Stephen Davis Gets a Barrel (Roll)…

HEY, REALSURFERS, my site is a mess. I’m aware of this. I decided it might be easier to just do a monthly thing, adding new stuff when it comes up; probably not a good idea, but… hey, here’s something I came across in my many-times-daily search for whatever information I can find to determine when I can best avoid getting skunked.  IS IT A GHOST SURFER, or someone who went out in storm surf, found a corner of a wave in the corner of the bay, and got on camera?  I don’t know; couldn’t help but share it.

OKAY, and, incidentally, it’s also Barrel-roll Stephen Davis’s birthday; and he’s lucky to have made it to this one. Read on; there’s other new stuff.

…ADAM WIPEOUT wades into the crowds in Southern California; ARCHIE ENDO heads back to Thailand; the (UNOFFICIAL) PORT TOWNSEND CREW (with HamaHama backup/alternate) hike (to a non-secret-but-unnamed spot) in, separately and together, and score; MANY SURFERS travel and get skunked; ANOTHER BEACH ACCESS IS SHUT DOWN, another ACCESS IS THREATENED; I sneak in a few sliders before THE WESTPHALIANS show up;  and other news that doesn’t include revealing any secret spots on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Steve at one of his day jobs, pre-roll.

But first… Headed up a Big Island highway at six in the morning on Friday the 13th, en route to his job (one of his jobs) as a crew member (and guy who swims with dolphins AND tourists) on a catamaran built and owned by legendary surfer Woody Brown; Hydrosexual STEPHEN DAVIS, in his words, “Nearly met my maker.”

“Oh,” I said, Saturday afternoon, Steve having called me back while I was on a slippery roof trying to finish a paint job; “But you’re okay. Right.” “Kind of. I’ll send you some photos.” “Okay. I mean, but you’re okay.”

“Mostly. The first thing I did when I got out of the car was say, ‘Mother-fucker!'”

We both laughed. Since he was okay, I was imagining Steve’s impression of me in boss mode, crouching-down, hands splayed-out, saying, “What the fuck?” Yeah, it’s pretty accurate; at work; never in the water- very chill, not as chill as Steve.

I didn’t look at the photos until a couple hours later. Steve’s quick reactions, no doubt, saved his life. A DISTRACTED DRIVER was in Steve’s lane, head-on. Steve swerved, the other car hit him in more of a glancing blow.

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WAIT! WHAT! Yeah, a glancing blow that…WHAT! I had to text Stephen. It went like this:

“Did your rig flip?” “Several flips and spins. It was upside down when it came to rest. Had to kick the door open all laying on my head.” “Geez, man, just had a chance to look at the photos. thank you Jesus. Trish and I are en route to Mass.” “Ya. Super grateful.(emojis) Will you thank God for me please?” “Sure, already working on it, and trish has a bit more clout, and I’m sure your appreciation is noted. You were definitely barreled.”  “Gracias. (more emojis).”  A bit later; “Okay, mentioned your accident to the Priest. You’re all set. Be strong. No, you are strong.”  “Mahalo (emojis).”

Now, please don’t think I’m like, super religious; but I am a believer in something mysterious and beyond our understanding.  I think Stephen ‘Barrel-roll’ Davis is, too. I was ready to drop the ‘hydrosexual’ part of Steve’s nickname anyway; getting too many spam attacks from porno promoters.

OKAY, I have to go. I’ll get back to the other alluded-to news; but, ARCHIE seems to be stronger than when he arrived in the northwest after over 90 days in the hospital after a stroke in Thailand. Part of this has to be due to the above-mentioned Stephen Davis taking him to the pool in Sequim. “He lit up like Christmas,” Steve said. AND Archie is talking about getting back in the surf. Better. He better.

ADAM JAMES, on a surf-and-oyster-sales-related trip, surfed Pipes, twice at Swamis, another time at San Onofre (that I know of), tried to teach northwest-style surf etiquette to my old surfing grounds.

WAIT, here’s an UPDATE (October 16)- Now Adam has added MALIBU, VENTURA POINT, AND COUNTY LINE to his list of Southern California conquests. Nice business trip.

County Line from the rental van.

SO, parking in someone’s yard to access a rivermouth break west of Port Angeles, which has been shut down before, is shut down again. Plans for a Land Trust parking area are stalled, on hold, or just not happening, and the alternative is a long walk. When some surfers from Port Townsend hiked in from one direction recently, they found other surfers from Town who hiked in from the other direction.

AND, AGAIN, people who camp out overnight in a parking area/access to another rivermouth spot are SERIOUSLY RISKING the closure of this area. IT IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. Park somewhere else. Please.  Thanks. As far as surf etiquette is concerned; it takes some nerves to tell a local at any break that, “Hey, that was my wave.” And, I think Adam is planning on hitting Malibu before he comes back home. “Excuse me, but; you know; I’ve been waiting, and…”

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Two title illustrations for “Inside Break,” the Novelization

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Using the photograph used as an illustration in Chapter 3 of “Inside Break,” the novelization, I did a larger drawing, had it reduced and several copies made at the local (Port Townsend Printery) print shop. I then added color to two of the drawings. The top one is the one Trish preferred. I’d like to say I preferred the lower one, but, never totally satisfied, I went back to the original and colored it in. Now I have to wait until I can get back to PT to get it reduced to a size I can use. You have to know I’d love to add some color to the graphics.

I would really appreciate it if you could read some or all of the novel. I’m really trying (honest) to keep the writing tight and on point, but, there are just so many angles, so many other surf stories. Oh, yeah; that’s why I started this site; because real surfers have real stories in common, and each of us has a few that are just ours.

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INSIDE BREAK- Loves and Wars and Surf and Magic- Chapter Three

INSIDE BREAK- The Novelization- CHAPTER THREE-

So far: In 2004, Alvin Hubbard and his twenty-three year old daughter Elizabeth are in San Diego, taking off at dawn to check a few surf spots, part of a very busy agenda.

In Fallbrook, California, 1967, sixteen year old Alvin and friends, Sam and Ben, take off at dawn, riding with (and this is unusual) older surfer Riley Cooper, boyfriend of Ben’s sister, Catherine. They are planning to surf at San Onofre. Barely under way, Riley’s VW bus gets pulled over.

Pretty exciting, huh?

Remember, [ brackets ] mean optional reading, [[ doubles ]] mean extra credit.

 

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, NORTH COUNTY

“Surf Route 101,” Elizabeth said, repeating what I’d just said, lowering her window to take in some of the sea air. “Magic-al.” She looked over at me until I looked around. “So, when you were a kid you thought these beach towns were magic…al.”

“Still do. Thanks for the correction. Fancy Jesuit education. No, it’s fine. And every time my family’d go through Del Mar, my Dad would say, ‘Del Mar by sea.’ And I’d never correct him because…”

“Respect? Fear?”

“We’ll say respect.” I gave my daughter a look to tell her I wasn’t really serious. She gave me a look that said she knows that actually, I kind of meant it. “And he’d always say ‘You know, Desi Arnaz lives here,’ and we’d look around.” Elizabeth and I looked around, maybe out of respect.

I pulled off 101, long called, ‘the 101.’ The 101. I wanted to show my daughter a house on the bluff her uncle once owned. Couldn’t fine it. “A lot more eucalyptus then,” I said. “Less…” I looked at the seemingly unending line of condos.

The surf was small, maybe smaller, but the clouds were beginning to thin as we dropped out of Solana Beach. On the 101, bluffs, the tail ends of the coastal hills, the populated areas, are split by low sections, remnants of wetter times.

 

[I wanted to, but didn’t mention how there were once trailer parks on each of these places, hugging the north ends of bluff sections, protected from the south winds; closer to sea level. [[ This is probably where the First People would have lived, closer to migrating fish and birds and abundant supplies of abalone and lobster, close to fresh water. ]] I thought there was one trailer park left, Seaside Reef. I surfed there. Once. I didn’t notice it in passing.]

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We moved, a few miles under the speed limit, along these flats, toward Cardiff. There were cars in the parking lot, surfers out, spread along the multiple sections created by the in and outflow of the slough.

“No stories?”

“No new ones. Last time I surfed here, your mother didn’t want to fight the crowds. She may have been pregnant.”

“May have been?”

“Yeah. She was. It was big and… on the news… ‘Big Swell!’ Everywhere else was closed out. Not Swami’s; crowded, couldn’t get close. But your… pregnant… mother didn’t want to do the stairs anyway; so, we went here, but north of the real break.”

We were past it, the real Cardiff Reef, now, waiting at the light. “I think I did make it out, caught one wave, then, trying to get out again, I saw…”

I waited for my daughter to finish the story.

“Two surfers on one wave, one on top of the other. Double overhead! Cowabunga!” Cowabunga. She said it to herself. Slower. “What does cowabunga actually mean, Daddy?”

“Oh. Um. As nearly as I can, um, translate… Yippee!”

“Yippee!” she said as I gunned it at the green light.

“Yippee!”

In the time it took to drive the distance of the state park and the couple of hundred yards between Pipes and the Hansen shop, make a left turn/uuey, then circle the Swamis parking lot, unexpectedly full, and drive the same distance back, now closer to the bluff and the view, I had pointed out that, at one time, back around 1970, surfers had to sort of shimmy around the northern-most post on a chain-link fence to access the spot.

 

[I didn’t have time to get into my whole history there before we found a convenient parking spot. Indeed, it was the first one in the line of spots, mere feet outside the very fence post I’d spoken of. If my daughter hadn’t jumped out of the wagon so quickly I could have told her, again, how we started surfing here before it was officially opened as a State Park; how the waves seemed transparent, the water clear, the… and there was the time her grandmother, as always, had built a fire on the beach, and along came this Park Ranger, and… moments later, he was kicking sand toward the fire, and my mother, probably holding one of my younger siblings, was kicking back; and Ben and I were in the water, afraid to come back in, and…]

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I paused my mental Pipes mixed tape, got out of the car, looked for Sam.

The access was now, and had been for years, open, allowing those with California State Park passes to park inside, close to the bluff, north of the campsites. These were mostly families, I’d guess, on weekends. On this day it seemed like it was mostly guys a few years older than me, possibly retired (assholes). They could lean on the hoods or sit in the open backs of their surf rigs, or hang on the bluffside fence, talk story with their buddies, look down at the surf, each peak now named or, at least, recognized. North Stairs, Traditional (real) Pipes, Access Peak, Swamis Shorebreak.

I recognized Sam right away; an older version with the same stance, to the left, against the mesh of the fence. He had said he might be surfing, but there he was, reddish blonde hair now mostly gray, a little… let’s say, thin spot in the back (he had said, on the phone, that he wasn’t bald). Balding; maybe.

Sam seemed to be watching Elizabeth as she ran to the cinderblock bathrooms. Yeah, that was Sam.

 

[Sam was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, kind of the street uniform of surfers over fifty. Sam’s was tucked in; mine, untucked, unbuttoned, worn, northwest-style, over a longer, and long-sleeved, Carhartt t shirt. My Hawaiian shirt was a gift from my older son, and nobody had to know it came from Walmart. Sam was wearing Levis, properly faded, and sandals, expensive versions of classic go-aheads. Without socks, of course. Tan feet. I was wearing Dockers; standard for non-surfers, men my, our age, professional men with multiple stops to make; less cool men. Me.

Yeah, but the slacks were teamed up with well- worn Birkenstocks, sandals that had been to Italy. Still, mine was an outfit that whispered, “I used to be cooler.” And, yeah, I was wearing socks, dark, to go with the Dockers. Again, a northwest thing.]

 

Sam wasn’t fat, wasn’t bald; didn’t seem five or six months older than me. There was no way I would have thought he would be fat; fat, not that muscle-recently-turned-south kind, the kind of fat that seems to grow on other fat, like whipped cream over cool whip.

That description; it’s… I did use it in a poem, but, really, it wasn’t quite me. Still, it had been too many years of sitting, of luncheons with clients, of conferences and conventions, not nearly enough surfing.

Below us and straight out, one of the longboarders, wearing a full wetsuit, booties, no gloves, and a boonie hat, took off from the point of the small pack at the peak (Traditional Pipes), dropped in fully, did a casual bottom turn, readjusted to trim at the top of the wave, cross-stepped to a close-footed five, slid his back foot back and dropped lower, his head dip maneuver not quite reaching the lip. When the shoulder went fat, he backpedaled, all in semi-slow motion, cutback. It wasn’t so much casual as slow. He tried to retrim, gather some speed as the wave reformed.

“I’d be going for the standing island,” I said.

“Doesn’t want to lose his hat,” Sam said as the surfer just sort of bogged to a stop, dropped perfectly to his knees, started paddling back to the lineup.

My old surfing buddy turned, extended a right hand. “Owl.” He looked at my glasses through his, properly darkened to the morning glare. “Prescription,” he said. “Built in bi-focals.” He lifted them for a moment to look at my eyes.

“Lasik,” I said, “still wear glasses for… close work.” I laughed. Not really nervously; self-deprecatingly. “Or far away stuff.” I squinted more than I had to.

“Yeah, well,” he said, a lot about time and age unsaid. Implied. Known.

“I think a hug would be… appropriate.” I hadn’t wanted it to sound like a question.

The hug, probably the only one we’d shared between sixth grade and then, was over as Elizabeth approached. She lowered her phone. I introduced her to Sam. “Morning,” she said, switching the phone to her left hand, taking Sam’s extended right hand. She whispered, “Call you back/love you,” into the phone, hit the red button. “Jakes,” she said.

Sam nodded, looked at me, whispered, “Jakes.” I nodded. Sam turned back to Elizabeth. “I saw your dad on TV.”

“Fucking Tony,” I said.

“Fucking Tony,” Elizabeth said.

“Fucking Tony?” Sam asked.

Elizabeth and I both just smiled and nodded.

 

NAVAL AMMUNITION DEPOT (NAD) GATE

Cooper was out of the bus, standing next to a Marine Guard who was bent at the waist, looking at the VW’s oversized back tires and the jagged cut in the side panels. Sam and Ben were looking out from between barely-pulled-back curtains, I was half out of the driver’s side window.

 

[Riley Cooper and some buddies had attempted this customizing. Begun with a hack saw, the job was finished by another guy, with a torch. I had already imagined these guys, Greasers (this still referred, as far as I knew, to those who worked on hot rods), probably an older Cooper brother in the group, all still holding onto flattops and ducksbacks and Brylcreem; gathered around the bus, cutting away on the krout-wagon, the thought being, if Riley was insisting on being a surfer, his vehicle should, at least, be a little more… American.]

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The Marine guard was shaking his head. I’ll spare you the conversation inside the bus, Sam and Ben pulling out their dependent ID cards, their almost brand new Driver’s licenses. Sam said he could tell the guard that they could call his dad, Light Colonel (actually Lieutenant Colonel) Samuel Bostock II, over at ‘Mainside,’ even though we all knew he was in Vietnam.

“They won’t call,” Sam said, and got out through the side door. He looked at the Marine guard, not tall, but thin; and, because he was a Marine, and we all knew what it took to be a Marine, we knew he was tough. Toughened. And he was black.

 

[It was always more difficult to get through the NAD gate than Camp Pendleton’s other three access points. If we couldn’t do the twelve minute drive (or so, and there was a rumor that cars were often timed, and speeders ticketed, and, by God, don’t break down or try to turn off the road), the next choice was heading back, passing Ben’s house, to the ‘back gate’ east of Oceanside. If that was our option, we might as well go on to highway 101 and head up to the San Clemente gate.]

 

That a black Marine was controlling the most direct access to Camp Pendleton for four quite white surfers, and without going into how unusual this might have been in 1967, I should mention what we were wearing, variations on the surfer uniform of the time.

 

[Like the rules of surfing, the surfer uniform was established by peer pressure. Because I started before my peers, I had to go by what real surfers at the beach, mostly Tamarack, were wearing. Actually, being 13, with too many younger siblings, I had to point out to my mother that other surfers weren’t wearing less radical (I’d say ‘more modest’ if we were discussing the semi-opposing implications ‘modest-ness.’) versions of Australian bunhuggers, something like tight boxers rather than briefs, and that Sears, the catalog or the store in San Diego, might not carry the latest in surfing trunks.

My mom tried. When jams, double layered, with a flower print over white material, without the built in underwear (or with the built-ins ripped out), caught on the knees and ripped in the crotch… well, I had to use my own money, dearly earned, to buy my first pair of nylon Jantzens, as featured on the back cover of “Surfer,” the bi-monthly sometimes (but not always) found with the other magazines at the Fallbrook Buy and Save. I’m not sure if it was lying on my part or that Jantzen thought trunks should be worn tight, but the next brother down got those trunks. 32 waist, supposedly, in kind of a burgundy wine color. Only one color.

I probably had some Hang Ten knockoffs by this time (always wanted, never had Kanvas by Katin trunks), with a wax pocket, Velcro, laces, maybe three colors. It was Sam’s joke to say his trunks were ripped, then rip the Velcro. Maybe not just Sam’s.

When I started surfing with Ben, and he (because of his sister, Cathy, I mean Catherine) had access to older surfers, he told me I had to, had to switch to genuine Levis. Sam had started surfing with us before I could actually get some, and he told me to buy them two inches bigger in the length, one in the waist, beat them on the bed when first purchased. If it was hard to get them buttoned after the first wash, perfect. Levis were way cheaper at the PX, and, when I somehow got the $6.50 or so together, Sam got them. Three inches bigger.]

 

Still, there has to be some room for individuality in a sport that’s supposed to be for individuals, rebels.  So, on this day, and now you can try to picture the four white teenagers outside the bus, it outside the gate, parked on the Fallbrook side of Ammunition Road as a steady stream of Civil Service workers and Marines who lived in Fallbrook were checked and waved through, some saluted through. We four surfers were in a sort of curved line, facing the black Marine, he guarding the Navy facility against invasion by communists and dangerous surfers in dangerously customized vehicles.

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[Each of us was sporting beads. Cooper’s two strands were mixed with puka shells; the rest of us had some made by my sister from some sort of beans that the chemistry teacher later identified as a great laxative if properly taken (the biology teacher must have known, didn’t say). Cooper was wearing a longsleeve, with collar, blue workman’s shirt over his white Penny’s t shirt, Levis, red deck shoes, no socks.

Sam and Ben had non-matching, but both mostly-red windbreakers. Ben’s was lined with white fleece-like material. Penny’s t shirts, Levis. Sam was wearing his tennis shoes from PE. Ben was wearing hushpuppies. Always stylish, and thinner than Sam and Riley, who were thin, Ben could wear a t shirt, a regular shirt, a sweater, tucked-in, and a heavy Pendleton flannel, AND the windbreaker.

If I wore a sweater to school, it usually was removed by third period. Still, I did have on some hushpuppy knockoffs, the soles sort of worn down on the outside (I attributed this to a slight bowleggedness caused by straddling surfboards), and dark Church socks to go with the Levis- white is for tennis shoes.]

[[Since I spent this much time on dress, I should mention hair. The dress code at Fallbrook High did not allow hair to be over the ears. This changed a couple of years later after a kid in the Agriculture Program got sheared by other Ag students. Sam and I actually witnessed this while at PE, the kid running out of the oversized Quonset hut at the farthest reaches of the campus, some farm boys from Rainbow or Bonsall or Temecula tackling him, hacking away. So, lawsuit, no dress code.  Girls could wear pants after the lawsuit. Not while I was at Fallbrook; dresses, and, if they seemed too short, the rebellious student might be required to drop to her knees, a measurement taken.]]

 

And here we were, a matter of inches the difference between a street-legal wheel well and some sort of radical ‘fuck you America’ kind of mutation.

 

[Peace, man. Anyway, Riley, Sam, and Ben each had some well-maintained version of the ‘boys’ haircut,’ short on the sides, parted on one side or the other on top. No ‘buzz cut’ or ‘butch’ like the Ag guys, no ‘flattop’ like (some, even many of) the jocks, no ‘slicked-back’ dos like many of the Mexicans and some of the Pauma Indians. Each had of my friends (boldly counting Cooper in this group) some version of blond hair. Ben’s was the blondest; Sam’s on the reddish side (not ‘red on the head like a pecker on a poodle,’ that was our sometime surfing friend, the same guy who stole the Surfboards Hawaii stickers), Riley with something like my sister’s hair color, dirty blond.

I was the one with the almost-black hair, and, on this day, mine was the closest to a dress code violation. This was only because it had grown out from the ‘high and tight’ cut many sons of Marines sported, just like their daddy’s, that my father insisted on when he marched (not like, really marching) his four sons into the barber shop, also insisting on a group discount.]

 

Riley nodded at the Marine guard, turned toward us, shrugged, said, “Another time.” He looked at his watch. There was plenty of time to get to school.

Sam stepped close to the guard. The guard looked around. “Hey, man; can’t you cut us some huss?”

It should be said that all this gate activity went very quickly. The guard had other things to do; the traffic had to move.

While Sam and Ben looked at the guard, Riley looked at me for a second with an ‘Oh, shit’ expression. Then we all looked at the guard. The guard looked at Sam, smiled, mouthed ‘some huss,’ seemed to want to shake his head, but didn’t, then smiled at Ben, looked toward Riley. Our driver was already headed for the driver’s door. He looked at me as Ben followed Riley’s lead, Sam crossed in front of a truck, stepped into the tiny office on the far side of the road.

The Marine lifted his properly starched and blocked ‘lid,’ revealing hair that was the next thing to shaved, a little more on the top. He put his lid back on, looked at the line of traffic, most with headlights on, looked back at me.

In an accent nothing like I’d expected, the Marine adjusted his military issue horn-rimmed glasses, looked at my thick lenses, asked, “Are you also requesting that I cut you ‘some’ huss?”

“It’s ‘a’ huss; right? Cut me a huss?”

FUCKING TONY (a bit of a preview of the next chapter, in progress)

This is the way I told the story to my old surfing buddy Sam, both of us hanging close to the fence at Pipes as my daughter donned what she thought might be a proper beach hat and proceeded down the gravel roadway to the sand, Once she got to the sand, she took some photos with her camera, mostly longboarders floating and waiting. She would occasionally waving back up into the glare, once waving her phone, once her hat; all the while trying to find the harder-packed sand.

“No. I was home. It was early.”

“Morning show. Channel, um; I don’t know. I wasn’t supposed to go on. Jakes wasn’t able to make it, held over in LA, and…”

“Yeah. Cindy had the TV on. You should have told me you were…”

“I wasn’t supposed to… wait? You watch that channel?”

“No. I had the remote; looking for, you know, weather. And there you were. I yelled, ‘Hey, Cindy; Alvin Hubbard’s on TV.” Pause. A surfer down below blew the bottom turn. “Eww. No, you looked… I recognized you right away.”

“Oh. So, now you see the camera didn’t add that many… pounds.”

“No, no; you look good. Owl, you should’ve seen me before I got back into surfing.”

“Well. Glad you did. Supposed to get a little bigger?”

 

OKAY, SO, THE STORY: “There is no way,” Tony Facciolo said, “that the station is going to do a telephone-only, or even a remote… interview with Jakes.” I was still backing away. “Even if it’s their affiliate in LA… no way.”

“You can do it, Dad.” I was shaking my head. Elizabeth was, of course, on the phone.

INSIDE BREAK- Chapters 1 and 2

INSIDE BREAK

Love and Wars and Surf and Magic

CHAPTER ONE- Too Many Overlapping Stories

MISSION HILLS, SAN DIEGO

A beeping sound, audible through the radio news, started when the passenger side door opened.

“All good surf trips start in the dark.”

“Yeah, yeah, Dad; so you say. We’re a little late for zero-dark-thirty, though. Sorry.” My daughter, her hair wet, pushed her laptop, a straw bag with clothes spilling out, and a quite worn brown leather purse toward the space between the front seats. It wouldn’t fit.

I turned the key to the right. Beep. Beep. I pulled the key out. The radio and the beeping stopped. I nodded over my shoulder toward the back seat. “Liz, Lizzie, ‘Lizabeth… what are we calling you nowadays?”

“I think, today, only; Elizabeth. Formal. Grownup.” As Elizabeth moved the laptop and bag, I looked over my back seat supplies. Cardboard box, briefcase, camera, white plastic bag, towel. “What did you forget, Papa?” She was already backing out of the passenger door. “Today only; then it’s back to Dad, Daddy, Father, Owl, Alvin, Mr. Hubbard.”

“Sunglasses, watch…they’re at your uncle’s, um, desk, in the foyer; and one more cup of coffee; maybe?”

“Jeez-a-fuckin’-neez, daddy.”

I handed her my mug, the ‘Inside Break Publishing’ and the surfing graphic, cobalt blue on white, almost rubbed off. “Thirty-nine seconds on the microwave.”

She left the door open. When I reinserted the key, the beeping and the radio resumed. “Six-forty-six,” the radio voice said. It was lighter outside here than it would be at home, farther east, farther south. That not-quite-clean pre-dawn San Diego light. I looked at the cell phone on the dashboard, pulled the key out. The beeping stopped.

It was a Wednesday, March 17, 2004; almost exactly a year after the start of the actual war; the actual, as-promised, shock-and-awe war in Iraq started. Again. Bagdad revisited; and this time, it was personal.

Jeez, I’m sorry; couldn’t help but add a little commentary. This is where I’ve chosen to start the story. Stories, too many overlapping stories. Forward and backward. I’ll apologize now, upfront.

I chose this day because it was so… because I think of this day constantly. It was memorable. Yes, it was Saint Patrick’s Day, and it was about a week before my dad’s eightieth birthday; and the day we, we being his extended, very much extended, family, would celebrate that. That would be later.

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[OPTIONAL [bracketed] TEXT- the idea for this came from the readings for Catholic mass. If you read more quickly than an official reader, you might as well read these slightly-tangential parts. Or, if you see the brackets, skip on by.]

[My day had started in the dark. I was in the sort of office slash foyer at Jack’s house, lights off, at his computer, checking out the surf reports. Unlike the rules at my house, my brother-in-law keeps his on; just turns off the screen. I wasn’t seeing what I’d hoped for, small enough for a guy who hadn’t surfed in a while; too long a while. It was smaller than that, even; some sort of lull between swells; la nina and el nino; “none to one and glassy,” as I used to say.

“Hey, man;” Jack whispered, slipping up behind me without turning the lights on, setting a cup of coffee, in one of his ‘Presidio Investors’ mugs, next to me. “Too early for me,” he said when I looked at his other hand. “You send the email?”

“Yeah.”

“Well; maybe they’ll figure out you’re not just… completely selling out.”

“Oh, I’m selling out, Jack. Maybe they’ll see I’m, maybe, not desperate…” I had to laugh. Jack smiled. “Not that desperate.”

“Whoever’s desperate loses.” It was his line; and he was only a split second behind me in delivering it. “It’s your…” he paused. “Look; I can do some negotiating… I mean; I do do it for a living. ‘Don’t show them the gun,’ I say…” He wasn’t pausing, he, former college history teacher, was waiting.

I knew the line. Through years of negotiating, success (and failures, and balloon payments and bad investments), success overall, Jack had earned his air of easy sophistication; still, white high-end-resort-robe aside, he was, to someone who knew him since he returned from Vietnam, sort of cheesy at the core. I don’t mean that in a negative way.

“Just show them the bulge.” His line. Cheesy. We both laughed; something short of a giggle; teeth showing; just a temporary lapse in self-consciousness.

Jack’s sister says the Marines hadn’t changed him much, but a tour in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive as a Second Lieutenant had; and I’ve seen him, and others, when some random event or song or shadow causes those black curtain memories to fall. Still, with all his credentials, his polish and sophistication, he’s just cheesy enough to be real.]

Lizzie went to the door of her uncle’s house, didn’t have to knock on the door. An inside light came on. Both of her cousins, then ten and twelve, in mis-matched pajamas, attacked and opened the door. And now one’s out of college, the other…

No, I’m focused. Focusing. Just getting going. And, and I had to call home.

“Hello. Hello? You up? Thought you might be. Hoped.” Pause. “Almost; we’re leaving.” I waved at Didier (family name- his mother’s family) and Holden (allusion/homage- cool name), both racing around their cousin on the front porch; Deeds striking a few surfing poses, Holden copying his older brother, throwing in a TV wrestling pose.

Not dropping the phone, I shot Didier a shaka, returned, Holden a devil sign, ‘hook ‘em horns,’ whatever it is. Holden struck another wrestling pose.

“Yeah, pretty exciting. For me, anyway. No, no eating in the car. No. I know. We’ll probably have to skip checking out O.B. and Sunset Cliffs, head straight for Pacific Beach.”

There was a longer pause. I let Kate go on a bit about her flight and how she’d get to Sea-Tac, and when she’d have to leave, and the security hassle; and how she’d call her brother later, and he could pick her up if I was surfing or still in Oceanside.

“Yeah, Jack always says, already said, getting to the airport is so easy; drop on down.” Big pause. “If I could… just… keep the imprint. Inside Break. Just for new stuff. I mean, some sort of… no, not control… input.” Another pause; with me fully aware we’d had this conversation, we’d made this decision. “No, no; sure; I know it’s all up to…settled, yeah, settled. It’s the great American dream. Sell out… retire…start another…project.” I knew enough to pause. “Yeah; tomorrow. Done.”

Our daughter was getting back into the car. The door to the house closed, the light went out. I handed the phone to Elizabeth. “It’s your mom. She wants to talk to you.”

“Hi, Kate. Mother. Okay; Mom. Morning.” Elizabeth gave me the ‘why’d you give me the phone?’ look. “Dad just did the phone hand-off.” I restarted my sister-in-law’s loaner car; quite a nice Mercedes station wagon, surf racks and a hint of that smoke/sand/mildew beachy smell. Didier was more into surfing than Holden, though both had, by this time, been to surf camp. Surf Camp. Later, Didier was, well, more into surfing, Scripps Pier his spot, mostly. But, right now, he’s…

I waved off the offer of the phone, and, almost to the second turn, slaloming past ever-bigger houses, towards the Presidio, I hooked my seatbelt.

“No, yeah; I wasn’t forgetting, mom; but Jakes is still in LA,” Elizabeth said, into my phone. She looked at me. “Jack in the Box.” I pulled into the open space at the switchback at the park entrance, not really sure which route I would have taken, back when Kate and I lived in Mission Hills, to get to where I was going; through the park or down through Old Town. “They don’t have them in Chicago. And…Daddy…” This was an aside to me. “Mom says you can’t go to El Indio(s) until she gets here. Promise?” I nodded, pulled around and headed back uphill. Jack in the Box

“No, no, Mom; we’re both super excited. Big day. Cowabunga!”

insideBreakChapOne 001

BEN’S HOUSE- A FEW MILES SOUTH OF FALLBROOK, CALIFORNIA

In the grainy pre-dawn light, the chubby kid; I’m going to say ‘husky;’ slid the nine-four stock model Hobie across the lawn, the nose slightly over the iceplant-covered (the old style, dark green spikes) berm, and jumped on.

“Real surfers,” he said, in the general direction of his two (thinner) friends, “real surfers go foot over foot.” It was that radio commentator’s voice any sixteen year old would use to announce his own play in a pickup game of football, the voice he used to describe his skateboarding down the neighbor’s driveway on Debby Street, slaloming toward, but rarely onto, Fallbrook Street. Too steep, too much traffic; his brother had scraped up his chin, arms, and knees in a ‘should-have-rolled’ wipeout still uphill of the Magarian tract because, he was told, still crying, jeans ripped and knees and elbows bloodied, “You have to know how to roll.”

“Mickey Dora threads the Malibu crowd…” He paused, creating his own ‘going wild’ crowd noise. The Mickey Dora stand-in’s right arm moved up, out, down, rhythmically; he slid his back foot forward, rotated slightly to more closely face the imaginary wave. His right hand was hit and moved backward by the imaginary lip.

“He… casually… slides his foot forward… Cheater five!”

The board slid forward on the iceplant and down. He, not-so-casually, and not foot-over-foot, back-pedalled, regained his balance, awkwardly, arms way-extended. He stomped the fin back down; but not until after the board had bumped into Ben’s board, it resting on Sam’s, with a ‘thwack,’ the sound a bit hollower, maybe, than wood on wood, and different than a board hitting, say, a jetty.

“Al-vin!” Ben yelled, he and Sam heading toward him from the front porch where they had been, coolly, watching me behave so non-coolly.

Yeah, it was me. I wanted you to get an image before you found out. Husky, not chubby.

My nickname before the glasses, ‘Alvin’ was always shot at me, by parents, teachers, friends, upper class assholes, with the same voice used in the Chipmunks cartoons.

“Watch it, Kooks! Valley cowboys!” I was above them, grabbing a rail, fighting through a curling section. “Head-dip!”

“Dip shit you mean.” That was Sam.

Ben checked for damage on his newer, but still purchased used, Hansen eight-ten, looked at Sam, who shrugged, then back at me. I looked at Ben, at Sam, at the rail of Ben’s board. I shrugged, since, obviously, a shrug was the proper gesture.

“You’re lucky, Owl,” Ben said. Owl was my post-glasses nickname. I hated it, originally, maybe less than ‘Alvin!’ or Al, as in ‘Sam, Ben, and, oh, yeah; Al.” But, there was, several years after the nickname became widespread, a surfer, who wore glasses, had his photo in “Surfer,” also nicknamed ‘Owl,’ Owl Chapman; so, it became okay, depending on who used it.

[Of course. A girl in class thinking I must be a bit smarter; fine. If she said, “So, you surf?” This was even better. Owl was my surf name. In a time, just past “Gidget,” when ‘Greaser’ meant, as far as I knew, someone who loved and worked on cars, and ‘Ho-dad’ meant poser, and ‘Kook’ meant some phase I thought I’d quickly advanced out of, ‘Surfer’ meant some semi-private club, individuals who… shit, they were like Knights, people who seriously challenged the ocean. Being a surfer meant so much more than the actual act; it was a tribe, and those who were the best at it, these were my first heroes. I wanted to be one of them, one of those surfers; not Sitting Bull but Crazy Horse.]

Sam merely glanced at his board, an even-newer Surfboards Hawaii nine-six with an inordinate numbers of patches and unfixed dings.

[In the back room of the shop (for years now the La Paloma Theater), the owner, John Price, had told us, the board had been used (he didn’t say owned) by an actual member of his surf team, Sidney something, as I don’t quite recall, and was “perfect for Swamis, or…” He looked over Sam and his three overly-impressed buddies. This particular grouping included Billy Butts, way taller than the three of us, who rode (tried to ride) a ten-six board from Orange County his parents had bought new. New. Billy (you know we always called him Butts; Big Billy Butts) had driven us this day, after school. Having him there had the added benefit of, by comparison, allowing me to be a bit cooler. “…Tamarack.”

Tamarack. I had switched from mat to board surfing there, June of 1965, soon joined by Ben, he and I riding to the beach and back in the very back of the surf-decorated (by my sister, including curtains and a ‘Surfer’ magazine ‘Murphy’ decal) 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air family nine passenger station wagon. We had most of a year’s head start before other freshmen at Fallbrook Union High School started surfing. By this time, on our second (still used) boards, we’d moved on to Grandview and Swamis.

Sam bought the board with the dings and patches only after twenty bucks was knocked off, and a bar of ‘special’ wax for each of us was added.

Butts, showing his lack of coolness, pointed to the Oahu-shaped Surfboards Hawaii decals in the front display case as Sam paid. “Those are for our team riders,” Mr. Price pointed out. Showing my own lack of coolness, I sewed a similar shape onto one leg of my trunks. A year or so later, two other members of the group who had tried surfing but, as with many of our contemporaries, didn’t stick with it, showed their lack of coolness and morality by stealing several of these stickers. “What can you do with them?” I asked. “People will know.”]

We all sort of froze as the unmistakable sound of a Volkswagen engine was heard, coming up the steep driveway, the weak headlights dropping down in the heavy morning air, hitting briefly but directly on Ben, holding his board in front of him, Sam, turning his board on edge, and me, stepping, foot-over-foot this time, toward the nose.

“Coop!” I yelled, waving wildly.

“Don’t call him ‘Coop,’ Alvin,” Ben said, throwing his board on the grass and grabbing my extended arm. “Cooper. I had to kiss his, and my sister’s, ass…asses, to get him to take us.”

“Cooper, Benny. Yeah, fine; Cooper.”

It was a Monday, a week before Easter vacation, March of 1967. We had picked this day (my idea, really, fiercely fought for) because, one, it was a week before the waves would be more crowded with surfers who would not wear wetsuits, and merely wouldn’t surf in the colder months, not to mention new surfers and those gremmies whose parents took time off to coincide with holidays, and were thusly available to cart the little a-holes to whatever beach the punks thought the coolest; and, two, because, if it’s a Monday, those real surfers who had surfed on the weekend might be at school, at jobs or, maybe, just temporarily, surfed-out.

[Easter, or before, when the water temperature got back up to 58 degrees, was the official start of ‘wear a wetsuit and look like a pussy’ season. Wetsuits were not really accepted as proper gear until the water dropped to the magic 58 degree mark; usually just before Christmas.]

By Wednesday, that urge to surf would be back.

I had; and this angered (at least irritated) my two friends, actually supplied the school, on Friday, a note to cover my absence. Still, for Sam and Ben, it was so cooler to hitchhike than ride the bus or get a ride from a parent, so much cooler to ditch. Yeah, well… coolness.

[I’d skewer any writer who submitted something with this much exposition, this many tangent lines. He or she would argue that “real life isn’t linear.” I’d agree; then add, “Do readers want real life?” “Shading, setting, background; some reality to make fiction seem… possible.” “Yeah, great; but just a bit simpler.”

Yeah, great, but…coolness; I have to discuss it. Samuel and Benjamin were so cool that, when they did get caught for ditching school, in our senior year; there weren’t enough detention hours left in the session; so, as a penalty, they had to pick up trash on campus during the morning break (called ‘nutrition’) and at lunch. This didn’t lessen, and, perhaps, enhanced their coolness quotient; poking wrappers and papers near cute girls on benches, girls who appreciate a bad boy who’s not that kind of bad, not a ‘hard guy’ thug. I did ditch several times (including this time), always to go surfing. No, there was once to go to these girls’ house in Temecula, this other guy’s (not even a surfer) idea. We sat around and listened to records. Not much fun for all the trouble it got me into (with my Mom, she didn’t rat me out- that time) And there was another time, with Ben and Sam; I just didn’t really enjoy hanging out on base, hoping my dad didn’t drive by. I still haven’t mastered the art of non-surf-related hanging out.]

The 1962 VW bus pulled toward the garage, did three back-forward-back maneuvers, pulled up close to the two surfers on the gravel, each with his board standing beside him.

My board lurched forward, nose into the gravel. I dismounted, clumsily, at speed, tried to regain my balance as I stumbled toward the bus; crashed (soft crash) against it, yelled, “Shotgun!” As I opened the door, I yelled out, a bit too loudly, “Coop!”

CHAPTER TWO

FIFTEENTH STREET, DEL MAR

“You used to be able to park out there,” I said, pointing to an area beyond the fence. “For free. This one time, a couple of days before I was going to represent Fallbrook High in this surfing contest; don’t know how we got to 15th Street; my parents sat in the car and watched while I surfed. It was evening, glassy, and I was almost the only one out.”

My daughter was on her cell phone, in the car, a wire connecting it to the cigarette lighter, the car running just in case it had to be for the re-charging to work, and I was leaning, camera balanced on the roof, shooting a few (non-digital, still) photos of a pretty crowded lineup on a pretty small day.

I won’t go into how everything around the surfing spots had changed in the twenty-five years since I’d taken that job in Seattle. I did explain this in detail to my daughter as I took the wrong turn onto I-5, missed the turnoff for Ocean Beach, forgot which route I should have taken around Mission Bay, discovered the Jack in the Box is still there in Pacific Beach, though the restaurant at the head of Crystal Pier, which I thought was cool but never went to, was totally gone; probably has been for years.

Describing the old surf shop on the PB side, and how I would skateboard or bike down there to surf, I totally forgot the back alley routes I’d take to get back toward Tourmaline Canyon, her mother’s and my second apartment located up the hill and caddy-cornered from the steep access.

“La Jolla Bella,” I said, pointing as we passed; “I’m sure they’re condos now.”

Elizabeth had been on her cell phone for most of the trip; politely looking at the highlights, nodding and smiling.

We had barely stopped the car at Tourmaline, me glancing past the old surfers clumsily donning wetsuits, a couple of teenagers running from the water to get to school, the waves pretty much closing out in front, a couple of more lined-up ones toward PB Point, maybe a hint of a peak out there.

“The point always looked like it should have waves, it just… in the, um, couple of years your mom and I lived in PB… well, there was the one evening. It was… after work. I just kept moving closer as the waves got bigger. By dark, I was at the point and the surf was well overhead. I’d walked down, and it was too dark to… I climbed the cliff, went through someone’s yard, and…”

My daughter was nodding, politely; but had tears in her eyes, then a smile.

“No, Jakes,” she said; “if you can’t make it. No, no… that’s more important. If Tony says…” She turned to me as I pulled onto the wrong back street, not the one Kate and I would ride our bikes on, in the general direction of Windansea. “Jakes has another radio interview; Orange County.”

Now I nodded, politely, smiled. “Fuckin’ Tony. Promoting.”

“Yeah, Dad’s thrilled. No, more exposure. It’s good.”

windanseaInsideBreak

We drove on, around soft corners and past plush estates worth unmentionable sums, and did, eventually, find Windansea. I double-parked, reeling off the story of my not being able to catch more than four waves in an hour; me, wave-hog, twenty years old; held back by the pack of locals controlling the single peak. Ah, but, when the surf got big… I described how it was all a takeoff and drop, bottom turn, cutback, kind of bob around while trying to maintain enough speed to make the suddenly-jumping-up inside section.

“I lost my board three times on the inside section in one day. Once, someone kindly stuck it on top of one of those big rocks.”

“He has a driver, Dad; town car; wherever he wants to go.”

“Big budget, Elizabeth. I offered him a rental, but he’d have to… I don’t know, can a person rent a car in LA and drop it off in San Diego? I don’t even know.”

Elizabeth’s cell phone rang again as we coasted down the last big curve towards La Jolla Shores. Jakes was caught in traffic in one of those indistinguishable Orange County cities.

“No, Dad, he can’t see the Matterhorn. He says Tony says…”

“Oh, so Tony’s, like, actually with him.” I leaned toward the phone. “Hey, Jakes.” Elizabeth pointed her phone toward me. “Fuck Tony.” She hadn’t pulled the phone away quickly enough.

“Yeah, he did say, ‘fuck Tony,’ Jakes.” Elizabeth looked toward me, almost laughing, mouthed ‘fuck Tony,’ added, “so, yeah, maybe Tony can… maybe you can give us the number, maybe we can pick it up from here. Another NPR station… I hope.”

After a bit of listening as I found a street I could make a left hand turn onto, Elizabeth said, “Tony says he really, really, genuinely appreciates your going on TV yesterday.”

Without waiting for my response, Elizabeth said, “Fuck Tony.”

I fumbled with the radio. “What’s the…number. Where do I find this station?”

________________________________________________________________________

SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF FALLBROOK

Oh, yeah; I was riding shotgun, but I was shotgun to the non-talking, not-responding-to-my-talking Cooper, and Sam and Ben seemed to be having more fun in the back, not bouncing (too much), but thoroughly checking out the latest “Surfer” magazine, so happily discovered on the homemade bed.

“It’s Billy Hamilton at the Santa Ana rivermouth,” Ben said, describing (reading, actually, Ben didn’t know Billy Hamilton from Billy Butts) the cover I’d had half a second to check out. “Bitchin cutback. Squared-off nose on his board. Yeah!”

Cooper reached under a sweater and towel, properly damp, between us on the bench seat, pulled out an older “Surfer,” kind of shook it towards me. I grabbed it.

“Shit!” Cooper said, glancing in his side mirror. “Waltersheid. Don’t look!”

“Cooper, there’s a Highway Patrolman behind us,” Sam said, peeking through the back window’s curtains.

“I said ‘don’t look,’ cheesedick. Damn.”

“He said ‘don’t look, cheesedick,’ cheesedick,” Benjamin said.

“Shit!” Cooper said again as the bubble light on the patrol car came on.

“Shit!” I said, “Why’d you look, cheesedicks?”

The bus slowed down, pulled off near a wooded area that frequently smelled of road-killed skunk. There was, in fact, one dead in the southbound lane, not all squished, but definitely dead. It had almost made it to the center line. Almost. Several southbound cars avoided the carcass. Cooper rolled the driver’s side window down. We waited.

“Skunk,” I said.

“No shit,” Sam said.

insidebreakOH 001

NOTE: Alright, I have to apologize for dropping back on this story a bit. My plan was to keep the storyline from 2004 and this one from 1967 in about the same time, dawn to dusk. There are other storylines coming. Okay, hang on.

BACK AT BEN’S HOUSE, we loaded the boards on the Aloha racks, mine on top of Cooper’s, the other two on the driver’s side, for balance. Anxious about losing my shotgun position, I ran back to the porch to pick up my old Boy Scout backpack, grabbed it, spun back.

“Oh,” she and I both said, mine a moment after hers, probably a bit higher. I was more startled, suddenly so close, face to face.

“Oh,” I said again. Ben’s sister had come to the laundry room door from the actual, but almost never used, front door; the formal entrance.

“Catherine,” I said as her left hand touched my shoulder. Only partially because her eyes seemed to be saying, ‘stop looking into my eyes,’ I looked at her hand.

“Oh. Al-vin,” she said, using that hand to move me aside, her eyes on Cooper, approaching. Yeah, I looked into her eyes again.

I probably shouldn’t mention that sleeping on a sort of Japanese couch thing almost outside her bedroom door had contributed significantly to a rise in my going-surfing-early anxiety level. Closed door, but still, I wasn’t yet sixteen, and she was, I thought, perfect, the perfect surfer’s girlfriend.

While so many of her contemporaries had teased and stiff hairdos, Catherine’s was blond and straight. She was thin and not ashamed of it, and, not trying to get too detailed here, she had that kind of aloof self-assurance that, among silly and worried and unsure high school girls, was just so alluring. She wasn’t mean, exactly, but didn’t seem compelled to be phony-nice; and, if she did feel one was worth speaking to at all; well… she had said, “Oh. Al-vin.” In my immediate memory, the period after ‘oh’ was replaced with a comma.

On the porch, a mere tip of Cooper’s head informed me I wasn’t needed there. I hadn’t had to say, “We’re going surfing; San Onofre;” but, of course, I did, backing away as Catherine took Cooper’s hand, both of them moving into the area away from the porch light.

The light did seem to be reflected in her eyes. Again, I shouldn’t have noticed.

A few moments later, I was back at the bus, holding onto the open passenger door. Sam approached the open side door from the garage, threw his cardboard box of gear onto the bed, then put the “Surfer” magazine on top of his neatly rolled, not folded, towel.

Sam followed my gaze over to the house. They were kissing.

“Friendly,” Sam said. Cooper’s hand moved a bit, inside Catherine’s light robe, around her back. “Very friendly.” Sam looked at me. “Are you holding your breath?”

“No.” Inhale.

Cooper pulled his girlfriend closer. I looked away.

“Whoa,” Sam whispered, grabbing my arm, trying to push me back around.

“Politeness, Sam,” I said, trying to match his whisper.

[It’s the sort of consideration for the possible embarrassment of others that, through the years, has meant I almost saw, or saw too briefly for it to really imprint on my brain, quite a few images. Example: Oceanside Pier, 1964 or so, some woman out in the surf with two Marines almost lost her top going through a wave. I looked away. Polite. The woman and the Marines just laughed.]

“Ben,” Sam said as our friend stepped out the side door. A wicker basket in his hands, he was four steps off the porch when he noticed we weren’t really watching him. Not seeing Cooper with us, he seemed to sense what might be happening, and shook his head. Sam and I would have looked away if Ben’s mother hadn’t suddenly appeared behind him; if Catherine hadn’t suddenly separated from Cooper, casually straightening her robe; if Mrs. Collins hadn’t abruptly looked to her right; if Cooper hadn’t taken the ‘Buy and Save’ bag from her with a smooth, “Mrs. Collins;” if Mrs. Collins hadn’t said, “Riley” as he took it, and then looked, a bit fiercely, toward her daughter, not quite waving at her brother and his surf buddies, the wave held long enough for her man to turn around.

Not that Cooper waved back. I’m sure he smiled.

No, I didn’t look away this time. If I had, I wouldn’t know the look I so wanted to see from my own perfect surfer’s girlfriend, only meant for me. Oh, and I waved, too. I did say I was five months short of sixteen, right?

BACK ON THE ROAD…I fumbled into my backpack as the California Highway Patrolman (they were all over 6’2” in those days) leaned into the driver’s side window.

“Should’a told the kids to not be peeking out the curtains,” Officer Waltersheid, Fallbrook’s main local Highway Patrolman, the one whose name was heard around the campus, including in driver’s education class, said. “You got a license, son?”

Cooper, his license already out, leaned toward me as the officer leaned in to check the two eager faces pushed forward from the back. And mine, leaning almost over Cooper as I pushed a note toward the feared Waltersheid.

“I have a note,” I said.

“Didn’t ask,” he said, glancing at it anyway. “Field trip? Oh. Good; I might’a thought you were all just skipping… truant; going (he did a bit of a shoulder twist) surfing.”

“It covers them, too,” I said, looking for reactions on the faces of my friends. As did Waltersheid. Sam and Ben tried to hide their surprise. No, I hadn’t told them that I’d typed in their names after my mom signed it; reluctantly, with a promise I wasn’t behind on my school work, and a question as to why I’d even need such a note. “Truant Officers,” I’d explained. “Just in case.”

“Just in case then.”

Quickly Samuel and Benjamin were smiling, nice guy smiles.

“Your mom work at Hooley’s?” The patrolman looked from their faces to the paper, back at me, this time for a half second too long.

I looked at him a full second too long, trying to determine if he was about to say something I’d have to hate him for.

“Used to. She got a job on base. Photo lab. She and my dad can ride in…”

“Nice woman. Got that weird religion, though. You?”

Pause, think; “I go; yeah.”

He handed the paper back with a smile. “You driving yet?”

“Couple of times. Just got my learners’… Sam and Ben are…”

“Didn’t ask.”

“I thought you said you have a driver’s license, Mr. Riley F. Cooper.”

Riley F. Cooper just splayed his hand out toward the card on Waltersheid’s clipboard.

“This is ‘bout to expire, son. Eighteen, almost. You better be gettin’ a new one. Oh…” He stepped back toward the highway, made a sweeping motion toward the back of the bus. “You can’t be driving around with the wheelwells all cut up like this. Illegal. Probably. I know you want to be all cool and shit, big tires and such; and I could measure… but…” and now he came closer, smiled at all of us. Each one of us, other than Cooper, returned the expression. Or maybe he did smile, but…a pause is needed here…ironically.

“I can see you’re all anxious to get to your surfing.” Now Waltersheid, having backed away a few steps, adjusting his gunbelt in his own version of wild west lawman, added, “or maybe… it’s too early for even teachers to be going to school. Better head on out.”

He made his right hand into a pistol, two fingers forward, pointed it at each of us younger surfers, individually, shot and recoil, said, “Don’t be driving foolishly, kids. Oh, and… and don’t be peeking out the curtains. Makes you look…” He dramatically pulled his sunglasses out of a top pocket, put them on, and, using an even deeper voice, finally added, “…suspicious.”

[Waltersheid was walking away. Ben and Sam were still leaning toward the front seat, each of us waiting to witness Cooper’s anger, hear his comments. It was taking too long. He seemed too calm.

“Your son’s queer!” Ben said after Waltersheid’s car drove past us. The car almost made a complete u-ey, had to back up a bit before slamming it in reverse, then scratched out, directly and purposefully over the skunk, on toward Bonsall.

A sort of automatic “Ewwww!” came from each of us, Cooper rolling the window up. Quickly.

Ben looked at Sam, beside him, then at me, then Cooper. Cooper didn’t seem to approve of the ‘queer’ comment. “Well, he is.” Ben said.

“For you, maybe;” Sam said, moving back toward the bed, flipping the bird with both hands in the general direction of the long gone patrol car. “Fuck you Waltersheid!”

“Yeah, fuck you, Waltersheid!” I had meant it to sound bold, practiced.

Cooper looked at me, almost smiled. “Fuck him,” Cooper whispered, restarting the bus.

“Yeah,” I said. Everyone looked at me. “Yeah, fuck (more emphasis on the ‘fuck’) you, Waltersheid.”

“You tell him, Owl,” Cooper said, making a point of swerving into the southbound lane and running over the skunk carcass.

“Ow!”

As we approached the first houses of Fallbrook, Sam pulled a package of cigarettes from his rolled towel (Tracytons, I think), and a silver lighter with the Marine Corp logo on it, in color. He handed Ben one, lit his and Ben’s.

At the first hint of smoke, Cooper pulled the bus over, looked in the rear view mirror. “You want to walk?” He looked at me as if wondering why I hadn’t been offered a cigarette. “Real surfers don’t fucking smoke,” he said, cigarettes extinguished, pulling out again.

Probably smiling, looking deep into my “Surfer” magazine, I didn’t even bother to repeat the phrase. Not outloud, anyway. Later, however, when I did smoke cigarettes, I would remember it.]

NOTE: Pretty happy with the last bracketed part, I feel compelled to add that somewhere in here someone mentioned I hadn’t had to provide the note; could’ve said we were going after school. Never mind; I’ll put it in with the section on actually crossing Camp Pendleton and eliminate it here. So, PREVIEW>

________________________________________________________________________

“INSIDE BREAK” The Novel- INTRODUCTION

NOTE: I started realsurfers.net to have some ownership on the two words, real surfers, and to tell the story alluded to in the introduction (below). Maybe I didn’t realize I had so many other stories to tell; maybe I didn’t realize I still have a surfing life. So, I plan on serializing the novel that fictionalizes the real story and wraps other stories around it. It will, unfortunately, be in reverse order, but, after a few chapters, interspersed with other pieces, I’ll consolidate. When it’s all done; I’ll probably change the name to “Real Surfers,” what I always wanted to be.  I did a drawing, but I didn’t think it fit the mood, didn’t want to wait until I have the time to do one I actually like, so… here we go… thanks for coming along.

INSIDE BREAK
Love and Wars and Surfing and Some Amount of Magic

INTRODUCTION-
Surfing is part of the soundtrack; whoosh, wait, wait, wait, whoosh. Always has been. Well, maybe not surf itself; but it is the tides and winds, moving in waves, and the waves themselves, maybe even time itself, another wave, spinning ever outward, all providing the heartbeat of the planet. Whoosh…wait…wait…wait…whoosh.

“So, Dad; it has to be fiction?”
“Because… you know our memories are…”
“Corrupted? Flawed? Inaccurate?”
“Hmmm. Ha. Yeah.”
“Maybe your original story could be enough. Jeez; I’ve heard it for years; headed for San Onofre; you and Phillip Harper and Ray Hicks and…”
“Dru; I’ve asked Ray. He doesn’t remember this trip. Others; yes. I think it was always Bill Buel. See? I edited him out; stuck Ray in, because Ray was… because I never liked…I mean, Bill wasn’t my friend; Ray and Phil were.”
“And you were riding with Bucky Davis, your surf hero…”
“For a while. That’s part of it. If I broke down my… shit; it’s really just another surfer coming-of-age story, but, at such an, an almost unique angle. If …and, if I could break down my surf history, to, like, chapters; it’d be illustrated with the times I went surfing with Bucky Davis. Like five or six times over five or six years. Grandview, New Break, Swami’s, the last time… your mother was there… at the beach by the state park… South Carlsbad. and part of this, this bigger story, is how my image of Bucky and…”
“Matured. And there’s the love story; Bucky and Phillip’s sister. Trish.”
“Yeah; and, again, I don’t really know. We never know about other people’s lives… or loves, and I’m such a fucking romantic, I wanted that to…”
“To work out. But that’s all… it’s the hidden story, Dad; the, um, interplay between what you thought, that so many things were magic, magical; and what was real. The, I guess, surface story, is of you guys going from Fallbrook, across Camp… Camp?”
“Camp Pendleton, 1967; the Vietnam War in full swing, and the Marines, really, were all just a couple of years older than Phil and Ray… I’m sticking with Ray, and I; and Bucky was… he was right at draft age. And the war; everyone thought, was going to go on forever.”
“Well, it didn’t. New ones. But, you know, some other stuff happened on that trip.”
“Yeah. Yeah, it did; but, this far removed, this far gone, it seems… stopped by a Highway Patrolman and hassled before we even got to the back gate, running out of gas, pushing the VW up a couple of hills, coasting down, pushing it into the little PX outpost in another tent camp as marines marched by, us all cool surfers and they ready to go to… see? It seems like fiction, even to me; like I’ve seen it before.”
“But you did. And… see, even I know the story. And you did surf at San Onofre.”
“The surfing was almost incidental; I don’t really remember it, specifically. Another session. Just like with Ray, huh?”
“But the story; it ends up at Tamarack. Tamarack, right? After Bucky tore up his Dependent ID card, and couldn’t ever go back on the base; and you’re riding shotgun… for once. Right? And Phillip and… and we’ll say Ray; they’re asleep in the back, and Dylan comes on the radio.
“It was ‘Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.’ Rare on ’67 am radio.”
“Right. And, pretty soon you’re singing along, beating on the dashboard. And pretty soon, maybe because this was the perfect song for the perfect scene; you could see and hear the waves, just about to get glassy…”
“The afternoon glassoff.”
“The soundtrack and the… the soundtrack. And now; I love this part; Bucky, so, to you, ultra cool; Bucky’s beating on the dashboard, also, and you’re both trying to sing along.
‘Everybody must get stoned.’”
“Ev-ry-bo-dy mussssst get stoned!”
“Dad?”
“Yeah?”
“Can you still see it?”
“Yeah.”
“There is magic in there somewhere.”
“Thanks. But, Dru; you know; now; because I… because real life doesn’t live up, maybe, because I’m going to steal other things I’ve seen, from other people’s lives, move things around; and, and, mostly, maybe, because I haven’t, um, lived up… it’ll be fiction.”
“Dad? Has your life contained enough… magic?”
Woosh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… woosh.
“Yeah.”