Thanks to everyone for the many responses to the first part of this story. I hope you’ll enjoy this second installment just as much. I’ll post the third and final part in a few days (and I promise that one will have more explicit sex scenes!)}

Part 2

I’m just sitting down for another dinner for one, when the beach house door opens and in walks Ryan, a big smile on his face.

“Hey bro!” he grins warmly, “Have any left over for me?”

“Uh… no but it’s just a microwave dinner. I could nuke you up another one if you want.” I start to stand up, but Ryan gestures for me to sit back down.

“Don’t worry, bro. I can heat it up myself. And then we can have dinner together. And catch up. Like brothers, you know?”

I nod and smile back at him, but inside I feel a bit wary. Where was this change of attitude coming from? And did this have anything to do with that weird incident I’d witnessed on the beach earlier, where Ryan was hitting on that gay guy as he and his friends were trying to hawk their stupid little shell necklaces?

Maybe that was it… maybe Ryan was getting ready to come out to me…

I give him a reassuring little smile as he continues, “I’ve just been spending so much time with my new buds, I haven’t had enough time for my best bro, you know? But I have a feeling that’s gonna change real soon. I have a feeling that we’re gonna be spending a lot of time together. That we’re gonna get closer than we’ve ever been.”

I just nod, not quite sure where this is going, as Ryan puts his meal into the microwave, then reaches into the pocket of his board shorts and pulls something out. “I’ve got a little present for you…”

My heart sinks when I see what it is: another one of those stupid shell choker necklaces, just like Ryan and his friends wore.

“I made it just for you!” Ryan is saying excitedly as he holds out the shell necklace for my inspection, “I even picked out the shells especially for you!”

Reluctantly, I take the shell necklace from his outstretched hand and look at it more closely. In the front, there are a bunch of small white cowry shells, their ridged edges facing outward, looking like an animal baring its teeth. But in the back, right next to the clasp, there was a slightly larger white cowry shell, and this one was facing the other way, with the “teeth” pressing against the wearer’s neck.

Curious, I run my finger along the open “mouth” of the bigger shell. Then I feel it. Something slimy, slithering against my finger. I drop the necklace in alarm, then look over at Ryan, who’s looking at me intently, an excited look in his eyes.

“Come on, bro, just try it on!” he urges me. “It’ll look good on you!”

There’s no fucking way I’m putting that thing around my neck. But rather than tell him that, I try to let Ryan down easy, telling him, “I appreciate the gift, really I do, but it’s just…it’s just not my style.”

“Come on, try it on, just for a minute! Just so I can snap a pic of us in our necklaces and send it to dad so he can see how good we’re getting along now!”

“Ry, I said no, okay?”

“What’s the big deal? Just try it on!” I can hear the rising anger in his voice as he picks up the necklace and moves towards me. “We need you to wear it!”

“We?” I ask.

“I!” he says, now flustered, frantic. “I need you to wear it, bro! I made it for you, now I need you to wear it. Why won’t you wear it? Don’t you love me, bro?!”

“Just chill out, man!” I shout back at him, as I stand up and edge away from the table. “You’re scaring me here!” It was true. I’d never seen Ryan get so worked up like this over anything.

“Just wear it!” Ryan takes a step towards me, a menacing look on his face. “It will only take a minute, then you’ll understand!”

I take a few more steps back, trying not to let the fear show on my face. “Just… take a time out and cool down for a while, okay? I’ll be in my room.” I walk into the bedroom, then shut and lock the door behind me.

I don’t leave my bedroom until the next morning, and when I do, Ryan’s already gone. Who knows where he is. Maybe he’s out diving for some more shells.

I message Dad in the morning, asking him if he could leave work and head to the beach house a bit earlier than he had planned. I tell him there’s something wrong with Ryan, that he’s fallen in with a bad crowd. But I don’t go into details about the shell necklaces or anything because then Dad would think I was insane. Hell, even I think I might be going insane. This all seems like a bad dream, but I just can’t seem to wake up from it.

Dad texts me back to tell me that he’ll take off work a little early and he should get to the beach house by 5:00. That leaves me with the afternoon to kill. Maybe if I bury myself deep in Pynchon-world again, it would take my mind off of things. So I pack my half-read copy of Inherent Vice back into my beach bag and head off to find a secluded spot to read.

On the walk over, I spot another shirtless young guy wearing one of those shell choker necklaces. He’s having an argument with a girl in a bikini, who sounds pissed off at him.

“You’re breaking up with me!?” she yells at him. “But…but we just got engaged last month! And now all of a sudden you’re breaking up with me!?”

“Sorry, babe,” he shrugs. “I’m just not into you anymore. I need to spend more time with my bros. You wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re damn right I don’t understand!” I hear her shouting as I walk past them.

Lucky for me, I manage to find a really secluded spot on the beach where no one bothers me and I can just immerse myself in my novel. When I finish, it’s just past 4:00, so I decide to head back to the beach house so I can be there when dad arrives.

Walking back, I hear an exasperated voice crying out, “Okay, fine! I’ll try it on if that’s what it will take to make you go away.”

I look over and see a skinny young guy in glasses sitting on his beach towel, surrounded by three buff dudes in shell necklaces. One of the necklace guys looks strangely familiar, and once I see his pink speedo, it hits me: that’s the gay guy from yesterday. But it looks like he’s had a pretty radical makeover. His hairy chest is now shaved completely smooth, and even his beard has been shaved off. In his sunglasses and shell necklace, he now looks almost indistinguishable from the buff surfer dudes flanking him, like he could be their older brother or something.

As I walk by, I see the gay guy getting ready to clasp the shell necklace around the skinny young guy’s neck, and I wonder if I should do something or at least say something.

But what could I say? “Don’t do it! That necklace will turn you into one of them!” Or “Don’t do it! There’s something weird and slimy inside of that thing!” The skinny guy would just think I was crazy, and the others would know I was on to them. So I just mind my own business and keep walking by.

Is it just my imagination, or can I hear a low moan of pleasure coming from the skinny guy behind me as he tries on his shell necklace?

As I tell the story to Dad, I can tell that he doesn’t believe me.

“Hmmm… that doesn’t sound like your brother,” is all he says when I tell him how Ryan flipped out last night when I wouldn’t try on the necklace.

Still, he reassures me that he’ll deal with it, that he’ll have a talk with Ryan about his new friends and the bad influence they might be having on him. But he’d rather do it alone, one-on-one, so Ryan doesn’t feel like we’re ganging up on him.

I get the hint, so I head into town to have dinner by myself.

It’s getting dark when I get back, and in the lights are all out in the beach house. In the dim light of the living room, I can just make out a shirtless man sitting on the sofa, facing away from me, and then I spot the glint of the shell choker around his neck. “Ryan?” I ask, switching on the light.

“Hello son,” my Dad turns around to face me. “Welcome back. I’ve been waiting for you.”

There’s this distant look in his eyes that’s really freaking me out, so I look away. And I notice how he’s still wearing the dress pants he had on earlier, but somehow he’s lost his shirt, and he keeps scratching at his hairy chest. And of course I keep staring down at that damned shell choker around his neck.

I’m not sure what to say, not sure if I should say anything or just get the hell out of here. “Dad… I…. I….”

“I had a talk with your brother earlier, and he explained everything,” he continues blithely. “It was all just a big misunderstanding. You’ll see.”

“A misunderstanding?”

“Yes… it’s just… you hurt your brother’s feelings when you wouldn’t accept his gift. That’s all. But you can still make it up to him.” Dad pulled something out of his pocket, and in a flash, I could tell it was another shell necklace. “Just put this on. It would mean so much to your brother. I’m wearing mine. See.” He smiled as he stroked the cowry shells around his neck. “We can all wear them together. Like father, like sons.”

“That’s okay, dad. I’ll pass.” I try to inch by him, keeping my distance so he can’t reach out and grab me. “I’m just gonna… I’ll be in my room.”

“Come on, Alex. Just try it once. Try it and I know you’ll like it,” my dad says in a familiar coaxing voice, the voice he used to use when I was a little kid and wouldn’t eat my broccoli. But then I look into his eyes, and the faraway stare I see there is totally alien to me.

“Come on,” he pleads some more, his mouth still frozen into that creepy smile, “Just do it for me. For us. So we can be a family again.” He gets up off the sofa and steps closer to me, invading my personal space as he brandishes the shell choker. “Just try it on, and we can be closer than we’ve ever been. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

“No! Just get away! I’m warning you!” I shout as I reach my breaking point.

Finally, Dad takes a step back and the creepy grin leaves his face. “I’m very disappointed in you, Alex. I don’t know why you keep resisting, when it’s better for the whole family if we all wear our shells. You’ll see. Sooner or later.”

I just stand there against the wall, still trembling, still wary, watching as he suddenly begins to unzip his trousers. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to shower and shave.” He scratches at his hairy chest again, then pulls down his boxer briefs and begins scratching his hairy balls. “I need to be perfectly smooth when I go diving with your brother tomorrow.”

As Dad heads into the bathroom, his half-hard penis bobbing in front of him as he rubs the back of his neck, I just stand there stunned for a moment. Then I run into my bedroom and lock the door.

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