Slipping in something from”Sideslipping”

FIRST, here’s a drawing I did, white and dark on medium-toned paper. I can’t seem to get a white that will work. I had a paint pen but it clogged up, didn’t work twice.

Won’t work twice, it’s all right. Ma. Unnecessary allusion.

HERE’S my explanation for the cut scene: Including the exchange between Joey DeFreines and the writer/editor is a pretty conscious effort/shoutout to the sardonic and wise (and I always associate the two) writer/editor who managed to work through “Swamis,” the unexpurgated version, and provide me with… I don’t want to say ‘guidance,’ no one seems to suggest a better storyline… constructive criticism of my manuscript.

I have changed the first hundred pages enough, cut out enough, that the story is… it’s different. I did, I thought, let the story kind of work itself out, with a certain goal in mind, a last line planned before the first line was written (and subsequently, re-re-re-written). Most of the storyline of Joey/Jody in his later years has been cut. SO…

KAFKA LAUGHING

The next day, after Rudolph had several quite distraught visitors (never introduced to me) whom he seemed to have to console, after lunch, after a nap (I slept longer), Rudolph, smiling, put down his own tablet, said, “Kafka.  Supposedly he… serious stuff to most… readers… supposedly he was laughing his ass off while he was writing.”

I was writing, wasn’t laughing.

Rudolph made several disparaging comments on the current state of popular fiction, looked at me, pointed at my laptop with his tablet.  “Your book’s on there, right?”

“Very observant.”

“Oh?  That’s sarcasm.  Fine.  Don’t really know you, but… I do know writers; fucked-up crazy egotistical fucks… mostly; so… don’t take this personally, but… fuck you.”

Later (and not that much later), with Rudolph, evidently, having had enough of CNN (“Too redundant, too many commercials, too many panels of experts”), he switched the channel to Fox News, flipped off Sean Hannity.  Both hands.  “Double eagles,” I told him.  Since I also had a remote, I switched to MSNBC; Rachel Maddow (“Love her; don’t think she loves me back”).  Rudolph switched the TV off.

Rudolph- “Have any sex scenes in there?”

Me- “No.”

Rudolph- “No, not yet, or, no; never had sex?”

Me- “Not yet; but I hear it’s kind of fun.  Ha.  Ha.  Really, it’s not that kind of book.”

Rudolph- “Oh. Well; every kind of book needs a little… sex.”

I hit ‘save,’ shut down the ‘Word’ program.  “So, Rudolph… you do know publishers?”

“Sure.  Not as many as I once did; worst kind of pricks.  Not, um, needy, like writers, but used to feeling needed.  It’s worse.  Still, they spend some time on their knees.  Publishers, now; scared shitless of not making their money back.”  He held back for a second.  He seemed to enjoy that I was enjoying his commentary.  He had the inside information, dissected and delivered in a sarcastic/realistic way.  “But, really, my temporary roommate; Amazon.  Self-publish; it seems to be the way.”

I reopened the program, hit the ‘Pg Dn’ button until I got to the end, kept writing.  Typing, backspacing paragraphs, rephrasing.  I thought about laughing, just to mess with Rudolph.

“You know,” Rudolph said, during the setup for some BBC crime drama, one I had seen before; “I’ve never really watched a writer write before.”  I looked over at him, did a ‘was I drooling’ wipe at my mouth.  “Let me tell you… it’s an ugly process.”

“That’s why I don’t put on my writer clothes,” I said, “and go down to the café and fire up the laptop.”

“’Light up… light up the laptop,’ it’s better;” Rudolph said, editing, as if changing my words was amusing. “I assume you’ve google-searched for information on writing and publishing,”

I chuckled, gave him a ‘just a second’ gesture, went back to typing.  Rudolph said, somewhere during another ‘begging for money’ break on the local PBS channel, “Of course you have.  It’s sixty to ninety thousand words for a novel.”

Me- “Not a novel.” 

Rudolph- “Yeah; it is.  If you changed one name, forgot one thing, it’s… it’s your take on things.  There’s what’s the true truth, and there’s… it’s a novel.  Yes, all writing is, in some way, autobiography; but, Joseph; it’s a novel.  Where are you at, right now?”

Me- “Pages?”

Rudolph- “No.  Words.  Jeez.”

I was at a little over twenty thousand at the time.  I was at 25,931 when I started writing about Rudolph, but I keep going back.  Every time I open up the (yeah, I guess) novel, I tend to start at the beginning, get bogged-down.  In the time I have, with the energy I have; I’m not moving forward; at least not quickly. I’m editing.  Editing.  It sounds like cutting things out; but no; there’s always something I thought of overnight.

Something new.  Something old, rather, but newly remembered.

NOT DROWNING

“This is my new addiction,” I told Rudolph, “I look forward to writing the way I’ve always looked forward to surfing.  I miss it when I can’t do it.”

“This surfing;” he said, “the water’s cold, huh?”

“Can be.”  I had to add more.  “Probably, around here, gets up to 75 degrees or so, for about a week… August; goes down to 55, for about a week, middle of January, probably; again, for about a week.  In the old days, 60s, if you put on a wetsuit; and we only had short johns, before, say, December 10th or so… water down to 58 degrees… that was the cutoff; or if you put on a wetsuit before Easter; again, 58 degrees… you were a pussy.  Nowadays…”

Rudolph was smiling.  I stopped talking. “60,000 words; shouldn’t be a problem.”  We both smiled.  “Do you ever think about… drowning?”

“No; I mean, I have but, I’ve seen people who have drowned… I mean, any real surfer has had experiences where… I’ve just decided against it.  Cold water.  Bodies turn kind of… seaweed, um, green.”

“Yeah.  So, not dying, then.  Better to die in… Las Vegas, maybe.  Toasty… I’m thinking about the colors… tourist tan-burn.  Yes!  Hot, but dry.”  Realizing he was enjoying the moment, the conversation, a bit more than he might normally allow himself, Rudolph nodded toward my laptop.  “You finish it, I’ll give it a read.  When it’s done.  First draft, at least.”

“Whoa!”  I pointed at Rudolph, pointed back at the laptop.  A few seconds passed.  We both seemed to know I would ruin the mood.  And I did.  “Are you sure you’ll live long enough to read it?  I mean, you’re saying you will… read it; and I… I appreciate that… I just want you to tell me about… style.  I want to write it the way I want, but… I feel like, I believe I have a… style.”

“Fucking writers.  Egotistical fucks.”

“You said that… before.”

“Well, thanks for fucking listening to something other than the voices in your head.”

I laughed.  “Yeah; that’s what I’m in here for.  Voices.”  I tapped on my head.

“Oh.”

I waved my hand to suggest I was kidding.  I smiled, blinked several times.  “They don’t want to, uh, remove them… the voices; some doctor thinks she can translate them… into, uh, German.”

“Okay.  All right.  Look; If you live long enough to finish it, Joseph; I’ll live long enough to tell you it needs work.”

“Deal,” I said.

“Deal.”

Rudolph seemed to be, over the next hour or so, doing what I do, replaying the conversation in his mind. For most people there’s no replay, no rewind, no editing.  Most people.  My recall isn’t perfect, quite.  I replay the ones that seem important.  Over and over if I’ve fucked up somewhere in the back and forth. There are, I’ve discovered, few conversations, ever, that I’ve not fucked up somehow.

Sometime during the eleven o’clock news, after another nurse, Martha, had come in to introduce herself to Rudolph, check on him, with a cursory check on me; Rudolph took his phone from the side table, and said, “Let me give you my address.  You’re fine.  Do some of that surfing or something.  Thrive.  It’s, my address; it’s a condo.  Solana Beach.  On the bluff.”

“Solana Beach is wall-to-wall condos,” I said.  “I remember when…”

“Yeah, of course you do.  Remember.  But, hey, Roomie, if I might get a word in here; remember, remember when that swimmer… last guy in a group… got killed by the shark?”  Pause.  He nodded toward our big, shared window (view of apartment buildings, mostly). “Happened right out my window.”

“You saw it?”

“No, but I felt as if I had.  I’m not a fucking writer, but I can… (he twiddled his hands in the air) visualize.” He pointed to my cell phone, close to the edge of the bed.

I didn’t visit Rudolph in his condo.  I tried to call.  He never answered.  I wouldn’t leave a message, but would call back, let it ring once.  Missed call.  Or I’d text, something like, ‘working on it,’ or ‘the narcissists are in bloom.’  He would text, occasionally, something like, “Any SEX yet?” or “Entertaining the HOSPICE people.  Pre-hospice.  Counselors.  Like manic-depressive humorists.” Followed by, “Almost said BLACK HUMORISTS.”  “Different group.  DOUR lot.”

I texted, “Dour.  Good word.”

I missed an actual call an hour or so later.  The voice mail message was, “Oh, so now you’re not picking up?  Probably quoting Shakespeare to seagulls or something.  Anyways, dour.  Yes, I prefer it to ebullient.”  In a higher octave, “’Yes, you’re dying; but, hey, look on the bright side.’ Ebullient.”

When I did visit Rudolph, he was back in the hospital, one room over from the one we’d shared.  Same view, slightly different angle.

“They, the bastards, didn’t kill the child,” he said.  He wasn’t talking about the doctors, though he said he had given up hoping another test would have a different result, another consultant would have another opinion, a better prognosis.  He was talking about Nazis.  “But, in a way, see, they did.  I never got to be a child.  I, my life; I look for errors, for mistakes; and I envy the writers who have, like you; a sense of wonder.  Wonder.  What does that mean?  Passion, longing, wanting to fucking know, wanting to feel, to touch the magic.”

“Uh huh.  Yes.”

“So, that’s good is what I’m saying.  Shit, man; I’m pouring it out here, and you, best you can do is ‘uh huh.’  Writers?”

“Sorry, Rudolph.  It’s just that…”

“It’s just that, Joseph; I hope you don’t… sixty thousand words; that’ll take the wonder out of it; but not… not the magic.  Nobody… nobody who matters gives a flying fuck about flowery passages and perfect sentence structure; even about the… overall… construction.  Just tell the fucking stories.”

“Okay.”

Rudolph and I did exchange some stories.  He had felt passion, wonder, love; he was even capable of forgetting, briefly, that he had been robbed of a childhood.

Rudolph, who didn’t die in the concentration camps, who repeatedly told me the bastards would get him; eventually; never read a word.

I read some early chapters to him on one of his last days, in his condo on the bluff, looking out his windows, imagining the shark picking off the last swimmer.  One of his sons (looked up his name- Jacob) and Jacob’s two children (didn’t get their names) were there at the time, along with, briefly, a quite dour Hospice nurse (didn’t bother with her name).  My name, evidently, was on some sort of list. 

Rudolph kept dozing off and waking up, possibly disappointed he was still alive.  I kept reading.  I could tell when something I’d written was awkward or wrong.  Jacob would look over at his father.

“Needs work.” That was the last thing I said to Rudolph.

“Perfection,” Jacob said.  “My father says, ‘perfection is difficult to attain, and impossible to maintain.’” 

Rudolph woke up just before I was leaving the condo.  He didn’t seem to notice his son or me, but did look, through the afternoon glare, at the sliding glass doors.  Jacob’s two girls were playing, outside on the little deck, pressing themselves against the panels, salt stained, seventy-five feet above the ocean, their movements creating the on-glass equivalent of snow angels.  Jacob and I both noticed, smiled.  Not that we were ebullient.

Perfection.

See you out there. Somewhere. Soon.

F.O.M.V.S.W.W., Disco Bay Back, + Surf-related Stuff

FEAR OF MISSING OUT is heightened when what you’re missing out on, if you surf somewhere with VERY SMALL WAVE WINDOWS, is good surf. That’s probably all I should say, but, of course, I’ll keep ranting on. If you live and die by the forecasts, you’ll probably miss out occasionally. “I could have gone” is a surfer’s lament I’ve sung many times.

Surfing is a gift; having decent or better waves to ride is an extra, a bonus.

Easy to forget.

“SWAMIS” UPDATE: I just got the feedback on my manuscript from a professional writer and editor. I had texted him a while back, after I got some other feedback, to please stop reading. The novel needs a lot more work, and I have been making progress on a massive rewrite. The book doctor claims he didn’t get the text, and completed the editing, with commentary and a full-page overview.

I should, first, say that when I asked the unnamed writer/editor to read something from “Swamis,” quite a while back, he said he’d read it when it was completed. Meaning, not before; not the feedback on my writing style I wanted. Okay. SLOW-FORWARD to when I thought “Swamis” was complete enough to get a copyright.

“This might take a while,” he said. And it did.

Because I had given him a thumb drive, I had to wait a couple of days before I could retrieve it. Anxious days. When I stopped off to pick it up, he declined to tell me much. Like a written work, the review/edit would speak for itself. “I can’t believe you actually read the whole thing,” I said. “The reason I did is because I said I would. The reason I agreed to read and review it is because I never thought you’d finish it.”

Obviously I haven’t.

“Take a week,” he said, “cry, get mad, hate me, whatever, then go back to writing.”

I’m pretty sure it’s been a week and I’ve devoted a lot of my thinking time to figuring out how to make “Swamis” work. The good news is I have already deleted a lot of the parts he thought, rightfully, were deletion-worthy, off-topic, not contributing to the story.

AND, his comments were all accurate.

HOWEVER, he seemed to, from the beginning, keep asking why Jody wasn’t more focused on finding out who killed his father than on who killed Chulo. I have an explanation for that.

ALL THANKS for the help and feedback from the (so far) unnamed professional and the others who have read part or all of the UNEXPURGATED VERSION. Believe me, I’m expurgating the shit out of it.

TYLER MEEKS’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE is back OPEN. I’m not sure what the hours are, but if you’re passing by and it’s open, stop in.

I’ve been trying to do a few more illustrations for “Swamis,” particularly of characters. This drawing came from a small photo in the back of an old “Surfers’ Journal.” I drew it once; pencil and pen, used that version to do this simpler, cleaner one; then did a third. Too dark. The original photo was from the 1970s, and was of… I probably shouldn’t say.

MEANWHILE, if you just found out some surfer who went looking for waves just because it fit into his schedule, and scored; try to get over it. Cry, hate him… just take a week and… try to get over it. BETTER YET, get even.

Surf Movies, Hoover High

I just cut another mini-chapter in what I’m calling the ‘massive edit’ of “Swamis.” I’ve passed page 200 of what was 300, and I am, for better or more better, adding words in some places while I cut in others.

As such, I added a couple hundred words to a part on the real life swell of December, 1969. There should be surfing in a surf novel, and, although it’s not a ‘Big Wednesday’ climax, it’s not just background, either.

First, here’s a pencil and pen drawing:

I am trying to capture a certain feel- working on it

Before I get to the outtake, I could explain where it came from. I never attended a surf movie alone (or any movie at any theater or high school gym, or went to any sit-down restaurant), but I also never went with my surfing friends. I first saw “Endless Summer” with my mom and sister. I went to a movie at Hoover High with Emily, my chemistry lab partner. I was supposed to drive down in my Morris Minor, but it was, as it frequently was, broken down, so Emily and I got to get dropped off by my parents, on a date of their own. Dropped off. Embarrassing.

I went with Trish, but, for some reason (probably the broken car, again) we got to ride with my sister and her boyfriend, Alan, who might have passed for a surfer if he hadn’t, the very day, shaved off his mustache. Trish looked good, might have acted as if she enjoyed the movie. The embarrassment increased when we, as was the custom, stopped at the Carnation ice cream place. It was some time in 1969, I was a senior at Fallbrook High, and had competed for a second time in the KGB/Windansea high school surf contest. Thor Svenson, president of the Windansea Surf Club, and some members, came into the restaurant and, maybe it was my startled expression rather than Mr. Svenson actually recognizing me, but he nodded, and I nodded, me sitting in a booth with more-chic-than-necessary Trish, my sister, Suellen, and her farmboy-looking date.

I survived, and did push Trish into a couple more outings, one at Mira-Costa Junior College, closer to home; and at least one at the local Junior High in Pacific Beach, after we got married and moved there.

But, to explain where this outtake came from, a girl whose Navy doctor father had just been transferred from Virginia came to Fallbrook, mid-term, 1968, and took a seat across from me in English class. We talked surfing, I said I’d show her around, and we went, that very day, after school. I discovered, after we went to the Surfboards by Heck (it’s still mentioned in “Swamis”), that she wasn’t really interested in actually surfing. Because I was her first date in Fallbrook, probably, and because I… because I was me; Phil or Ray, or Phil and Ray called me up to see how it went. “Hey,” my father said, walking past; “A man doesn’t talk about what happens on a date.” “Nothing happened,” my mom said; “I’m sure nothing, nothing happened.” She was right, of course; other than, as mentioned, the girl figuring out I might be a real surfer, but I wasn’t even or even close enough to her on the social status scale. Fine. Different scales.

Here’s the piece:

SURF MOVIE- HOOVER HIGH- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1968

This was all kind of normal at surf movies, sixteen-millimeter productions shown at high schools and rented theaters, even after “Endless Summer” had made the leap to the big screen.  I had attended a few, Hoover High in San Diego; fifty miles from Fallbrook and at least fifteen miles from the ocean.

This time I was with, rather than one or two of my friends, a date; a girl from my History class, who’d just moved to Fallbrook from Hawaii, said she surfed and would love to go to a surf movie.  I discovered she wasn’t really a surfer by the time I showed her the third or fourth surf spot (Grandview or Beacons, both looking pretty good) on the way down.  She discerned I probably wasn’t in with the rich or popular kids before we got to Windansea.  I drove back on 395.  Closer.  “Fun,” she said.  “Yeah,” I said.  “See you.”  It wasn’t long before she started dating a rich popular kid and I became her “I was new in town” story.

Still, I had enjoyed the movie.  I always enjoyed the scene; surfers hooting, laughing, making that sort of whooshing sound for a slow-motion ride; or being reverently silent; all in unison, all at the appropriate times.  And, even if she wasn’t an actual girlfriend, it was a date; she was pretty cute. She did look like a surfer.

Surf when you can, stay safe, see you around.

Sketches, Okay, Sketches

In introducing his girlfriend to me, and, sorry, I have forgotten her name and I don’t want to guess; Chris Eardly (sp? I thought his name was Etley for a while, which morphed into Ed Lee), added that I did some of the illustrations she had seen at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

Without going into how I hope the omni-demic subsides enough that it can be reopened soon, and I hope Tyler is doing all right… okay, I called, twice, at least… no return call…. ANYWAY, “Oh,” Chris’s girlfriend said, “I really like your sketches.”

SKETCHES? No wonder I forgot her name. I am kidding, sort of; I spend too much time on my illustrations to consider them sketches. BUT, I have been working on some, um, drawings for “Swamis”, which, UPDATE, I have cut down by eight thousand words or so, have made it easier to read. This editing includes establishing clear(er) breaks between time leaps and… AND there will be more cuts to come, all ready for the sequel, “Sideslipping.”

OH, I can see it now: ANYWAY, here are some sketches:

possible Baadal Singh
possible Gingerbread Fred

possible Portia Langworthy

As with everything else, I’m working on it.I
Meanwhile, please continue down to the next post, it should explain possible Portia’s wardrobe. Oh, and if you notice the lighting seems similar on the various sketches, you’re right. I am calling it “Swamis lighting.” Stay safe.

Pan This Damn-Demic

For a small time contractor in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been kind of like a continuation of winter, but with better weather.

Not so much fun. Hope you’re staying safe. The new equivalent of Aloha, of hello and goodbye, seems to be “stay safe.” Backup is “six feet,” which, depending on how loud one says it, also means “Backup!”

Not really what I want to write about. I’m working on multiple fronts on completing “Swamis,” that is, making it better. Better includes, from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, means less complicated. So, editing. Work.

MEANWHILE, I’m working on a TREATMENT, outline, first step toward something my wordy novel is perfect for, motion picture. More like a series; it’s that complex.

MEANWHILE, I’m also trying to get some illustrations together. Here are the latest:

This didn’t start out to be Chulo; now it is.

Swamis Point with some sort of bloop on the screen. Flipping Corona. No doubt. More illustrations on the way; waiting for some from Stephen R. Davis. MEANWHILE, I do need an agent. Here’s the pitch: “Swamis,” 1969.

So far it hasn’t sold itself. Working on it. Stay safe. Six feet.

More Work is, Evidently, Necessary

I’ve sent out copies of the unexpurgated version of “Swamis” to several people. This waiting for a response, as noted in an earlier post, tends to push one further into the area of neurosis previously only visited for, say, a long weekend. That was before the omni-demic pushed the boundaries of crazzzzzinesssss to the place where we are now.

So, if I’m a bit more crazed, maybe, statistically, I’m pretty much where I was. If some of us could just go surfing, then, maybe, perhaps, then… we…

Anyway, I have gotten some feedback; and it’s mostly that I need to make “Swamis” less confusing, less prone to jumping forward and backward in time and place, fewer peripheral scenes; more reader friendly. I already knew I would have to drop some of the side stories. The thing is, I have enough of those to write another book. Maybe I will.

“Side-slipping.”

Meanwhile, I am trying to get some more drawings together, hopefully enough to put in with each chapter. Since I need to break the manuscript into more chapters, I evidently need more illustrations. I do have Stephen R. Davis working on a few; and we have discussed the look I’m going for. Black and white, kind of moody… I’m hoping he can do some real portraits of fictional people.

I’ve also discussed formatting and such things with my daughter, Dru, pressing her into service to help put together a slide show of my illustrations (not just surf stuff) that can be shown to folks who are willing to listen to a reading from “Swamis” without having to also look at me reading it. This is for a presentation with the Port Townsend Library, set up by surf rebel librarian Keith Darrock. Not set up yet; we’re working on it.

I’ll let you know, but, meanwhile, out here in crazy land, I am putting a lot of thought into the screenplay version. Too much for a movie. Prime Netflix stuff. It just takes more work. Evidently.

Adaptation and Inspiration and Offshore Winds and Moonlight and Not Much More

Maybe you check the World Surf League site often, even knowing the big time contests are, like just about everything else, on hold, put off, or just plain off; maybe hoping there’s a little video or something  that might give you some inspiration.

If so, you could easily find the photo that I have adapted for this drawing.  I won’t say copied because it’s like, if ten people draw their interpretations of the original Mona Lisa or a statue of David, which one is a copy?  Which one, objectively, does the original justice?  Also, this isn’t the final version.  I’ve done some printshop magic, reversed the black and white, and added some highlights that will, hopefully, add to the same feel that the original photo has.  I’ve also reversed the image (going left rather than right), made some other changes.

Scan_20200318

Oh, yeah; after Keith Darrock, Olympic Peninsula soul rebel and librarian whose library is currently closed to the public, said “the nose of the board is a little too kicked-up and pointy” I fixed it.  So, sure, I can adapt.

I’m getting ever closer to finishing a full manuscript editing of “Swamis.”  Keith and I have discussed the possibility of doing some sort of online reading.  We’ll see.  I would, of course, let you know.

I hope you’re all hanging in here, adapting to whatever new reality this is; and getting a few sliders when you can.

Flipping Out

I’m a little irritated that I didn’t get up earlier, early enough to get something done on editing “Swamis.”  I’m only about half way through what Microsoft Word is telling me is 240 pages, 117,000 plus words, and I’m hoping to get it all done before reading a bit of it at the Port Townsend Public Library this coming Thursday, 6pm.

Pimping, always pimping; shameless self-promotion.

It’s my own fault, of course; I didn’t have to spend a day arranging, meeting up, loading up, searching for waves, participating in endless hiking, surfing, more hiking, more surfing, more (“It’s good for you”) hiking, repacking, getting back to civilization, stopping at Sunny Farms (Yogurt cone- “Good for you”), not napping; but, then again, maybe I did.

It’s kind of what we do the rest of it for.  ANYWAY, because Trish and I share this (her) computer, and I do my ‘alone time’ in the morning, I do sometimes do some drawing in the evenings/night time.  I did the lower version first, thought it a bit sketchy, did the ‘hold it up to a light’ trace the outline on the new side technique.  That would be the upper drawing.  Then I asked Trish which one she preferred.

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Scan_20200223

Okay, I won’t hold you in suspense; she liked the lower one, even though there are scratchy ‘get the pen going’ lines on the right side.  See?  Here’s a side by side:

All right; now I see problems with both of them.  Maybe tonight I’ll…

Anyway, I had to write a proposal, send off business type emails (painting business), check bank accounts; and now… well, maybe I can do fifteen minutes or so on “Swamis.”

Oh, wait; another thing I enjoy about a multi-person surf strike, and thanks Keith and Steve, is the opportunity to… I don’t have time to get into it right now.  Okay, it’s like we each had a different surf experience, with different highlights; and we each have a slightly different story to tell about the same trip.

And we will.

 

More from “Swamis”

The latest on my the event at the PORT TOWNSEND PUBLIC LIBRARY, 6pm, Thursday, March 5: Surfer/Librarian Keith Darrock and I discussed this, and, of course, surfing, th other day. He offered me a certain dollar amount, a stipend (meaning not much) for reading something at what has always been slated as COWBOY POETRY.  He asked if I wrote my piece, “Never Was a Cowboy” specifically for the event.  Yes.  Oh.  Well, maybe they could increase the stipend (not, like, double).  Oh, but I want to read something from “Swamis,” and I’ve been working as much as possible to get through a total manuscript edit/rewrite, and I’m, right now (but not the other day) up to 100 pages of what Microsoft tells me is 248.                                                                                                                                   Oh. Yeah. So, the deal is, if I can read from both, I’ll take the lesser amount.  Agreed.   Meanwhile, I’m posting more from “Swamis” here.  Now.  The pages here immediately  precede the previous posting.  What? Yeah, if I do this a bit at a time, I could get to the beginning of the novel by… oh, let’s say, March 5, 6pm.                                                          And then, when someone comes across “Swamis,” it’ll make sense to them.              Although the library event is not Erwin-centric, I will have some art pieces, maybe some Original Erwin t-shirts available there, plus, still, the chance to invest in a limited edition unexpurgated (except by me) complete manuscript for one hundred dollars.

SO…

So, more respect than hate.

RESPECT AND THE SECOND TIER

“Chulo,” someone said, his waxed-cardboard milk carton in the air. There was a sort of muffled chorus, “Chulo,” from the surfers on the guardrail. “Limpin’ Jesus,” someone else said. “Fuck you,” several surfers said. “A little respect, please,” Virginia Cole said; then added, “Dickwad.”

I wanted to say it; “Dickwad,” and would have if I had been part of this group.

I would have said that, maybe, his being burned up was some sort of reaction or reference to the burning at the stake, by people who considered themselves Christians, of numerous heretics and witches and political rivals and… yeah; there was a lot I was almost ready to say out loud.

“They’re saying it’s some sort of… cult thing.” “Maybe it’s kinda like… you know, those monks burning themselves up over in Vietnam.” “No; dork; that was… political.” “Did you see it? I mean, the… the burn marks. It was, shit, there were…” “The smell.” “barbeque.” “Ohhh; ick.” “All the cops. Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s deputies… detectives.” “Yeah.” “One of them asked me about Gingerbread Fred.” “Really?” “They can’t find him.” “No shit?” “One asked me about the Jesus Freaks.” “What?” “Yeah, about, you know, Portia.” “Really?” “No.” “Yes.”

One of the guys had looked at me when someone said, “deputies,” a single word in a sentence stopped when he elbowed the guy next to him. “Oh,” I thought, “so someone knows who I am.”

No, they all knew.

“Drugs.” That was a statement. Though it was made in the direction of the water, it was meant for the surfers on the rail, and loud enough, grownup enough for the adjacent surfers, the second tier; me; me and a couple of other surfers who knew better than to get too close to the local crew. Not that any of us formed a second-tier crew. Maybe two guys had come to Swamis together, but, no, random loners- and not in a cool-loner James Dean kind of way.

“Wally,” someone behind me (third tier if I was second tier) said, sort of in a whisper, to the guy with him. “Kneeboarder.”

“Drugs,” the older man, Wally, repeated; “One way or the other. Drugs. I’ve told you; you do illegal drugs, you have to hang out with criminals.”

Wally was a kneeboarder. Even his kneeboard, yellowed, beat up, patched-up, homemade, was old, on top of the pile on his car, parked three over from mine. One of the teenagers on the rail, part of the crew he drove around at dawn, was, I found out much later, his son. My age. Wally had walked from the direction of the new, brick bathrooms and the green, wood outhouse (still there at that time for some reason) and the stairs (at least two other stair systems since then), and had positioned himself, a bit offset, but between the bluff and the guardrail surfers. Having gotten everyone’s attention, he looked out at the water. Optimum view. As I said.

The guardrail crew reacted. “Maybe… I don’t think Chulo was even a stoner. Maybe…” “Really, man?” “Chulo? No.” “Maybe he was a narc.” “Fuck you, man. Narc? Chulo? He did time.” “Hey, A-hole; either he was a stoner and the cops… I mean…” “Oh; so, like, if Chulo was a narc…”

Wally walked past the teenagers, and stopped at the front door of my car, put his hand on my latest backyard board, seven-two, reshaped from a glass-stripped nine-six. He nodded. I nodded.

“DeFreines,” he said. “Knew your dad. Didn’t like him so much, to be honest.”

“Well.” I shrugged.

“Hassled me a few times.” We both shrugged. “Say… this board…” He was running his hand down the rail line. “…looks like you made it with an ax.”

“Pretty much. To be honest.”

Wally chuckled. “You ride it well, though.”

“I, um… thanks.”

A couple of the surfers might have looked our way. Can’t say. I was afraid to look in case they were watching.

”Chuck you, Farley; go back off in your own jackyard,” one of them said. “Geez, man; so uncool.”

“You kids,” Wally said, turning toward his crew.

He took several steps, pretty much to the front of the Falcon.

“Narcs,” I said. Not loud enough. “Narcs” I said again, louder.

Each person in the loose crowd, including Wally, looked at me before he (or she- the one girl, Ginny- remember?) looked in the direction I had nodded.   They weren’t narcotics officers. I knew that. “Detectives,” I said, a little louder, hands at my mouth to (try to) focus my voice.

A big, American-made, unmarked police car; tan in color, the ‘varmint lights,’ the plain hubcaps, and a “Del Mar Fair” decal on the back bumper being the clues; had driven past, on the other side of the mostly empty, double-row spots. The taillights stayed on for a while after it was parked in the dead end of the lot. Both front doors opened. Detectives.

DEL MAR FAIR

We had one of these Del Mar Fair stickers on the Falcon. Mark, one of my friends from school, and, more so, from the Boy Scouts; a sometime-surfer, pointed out this real-or-imagined detail of unmarked police cars. “Yeah,” I’d said, “My Dad put it on the wagon; it’s sort of a, um, like, ‘don’t pull me over’ kind of, uh, code.” This prompted several other friends to acquire and display similar decals.

The decal, faded, was still there on the Falcon. The one on the unmarked car was newer. Southern California Exposition. Yeah. It was always the Del Mar Fair to locals.

DOUBLE EAGLES

Two detectives, so obviously cops, approached. Both were in their mid-forties. One was taller; tall, California Highway Patrolman-tall (they had height restrictions); the other huskier. Both had cop mustaches, no farther than the edges of their mouths; both had the apparently-standard cop brushcuts (basically combed back, but not long enough to actually go back- so, kind of straight up); one had sideburns that probably hit the limit of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office hair code; each detective sported a colorful and wide tie to, I thought, offset their drab suits, to look hip. Hipper.

One of the detectives stopped at the passenger side of my car, the other one came around the back and stopped at the driver’s door. Each was sort of smiling; though it was more a ‘don’t you move’ smile.

Oh. I was the only surfer left.

The shorter detective opened the passenger side door, then looked at me, didn’t look inside, but, instead, looked up and around and out. The sun shone through the overcast, but only on the horizon. The south wind had calmed. “Nice view,” he said, pointing at the water. Then he looked inside the car.

“Optimum,” I said.

Wally’s car made a completely unnecessary loop around the parking lot and past me and the detectives. The two surfers on the passenger side, front and back, of the too many crammed into Wally’s old car (three in the front, four in the back, Ginny and the two smallest guys in the middle positions, Ginny in the front seat, both on the driveline hump), boards and a kneeboard piled on top; flashed the peace sign as they passed me. One of them pointed forward. I knew all the locals were laughing.

I returned the peace sign, spun my hand, dropped the pointer finger, added the left hand in a double flip-off. The double eagle. I only dropped my hands, and slowly, as I turned toward the taller detective, just walking past the opened tailgate, and threw my hands onto the roof of the car.

The tall detective smiled, waved off my over-reaction. He opened my driver’s side door, looked at three schoolbooks, identified with psychedelic lettering, decorated with surfing drawings on the grocery bag brown book covers (Buy and Save Market, Fallbrook); several notebooks; various 4 and 8 Trac tapes scattered on the seat. He looked for the player. Not installed under the dashboard.

The shorter detective pulled it from beneath the seat on the passenger side, looked at the tangle of after-market wiring. “Oh. So. Stolen. Obviously.” He ripped the wires loose from the back of the tape deck, set it and one of my notebooks on the roof, between the racks, next to my ax-shaped surfboard.

I took the notebook back, said, “Not stolen. Mine.” I tucked it under my left arm.

The taller detective opened the back door. The seats were down. There were two other boards, damp towels, trunks, paper bags, empty cigarette and donette packages, empty chocolate milk containers; mildew and sweat and that burn-barrel beach smell. He swung the door back and forth a few times, with a “whe-eew;” then left it open.

“We’re just asking a few questions,” he said. He had a very deep, smoker-and-whiskey voice. “Got a license, son?” I pulled my billfold out of my back pocket, stuck the license toward him.

They, of course, knew who I was. Even if they hadn’t recognized me (which they did), they had to recognize the Falcon. Of course. This was for show. Cop shit.

The two detectives and I looked around at the same time, moments after the one syllable ‘whoop’ of a police siren.

Three Sheriff’s vehicles and a Highway Patrol car, lights on, blocked the only entrance to the lot, the only exit to 101. Except, yes, by foot. Some of the parking lot folks had just wandered off, past the SRF gate, and up the highway. Wally’s car hadn’t quite escaped. He would be hassled.

“Oh,” the taller detective said, holding my license close to my face, then leaning down and closer; “hadn’t seen you in a while, kid. The, um, funeral; maybe.”

No. I hadn’t looked at any faces there. There had been other occasions; the bowling alley, softball games, picnics. He would have been half-drunk, at least; and never able to beat my dad at… anything.

“Wendall,” I said. “Or, as my father always said, ‘Never win Wendall.’ How’s it going?”

The other detective laughed from the other side of the car, walked around the back side. “Never winned-at-all,” he said.

I didn’t look at either of them. Couldn’t. Not if I wanted to maintain my attitude, my cool, tough attitude. More cool than tough.

Placing the notebook onto the dashboard, I pulled the pack of Marlboros from my windbreaker, pinched a cigarette out, took the ‘Carlsbad Liquor’ pack of matches out, looked at the logo, at the two detectives; opened the pack, red stains against the back of the cover. “Too wet,” I said. Detective Wendall stuck a cigarette in his mouth, lit mine with a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department-logoed zippo. “Or ‘Swindling Wendall’,” I said, with a (confident, I hoped) smile; “that was the nickname my dad preferred.”

“Swindling Wendall” the other detective said, with a laugh and a hit to his partner’s shoulder.

I pulled a Zippo, identical to Wendall’s, from the right front pocket of my pants. “We knew,” I said. “Acted like we didn’t. He acted like he didn’t know we knew.” Wendall nodded. “Quicky-Dick Dickson,” I said, putting the wet matches back into the windbreaker, checking the group standing almost casually outside Wally’s car. Casual under pressure; that was the ultimate in surfer style.

Style was and is the ultimate goal in surfing.

JUST SAY THANK YOU

I could see the back of the very-tall (of course) Highway Patrolman. Wally, five teenage boys, with Ginny Cole in the middle, were all looking at me and Wendall and Dickson; and I was thinking only about how much I looked like a fucking narc.

It was too close and too fast to focus. I doubled over, Dickson’s fist still in my stomach. The cigarette popped out of my mouth, onto his shoulder. Wendall brushed it off, Dickson’s fist now a hand on my shoulder. It wasn’t until then that I felt the pain. I stood up straight. This was necessary, this was mandatory.

My father would have demanded it.

“Just say ‘thank you,’ Jody.”

Dickson picked up the cigarette and stuck it back in my mouth.

“Thank you.”

YOU SURFING OR WHAT

An hour or so later; If the swell hadn’t arrived, the crowd had. The cop cars were gone. Vehicles belonging to weekend surfers and families filled the lot. There was a Chevy van, jacked-up in the back, on one side of my car, a VW station wagon (Variant), two boards still on top, one door open, the three surfers who had been in it at the edge of the bluff, dancing around, pointing; all hooting; occasionally, in unison.

I guessed they’d trade off on the boards. Maybe one was a body surfer. It’s not that I cared all that much; I just wondered which one would not share his board.

The San Dieguito crew hadn’t returned. Somewhere else must be better. 15th Street, maybe, in Del Mar, Seaside Reef in Solana Beach. I was digging in the backseat area of the car, pulling out trash, putting it in an old canvas-like feed bag; already two-thirds full. My damp gear was spread out on the hood, all three of my boards now tied on the rack. The very back storage area was, I thought, pretty organized. I raised the tailgate. It snapped closed. I started to crank the window closed, then took a sniff, left it open, pulled the release, let the tailgate fall open.

From an open side door, I set the seat backs into the upright position, pulled up the seat itself, removing more trash from where the back seat was supposed to rest, raking the papers and wrappers toward me using a paper bag from the fairly-recently-opened Carlsbad Jack-in-the-Box. *Fast food.

There were some things stuck between the springs of the seat, farther in than three or four papers, folded in the middle, crumpled, pushed into the spaces to help hold the heavier objects. I pulled out a small towel, the type bowlers use. “Back Gate Lanes” was printed on it, red-on-yellow (Marine Corps colors, if I have to say it).

Stretching into the car, I unwrapped the towel. Rather, I started to unwrap it. I felt it; a pistol; a revolver, and four bullets, contained in a separate rag; all wrapped in an oily rag, that in a canvas (thin, but not plastic) bag, cinched up at one end. I put my hand inside the bag, onto the grip.

Something fell out of the bag. A key. Not a house key. Locker key. I picked it up with my left hand. There was, rather than a key ring, a wire through the top of the key and attached to a piece of metal, probably one-and-a-half inches by two-and-a-half, and probably taken from (I figured this out later) a fire extinguisher holder. “For Emergency use only” was stamped into it.

I chuckled. Probably.

Someone hit my butt. I tensed, my hand going into position; hand on the grip, finger near, but not on, the trigger; thumb ready to cock the hammer. The towel fell away.

“We surfing or what?”

It was Ray’s voice, from behind me; but Phillip’s face was in the passenger side window. Phillip was looking at the pistol. He was looking shocked. He looked away too suddenly.

I let go of the pistol; closed up the bag, wrapped it back in the towel, shoved it all back between the same springs in the seat; pulled myself backward, dropped the seat into position.

Phillip was now on the driver’s side, trying to act as if he hadn’t seen the pistol. We both did. Try. “Ray; Phil; great to… yeah; we… where are you parked?”

Phillip pointed around the corner. “101, this side of the Sunset shop.”

“Is this where you’re moving to?” Ray asked. “A car in the parking lot.”

“Good location,” Phillip said.

“Optimum view,” I said.

“So,” Ray asked, “again, are we surfing or what?”

*I discovered, as soon as I had a car to go through the drive-through, that fast food is not a great pre-surf choice. Prone paddling puts a certain stress on one’s stomach, chest; belching can be unpleasant.

So, more respect than hate.

“Swamis,” copywrite 2020, Erwin A. Dence, Jr.

“Swamis” Update, Two Chapters, and a Special Offer

Okay, here’s the UPDATE: Although I edited the shit out of the manuscript as I went along, once I (finally) got to THE END, I began re-editing.  Now, I did think this process would be easy and quick.  Not really; it’s kind of like work.  And, it’s not really getting shorter.  I was at about 110 thousand words and somewhere around 240 pages.  Now, having re-edited, “Swamis” is up to 114,000 or so words and I’m up to about page 60, so, somewhere around a fourth of the way through.                                                                    And, the thing is, every time I open it up I want to make some sort of change, including when I moved two chapters over here, somehow managing to get four copies of what I copied, this forcing me to either backspace or highlight and delete.  I couldn’t help reading a bit, couldn’t help thinking this could be just a bit… better.

I’ve included TWO CHAPTERS from fairly early on in the manuscript.  I did, previously, put the first so many chapters on this site, but, one, finding them might require scrolling down quite a ways, and two, they’ve been changed.                                                                  By way of explanation, the notes at the beginning of each chapter are those, supposedly taken at the time, of the fictional author of the fake memoir.

Since I am sure that “Swamis,” once published, will have significant changes from whatever the manuscript, once I take my hands off the keyboard and get, once again, to THE END, and because I’m always looking for some way to support my writing/drawing/surfing/surviving addictions, other than painting my ass off; I am seriously considering printing up TEN COPIES of “SWAMIS,” including some of the illustrations, all on cheap white paper, probably using both sides, putting them in a cardboard, three-hole binder (as one would a screenplay), maybe printing up the color version of the “Swamis” title page, glue-sticking it on the cover of the binder, signing and numbering each one, and offering them for a cool $100.00 each, American currency.     Again, this will be the original manuscript; unexpurgated, uncensored.                                 I say this is an investment, and like all investments, it’s a gamble.                                         When others are binge watching episodes on Netflix or Amazon, the proud owner of the manuscript will have the opportunity to say; “Oh, here’s another place where they Hollywoodized the shit out of “Swamis.”

Anyway, I’ve been betting on this for a while. MEANWHILE, I do plan on reading something from it at the PORT TOWNSEND PUBLIC LIBRARY on THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 6:00 PM.  Whoa, that’s coming up; I better get to editing.

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 1969- BEANERS

-Grndvw, 2-4, bigger sets. 2 swim-ins. Jumper at Grocery. He knows Tony. Check cashing f/workers. Hung posters in my new room-

It was mid-afternoon, early in my shift at the San Elijo Grocery in Cardiff; and I was bagging groceries for a particularly talkative woman; somewhat older than my mother, dressed in a house dress, some sort of white scarf thing on her head, curlers bulging in some sort of random alignment under it. So, since women my mom’s age tried to look younger, hipper; this woman was, yes, older.

“Durn Texans,” she said, “worst kind of tourists.” She was talking more to the similarly aged checker, Tony’s sister-in-law, Doris. Doris was nodding politely, looking at price tags on some items (most she knew), hitting keys. It was more than halfway through Doris’s shift and some of her willingness to chit-chat enthusiastically had worn off. “Surfers,” the customer said, kind of looking at me. “Surfers from… Texas. Texas? What do you think… (looking at the name tag on my apron) Jody? Jody?”

“Jody?” I mouthed, looking at the nametag on my bright green apron; acting as if it wasn’t my name. It wasn’t. I’d been looking for another, better nickname for years. Jody was my father’s joke. Jody.

“Jody’s got your girlfriend,” my father would say, drill instructor voice pop-pop-popping the cadence. “One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four… one-two…three-four.” Jody.

I shrugged, said “Texas,” pretty much under my breath. I had noticed the woman had some sort of east coast accent; northeast, not that I could discern Philadelphia from New Jersey from anywhere else; but she hadn’t lost the European edge, that inflection; rhythm, maybe.

She pulled several items out of the bag I had, probably, overloaded. “I would rather make more trips… Jody. If I had big muscles, like you…” She smiled. I opened another bag. She put her heavy purse on the counter. “They all seem to have money. They want to rent by the week. They get sand in the shower; make a mess. Drink; leave cigarette butts on the patio.”

Paw’-tee-oh.

She looked from me to Doris, Doris now looking for the original price on a dented can of string beans. “One threw up on the sidewalk. Awful.” Back to me. “And… and they chase around our young girls. Believe me, if I didn’t need to keep my rooms rented, I’d…”

I was distracted, not sufficiently interested. I did nod, but the woman could tell I wasn’t even pretending to listen. Still I could tell she was looking me over; me; Jody, in the apron, my hair not long enough to pull back (but parted in the middle), my attempt at a mustache more like peach fuzz. She turned back toward Doris. “Believe me, Doris, if I didn’t charge them Texicans extra, I’d never…” She kept talking; I continued bagging, but I wasn’t listening.

No, I was listening enough to hear when the East Coast Woman whispered something to Doris.

I heard Doris say, “He’s Hawaiian.”

The woman said something about Hawaiian statehood and 1958 and passports.

Jumper Hayes, over by the big front windows, was talking to Tony, the owner of San Elijo Grocery. They, obviously, knew each other. I guessed this might be the first time they’d seen each other since Jumper’s return; each with a hand on the other man’s shoulder; laughing at… laughing at things that weren’t actually funny: Weather, traffic, the effects of the I-5 freeway. Laughing.

Jumper pulled up the left sleeve of his t shirt, poked at a scar on his bicep with his right hand, laughed. Tony started to roll up his right pant leg, stopped, sort of grabbed at it, kicked it out to show it still worked. They both looked over as two young men entered the south doors, each in lightweight white pants and shirts, clothing appropriate for working in hothouses (though more than I would have worn in that wet heat), moving, then standing, obviously nervous, closer to the big bags of dog food, fertilizer, and charcoal; each with a piece of paper, possibly a check, in his hand, each with his straw version of the cowboy hat in the other.

“Wetbacks,” the woman, Motel Owner, said. “Beaners,” she added, louder, in case Doris or I hadn’t gotten it. I put her ice cream in a white, insulated paper bag, placed it in with her TV dinners. “Guess they can’t just go to the bank like regular folks, and…”

Tony, an older man (in his mid-40s, I now calculate, well within my category of ‘older’ then) with a bow tie, a vest, and one side of his dress shirt untucked, did his sort of half-limp walk over to the other register, opened it with one of the keys on his belt. Jumper followed him, stood beside him. The two workers, on a signal from him, backed up by a nod from Jumper, approached. Jumper handed one a pen, pointed to the back of the check.

“Y’all need some help out with that, Ma’am?” It was the closest I could come to a Texas accent.

A woman with two children, one in the cart, her free arm holding the older child’s right arm pretty much straight up; approached the other register. She looked at the two men taking their cash. Each one folded and pocketed the bills, nodded toward Tony, then Jumper, put on his hat, nodded, slightly, to the woman before backing up and stepping away. The woman looked at Tony, rearranging bills in his cash drawer. She looked concerned. She looked at Jumper.

Jumper gave her a sort of matador ‘you’re next’ sweep, stepped back. Tony stuck his hand out, grasped Jumper’s, looked at the woman, put his other hand on Jumper’s shoulder.

“You’re next, ma’am,” Tony said, brushing his hand across the counter in a lesser version of the matador sweep.

Jumper smiled at the child in the cart, smiled at the kid not yet released from his mother’s grasp. He nodded at Tony and smiled (no more than a friendly smile) at the woman.

I may have neglected to mention that Jumper Hayes was quite handsome. The woman smiled back, let go of the bratty child, who, immediately, grabbed a candy bar from a nearby rack, stuck it, wrapper and all, in his mouth.

“Walter Maxwell McKay,” she said, a bit louder than she’d probably expected it to be. She gave Jumper an apologetic smile. He gave her an understanding smile. Tony gave me and Doris and the Motel Owner a different kind of understanding smile. He then gave me a nod that meant I would be helping the Motel Owner out to her car.

Jumper, Tony, Walter Maxwell’s mother, and her two children; with Walter Maxwell now back in the cart; seemed to be enjoying the moment. I didn’t look over as the Motel Owner and I passed Tony’s register. “I went to Hawaii once,” she said, “On the ‘Matsonia.’ Me and my… my husband.” Just past the only other checkout station at San Elijo Grocery, she stopped, pointed toward the north exit. We got to pass Tony, Jumper, Mrs. McKay, her two kids again, Motel Owner clutching the strap of her purse, her receipt, and her green stamps in one hand, close to her body, her other hand on the cart. As if I needed her help.

FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 1969- CHUBASCO

Pre-dawn chk Grndvw; Closed out. Chubasco. Jumper. Talked. Clld me bagboy. Swamis. 6-8. 3 tubes. Mostly inside peak, some connected f/outside. Jmpr told some locals I’m his neighbor, might be allright-

I was taking one last look from the bluff at Grandview, trunks and towel over my board; just in case the waves were not what they sounded like in the dark; the loud crack of an outside wave over the almost constant roar of those already broken.   It had to be surf from some distant storm, some hurricane, some chubasco off Baja, or… I didn’t really know; I had heard some swells come from as far away as New Zealand. The fetch. Energy. Traveling. Hitting islands, wrapping around headlands; peeling; like the images from the magazines; perfect, a slideshow in my mind.

No, this wasn’t that; this was disorganized energy spread out, waves overtaking other waves, closing out in deep water on a couple of miles of fairly even shoreline.

I was listening to the heavy ocean rhythm, peering into the darkness, watching the slideshow.

“One thousand seven, one thousand eight.” Fingers snapped close to my right ear. Someone’s face was very close to mine. Too close. “Oh. Okay.”

“What?” I blinked. The face was gone.

“Bagboy.” He may have said it more than once. “Bagboy; it’s closed-out.” I didn’t respond. “Fallbrook.”

“What?” I turned to my right.

Jumper Hayes stepped around, from my left, and was almost in front of me. “Fallbrook. Bagboy. You.”

“Don’t live in Fallbrook anymore. After graduation, we…” He cut me off with a swipe of a hand.

“Man,” he said, “you were just so… focused. I circled you three times.” He held three fingers pretty close to my face. “Focused.”

“Guess so.”

“But you’re back now?”

“Yeah.” I blinked a few times.

“Pretty scary. The staring. I’ve seen that kind of thing before.”

“I was, um, thinking. Focused, I guess; like you said.”

“Focused then. Sure. Thought maybe you were stoned out.”

I shook my head, chuckled at the very idea. Stoned out. “Three times, huh?” He nodded, put the three fingers back up. “Not stoned out.”

“All right.” There were conversational delays, pretty typical. Coolness etiquette requires one not to be too rushed, too enthusiastic. Surfers were expected to be cooler than most. Jumper was skilled in coolness etiquette. Though we had never been introduced, and neither of us introduced ourselves at that time, we both acted as if we had. “So, not a valley cowboy; huh?” He bowed his legs in a sort of stage cowboy movement.

“Never was.”

“But you did live in Fallbrook. Right?” I nodded. “Maybe your daddy knew enough to not live where he worked.” I probably looked suspicious, guarded. I was suspicious of anyone who mentioned my father. Apprehensive would be more accurate. “Don’t blame him.” I didn’t have time to respond. “You going out here, Bagboy?”

“I, um… it’s pretty, uh, big. Got to be tough to get out. Not too many lulls. Maybe it’ll…” I stopped myself. With there now just enough light, though pretty much only in shades of gray, I could see long, almost unbroken lines, ugly green gray, no discernible peak, closing out farther out than I’d ever surfed. “You?”

“Hey, Fallbrook; I will if you will.”

“Really?” I may have been a little too thrilled (or petrified) by this statement.

“Fuck no, bagboy; it’s fuckin’ closed out. There’s no glory in surfing this shit.”

“I guess not,” I said. ‘Glory?’ I thought. I would rerun this brief conversation, as I do with almost every conversation, back through my mind. Later. Always. Glory?

“Now, Swamis…” He waited a second. I tried to nod slowly, like I hadn’t already thought of Swamis. “Tide’s dropping. Swamis should be… fun.”

Jumper turned, walked away. I followed. He turned around, walking backward, about halfway to the street, at the place where I could go down the washout or back to my car. “Should be,” I said, breaking into a run as I passed him.

“Swamis,” copywrite 2020. Erwin A. Dence, Jr.                                                                              If you are interested in a copy of the original, you can email me at rainshadowranch@hotmail.com