Locals Only Kooks Go Home!
“IT’S SUNNIED-UP,” Scott ‘Scoots’ Walter said, into his cell phone, as his truck, mid-sized, an eight foot board on the canopy rack, made a turn onto a residential street. “You there? Mark? Evidently not. Okay. I’m going dark.”
It was, and this was surprising, going to be one of those days where it clears up just before sunset; the sideshore winds just stop. Scoots found the pullout on the bluff was empty except for the old Subaru four door. The car was a faded mildew green/gold color, any hint of former shine accidental, and most noticeable near the driver’s side door; where arms had rubbed against the roof while tying or untying a board from the obviously-homemade wooden racks. There was, if one looked, a little more shine near the hood and trunk latches.
Scoots, without checking the lineup, was looking at the car, the flattened tires. The car appeared empty, though tough to tell with the side windows darkened. And then there was the windshield.
“Fuckin’ Mark,” he said. Then, pulling alongside the Subaru, he did look at the waves, just over to his left…
“WHOA!” Scoots leaped from the truck, leaving the door open.
So clean, so lined-up. One surfer out. Only. It was The Guy, obviously, the guy who owns the car with the flat tires and “Locals Only Kooks Go Home!” in wax on the windshield.
That Guy, in the glare, two-stroked into an almost-glassy peak, angled to the left, waited until he reached the bottom to stand, that move melded with a too-casual bottom turn, rising back to mid-face, gliding higher. He kick-stalled near the top, crouched, tucked in.
“Owww!” No one, really, could hear Scoot’s uncontrollable (or merely uncontrolled) hoot. Two steps toward the bluff; look, stop. The Guy was just slicing back from the shoulder, the spray up and lost in the sunlight. Scoots walked backwards, eyes on the waves. He opened the hatch on the canopy, dropped the tailgate, pushed the twisted hose and a compressor over to get to the cracked plastic bin. He pulled it over and out, allowing it to drop to the ground. He grabbed his inside-out, cold, sandy, twisted wetsuit. Water flew when he flung the suit out and around.
A wet wetsuit will cling to your legs, your arms, and Scoots couldn’t get his untangled or pulled-up quickly enough. He’d hit a window of opportunity, and windows can close quickly. And the sun was angling toward the glistening horizon like…
“Fuckin’ Mark” he said, looking at the tires on the Subaru as he threw the straps off his board.
“Fuckin’ Mark” he said, as he threw his gloves out of the bin, joining his booties on the tailgate. Grabbing a partly-worn bar of wax, he shook his head, looked for his leash in the dark, crowded truck bed.
“Fuckin’ Mark” he said, reminding himself that he had put the stem caps back on; realizing he’d have to, at least, refill the tires before he could… “Fuck.”
THE SUN WAS MELTING at the horizon when Scoots ran the last twenty feet or so from the path at the bluff to his truck. Still, he took a moment to look back. Melting, this was the metaphor Scoots had thought of, even in the water. Music; jazz, really; from “The Endless Summer,” was playing in his head, though, looking, again, at the words waxed onto the Subaru’s windshield, a faster, newer tune took over; his background tune for riding pumping point breaks. His wetsuit pulled down, Scoops was cleaning the windows on the Subaru with a six inch broad knife and acetone-soaked rags when The Guy came up from behind him.
The Guy’s eyes, suddenly too close to his, were bloodshot. Saltwater. Dehydration. They had to be more bloodshot than his. The Guy didn’t seem overly curious about what Scoots was doing. He stepped around him, setting the board on his car’s rack.
“Your last wave…” The Guy said, “it might have been the wave of the day.”
Scoots was too busy to do more than nod; saltwater dripping on the Subaru, some squeaking from the wetsuit rubbing on the fender; scraping and smearing with serious strokes.
“Fuckin’ Mark, huh?” The Guy said, reaching around to his back, feeling for the cord for the zipper, throwing it over his shoulder, let his comment hang. “Huh, Scoots?”
Scoots pointed at the fully inflated tires with a cold acetone rag. “I, um, have a compressor and, and a, a generator. It was…” Scoots knew it was too late to… to lie; he just couldn’t quite think of a reasonable… “Yeah, that was a great wave.”
The Guy had a key, evidently out of the little pocket most wetsuits have (though Scoots had never used one), and unlocked the driver’s side door. He reached in, unlocked the back door, then opened it, threw a blanket onto the back of the front seat, passenger side, pulled out two large aerosol cans, and set them on the roof. “Guess I’ll save these for next time. Scoots. Oh, and thanks for coming back.”
“Fuckin’ Mark,” The Guy said, slightly behind the same words from Scoots.
“MOTION ACTIVATED,” The Guy said, dusk filling-in; that grainy grayness you can almost feel. There was some music, mid-sixties Dylan, “Blonde on Blonde,” coming from the Subaru. “Most expensive thing about the car,” The Guy had said. And there was the music rising up from the water; familiar rhythms.
Scoots and The Guy, both now dressed in almost-matching Levis and hoodies, were looking at the back of a camera now perched atop the Subaru.
“Fuckin’ Mark; man… don’t…” could be heard from the camera, the two surfers nodding. At the camera, not each other. The Subaru, now, had its hood up, all the doors open. The generator, a compressor, a gas container, hoses and wires were all spread about, seemingly kicked next to, and almost under Scoot’s truck. “Fuckin’ pussy, Scoots. Whimp-ass coward. We’re making a stand,” the camera said, in Mark’s voice.”
The Guy motioned toward the truck. “Weren’t you afraid someone might…”
“It’s Mark’s stuff.”
“Oh. Okay.” They both laughed. “Maybe Mark was a little frustrated. Crappy waves; crowded; all those city people…I mean; on a Wednesday. Me, me maybe getting too many waves for his liking.”
“No, he’s just… Mark’s pretty much always an asshole.” There was a brief pause. “His stuff…” Scoots made a swooping arm movement, “…He just had to tell me how he had unloaded it all so I could go surfing with him this morning. Nice of him.”
“Yeah; nice. But, the asshole thing… Well, that’ll… that… frustration. Anyone….” There was another, longer pause, The Guy was helping Scoots reload Mark’s equipment. “I know assholes. I’m… in real life… a lawyer. No, really; sold my soul years ago. Before law school, even.”
“Sales whore,” Scoots said, pointing at himself, effecting a fake smile.
“Funny,” The Guy said, my Mom… she was from the south, and she always pronounces Lawyer like…’Lie-yer. Lie.'”
“Mark’s a contract-whore,” Scoots said. “Contractor.”
“We’re all surf sluts, though; huh?”
BOTH VEHICLES, lights on, heaters going, were idling, Dylan singing, “Please don’t let on that you knew me when…” Scoots and The Guy, at the edge, were looking at the the waves, defined now, only, by the lines of soup behind the curl. “The problem with being a local,” Scoots said, pausing to think of how to phrase it…
“The problem is,” The Guy, who had yet to reveal his name, said, “is you can’t go anywhere else and still be…”
“You know Devil’s Point?” Scoot gave an ‘of course’ nod. “Ever surf there?”
Another nod. “Paddled over a couple of times. Hardly ever breaks.”
“No; not today, for sure. Wrong direction, wrong wind… anyway; if you want to… So, you know those houses by the point?”
“Third McMansion from the end; over where the rights… I mean, when they actually do break…so, um, punchy.” There was another pause, The Guy seemed almost apologetic. “Yeah; the house; wife hates it… salt spray on the windows. But, hey, you’ll never see this car there, and I definitely don’t drive it to work.” The Guy laughed. “Actually, I have to keep it in the garage so the neighbors don’t…” Another laugh. “Assholes.” Anyway; if it’s breaking…”
“Yeah. Park by the greenhouse. Only, one condition, Scoots…”
“Don’t bring fuckin’ Mark?”
Now they both laughed. “No, if you bring him. Oh, and, if you do, it can’t be until after you’ve told him I said he’s a whimp-ass coward. Oh, and incidentally; you cut him off at least twice.”
“Because we’re friends.”
Scoots stuck his hand out. The Guy had a cell phone in his. “Give me your number.”
“Phones don’t work here. No reception… that’s part of why I…”
“No. No service. Fine. Contacts list. Um. Scoots. Still… Just in case. I mean; accessory, accomplice…”
“SELFIE?” THE GUY asked half a second before the camera’s light flashed.
“More evidence?” Scoots asked, wondering if he should give his actual phone number, his actual name; wondering what he’d trade to get access to a fickle, but sometimes-perfect wave.”Remember, I’m still a lawyer; and, well, we’re not friends. Scoot…” The Guy walked toward his car, reached inside the driver’s side door. A spray hit the windshield as the wipers swept across a white-but-oily spot.
The Subaru pulled out ahead of the pickup, Scoots still pondering whether The Guy meant that, because they’re not friends, he shouldn’t take off in front of him when… yeah; Devil’s Point. Yeah. The cell phone chimed when the truck got closer to town. The third of four voicemails began, “Surf slut Scott, it’s surf slut Jonah…”