Omar’s Funeral and “Little Rod at Grandview,” from “Swamis”

This is a posting by Nam Siu. I got it as a text image from Reggie Smart. It speaks for itself. It speaks for many of us, even all of us who consider ourselves part of the diverse group of individuals who make up the Northwest surf community.

Thank you for representing. Peace.

Meanwhile: Because, in my attempt to shorten and tighten my manuscript, “Swamis,” I have to eliminate storylines that give more background, more exposition than plot, I have been aware for awhile that I would have to cut this story about Rodrigo and Sid and the narrator, Joey DeFreines. SIDE NOTE: I will probably have to change SID’S name. I did want to include some real people in the novel. Putting real people in fictional situations might be… dangerous. And I know very little about the Sid who was in a Surfboards Hawaii ad fifty-five years ago or so, hanging ten. I did know his last name. I no longer remember it. I am not skilled enough at researching to find him. AND, I put the character in situations the real Sid might not be stoked about. NO, he’s not a bad guy. SO, new name. I have a few in mind. For now, he’s still Sid.

So, still thinking.

The parking lot was about three-quarters full. The wind was just changing to onshore. It was relatively glassy. Kelp beds would dampen the chop. Another truism learned early in any surfer’s evolution, is that winds, rising to clear the bluff, kept a spot like Swamis from getting blown out just a bit longer. The sun was high enough that the entire lineup was free of the shadow of the bluff.

Though it would easily fit inside the station wagon, my new-to-me Surfboards Hawaii six-six was resting on the Falcon’s factory model roof racks; proof, perhaps, that I was no longer riding garage soul boards made using foam from stripped-down, reshaped long boards. If no one else noticed the change, it was important to me.

My towel, once white, with palm trees and a sun and some ridiculous allusion to surfing, was spread out on the hood of the Falcon. My windbreaker was hanging on the sideview mirror. I was wearing my almost-matching Hang Ten t-shirt and trunks. The one-third full quart of chocolate milk and the three PeeChee folders were spread out on top of the towel. I opened the top folder, took out a red notebook. I grabbed the chocolate milk container, closed the spout, shook it, opened it, and took a drink as I moved to the front bumper. I set the milk beside me and did a half-sit lean onto the hood. It was a pose. I was aware. Posturing. Not like Hodad posturing; but posturing.

            I thumbed through the pages. Notes and little sketches of cartoon teachers and classmates, cartoon waves, psychedelic lettering for various surf spots.

GRANDVIEW. That was enough. I visualized:

            The Hawaiian guy, probably my age, and I were the only ones on the south side of the almost channel. We were on the lefts. The rights were a bit bigger, a bit more lined up, better. He paddled over to me, sat closer than necessary.

“Right’s better… huh?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I was there before, at the peak, before… everyone else got here.”

“No,” he said, pointing to the empty space between houses. The vantage point. The access. “I saw it. Sid ran you out.”

“I thought Swamis was his spot.”

“All spots are his spots. He burned you, though. Saw it.”

“I guess all waves are Sid’s waves.’”

“Assholes always be assholes.” The Hawaiian Guy laughed. “I’m goofy; so lefts good with me.”

“Yeah.” I kept looking at the rights. Surfers, paddling back out, seemed to be looking at both of us, but mostly at me.

“You… you’re not so popular ‘round here. Huh?”

“Not popular. My father’s a Sheriff’s… detective. Kind of a… hardass.” The Hawaiian guy nodded. “Half-Japanese,” I said, before he could ask.

“Half-Portuguese,” he said. “Thereby, I’m… Hapa Hawaiian. But here, Mainland, people just take me as… Hawaiian.” I nodded. “Rodrigo. My name. My dad also surfs, so I’m called ‘Little Rod.’ I’m okay with it.”

“Joe DeFreines. My, um, friends call me… Joey.”

Little Rod looked over at the rights. There was a lull. Six or seven surfers were in a loose pack at peak. Sid was still the farthest surfer out. Apex. “What do those… people call you?” I didn’t answer. “Hey, Joey; follow me.”

Rodrigo paddled out and toward the main peak. With every stroke, he would point out toward the horizon. The peak pack started to notice. He yelled, “Outside!” He started paddling harder. There was a set coming, though not an outside set. Two surfers turned and paddled out. The others maintained their positions.

“Your wave, Joey!”

Little Rod blocked the one surfer who tried for it. I went. Bottom turn, two up and down moves, kicked out in the closeout section. The blocked surfer caught the second wave. I was paddling back toward the lefts, watching the peak as I went over the second wave. The third wave was the one. Bigger, peakier. Little Rod paddled hard. Sid was sitting toward the tail of his board, the nose up, parallel to the wave. He was ready to turn and take off on the shoulder, but, seeing Rodrigo’s furious paddling, knowing Rodrigo’s intent, Sid spun around, paddled, at an angle, even with, then beyond the peak.   

Two deep. Rather than backing off, Sid attempted a takeoff and failed. He went over the falls as Little Rod dropped in. He ripped it. Backside. Sid swam.

The surfer Rodrigo had blocked flashed him a peace sign as he paddled back out. Rodrigo returned it, moving his hand into a ‘hang loose’ gesture; the first time I had seen one.

Rodrigo joined me and two other surfers at the lefts. The three of them laughed. With Sid just getting to his board inshore, I did not. “Joey,” Rodrigo said, “I’m here with my uncle. Not my real uncle. Hawaii, lots of uncles and aunties. He’s shaping at Surfboards Hawaii. No one’s gonna fuck with me. And, Joey, you surf… not bad.”

“Not bad’s… good. For now. You rip it up, by the way.”

“I do.” Rodrigo laughed. “Things go on ‘round here, Joey. Got to ask… you a narc?”

I laughed. “No, Hot Rod. No one tells me shit.”

The four of us at the south peak watched as Sid paddled back out. His eyes were on the rights, but he did flip the bird with his left hand, twice, between strokes. “So, Joey; if I asked you if you know Jesus…?”

“Jesus?” I thought of the many churches I had attended: Vacation bible schools, revivals. “Jesus. Yeah, he’s either half-God or um, guess he’s hapi human.”

I laughed. We both laughed. “Hapa, Joey; hapa human.”

All excerpts or outtakes from “Swamis” and original content are copyright protected. All rights are claimed by the author, Erwin A. Dence, Jr.


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