If you live on the beach and can't build a snowman, build a sandman!
"Return of Sandy the California Snowman"
A beautiful brunette stood on Del Mar Beach, watching the waves rolling in as time passed. She realized that moment that it had been ten years since she stood on the same beach that magical day with Little Joey Turner. Where had the time gone? The last she heard Joey and his family had moved to Colorado. No one had ever seen Sandy again.
Jackie Chow had been on a whirlwind since the broadcast of Sandy, and her career had taken off. She was whisked to New York then to Atlanta to WAGA-TV channel 5. Jackie had advanced in broadcasting to become the most cherished and wanted Newscaster.
Jackie had returned to Los Angeles to celebrate her first boss's retirement after 50 years of service. She walked into the station after arriving from Atlanta a few hours before. It was busy as usual, but as soon as she walked in silence filled the lobby. Everyone greeted Jackie with a round of applause and hugs, welcoming her back.
Mr. Nick Slater walked out of his office to greet her, as well. He had aged well with grey at his temples, and his eyes smiled with mischief as he barked out orders for Jeff Placer to get to his next assignment. Jeff had just walked into the lobby when Slater yelled. He caught a glimpse of Jackie and ran to hug her. Jeff could feel Slater eyeing him and said, "Alright, I'm going boss. Jackie dinner tonight, we have a lot to catch up on."
"Yes, Jeff dinner tonight, we'll catch up, get out of here before he blows a gasket." They laughed as Nick grunts at them both. He had grown fond of his protege, and they had kept in touch all these years. Nick directed Jackie into his office and offered her a seat. "How was your flight, Jackie?"
"It was pretty good, long, but uneventful. So, are you ever going to tell me the real reason why you paid an all-expense-paid vacation for me?"
He scratches his two-day-old beard, buying himself some time. "I told you that I'm retiring to travel around the world with Jamie while we are still young. Besides, I wanted you here to celebrate it with us."
Jackie could see right through him." Naa, it ain't, I can see it all over your face!"
He let out a hearty laugh, "Girl, you have picked up that Southern twang, and I love it."
She shot him another look, and he confessed. "Alright, fancy pants. Can't hide anything from you since you were an Investigative Reporter. He rubs his chin and continues, I need to announce my predecessor, and I want that to be you! He flipped a pencil on his desk, boomeranging it off his half-filled coffee cup.
Jackie's mouth dropped open; she hadn't expected to hear those words come out of his mouth. He laughed at the expression on her face. "I was hoping you would like to have a change of pace the next step in your career. Looking across the desk, waiting for her answer. Oh, I know that you probably need to think about it some, but I need to know before the banquet tomorrow night."
Jackie had been staring out the window, still trying to comprehend what Nick had just asked her. When she heard him clear his throat, she realized that she hadn't answered him. "Ah, yes, of course, I will think about it and give you an answer by then. One question I need to ask, "Why me when you have so many capable people around you to choose from?"
Nick decided to tell her the truth because of knowing her; she would eventually find out why. "You need to know that I had a long list, and rightly I don't think any of them can do the job any justice. I know that I can count on you to do an exceptional job. You know that I have watched your career grow from day one, and I know that you will leave no leaf unturned to get the stories that people want. What do you think? Is it at least a maybe?"
Jackie smiled at her mentor, "Yes, I know that you have been there for me whenever I needed advice. Yes, it's a maybe. By the way, I went by Del Mar Beach on the way from the airport. I want to do a little investigation into Sandy and see if it's possible to find him. I owe it to him if it weren't for him I would've never been capable of doing the things I have done."
"Alright, but you need to take Jeff Placer with you, he can get you caught up on any details of everyone's whereabouts that were involved. I think he kept in touch with a few of them.
It was 5 o'clock by the time she got to her hotel room. Jeff would be picking her up at 7 for dinner, which gave her time to take a power nap, shower, and dress before he arrived. It was only a fifteen-minute nap, but she felt better as she stepped out of the shower and was ready in no time.
She pulled out one of her many notebooks and sat down at the desk, jotting down things she wanted to go over with Jeff about Sandy. Jackie scribbled Joey Butler at the top; she knew she had to find him if they were to find Sandy. Then she added all the other children's names; they would have to find them to find Joey. Was it possible to see them after so long, and had they kept in contact with him? She would leave no stone unturned; she had to know whatever happened to Sandy.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jeff and Jackie had a wonderful dinner and caught up on all the latest news. She had missed Jeff and didn't get a chance to talk to him as often as she liked. They compiled a list of places to look for the kids. Jeff had told her that he had lost contact with most of them. Only had old addresses of the ones he had, through the years they had moved to different cities and schools. But, with a few connections, they should be able to find them.
She even told Jeff about the offer from Nick, and he was delighted to know that she had decided to take Nick's offer. They planned on getting the information about the children tomorrow morning. But, tonight, it is all about Nick and Jamie Slater.
It was a great night to celebrate; the party was at a local restaurant on the beach, music, a bonfire, and lots of seafood. They all had a great time dancing and talking about the old times. The announcement of Jackie taking Slater's place was accepted unanimously by all.
There was a cool breeze off the ocean, and thoughts of Little Joey came to Jackie as she sat on the blanket, sipping her drink. Where was Joey now and the rest of the gang? Will they be too late ever to find Sandy? Everyone knows that there is an age limit to magic. She knew that she still believed in magic; in Sandy. Does Joey still believe? She had her work cut out in front of her, and she had two more days leave before reporting back to Atlanta and giving her notice in person. And she wanted to find them before leaving.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was a beautiful day forecasted, and Jackie and Jeff headed to Del Mar Beach for starters. Jackie had a dream and had a feeling that it wasn't just a dream. When they arrived at 8 am. They found a few people wandering the beach with nothing to report as of yet. They would try a few leads that Jeff had received that morning then return to the beach.
The leads had panned out, but they were unable to find Susie Carter and Hanna Downing. They had both skipped school that day. Jackie decided that it was time to return to the beach. Jeff pointed at the crowd gathered on the beach as they pulled up. As they approached, the teens started yelling for Jackie and Jeff to join them. It was the whole gang. Jackie and Jeff eyed each other in disbelief that they couldn't be this lucky.
Joey had a box in his hands, and Jacob O'Brian had in his hands two sticks for Sandy's arms and a carrot for his nose. Joey sat it down, and Jacob placed his items in the box. They gathered sand into one pile as they had ten years before.
Joey told Jackie why the family had moved to Colorado and what he had been doing. He had decided to attend college on the West Coast to be near his friends. His mother had boxed up Sandy's things, and they were lost in the move, shuffling from place to place. She had put them in storage, finally tired of moving everything all the time. He had come across them a few months ago when they were cleaning out the unit and started planning his trip to Del Mar Beach with his friends to find Sandy.
They had the center sand ball formed and placed on top of the bottom sand ball. The camera crew had joined them by then and was filming live to the studio. Jackie had interviewed each teen as they were working on the layers together. She had found out that they each still believed in the magic of Sandy. They had finished Sandy's head and were sitting it on just as clouds formed overhead. Joey bowed his head, and everyone followed him. They held each other's hand and prayed that Sandy would be allowed to visit them once again and grace the beach with his presence. Joey and Jacob went to retrieve the box and other items needed to complete Sandy.
Each grabbed the items they originally had the first time. Hannah had in her hand the sunglasses and Santa hat, Susie Carter picked up the seashells that made Sandy's buttons. Jacob had the sticks and carrot ready to place them in the appropriate places. Susie placed the seashells in the middle just as before. Jacob put the sticks where Sandy's arms were to be and inserted the carrot in the center of his face. Hannah looked at Jackie and politely said, "I don't think I will need your assistance this time," everyone laughed.
She handed Joey the Santa hat and told him that it was his turn. He started to laugh again, "I don't think I'll need your help, either Jeff." Joey looked around at everyone, then turned back to Sandy, whispering, "Please come back, Sandy!" Placing the hat in the same position as he had so many years ago. Stood back, waiting for the magic to happen once again.
The wind swirled around Sandy, and the sunrays twirled, flashing brilliant colors, working the magic once again. Once again, Sandy stood before them with his radiant smile. "Hello Joey, I'm so glad that you have come back to the coast. I have missed you." Jackie and Jeff shared a smile after noticing the clouds had disappeared, and the sun was shining on them.
Joey hugged his friend, and everyone joined in welcoming Sandy back. They all told Sandy about their lives since they last saw him. He noticed Joey had stood off away from the others. He asked Ms. Jackie if she could excuse him that he needed to speak to Joey alone. She motioned for the cameraman to cut and to return to the truck.
She excused herself and took the others to collect some firewood for the bonfire. They had all decided to spend time together and have hotdogs and roasted marshmallows later. Jackie met the cameraman at the truck and told him to follow Sandy and Joey but made sure that it was at a respectable distance.
Sandy walked up to Joey and asked him to join him in a walk on the beach. Sandy and Joey talked for hours walking the beach and enjoying each other's company. Joey told Sandy about his parents, school, Colorado, and his sister Bonnie. Who had gotten married and was going to be a momma next year. They laughed, cried, and spoke about Joey's plans on becoming a Physician-Scientist at USC.
The gang had started the bonfire and had the lunch ready when they walked up. Everyone enjoyed each other's stories, catching up, and even watched some dolphins swimming nearby. They sang songs around the bonfire while roasting their marshmallows. Sandy was excited about getting to see his first sunset with the hopes of seeing a sunrise was a plus for him.
Most of the crew had joined them for the bonfire and welcoming Sandy back. Jack Malloy, the Meteorologist, called Jeff with the news of a sudden storm. No one had paid attention to the clouds that had come back and showed promises of rain. Jeff warned everyone to get to cover, but it was too late to run.
Joey, Jackie, Susie, Hannah, Jacob, Jeff, and Nick tried to shelter Sandy from the downpour. But, the rain had started pounding at Sandy's feet, and he began to disappear. Sandy held Joey's hand and looking into his eyes, saw the sorrow that was whaling up inside him. He told Joey that he enjoyed his day with his friend, and as long as Joey believed in him, he would always be with him. Never give up on your dreams Joey, you will be an amazing doctor.
Sandy told him to tell his patients about him, and the magic of believing can conquer all. No matter what you are doing, believing in yourself makes all the difference. Everyone around Sandy told him they believed and loved him so. Sandy disappeared back into the sea for another time. They gathered up Sandy's things and placed them into the box marked "Sandy's Things."
It was a short rainstorm, long enough for Sandy to disappear. Not wanting the night to end, they sat around the bonfire listening to music and sharing the memories of the day. They all exchanged cell numbers and hugged one another as the camera faded into the night.
Word count: 2394