…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.
CHAPTER 34- WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1969
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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?”
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.