Please Scroll Down

This isn’t the post I intended to write. I already wrote one and sent it out into the whatever-sphere. SO, if you would be so kind, scroll down. I mean, after you read this one. We should remind ourselves occasionally, that surfers are part of a culture, if not a tribe. While we have hassles in the water and resentments out of the water, we are all, theoretically, connected in a love of the ocean.

Theoretically. Don’t mistake me for a blind purist. I am talking about real surfers. I do, and we all do, make a distinction.

Often mentioned on this site, Stephen R. Davis is not only a real surfer, but a lover of all things related to water. He surfs, kite surfs, skis, snowboards, sails, actually owns and sometimes lives on a sailboat, and, bonus, Steve plays ice hockey. My friend Steve, one of the funnest guys to hang out with, work with, share a surf trip or a surf session with, even a wave with (and I am notoriously not fond of party waves), is spending this Christmas at the University of Washington Hospital.

A nagging pain he has had for a while finally convinced Steve to get it checked out. There’s worry, no doubt, with the not knowing and the delay. He had another visit with the doctor, with tests and another appointment the next day. That was at 9am. 9:35am, plans were set in motion to get Steve to U-Dub.

That was Wednesday. There have been tests, a biopsy. Steve said he spent most of Friday taking phone calls in which he had to console people worried about him. Odd dynamic we humans have. There are a lot of people, in Steve’s case, who need to be consoled. I’m really not trying to add to that list. Steve’s doctors are telling him the condition is curable. Chemo. It’s more like, “We’ll see.” He will be in the hospital until at least Monday, with, hopefully, other hospital visits in Port Townsend rather than Seattle.

Steve’s girlfriend Sierra is over there with him now. “How’s she handling it.” “Good. Good.”

Steve says he’s optimistic. I say I am optimistic. Optimism is on a sort of sliding scale. I can be optimistic, based on positive buoy readings and history, that I will find rideable waves. Hopeful. Even if I arrive at a spot and the waves are not as hoped, maybe, with a change in tide… maybe.

Most of us have had injuries or illnesses that kept us out of the water. We have all heard of others who have had it worse. I have a sprained ankle, someone else has a broken leg. In mentioning Steve’s illness with others, I have heard about others, close to them, who have this or had that, who live with this or died from that. With plague and famine and war, cancer is the most fearsome, the grimmest of reapers.

It has taken someone from each of us. Yet, some have battled it and won. Hope, again. Sliding scale.

Another good, longtime friend of Trisha’s and mine, is down in the Sacramento area. His just-turned-110 father is in hospice. Yeah, One-hundred-and-by-god-ten-years old.

If I think about it, and I do try hard not to, there are others who come to mind. Archie, real name Atsushi Endo, who had a stroke several years ago, is still in Thailand. He has gotten back in the water. I have been a poor friend to Archie. I haven’t reached out. I am keeping his ten-foot surfboard for his return, but I did steal the fin when I broke the last one I had. I did name the main character in my novel after him.

Do I feel guilty. Yeah. I have earned it.

I did call Steve last night, Christmas Eve. Maybe I wanted him to tell me not to worry, to console me. Maybe. I do know I talked long enough that Steve had to say, “Um, Erwin; uh, I kind of have to get off the phone now, take my meds.” “Yeah, yeah, but…”

I am not trying to guilt you out. If you can’t reach out to someone, maybe just… think about them.

Anyway, one of the two new drawings featured in the next/previous posting (also from today) features a wave, a left, breaking, the sun behind it. This is, and I told Steve this, kind of a response/challenge to, or a competition with a drawing Steve was doing when we were crossing Puget Sound. Quick pencil sketch. The wave… perfectly rendered. “Steve, maybe you should add some spray off the top. I do like the way you showed the wave spitting.” “Here, you want to add to it.” “No, no, I’d never do that.”

What I would do is… scroll down, you’ll see. I want to be surfing with Steve for… years.

I almost said, ‘as long as I can stand up.’ Joke, like it’s about me. It is only in this way: We really can’t do much, if anything, to help someone else. Prayers and wishes are sent somewhere out in the whatever-sphere. Doesn’t mean they’re wasted. It could be a case of, with a change in the tide… maybe.

Console, be consoled. Consolation. Peace.

You Say You Want a Resolution…

…well, well, you know… HEY arctic blasters and sliders and sideslippers on water, snow, or ice; those of you out in the frigid temps on whatever chunk of frozen tundra or slick highway you’re on; and those of us wondering which delicious holiday treat will send us over the line, while hoping our pipes don’t freeze and the power doesn’t go out… to all of you and all of us, the merriest of Christmas and/or whatever holiday or event you chose to celebrate, or ignore, or give lip service to, even if it’s only to binge watch TV or… whatever, just, hopefully you’re somewhere warm and with people you love, and… yeah, I am suddenly thinking maybe you braved the highways and stop lights and backed-up ferries and all, and you’re bobbing in ice-water, breezes fresh off the freshly fallen snow. Yeah, Happy Holidays to you, also.

I have been doing a bit more drawing lately. Here are my latest:

But first- Yeah, I do have some problems with technology, and I have had some issues with my scanner. No, besides that I can’t seem to find the exact placement that gives the illustration a fighting chance at coming out squared-up. Trying, as always, to get something out both brilliant and quick, my last attempt at scanning just wouldn’t blanking (Trish believes I should cut back on the fucking swearing) complete, finish, come across with something I can post. Shucks! Dang!

OKAY, I upped the resolution from 200 to 300. Dangerous, yes; but successful.

YEAH, you could have just skipped ahead to the illustrations. HERE:

300 resolution takes a bit longer to process
only 200, like I can tell the difference
Oh, now I see, now I can see all the little mistakes. No problem, I have copies of the white and black version and a complete selection of colored pencils. Yes, I am aware it is slightly crooked.

WAIT. I had a thought the other day that is possibly related to family gatherings. You can choose your friends; you can’t choose your family. Yeah, that; and we can’t always choose who we are in the lineup with; and most of them probably didn’t or wouldn’t choose sharing waves with you (probably fine with me- I always assume so); SO, uh, karma and all that… WAIT AGAIN- that kind of sounded like I was about to make a NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION or something. Yeah, I always promise to be nicer in the water; mostly I’m just so excited to be in the water, enjoying what even the most cynical ripper has to admit is a gift. See you out there!

I mean, you know, when it warms up. A little.

Searching for One Thing…

…finding another.

Not what I was looking for, what I found

We’re here, the Solstice, the official start of the bleak dark season, jump-started a bit more than usual, right after Halloween. I’m not nearly far enough into the third full-on rewrite of “Swamis,” cutting and chopping and polishing and tightening and (I would love to say) perfecting the plot, honing-in on what is just way too important to me, the dialogue.

There are so many scenes/encounters that I have already cut; some of which I have posted here. There is a certain interplay that I wanted to include, a meeting between RUTH DeFREINES, wife of the recently deceased detective, and the detective’s longtime partner, LARRY WENDELL.

The occasion for this encounter between these two is this: CHULO was murdered, set alight at Swamis. Chulo was a witness to the highway accident, a month earlier, in which JOSEPH DeFREINES died. Ruth and JOSEPH (aka Jody/Joey) DeFREINES, Junior, were involved in the accident. Joey was responsible for his father going off the road. Chulo, at Ruth’s request, lied about Joey being present at the accident scene. Larry, recently separated, has feelings for Ruth, believes she was in the vehicle his partner went off the highway to avoid, and is attempting to cover up what he believes to be the truth.

Not complicated at all. BUT, when Chulo is murdered, Ruth wants to find out what Wendall knows. My dilemma is this: Joey is the narrator, and I am trying to not include scenes he is not witness to. So, I have Larry telling Joey about Ruth attacking him about what he knows about Chulo’s death, or I write that actual scene.

Or I write both and drop one. No, probably both.

All of the characters in “Swamis,” are fictional composites of several real people. My mother would be the obvious model for Ruth. How my mother would react to situations helps, but the real fun is imagining the many ways Ruth, and each of the characters, is different; fictional, but realistic enough that, if you ask me the backstory of even incidental players, I have answers.

I am, clearly, not going to take the time to write the above scene right now. Later. BUT here’s what I was looking for when I did an image search: My real mother worked at the Base Photo Lab at Camp Pendleton in the late 1960s. She worked with Marines who had photographed war and all its aspects, in World War II and/or Korea, and some, no doubt, were taking photographs in Vietnam. My brothers and sisters and I (some portion of 7) went to my mom’s work for at least one Christmas party. Not a fun group, the photographers. Many, including a neighbor we had for a while, had seen too much. If I asked my mom why Scott’s father was so… solemn, she answered, “He was at Iwo Jimo, other places.” These men were damaged- some more than others.

Or so I still believe. Okay, so Ruth works at… yes, the photo lab. It works. Orphaned in World War II Japan, married to an Ex-Marine (if there is such a person), ex hired thug, ex patrol officer… yeah; damaged individuals with a damaged son who either has brain damage or is kind of… dangerous… sure; building blocks for a novel that a reader of the second unexpurgated version described as “Cutsie.”

I can’t leave that at that. He also said, “I see what you were going for here- a slice of life kind of thing.”

Oh? Like… real? I hope so. Without going into the overly-psychedelic or cliched way in which the late 1960s might be and have been portrayed, the setting is mostly bright if not sunny. Joey is, in some ways, like Alice in a different wonderland. Surfers in a time of board revolution, cops with aspirations, marijuana marketeers in a period of rapid and dangerous growth. Do we really remember as much about Alice as we do the characters she meets?

Still, no Mad Hatters or Cheshire Cats, but a logical chain of events in a crazy, real-as-I-can-get-it world.

I am obviously getting too far into whatever writing process I have been muddling/working through, but, if “Swamis” is the last novel I ever write… it is going to, eventually, be tight.

Not that this piece is. BUT while I was looking for some image connected to the Base Photo Lab, I came across the photograph, above. A Marine on a phone, another one behind him. That is what my father did in World War II and Korea. He ran phone lines. The enemy tore them down. They ran them again. He was at Guadalcanal, he interacted with the Navajo Code Talkers (as Trisha’s father, he from the supply side), and I’m not sure where else he served. He didn’t talk to me about it. Saying my father was at Guadalcanal is usually enough.

My actual father; some percentage of the fictional Joey’s fictional father.

That’s actually what the scene I haven’t written and might not write hinges on: Detective DeFreines did tell stories from work to Ruth; the guys she worked with did not. Saying someone was at Iwo Jimo is enough. Probably.

Happy Solstice! Peace.

I HAVE TO add that Joey is not me. I do steal some experiences from my life, but no. Not me. Characteristics from several other people are included; Joey’s reactions are imagined. Here’s a line I will eventually cut. It is between Joey and JUMPER, probably the most fictional character in “Swamis.” They are in a critical and dangerous situation. Joey- “We are not friends; but we are… close.”

New Original Erwin’s Originals*

Perhaps I should explain the process. I draw something (the actual original*) and then I dick with it. Perhaps I should explain dicking with it: Get a copy, possibly a reversal (black to white, white to black), then I do some coloring.

In the case of the Orca, and I have drawn Orcas before. Okay, once. So, Stephen Davis’s girlfriend (bethrothed [sp], couldn’t spell fiance’ [sp] correctly either), Sierra, evidently, wanted a birthday card featuring the beloved and feared local on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea, and, more local for me, occasionally patrolling the Hood Canal. “So, hey, Steve; why don’t you just draw her one?” “Maybe I will.” “Maybe I will.” “Okay.” So, I drew this one:

Yes, it is in color. I didn’t scan the black and white version

Okay, so, as usual, I show the drawing to Trish. “Orcas are, you know, black?” “Isn’t it?” “No.” Okay, so, with the illustration on my clear plastic drawing board, I trace the outline and do a drawing where the black will become white (printery- my scanner sucks). Then, hanging out at THE PRINTERY in Port Townsend while STEVEN does some machine/computer interface magic, and a constant stream of customers cruise through the doors, I color in the reversed image. Still, I was a bit hurried. The result is this:

The white and black version looked way too flat… flatish

Yeah, well; I felt compelled to put in something, partially based on Stephen Davis’s recent run-in with supposed locals, about how there are true locals. Despite getting good reviews from any of the PRINTERY customers who happened to check out my stuff (one guy commented on my use of crayons. “Um, uh, no; colored pencils.” “Still…”) I am not totally happy with the coloring job (kind of lose the orca outline), but then, I’m never truly done with any drawing.

I have the originals. I can go back. Some time. Later.

Meanwhile, here’s one my scanner wouldn’t let me scan last time I tried.

Not sure what to do with this one. Tried it as a Holiday card. Maybe I’ll try again.

I did post this card before, as in before I added the new stuff.

Plain and…

Because of the seasonal (paying) work slowdown, and while it’s cold and rainy or colder and sleeting, even colder and clear, I continue to work on the third full rewrite of “Swamis.” I know the story; I know each of the characters so very well; I’ve endeavored to edit and cut and chop. Stephen Davis, when I showed him the illustration immediately above, said, “Maybe your writing is kind of like… this.” “Yeah. It is.” My philosophy on the ‘psychedelic’ drawings is that ‘it isn’t done until it’s overdone.’

I love simple, but simple is really… difficult. I’ll keep trying, but I am stubborn enough to not give up on the purposefully kinetic and the clinically insanely overdrawn.

I do have something ready; an outline that was an attempt to simplify the trilogy I tried to cram into one book; an outline that became something, mostly because I just fucking love the dialogue, more a script than a treatment. More on that forthcoming. If you can help me sell it, let me know.

Merry, Happy, Peaceful, and; I just couldn’t keep it simple, a few lined-up waves to lean into.

Gifts for the Truly Deserving…

  …and the rest of us.

Waves, rideable waves, somewhere on the scale between junky/fun and perfect, are a product of strong winds at a distance, a favorable or lack of wind at a beach that has the right bottom contour, the right orientation to the swell; and at a tide level that suits the spot; high tide here, low tide there; incoming, outgoing. It takes so many factors to produce a perfect wave. Or a near-perfect wave. Or a fun wave.

A gift.

Sure. It isn’t difficult to acknowledge this.

It is too often said that surfers, surfing, should be the happiest folks around.

So, here’s a couple of stories kind of fitting for the season of dark and storm and rain and occasional offshore winds, occasional combinations of factors, occasional gifts:

another gift

ONE- Most of the breaks on the Strait are adjacent to streams and rivers. Heavy rains have moved rock and gravel and forced long walling swells into sculpted peaks, directed the incoming energy down a line.

What natural forces have created; the same forces can also destroy. So it was that what was once a rarely breaking spot became a sometimes wonderous break; and then was altered, gravel moved, bottom contour shifted. Another wave, gone.

With the wave went the crew that tried to localize the break with threats and aggression.

Well, next spot, same behavior.

Bear in mind that there are very few true locals. Realize that if you play the local card here, you are a visitor everywhere else. An interloper, a, let’s just say, guest.

We should also admit that localism works, to an extent. Ruin someone’s fun, that person might not come back. This from surfers who endure multiple skunkings in exchange for occasional waves, write that off, justify the expense of traveling and waiting and not working.

I am talking about a specific incident; but that one assault, and I will call pulling the leash of another surfer who has, by our long-established priority guidelines, the right to that particular wave; that one aggressive, self-centered, possibly dangerous and possibly criminal act, that assault is one among, if not many, too many.

TWO- It was (here’s one from the past- just to keep it out here) “Colder than a snow-capped brass witches’ tit.” I was aware that it was a day we probably would have been surfing, but it being December, this was the only day a painting job in Silverdale could be completed.

With help from Reggie and Steve, it was. At dark, another frontal system showing.

Exhausting, but Steve, for one of his jobs, had to go to Lowes. I had the van for transporting the twelve-foot baseboard stock. Okay. I wanted to treat Steve and me to some Arby’s. I wanted to get some gas at Costco.

Costco is the training ground for aggressiveness. Parking, checking out, moving through the aisles; split second decisions are needed.

I was headed pretty much straight for the gas pumps. I got to a stop. I was turning right. This guy in a truck was turning left. I had priority. He cut me off. Then, turning left into the non-full waiting area, he cut off someone coming straight. Another priority foul. Fucker.

But me, no, I was calm, putting in cards, punching in numbers, looking over at the fucker in the silver Silverado, topping off his tank. I didn’t call him out. I just spoke, with my outdoor voice, to the guy across from me. “Hope the asshole has some place really important to get to.” Shit like that. None of it really mattered. The Silverado shithead grabbed his receipt and peeled out.

“Mine, mine, mine!”

THREE- Enroute to Arby’s, I had to go down to the traffic light with the longest wait time in all of Silverdale; just past, on the right, The Lover’s Package and the Sherwin-Williams, both closed; and on the left, a church.

Ahead of me I see a thin man in a boony hat pushing a man in a wheelchair across the road, left to right. Whoa!. Dangerous. I pulled my big ass van into the center of the road so some other hurried Silverdalian wouldn’t hit them.

Best I could do.

Long light. I got to watch this: The guy in the boony hat gets the wheelchair to the curb. The guy in the wheelchair is too big to get him and the chair up to the sidewalk. The wheelchair guy pretty much falls out onto the sidewalk. He has one leg. One. He does a half crawl across the sidewalk to a post for, I don’t know, a light or something. Boony hat gets the wheelchair up to the sidewalk. The guy with one leg pulls some blankets and, maybe, a jacket off the wheelchair. He maneuvers himself until he has his back against the pole. The boony hat guy starts covering him with the blankets, parks the wheelchair. They both, possibly, prepared for the night; a cold fucking night.

The light changes. I turn left onto Silverdale Way, make an immediate right into Arby’s. I wait for Steve. We go inside. I order. They don’t have milkshakes. Damn. I get a large drink, only a few cents more than a small. I create a ‘graveyard,’ a mixture of most but not all of the available drink choices. It is something I learned from chaperoning, back when my kids where in school. Delicious. Two classic beef and chedders for six bucks. Great for the ride home.

No, I didn’t do anything to help anyone. I could have. Two for six bucks. I was tired. It would be forty-five minutes to get home, if the bridge was open and no one decided to crash and close the highway.

No moral here, no high ground. Writing this doesn’t do shit for the one-legged guy or the boony hat guy. Wait, maybe there’s this: Given the choices each of us has, multiple times every day, to be an asshole or not be an asshole; occasionally choose not to be an asshole.

I could add, whether or not you believe in angels, for that guy in the wheelchair, the thin man in the boony hat… angel.     

Original Erwin possibilities

It’s kind of a pain to pull out my inadequate printer/scanner, and I had hoped to scan a few more illustrations. The scanner seems to have pooped out before I could. I will get back to it.

I have done some stuff with this one. I can’t show it yet. Too big.
Kind of quickly colored-in. So much fun. Did consider this for a t-shirt. “Original Erwin” is probably too, um, big.

Happy almost-winter from the land of almost-waves. Yeah, the color doesn’t translate perfectly, but, again, the coloring was done under a time restraint. Next time, more.

Yet Another Chapter from “Swamis…”

…that will not appear in the final manuscript. Yes, I am still working on “Swamis,” quite regularly, in fact. It isn’t that the information from this chapter won’t be rearranged, trimmed, modified. It will be… different; it already is.


Palomar’s upper parking lots, as usual, were nearly empty midday. I was partially inside the Falcon, sitting on the tailgate. Just enough shade, just enough breeze, reciting, for the third time, a chapter from my World History class; some romantic intrigue the professor presented as, “Particularly important and tantalizingly and spectacularly nasty.” His words. Compared to massacres and riots and wars and famines, the story covered in the chapter was not all that nasty.

I saw Jumper before I heard him. He had to repeat what he had said. “I said that I guess Annie’s through writing shit about… you.” He dropped the latest “North County Free Press” into my lap.

“I didn’t… see you.” I looked around. His work truck was parked next to the Falcon. “Or see you. I already saw the paper; but, uh, yeah; Portia’s pretty much taken up the whole issue. Nice shot of you and Gingerbread Fred, though.”


I handed his paper back to him, pulled my own copy, two books on top of it in a stack of five, said, “’Portia Langworthy and her search for truth.  Part one.’ Lee Anne’s going with that whole Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Brautigan, new age hippie intellectual, ‘I’m part of the story’ kind of writing, Jumper; just nothing new.” 

Jumper gave me a ‘you’re so literate’ look. I continued. “It’s really ‘I’m such a good writer’ stuff for Lee Anne Ransom’s ego, with a shitload of publicity for Portia’s big event. Oh, but…” I opened the paper. “Junipero Hayes; there’s this photo, but, no, it’s really… funny how she, oh, and you, got to Gingerbread Fred when, pretty sure, he wasn’t supposed to be found.”

“He wasn’t. They couldn’t… protect him.” Jumper scratched at the photo of him with Fred Thompson on the bluff at Swamis. “There he was, on the stairs, at sunset. Like always. Swamis. He couldn’t stay away.”

“What did he say?”

“Enough.” I looked too long, too close, in Jumper’s eyes, at his expressions. “Not enough.” Jumper shook his head, smiled, looked at the books sharing the open area at the back of the Falcon. “Gingerbread Fred. He, um, when he saw her… Annie… Lee Anne; yeah, he said he wasn’t supposed to talk to her.”

“But he did… talk… to you?”

“To… us.” I shoved the stack of books over and farther into the car. “She, Annie, she persuaded him.” Jumper sat down. “She’s, yeah, very persuasive. Gentle. Sincere. Fred trusted her.”

“Get it. So, um… you do know Annie’s a nickname. From me. Anyway, you and Annie…”

“She’s Annie to me, Jody. Okay?” I shrugged. “Annie’s really so into this, man. Jody. She’s hanging out with Portia. A lot. You know, I’ve never even, officially, met Portia; never been introduced. To Annie it’s this big ass story; and I’m, we’re, we’re just part of it, small parts of it. Characters.”

“So, what’s he… your, the Jumper character, doing next?”

“Not sure; do have to go to L.A. again… on Friday. You said you’d go.”

“Can’t. I have an, a, uh, presentation. But Rusty McAndrews; is he a character in, uh, this?”  Jumper’s non-response, his attempt to hide a smile, meant he was.

“I did mention him… about a fuckin’ week ago or so.” Jumper pointed toward, then tapped me on the forehead. I brushed his hand back. His smile was now real. “Gotta wonder what’s swishing around in there, man. Percolating.”

I made two popping sounds with my lips. ‘Pop, pop.’ “Percolating?”

Jumper spun around and stretched into the back of the Falcon, came back with my camera in his hand. He looked through the lens, made some adjustments as he backed away, took two photos. “Eighteen-year-old surf detective Jody DeFreines in his office.” He crouched down in front of me as I restacked my books, then turned back. “So, Rusty McAndrews; what do you know about him?”

“Well,” I said, reaching for my camera, “When I was a freshman…”  

I told Jumper the story about an individual I found extremely disgusting. Jumper did seem to enjoy the story, his enjoyment enhanced by how embarrassed I was in telling it. Tantalizingly and spectacularly nasty.

in the story the orange has been peeled

“Rusty McAndrews,” Jumper said, placing my camera next to me and among the scattered books in the back of my car, “he has a slightly different story about you and how you…” Jumper put a hand to his neck, inhaled noisily, once, then twice. 

“Fuck! Rusty… Are you going to tell me how that… guy is involved in this?”

“Yes, when you go with me. Friday. I plan on going surfing; might need a… friend.” I was shaking my head, Jumper was nodding. “Look; we can go to the library. I know some AV dudes. We can tape your presentation. Maybe they can, um, slow you down. I’ll, I’ll help. Cut out any…” Jumper blinked several times. “Any, uh, freeze-ups.”

“That what I do?”

“No. More like this:” Jumper stopped moving his head, stared at me. Too long, too unfocused. He blinked and smiled. “Rusty, in his version, says he went up to you at some hilltop in Fallbrook where all you valley cowboys would drink, and asked how much acid he’d have to drop to impress you, and you asked him, like, how much have you dropped so far?’ Then you gave him the, uh…”  Jumper illustrated the moves. “Straight shot to the neck. Three fingers… and a punch… boom… to the solar plexus. Guess he got…” Jumper moved close to my face. “Too close.”

I pushed Jumper back. Flat palm. “Yeah, forgot the sternum punch. Fucking Rusty, didn’t even live in Fallbrook any… longer. Another dickhead, hanging out with high school punks. Friends of my friends. He was already drunk when he got there; did a sort of fake fighting thing, and he…”

“He called Mohammad Ali by his… Slave name. Yeah, but Rusty claims you didn’t go  off until he asked you if Joseph DeFreines is yours, your… slave name.”

“I wasn’t in the mood.” Jumper and I were both nodding. “Rusty, he’s part of… this?”

“Jody, we’re all part of this.”

“Next Friday. It’s weekly, huh? Next week I’ll go.”

“Might not be a next week. Depends on this week.” 

“Oh. So, would you like to hear my theory on Rusty and you, undercover, and marijuana… harvest season, and how real criminals…”

“No, I don’t.” Jumper pointed to his own head. “But keep thinking, Jody.”

Jumper walked over to his truck, leaned into the bed. He returned with two oranges. “Easy peelers,” he said, handing one to me. “The thinking; you… I know you can’t stop it. Anyway, Jody; Rusty claims you got this big smile, and just before you…” Jumper illustrates the straight three-finger jab gesture, “…you whisper, to yourself, ‘keep your eyes open,’ and then… Jab!”

Jumper bit the stem end off his orange, peeled it, quickly. “I’m just wondering,” he said, where the ‘keep your eyes open’ thing came from.”

“Devil pups.”

 “Sounds right.” Jumper held the one piece of rind out, tossed it over his shoulder an into the back of his pickup. He handed the peeled orange to me, took mine, started peeling it.  

 “So, Jody, you’re the quietest, deep-thinkingnest guy; and then… Ow! Which are you?”

I ripped the orange into halves, one of those into wedges. “The Friday night drinking on the hilltop things; I wasn’t invited back.”

“Probably not. Oh, you also broke out Rusty’s brother’s front teeth? Travis.”

“Twavis. Yeah. Way earlier. Third grade.”

I stuck a double wedge in my mouth. Big orange smile.

We were both laughing when Ginny’s father’s Jeep pulled into the far end of the parking lot. I grabbed my camera from the Falcon, took a couple of shots as Ginny approached, then pulled alongside us, Jumper and I both with orange wedge smiles.

“Hey,” Ginny said to me. “Hey,” Jumper said to Ginny. “Hey,” Ginny said to Jumper.

Three characters mid-afternoon, upper parking lot. I sat back down on the tailgate of the Falcon, Ginny parked, climbed out of the Jeep, sat down beside me, accepted the half orange I offered.

Jumper ran his hand along the fake wood paneling on the new Jeep, smiled at Ginny. “I know, Jumper, it’s fake.” He hit his pants leg with a side of his hand even with the top of the front tire. “Yeah Jumper, big tires.”

Jumper opened the driver’s door, looked in, looked back. “It is fancy.”  

“And not mine.” Ginny looked at me, then back to Jumper as he got into the truck. He kept the door open. “Did Joey tell you about this guy in our Police Science class? He…” She looked at me. I shook my head.

Jumper closed the door, looked out the window, obviously amused. “Our Police Science class?”

“Yes. Our. Jody and I have two classes… together… now.”

“Well, Ginny; that’s badass. Or romantic. Something.” Jumper hung out of the window of the farm truck as he moved it even with and perpendicular to the back of the Falcon. “Next time, in our one class together, you’re on my team.”

“Should’ve been, already.” Ginny smiled at Jumper, looked at me, whispered, “Badminton,” then turned back to Jumper. “You’ll be there for my surprise birthday, um, uh, extravaganza; huh?”

“Friday? I do have to… yes, Virginia; I will be there.” Jumper revved the engine, then shut it off, looked at me. “Sorry, just thinking about the, the guest list. Shit, I can’t hardly wait.”

Jumper had to pump the gas a few times to get the truck restarted. There was a bit of black smoke as he took off. Ginny waited until he cleared the parking lot before she turned to me, stuck an orange wedge in her mouth and attempted to kiss me.


She chewed and swallowed the orange before she kissed me. “Yeah; and I’m… good.”

“Of course.”

Ginny made some racket swinging moves in the air. “It’s… subtle, civilized.”

“Badminton. Seems like it. But, Friday. The party. Rusty’ll be there, huh?”

“Of course.”

NOTE- Because I care, and because I just can’t let well enough alone, I did make some changes in this. If it never appears in a book, it is appearing here. Thanks for reading. To all the real surfers; hope you find some real waves.