Is Seaweed Actually Magical? And…

…and another “SWAMIS” cutback. FIRST, here on the Olympic Peninsula, buoys, designed to help ships not sink or crash, somewhat helpful for surfers trying to determine if some portion of some swell might find its way into the Strait, have been ripped from their anchors, set adrift, lost, found, or, we don’t really know, put out of service. Putin? One theory. None of the downed or drowned bouys have been put back into service.

SO, surfers in, say, Seattle, have been relying on surf forecast sites before making a decision as to whether to invest the increasing amount of gas money, wait in line at ferries, face traffic slowdowns if ‘driving around.’ NOW, it must be mentioned that there are always waves of some sort or shape or size on the actual PACIFIC COAST. Almost always. AND the most characteristic condition on the Strait is flat. Flat with east wind, flat with north wind, flat with south wind, flat and somehow blown out with west wind.

STILL, surfers get desperate. So, trying my best to glean something positive from whatever sources I could, I went up Surf Route 101, looking. I wasn’t alone. More to not get skunked than to satisfy my surf lust, I ventured into calf-high curlers, my fin popping across rocks. PERHAPS BECAUSE I had paddled out, three more adventurers joined me. PERHAPS BECAUSE they had believed some forecast site, I passed many surf rigs on my way back down Surf Route 101. NOT ONLY THAT, but a friend of mine texted me, asking if I had scored bombs. AFTER ALL, Magic Seaweed was saying…

NOW, maybe it got awesome. Somewhere, for some brief period. MAYBE. YES, I did look at various forecasts. Not looking good for the Strait. Depressing. I must now upgrade my most recent session to “Pretty good. Didn’t break a fin.” Again, there are always waves on the actual ocean.

The rocks at Swamis, someone dropping in on someone. Taken from some hotel brochure.

MEANWHILE, I am trying to find some time to continue cutting my manuscript for “Swamis” down to a reasonable and, hopefully, saleable length. Tightening it up. I am up to the days after Chulo is beaten and set alight next to the wall of the SRF compound. This is a (copyrighted) version from the second completed draft. I might mention that, if you have any experience surfing on the west coast, you know (a snippet of a quote from Miki Dora about Malibu) “The south wind blows no good.”

CHAPTER 14- SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 1969

Three full days after Chulo’s murder, the burn-scarred section of the wall was back to white, visibly white even in the minimal pre-dawn light. I wasn’t sure if I had actually slept. I got out of bed at four, got to Swamis early enough to park the Falcon in the choicest location; front row, ten spots from the stairs; the optimal view of the lineup.

The Falcon was the same car in which my dad had taught my mom to drive, the station wagon, three-speed manual transmission. This was the car she used to drive her two boys to swimming lessons, and church, and to my appointments with a string of different doctors; and to the beach; surf mats and Styrofoam surfies and whining Freddy, maybe an annoying friend of his. The factory installed (optional upgrade) roof racks were now pretty much rusted in place.

The difference was the Falcon was now my car. A surfer’s surf wagon. Hawaiian print curtains hung on wires, a “Surfer Magazine” decal on the back driver’s side window, a persistent smell of mildew. Beach smell. With my boards now shorter, I usually kept them inside, non-hodad-like, but, for several of the reasons a hodad would do it, I kept the nine-six pintail on the roof for a while longer. “Just in case the waves are really small,” might have been one excuse.   

A predicted swell, this gleaned from other surfers and pressure charts in the Marine Weather section of the newspaper, hadn’t materialized, and a south wind was blowing. Cars with surfboards were passing each other up and down 101. Surfers were hanging out in parking lots and on bluffs and beaches, talking surf, watching the few surfers out at any spot bobbing in the side chop. Maybe it would clean up, maybe it would actually get bigger. And better.

I would wait. Waiting is as important a part of surfing as trying to be the first one out or paddling out before the best conditions hit.  Just before. My shift at my weekend-only, for-now, job didn’t start until ten-thirty; about the time the onshores typically get going. Different with a south wind. Sometimes it would clean up as some weak front moved inland or simply fizzled. Sometimes.

If I went out at nine, I could get a good forty-five minutes of surfing; maybe ten waves or more. I had my notebook, college-ruled; I had the four and eight track tape player under the passenger’s side of the seat; a collection of bargain tapes purchased at the Fallbrook Buy and Save; and I could do what I always did, study. My father’s billy clubs sized flashlight, four new d batteries, provided the lighting.

Read, recite, memorize, reread. That was my system. Less important details fall off with each attempt to memorize. The facts and details best remembered, by my logic, would most likely be the ones on the tests. Any quirky anecdotes, something that amused me; yes, I remembered those, too.  I had another system for multiple choice tests and standardized tests. Two of the four choices were obviously incorrect, fifty-fifty chance on the others. Best guest. The system worked surprisingly well, well enough that California’s supposed Ivy League university accepted me.

My father hadn’t understood why I couldn’t go there.

I was a faker, kid with a system; it never would have worked; not in that bigger pond, every student top of some class somewhere. 

No studying on this morning. I had to sneak over to the crime scene, the wall that surrounds the Self-Realization Fellowship compound. There was (and is) a wrought-iron gate in the higher, arched (former) entrance, around the corner, facing 101. As with the other breakpoints in the wall, that section is topped with the huge gold sculptures, each one representing a blooming flower. Lotus blossom. They could as easily represent a flame, not dissimilar to the one on the statue of liberty, not dissimilar to the burn marks on the wall my friends had described.  

The SRF compound is a place where people, on their own, go seeking enlightenment, a realization of the true self.  Seekers, seeking.

At about seven-fifteen I did walk over. Had to. I expected more. I expected some instant and obvious explanation.  There was a man by the wall, wheel-barrowing soil from a pile near the highway to the wall, raking it in. I had seen him before. Dark skinned. East Indian, I presumed. He was dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, white, with faded blue workman’s pants, rubber boots, and heavy leather gloves. Most of his face (and I knew he had a beard) was covered in what appeared to be an overlarge (plain cloth) bandana, a standard bandana (red) around his nose and mouth, and a tropical straw hat (quite different from the cowboy style Mexican farmers and landscape workers preferred). He dropped the new soil around newly planted but full-sized plants.

There was no evidence that something horrific had occurred. The new paint blended perfectly.  The plants looked… it all looked exactly the same as it always had; as it did even in the late 1950s, before I surfed, when my father took us there just so my mother could see the gardens.

If I blinked, I thought, it might be like taking a picture. I might remember details. I might remember better. Image. Catalog. File.

Blink.

“Swamis,” Portia Backstory

My novel, “Swamis,” would be complete and possibly readable by now if I wasn’t so (I have to say) involved in the backstory for each of the main characters (and, I guess, if there weren’t so damn many of them). I wouldn’t have been so involved in the details if it wasn’t so important to me to know and show how distinctive each character is. And realistic, authentic.

It hasn’t aided my task that character development and the crashing of characters against each other is so much fun for me. Writer fun, not like reader fun.

A reader wants FOCUS. I am trying. My third page one rewrite has narrowed the timeline, tightened the storyline, dropped out a few characters.

Here is an exchange that won’t be in the novel. I have already eliminated this scene at the San Diego Sheriff’s Office Vista Substation:

We’d been in the office too long. We were all a bit more… relaxed.

Dickson closed the door with a kick of the knee when he reentered the office with two more cups of coffee. He handed one to Jumper, said he put a little coffee in with the sugar. Wendall took the other cup, said Frederick Thompson had not been drunk or under the influence of drugs as far as the medical examiners could tell. “Just crazy.”

“Helicopter pilot,” Jumper said, as if this explained something.  It seemed to. Maybe not enough. “He flew evac in Korea, got out, surfed, went back in for Vietnam. Gunships. Different thing. Fucked him up.” Jumper paused. “So, yeah; crazy.” 

Wendall lit up another cigarette.  “And… all of this… craziness, Langdon is claiming, and he has the ear of the politicians, is because of the Sheriff’s Office laissez-faire” (he pronounced it la-zy-fair) “policy toward pot growers and dealers in our county.”

“Miss Ransom and the ‘Free Press’ assholes got that part right,” Dickson said. “La-zy-fair for sure.”

Wendall leaned over the desk as far as he could. “It wasn’t your father, Jody; Gunny thought he had it under control. It’s just… grown… too fast, too many new, um, participants. We knew about Chulo; that he was collecting money from the hippie dealers. Chulo and…?”

Jumper and I both said “Portia” at the same time.

Oceanside 1974. The proximity to Camp Pendleton
and a steady stream of vulnerable Marines had made the downtown a pretty tough place in the Vietnam era. I worked at Buddy’s Sign Service in this area June, 1969 to September, 1971. Yeah, too much exposition.

“Oh yeah,” Wendall said, “Portia. She’s actually Patricia Sue Langley. Patty Langley, runaway from, um, Many Wives, Utah; busted for petty theft…ha ha… back in ’65.  No, um, end of ’64.  She was a minor, so… So… and… oh, then she got… sexual. Oceanside. Marines, mostly; easy pickin’s.”

Dickson interjected. “Not our, as you know, jurisdiction.”

“Oh, but then Patty got herself down to Leucadia…” Wendall said, “across 101 and down from where you live now, Jody; one of those motels.”

Dickson pointed toward Jumper. “Second one past your place.”

“When I was a kid,” Jumper said, “Chulo and I’d go around, pick up coke bottles at the Log Cabin Inn, other motels; turn them in for the, the deposit. Good money for a kid.”

I felt compelled to join in. I spoke quickly to make up for the obvious lack of interest by the others. “A neighbor kid, Roger; he and I went to this ball game down by Live Oak Park. Fallbrook. Roger’s brother was playing. We picked up bottles; took them to the guy at the little… the stand. The guy said they were his bottles, wouldn’t give us the deposit money.”

“You tell him who your dad was?”

“No.” I looked at Wendall, Dickson, Jumper. They were waiting. “Roger did.”

Wendall cleared his throat. Loudly. “So. Jody’s dad… Gunny… Joe; he always liked to point out how most all the motels were on the south-bound side; like that showed nobody’s coming up from San Diego looking for a place; it’s all from the north.  L.A.”

“Anyway,” Dickson said, “guess she… Patty, um, slash Portia, got tired of… servicing… Jarheads; fresh-outa-boot-camp Ji-rines; they’d probably want to go two or three times.” He did a subtle hip thrust motion, adding, “First time ought to be free. Ha! Probably wouldn’t even make it out of his skivvies.”

Wendall took over. “It was my call. Disturbance. The proprietor actually called it in; but Gunny and…” Wendall pointed over his shoulder. “Gunny and Big Imagination here show up. I’m standing outside a room with some fat business type from Covina… West Covina. So… fat. He claimed he hadn’t gotten his money’s worth.”

It was a brief pause, but Dickson took the story. “So, Joe goes, ‘money’s worth of what?’ The guy… hey; it’s your story, Wendall. Did you take a bribe on that one?”

“Well.” Wendall looked around to make sure everyone was watching. “Sort of. Gunny, he goes up to the guy, looks down at his…you know, package. The guy was in… he’d put on his business jacket. Seersucker; some sort of sales guy green. Sears or Pennys; one of those. No shirt, and, you know, tidy whities; size, um, enormous. For his butt. No big bulge; not that I would notice. Black socks, the kind you hold up with garters. Garters. This Chipper, Mortenson, shows up and the… West Covina guy is acting like we’re supposed to be… like we’re on his side. Mortenson, you remember him, huh; tough bastard, loved to pull over kids.”

“And beaners,” Dickson said, looking directly at Jumper before giving Wendall a sweeping ‘take-it-away’ gesture.

Wendall was leaning forward, both elbows on my dad’s old desk. “So, Gunny, he’s got Mr. West Covina’s wallet in his hand and, I guess, repeats, ‘Money’s worth of what, Mr. um, Redwick?’ Red… wick.” 

We all may have chuckled. Wendall continued. 

“So, Patty’s standing there, wrapped up in a blanket. Not because it’s cold… and the motel owner, older woman who thought she’d be renting places for artists; like, you know, like Leucadia’s Newport Beach or something; she’s got an arm around Patty, and Patty’s got a bottle of orange soda up against one eye, and Gunny’s just waiting for Humpty Redwick to answer. And I say, ‘Maybe he was getting some, um, advice on, um, clothing choices.’ Morty… Mortenson, this cracks him up. But Gunny’s all business; serious. I mean, Morty’s seen some shit. He’s a vet, too. Korea, at least. Army. Chosin Reservoir. Bad shit. And he’d been cruising up and down 101, ‘Slaughter Alley’ for years. He was still, those days, still on a motorcycle. So, yeah; blood… tough guy, and he’s just… laughing.”

Wendall put a cigarette in his mouth, pulled out his Sheriff’s Office Zippo from his shirt pocket, snapped the lighter open with a jerk of the wrist, hit the wheel with a snap of the finger. More theatrics. “So, now Morty sees your dad’s serious. I mean, Morty was big, but Gunny was looking… you know how he could… that look; fierce, fierce-like; and Gunny he… he opens up Redwick’s wallet, then holds every photo of the guy’s wife and kids up to his face; whole, you know, string of them; and then shows them to me. And the owner. And Patty. Gunny takes out all the cash. He asks the proprietor if the motel fee has been paid. She says, ‘Diner’s Club,’ and Gunny holds a twenty and a couple of singles up in Redwick’s face, puts that cash back in the wallet, sticks the rest out toward Patty, sticks the wallet back into Humpty’s inside coat pocket. 

“Gunny’s still holding, probably, two hundred bucks. She, Patty, she shakes her head. And I say, ‘Oh, the advice,’ and she, no one would take her for dumb; Patty says, ‘Maybe Mr. Redwick should switch to some, um, boxers… maybe some, uh, dark color; that might be a choice.’ She takes the money. Now Gunny’s smiling. We’re, all of us, laughing. Not Redwick. He does look a little relieved, maybe.”

Wendall stopped, inhaled, blew the smoke out kind of forcefully. We all watched the cloud get sucked into the fan, some of it actually going out the window.

“Wait. Wait. So, Morty gets a call; three car pile-up by the Carlsbad Slough. He gets on his bike, starts it up, peels out. Lights and sirens.”

Jumper filled in with, “Not your jurisdiction.”

“Right. Then, two doors down, this other guy tries slipping out of a room. Gunny’s watching Patty. She must of looked over. The motel owner, she seems, um, concerned. Gunny gives me a look. The other guy, he tries to duck back into the room. I run down… yeah; I can run… I push open the door, grab this guy. He must have thought it was all over when Morty left.”

Wendall did a sort of relaxed pose, casually inhaled, slowly blew out smoke.

“And?” Jumper and I both asked.  

“And…” Wendall looked pleased. “And there’s another, definitely underaged girl inside; not beat up, but… I mean, it was obvious. So, short story long, it all went official. Other than the money.”  

Any excerpts from “Swamis” are protected under copyright laws, Erwin A. Dence, Junior, author.

Give Me Some Good News…

I have written some lyrics for songs over the years. It is surprising to me how many years ago some of them were developed as I drove from here to there or wherever. Or back home from wherever. Songs, not poetry. Not that I have that much disdain for poetry; it just seems a bit more pretentious than… okay, I have purposefully written a few poems.

Since I have been playing harmonica (harp to hipsters and such folks) long enough (since 1969 or so when Buddy, of Buddy’s Sign Service, gave me a Hohner full-sized slide chromonica- current replacement cost- $224.88 at Guitar Center) that I have enough Blues Bands and Special 20s, as well as the cheapie versions by Hohner and other manufacturers, with blown reeds to, someday, get them all together (or as many as I can find) with some resin and create some sort of assemblage. So Artsy. In my mind, it would be the kind of thing where any observer would have to ask, “Do you know what harmonicas cost nowadays?” More than they did when you bought one, just to try it out.

It is not accidental that many of my lyrics fit into a blues format. My older son, James, is a musician, mostly a guitar player. James started out with Heavy Metal, studied Classical Guitar at the Lionel Hampton School of Music, did some sessions at Port Townsend’s Centrum Blues Festival (not that he attended classes. He claimed that going to the week-long retreat, paid for by his grandfather, gave him access to “The Bad-asses,” he and some of them jamming on the porches of the old buildings at Fort Warden), moved on to blues-jazz fusion with his own bands, while playing lead guitar with The Fabulous Kingpins, a long-time cover tune band.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned James before. Sorry; I got started, kept going.

SO… blues, harmonicas, lyrics; the harmonica is an instrument one can play while driving. Legally, I believe, if one isn’t distracted. One hand. While I can play a range of songs… note of caution- wailing out the last verse of “All Along the Watchtower” will blow out the reeds with notes you only meant to bend- I do use my alone/driving time to write/play/sing loud enough to almost overcome the noise from the blown-out muffler on my surf rig.

I do have a working radio on my work van, with pre-sets to one NPR station, one hip Seattle station, one cool station from Everett, and one local one from Port Townsend. But… when the news is redundant and or horrific, when the folks are begging for funding, when the music is shitty or the talking heads are discussing topics I don’t actually care about, I can hit an alternate list. Classical FM, an AM station I’ve never bothered to tune out. Or I can play harmonica and sing a variety of songs I know some or all of the words to. “In the Early Morning Rain,” “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” are two examples.

It might not be surprising that a collection of songs I put together and got a copywrite for (I would have to look for the actual date- it has been a while) is entitled, “Love Songs for Cynics.” Not that I’m all that cynical. I do have some, you know, like, love songs in the mix. Here are a couple of the titles: “Ain’t Got No Problems with Lolita,” “Honey Days,” “I Just Wanna go Surfin’,” “And So am I,” “You Made me what I Am.” Oh, that one is a bit cynical.

The NEWS. A problem with watching dire weather forecasts, looking at confusing and not-necessarily-epic surf forecasts, reports from Seattle about homeless camps and people stealing catalytic converters and drilling holes in gas tanks to steal ever-more-costly fuel, network news about Ukraine and Putin and tanks and shelling and evacuations and refugees is… it is just too much.

I WAS THINKING, specifically, about this song. I tried to remember all the lyrics. No, it’s not about peace; it’s really kind of whining, poet-like. However, with a little tweaking…

“Give me some good news, please, no more bad; You know I’m crazy, but I’m not mad; Guess disappointed’s the word I’d choose; Come on, can’t you give me some good news? Something that might shake away these blues.

Something that might shake away, something that might take away, you know we can break away from these blues; If only you could give me… some… good… news.”

There is also, along with the other two verses I can’t totally remember at the moment (on a thumb drive somewhere, a printed copy somewhere else), an outro with this:

“…You know and I know and we know and they know, the world has blown a fuse; And God ain’t grantin’ no more interviews; so, come on, can’t you give me… some… good (big finish here) NEWS.”

James and me a few years back, bending notes, breaking strings, blowing out reeds.

OKAY, I’m going to check that surf forecast again. Not to dissuade anyone, but it looks a little… sketchy.

“SWAMIS” UPDATE: I’m four chapters in on the total rewrite and I’m condensing and tightening what I wrote in the outline I wrote to condense and tighten the over-expansive two earlier versions. It’s actually going pretty well. I just did more on Portia and Baadal Singh, set up Chulo and Gingerbread Fred for the chapter after the next one, and I’m thinking… can I just eliminate that one, move on to Chulo’s murder?

Thinking. It’s what I do when I’m not playing harmonica.

Attempting to FOCUS

Wait. Is he sticking his tongue out? Is that a Saint Christopher medal? What kind of material is that top, or is it a wetsuit, made of? Is he just jumping up, or is he grabbing the rail for no apparent reason? GoPro shot courtesy of, I think, Cap, second-handed to me by Stephen R. Davis.

INTRO-

Trish and I, a little later today, are meeting up with our daughter, Dru, and heading down Surf Route 101 to see Dru’s younger brother, and Trisha’s and my youngest child, Sean.

EXPOSITION- Optional

Sean has an older brother/oldest child, James, over on the borderland between Washington and, yes, Idaho. James lives in the red state, works in the red, East of the Mountains part of Wa, and, yes, a bit of the blueness may have faded in the years since James headed that direction, signed up for classes at the U of I because of the Lionel Hampton School of Music, continued his practice of having his own band, continued improving on guitar playing, got into a popular Moscow-based cover tune band, the Kingpins, as lead guitar player (he can crank out any riff you’ve ever heard), dropped out of school, continued spelling his name Jaymz, got married to a woman with a young son, had a son, got divorced, got remarried. His stepson had the first of several (3 now) kids, his son had a kid and joined the Navy, pretty much in that order.

Brief history, without the histrionics.

So, back to Sean, down in Olympia. But first, yes, since our youngest child is turning forty, I must be something other than young. I am not writing about that today. Maybe a little.

MORE EXPOSITION- Also optional (suggesting all other reading is mandatory)

Sean attended the Evergreen State College, graduated, got a master’s degree in Public Administration. Any day now we expect him to use the degree and his experience in working jobs in which an advanced degree is not required and get something better, white collar, perhaps. Sean does have the capacity to retain and pass on incredible amounts of knowledge on subjects he has a passion for: Movies, action figures. Action movies. So far, this passion hasn’t turned into a clear career path. We have hope.

All Sean needs is focus.

FOCUS and “SWAMIS” What I really wanted to talk about-

After writing two complete versions of my novel, I decided an outline might be a tool to cut down on the extraneous and peripheral stuff. Plot, not backstory. Not exposition. No fancy descriptions, just basic setting, dialogue, action.  Because of the time I have invested, I have to rationalize. I know my characters. Helpful.

The PLOT, the STORYLINE(S) have always been the same. Everything else is in support of the story.

DIALOGUE is very important to me- getting the rhythm and the use of language right. I used an ‘if it is important, I will remember it’ technique, trying not to constantly check with the second unexpurgated manuscript.

I wanted to use STORIES told by various characters to establish the character of several of the… characters. FOR EXAMPLE: JODY/JOEY is meant to be someone with a history of violence, of striking out when he felt threatened. I wrote several stories to back that up. JUMPER was severely wounded in Vietnam and almost certainly has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wrote a whole lot on that, probably won’t use any of it. JOSEPH DEFREINES was a decorated war veteran. I didn’t write much about that, but because my father also served in World War II and Korea, I know something about how Joey’s father would suppress his own trauma.

What I attempted to do is cut out some of the stories, shift some of the stories around, have them told, in a shorter form, or merely alluded to, by other characters. STILL, I love some of the stories.

THE ACTUAL MANUSCRIPT- I told myself it would be so easy converting the outline into a novel. NO, none of this is actually easy. I do, however, love it all. I have to rationalize the time I spend writing and thinking about what little changes I just need to make; I tell myself that all writing helps one become a better writer. SURFER ANALOGY- Wave count; it’s all about the wave count.

The outline ended up being 14 ‘Episodes,’ If that sounds like it’s more screenplay than outline… yeah.

Adding the descriptions of the settings has not been as quick and easy as I had imagined. I have made more changes and will, undoubtedly, continue to do so. Tighter. That is the goal.

I currently have the Forward, the first big chapter and a good start on chapter two at a state I’m pretty happy with. I printed the nineteen pages up. THE PLAN IS, when I have Drucilla, who loves to listen to podcasts and books on tape, as a captive audience in the car with Trish driving (after my last crash, Trish will no longer allow me to drive if she is in the vehicle- I’m fine with it), I will read the manuscript to her.    

FOCUS- I was talking to a client the other day about painting the trim on her Port Townsend Victorian house, and, as I do, I was off on numerous tangents. “We have to focus on the painting here,” she said. “Oh. Okay.” I said I wasn’t insulted, then said, “Yeah, I am kind of insulted. It’s okay.” I walked toward my van. “You know, the main character in the novel I mentioned… He gets so involved in all the stuff that is going on that… I think, for a detective, that kind of perceptiveness might not be a bad thing.” She nodded. “I have every confidence,” she said, “based on your reputation, that you have the ability to focus totally on what you’re painting.”

“Well,” I said, climbing into my big boy van, “I do.”

I wanted to add “When I have to.” I wanted to add a lot more. No time, had to get to working. Focusing on the task at hand.

DRUCILLA BACKSTORY- Optional but possibly interesting-

Dru went to Loyola University in Chicago, graduated, got a good job with an advertising firm, didn’t complete her master’s degree (Trish hopes she still might), worked for “The Onion,” moved back to the northwest a couple of year ago. She lives in Port Gamble, works in a shop there and does off site work for another advertising outfit in Chicago, works for the Olympic Music Festival. Dru actually did some recording of ‘concerts in the barn,’ the barn being in Quilcene, when she was in high school. Dru’s best friend from high school, Molly, lives in one of those old houses just down the street from her.

I really want my only daughter to help edit and package and sell “Swamis.” The threat is, if she doesn’t, and someone else does, and some money is eventually made, she would have to wait until Trish and I die to reap the real benefits. Trish plans on living to one hundred, I’m not planning on going anytime soon and… and… We’ll see how it goes today with the forced listening.  

Happy days to you.

Sorry I Missed Your Party

Hopefully the Luau slash surf/slumber/beach/birthday/whatever party went well.

I have a list of reasons for not attending parties. Yes, I am a known competitive talker, a talk-over specialist, and, since I have a voice louder than, most likely, yours, well- if parties are, as I have come to believe after interrogating numerous self-identified partyers for numerous years on what exactly ‘to party’ means; to hang out and talk in various states of consciousness; maybe I actually do party. Informally, as in, without background music.

Perhaps there is, rather than a list, only one item that has me turning down invitations to end-of-the-job, let’s-have-the-workers-over parties, just to mention one category of parties I have declined to RSPV. Ridiculousness. Sub-set would be lack of control of what I say. As in: Either I let it all go, unfiltered, direct from ear to mouth; then re-run all my gaffs and insults (intentional or accidental); or have someone inform me of them; or I go all wallflower and watch others be silly and/or mean and/or pouty and/or approach that delicate place where repartee descends into actual fisticuffs.

Repar-tee!

No, it’s not a real party unless someone runs off crying, someone melts down in a state of over-intoxication (this usually means being fucked up enough to speak his or her truth), more than one person throws up, a fight or near-fight occurs, someone falls into or is pushed into the bonfire, or, this would be a highlight, police intervene.

In the wallflower scenario, I have been told, I might appear standoffish, condescending, or worse, uppity and/or judgmental. “Who? Me?” There is really no greater social sin than uppity-ness.

Yes, of course there are, but uppity-ness is, you know, bad. “Who invited that stuck up (fill in your own word here)?” Uppity folks might not make the invite list.

Okay. Yes, after I heard there was an upcoming party at a beach almost at the end of what is, essentially, a dead-end road, and did see there was some remote possibility of actual swell, I did text a critical member of the party planners to wrangle an invitation.

Which I declined. Of course. Not because I’m, like, too good to hang out with folks I’ve probably been in the water with, many of whom I have chatted it up with on the beach. “When are the waves getting here?” “Well; glad you asked. According to the data…” Please refer to my list. Above.

Now I can’t help thinking back to beach parties I did attend: SIXTH GRADE GRADUATION (unofficial)- Oceanside Pier, southside. I was the only guy in a speedo (my dad, champion swimmer, wore speedos). I was embarrassed. No, not for that reason. Some people, girls too, mature… earlier. I will have to write about bulges and awkwardness some other time. The mom chaperones seemed to appreciate a speedo. HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION (unofficial)- Tamarack. No speedos. Despite having learned to surf at Tamarack, I showed up in street clothes, without a board. I was tackled by a girl from my class as I approached the campfire- pretty much the highlight. It was, at least, what I remember. Oh, just remembered her name- Barbie. Really. Some other surf wannabes from Fallbrook High may have brought boards. No, after four years of teenage angst, of trying to make myself into some imagined version of cool, there was no way I was going to surf in front of these some-time beach goers.

“See? I told you he couldn’t be all that good.” Uppity? Scared? Worried? I’m fine with uppity.

Now I’m thinking about other, non-beach parties I attended. I won’t bore you with the details. Maybe some other time. My motto has long been, “I’m here to surf.” Yeah, but, “When do you think the waves will get here?” “Glad you asked.”

STEPHEN R. DAVIS UPDATE- Steve seems mostly recovered from the super severe, full-body (including eyeballs) reaction to drugs. He just had his second chemo session, and has a port installed. Pretty scary, invasive stuff. When I asked if he’s experiencing all the well-known side effects of chemo, he says he isn’t; he feels great; looking forward to getting back in the water.

“SWAMIS” UPDATE- I just dropped off a thumb drive with what started out to be an outline. This was an attempt, after two bloated versions of a manuscript, to cut the story down to a manageable length and scope. BUT… I love the dialogue. The thing reads more like a script. Hmmm. I have started rewriting the actual novel, trying to stick to the outline. Plot. Plot. Plot. The plot I do have. It’s just that I am so easily distracted.

Happy… whatever you’re celebrating.

Okay. I have written this. I am going to post what I have written. Then, later, I will self-analyze. Harshly. Feel free to participate. I use the ridiculousness scale; try to keep it under eighty-six.

Errant Angels

Errant was the word I thought I heard the woman say. Errant Angels. It was intriguing and amusing, equally. Clever. I had to know why she used the word. Errant.

I had misheard. I was painting a small house (it would qualify as a cottage) in Port Townsend that had previously belonged to Keith Darrock and his wife. Keith, a pivotal member of the local PT surf crew, had substantially remodeled the cottage a few years ago before selling it to the current owner, Michelle.

Michelle wanted her cottage painted. It needed it. A year or two older than me, Michelle told me about her days at Height-Asbury, in 1967 or so, before the San Francisco Hippie scene was discovered and publicized and sanitized and splattered on weekly magazines.

“Have you heard about the ‘Diggers?’” I had, but I got that wrong, also. No, Michelle said, they weren’t fools who worked so others could hang out, take existential trips, find themselves; in exchange for food and lodging, the Diggers found odd jobs; sweeping, cleaning, pulling weeds; work for a teenage runaway like Michelle from Modesto.   

What Michelle had said, what I had misheard, was that; having found herself, a few years later, in the mid- 1970s, in Port Townsend; before it was discovered by yet another wave of speculators, by pensioned retirees and trust babies and refugees from the supposed ‘casual California lifestyle;’ with a child and without a regular job, she started a little service company that did, yes, odd jobs. “Errand Angels.”

I like Errant Angels better.

It creates a different image, probably based on the only other time I recall hearing the word. Errant. Errant Knights, out looking for adventures. Don Quixote. Sure. I can imagine it: On their own Angels performing little miracles here and there, perhaps looking up, wondering if the Boss would approve.

This is a work by my late sister, Melissa. While she claimed I, her oldest brother, was part of the reason she chose to pursue the lofty goal of actually creating art, Melissa, my youngest sister became my inspiration the first time I watched her sit down, sketch Trisha’s Uncle Fred with a number 2 pencil, and capture him… perfectly. Melissa Joanna Maria Marlena Dence (nickname given Melissa Jo by our mother, who never met Melissa’s husband, Jerome Lynch) started out drawing horses, I started out drawing waves and surfers. Always striving for perfection, brutally and unnecessarily hard on herself (generous with my work, apologetically honest) I never really understood Melissa’s leaning toward images such as this one. Dark. Frightening. She was way braver than I am. I do think of her when I’m trying to be… better.


Angels, ghosts, images; I have pretty much completed a way-too-detailed ‘outline’ of “Swamis.” I cut the shit out of the second unexpurgated version, purposefully not even trying to write the flowery setting/descriptive stuff. I was striving to make every move clear. I did include all the dialogue that I feel is needed. Love the dialogue. So, it’s probably dry, definitely cut, possibly not cut quite cruelly enough.

Illustration copyright Melissa Lynch. Erwin Dence asserts all rights and protections under copyright laws for original content on realsurfers.net (I was informed I should add this).

Slipping and Sliding into Whatever’s Next

The temperature outside our place had dipped down to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit (that’s minus nine point four four four four… for Celsius fans) at the stroke of midnight, Pacific Standard Time, before un-dipping to a slightly less deadly twenty-one (minus six point one one one one… at… checking… eight: forty-six a.m. (ante-meridiem for Latin lovers, or ‘before noon’ for those who… okay, I’m thinking the difference between lovers of breakfast and fans of brunch, and, now, because I am thinking, I’m considering dawn patrollers and surfers who prefer seeing what we’re paddling out and into; and, remembering my days in crowded California waves, I can’t help but mention that the onshores usually started about 10:30 am, brunch; but, yes, P.M. stands for ‘post meridiem,’ or, for those who like to time a siesta before the afternoon glass off, um, yeah, afternoon).

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You might be thinking about how low the bar must be set for 2022 being better than 2021. Try not to.

I do have a new drawing. BUT FIRST, since I did mention my friend Stephen R. Davis’s recent diagnosis, he did spend some time at the University of Washington hospital, did see a specialist in lymphomas (pleural), and was told that what he has (and Trish did look up all the scary shit) is imminently curable.

He did give up coffee, switching to smoothies. Surprising to me, since every time I’ve worked with, or surfed with, or casually run into Steve, he asked (past tense now, I guess), “Hey, Erwin; you have any… coffee?” And this is him with a bit left in a fancy store-bought cup with the wraparound finger-protecting paper. “Yeah; of course, I brought enough for me… in a thermos. Folgers. On sale. Costco.” “Oh, okay.”

Still, Steve wasn’t a coffee snob. I did ask him to return the thermos I gave him. He says he will try to find it. Steve is going back in a couple of weeks to get started on a program.

I do know other who have life-changing if not life-threatening conditions. Here’s what we do: We keep going. That was kind of the point of my drawing, originally meant, maybe, as a holiday card; now, perhaps, I can say it’s a Happy New Year’s illustration. Forward, onward, sideslipping down the line.

Next post might be, “What’s Wrong With ‘Swamis’ and how I’m fixing it.”

Searching for One Thing…

…finding another.

Not what I was looking for, what I found

We’re here, the Solstice, the official start of the bleak dark season, jump-started a bit more than usual, right after Halloween. I’m not nearly far enough into the third full-on rewrite of “Swamis,” cutting and chopping and polishing and tightening and (I would love to say) perfecting the plot, honing-in on what is just way too important to me, the dialogue.

There are so many scenes/encounters that I have already cut; some of which I have posted here. There is a certain interplay that I wanted to include, a meeting between RUTH DeFREINES, wife of the recently deceased detective, and the detective’s longtime partner, LARRY WENDELL.

The occasion for this encounter between these two is this: CHULO was murdered, set alight at Swamis. Chulo was a witness to the highway accident, a month earlier, in which JOSEPH DeFREINES died. Ruth and JOSEPH (aka Jody/Joey) DeFREINES, Junior, were involved in the accident. Joey was responsible for his father going off the road. Chulo, at Ruth’s request, lied about Joey being present at the accident scene. Larry, recently separated, has feelings for Ruth, believes she was in the vehicle his partner went off the highway to avoid, and is attempting to cover up what he believes to be the truth.

Not complicated at all. BUT, when Chulo is murdered, Ruth wants to find out what Wendall knows. My dilemma is this: Joey is the narrator, and I am trying to not include scenes he is not witness to. So, I have Larry telling Joey about Ruth attacking him about what he knows about Chulo’s death, or I write that actual scene.

Or I write both and drop one. No, probably both.

All of the characters in “Swamis,” are fictional composites of several real people. My mother would be the obvious model for Ruth. How my mother would react to situations helps, but the real fun is imagining the many ways Ruth, and each of the characters, is different; fictional, but realistic enough that, if you ask me the backstory of even incidental players, I have answers.

I am, clearly, not going to take the time to write the above scene right now. Later. BUT here’s what I was looking for when I did an image search: My real mother worked at the Base Photo Lab at Camp Pendleton in the late 1960s. She worked with Marines who had photographed war and all its aspects, in World War II and/or Korea, and some, no doubt, were taking photographs in Vietnam. My brothers and sisters and I (some portion of 7) went to my mom’s work for at least one Christmas party. Not a fun group, the photographers. Many, including a neighbor we had for a while, had seen too much. If I asked my mom why Scott’s father was so… solemn, she answered, “He was at Iwo Jimo, other places.” These men were damaged- some more than others.

Or so I still believe. Okay, so Ruth works at… yes, the photo lab. It works. Orphaned in World War II Japan, married to an Ex-Marine (if there is such a person), ex hired thug, ex patrol officer… yeah; damaged individuals with a damaged son who either has brain damage or is kind of… dangerous… sure; building blocks for a novel that a reader of the second unexpurgated version described as “Cutsie.”

I can’t leave that at that. He also said, “I see what you were going for here- a slice of life kind of thing.”

Oh? Like… real? I hope so. Without going into the overly-psychedelic or cliched way in which the late 1960s might be and have been portrayed, the setting is mostly bright if not sunny. Joey is, in some ways, like Alice in a different wonderland. Surfers in a time of board revolution, cops with aspirations, marijuana marketeers in a period of rapid and dangerous growth. Do we really remember as much about Alice as we do the characters she meets?

Still, no Mad Hatters or Cheshire Cats, but a logical chain of events in a crazy, real-as-I-can-get-it world.

I am obviously getting too far into whatever writing process I have been muddling/working through, but, if “Swamis” is the last novel I ever write… it is going to, eventually, be tight.

Not that this piece is. BUT while I was looking for some image connected to the Base Photo Lab, I came across the photograph, above. A Marine on a phone, another one behind him. That is what my father did in World War II and Korea. He ran phone lines. The enemy tore them down. They ran them again. He was at Guadalcanal, he interacted with the Navajo Code Talkers (as Trisha’s father, he from the supply side), and I’m not sure where else he served. He didn’t talk to me about it. Saying my father was at Guadalcanal is usually enough.

My actual father; some percentage of the fictional Joey’s fictional father.

That’s actually what the scene I haven’t written and might not write hinges on: Detective DeFreines did tell stories from work to Ruth; the guys she worked with did not. Saying someone was at Iwo Jimo is enough. Probably.

Happy Solstice! Peace.

I HAVE TO add that Joey is not me. I do steal some experiences from my life, but no. Not me. Characteristics from several other people are included; Joey’s reactions are imagined. Here’s a line I will eventually cut. It is between Joey and JUMPER, probably the most fictional character in “Swamis.” They are in a critical and dangerous situation. Joey- “We are not friends; but we are… close.”

New Original Erwin’s Originals*

Perhaps I should explain the process. I draw something (the actual original*) and then I dick with it. Perhaps I should explain dicking with it: Get a copy, possibly a reversal (black to white, white to black), then I do some coloring.

In the case of the Orca, and I have drawn Orcas before. Okay, once. So, Stephen Davis’s girlfriend (bethrothed [sp], couldn’t spell fiance’ [sp] correctly either), Sierra, evidently, wanted a birthday card featuring the beloved and feared local on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea, and, more local for me, occasionally patrolling the Hood Canal. “So, hey, Steve; why don’t you just draw her one?” “Maybe I will.” “Maybe I will.” “Okay.” So, I drew this one:

Yes, it is in color. I didn’t scan the black and white version

Okay, so, as usual, I show the drawing to Trish. “Orcas are, you know, black?” “Isn’t it?” “No.” Okay, so, with the illustration on my clear plastic drawing board, I trace the outline and do a drawing where the black will become white (printery- my scanner sucks). Then, hanging out at THE PRINTERY in Port Townsend while STEVEN does some machine/computer interface magic, and a constant stream of customers cruise through the doors, I color in the reversed image. Still, I was a bit hurried. The result is this:

The white and black version looked way too flat… flatish

Yeah, well; I felt compelled to put in something, partially based on Stephen Davis’s recent run-in with supposed locals, about how there are true locals. Despite getting good reviews from any of the PRINTERY customers who happened to check out my stuff (one guy commented on my use of crayons. “Um, uh, no; colored pencils.” “Still…”) I am not totally happy with the coloring job (kind of lose the orca outline), but then, I’m never truly done with any drawing.

I have the originals. I can go back. Some time. Later.

Meanwhile, here’s one my scanner wouldn’t let me scan last time I tried.

Not sure what to do with this one. Tried it as a Holiday card. Maybe I’ll try again.

I did post this card before, as in before I added the new stuff.

Plain and…
…fancy.

Because of the seasonal (paying) work slowdown, and while it’s cold and rainy or colder and sleeting, even colder and clear, I continue to work on the third full rewrite of “Swamis.” I know the story; I know each of the characters so very well; I’ve endeavored to edit and cut and chop. Stephen Davis, when I showed him the illustration immediately above, said, “Maybe your writing is kind of like… this.” “Yeah. It is.” My philosophy on the ‘psychedelic’ drawings is that ‘it isn’t done until it’s overdone.’

I love simple, but simple is really… difficult. I’ll keep trying, but I am stubborn enough to not give up on the purposefully kinetic and the clinically insanely overdrawn.

I do have something ready; an outline that was an attempt to simplify the trilogy I tried to cram into one book; an outline that became something, mostly because I just fucking love the dialogue, more a script than a treatment. More on that forthcoming. If you can help me sell it, let me know.

Merry, Happy, Peaceful, and; I just couldn’t keep it simple, a few lined-up waves to lean into.

Yet Another Chapter from “Swamis…”

…that will not appear in the final manuscript. Yes, I am still working on “Swamis,” quite regularly, in fact. It isn’t that the information from this chapter won’t be rearranged, trimmed, modified. It will be… different; it already is.

CHAPTER 34- WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1969

Palomar’s upper parking lots, as usual, were nearly empty midday. I was partially inside the Falcon, sitting on the tailgate. Just enough shade, just enough breeze, reciting, for the third time, a chapter from my World History class; some romantic intrigue the professor presented as, “Particularly important and tantalizingly and spectacularly nasty.” His words. Compared to massacres and riots and wars and famines, the story covered in the chapter was not all that nasty.

I saw Jumper before I heard him. He had to repeat what he had said. “I said that I guess Annie’s through writing shit about… you.” He dropped the latest “North County Free Press” into my lap.

“I didn’t… see you.” I looked around. His work truck was parked next to the Falcon. “Or see you. I already saw the paper; but, uh, yeah; Portia’s pretty much taken up the whole issue. Nice shot of you and Gingerbread Fred, though.”

“God.”

I handed his paper back to him, pulled my own copy, two books on top of it in a stack of five, said, “’Portia Langworthy and her search for truth.  Part one.’ Lee Anne’s going with that whole Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Brautigan, new age hippie intellectual, ‘I’m part of the story’ kind of writing, Jumper; just nothing new.” 

Jumper gave me a ‘you’re so literate’ look. I continued. “It’s really ‘I’m such a good writer’ stuff for Lee Anne Ransom’s ego, with a shitload of publicity for Portia’s big event. Oh, but…” I opened the paper. “Junipero Hayes; there’s this photo, but, no, it’s really… funny how she, oh, and you, got to Gingerbread Fred when, pretty sure, he wasn’t supposed to be found.”

“He wasn’t. They couldn’t… protect him.” Jumper scratched at the photo of him with Fred Thompson on the bluff at Swamis. “There he was, on the stairs, at sunset. Like always. Swamis. He couldn’t stay away.”

“What did he say?”

“Enough.” I looked too long, too close, in Jumper’s eyes, at his expressions. “Not enough.” Jumper shook his head, smiled, looked at the books sharing the open area at the back of the Falcon. “Gingerbread Fred. He, um, when he saw her… Annie… Lee Anne; yeah, he said he wasn’t supposed to talk to her.”

“But he did… talk… to you?”

“To… us.” I shoved the stack of books over and farther into the car. “She, Annie, she persuaded him.” Jumper sat down. “She’s, yeah, very persuasive. Gentle. Sincere. Fred trusted her.”

“Get it. So, um… you do know Annie’s a nickname. From me. Anyway, you and Annie…”

“She’s Annie to me, Jody. Okay?” I shrugged. “Annie’s really so into this, man. Jody. She’s hanging out with Portia. A lot. You know, I’ve never even, officially, met Portia; never been introduced. To Annie it’s this big ass story; and I’m, we’re, we’re just part of it, small parts of it. Characters.”

“So, what’s he… your, the Jumper character, doing next?”

“Not sure; do have to go to L.A. again… on Friday. You said you’d go.”

“Can’t. I have an, a, uh, presentation. But Rusty McAndrews; is he a character in, uh, this?”  Jumper’s non-response, his attempt to hide a smile, meant he was.

“I did mention him… about a fuckin’ week ago or so.” Jumper pointed toward, then tapped me on the forehead. I brushed his hand back. His smile was now real. “Gotta wonder what’s swishing around in there, man. Percolating.”

I made two popping sounds with my lips. ‘Pop, pop.’ “Percolating?”

Jumper spun around and stretched into the back of the Falcon, came back with my camera in his hand. He looked through the lens, made some adjustments as he backed away, took two photos. “Eighteen-year-old surf detective Jody DeFreines in his office.” He crouched down in front of me as I restacked my books, then turned back. “So, Rusty McAndrews; what do you know about him?”

“Well,” I said, reaching for my camera, “When I was a freshman…”  

I told Jumper the story about an individual I found extremely disgusting. Jumper did seem to enjoy the story, his enjoyment enhanced by how embarrassed I was in telling it. Tantalizingly and spectacularly nasty.

in the story the orange has been peeled

“Rusty McAndrews,” Jumper said, placing my camera next to me and among the scattered books in the back of my car, “he has a slightly different story about you and how you…” Jumper put a hand to his neck, inhaled noisily, once, then twice. 

“Fuck! Rusty… Are you going to tell me how that… guy is involved in this?”

“Yes, when you go with me. Friday. I plan on going surfing; might need a… friend.” I was shaking my head, Jumper was nodding. “Look; we can go to the library. I know some AV dudes. We can tape your presentation. Maybe they can, um, slow you down. I’ll, I’ll help. Cut out any…” Jumper blinked several times. “Any, uh, freeze-ups.”

“That what I do?”

“No. More like this:” Jumper stopped moving his head, stared at me. Too long, too unfocused. He blinked and smiled. “Rusty, in his version, says he went up to you at some hilltop in Fallbrook where all you valley cowboys would drink, and asked how much acid he’d have to drop to impress you, and you asked him, like, how much have you dropped so far?’ Then you gave him the, uh…”  Jumper illustrated the moves. “Straight shot to the neck. Three fingers… and a punch… boom… to the solar plexus. Guess he got…” Jumper moved close to my face. “Too close.”

I pushed Jumper back. Flat palm. “Yeah, forgot the sternum punch. Fucking Rusty, didn’t even live in Fallbrook any… longer. Another dickhead, hanging out with high school punks. Friends of my friends. He was already drunk when he got there; did a sort of fake fighting thing, and he…”

“He called Mohammad Ali by his… Slave name. Yeah, but Rusty claims you didn’t go  off until he asked you if Joseph DeFreines is yours, your… slave name.”

“I wasn’t in the mood.” Jumper and I were both nodding. “Rusty, he’s part of… this?”

“Jody, we’re all part of this.”

“Next Friday. It’s weekly, huh? Next week I’ll go.”

“Might not be a next week. Depends on this week.” 

“Oh. So, would you like to hear my theory on Rusty and you, undercover, and marijuana… harvest season, and how real criminals…”

“No, I don’t.” Jumper pointed to his own head. “But keep thinking, Jody.”

Jumper walked over to his truck, leaned into the bed. He returned with two oranges. “Easy peelers,” he said, handing one to me. “The thinking; you… I know you can’t stop it. Anyway, Jody; Rusty claims you got this big smile, and just before you…” Jumper illustrates the straight three-finger jab gesture, “…you whisper, to yourself, ‘keep your eyes open,’ and then… Jab!”

Jumper bit the stem end off his orange, peeled it, quickly. “I’m just wondering,” he said, where the ‘keep your eyes open’ thing came from.”

“Devil pups.”

 “Sounds right.” Jumper held the one piece of rind out, tossed it over his shoulder an into the back of his pickup. He handed the peeled orange to me, took mine, started peeling it.  

 “So, Jody, you’re the quietest, deep-thinkingnest guy; and then… Ow! Which are you?”

I ripped the orange into halves, one of those into wedges. “The Friday night drinking on the hilltop things; I wasn’t invited back.”

“Probably not. Oh, you also broke out Rusty’s brother’s front teeth? Travis.”

“Twavis. Yeah. Way earlier. Third grade.”

I stuck a double wedge in my mouth. Big orange smile.

We were both laughing when Ginny’s father’s Jeep pulled into the far end of the parking lot. I grabbed my camera from the Falcon, took a couple of shots as Ginny approached, then pulled alongside us, Jumper and I both with orange wedge smiles.

“Hey,” Ginny said to me. “Hey,” Jumper said to Ginny. “Hey,” Ginny said to Jumper.

Three characters mid-afternoon, upper parking lot. I sat back down on the tailgate of the Falcon, Ginny parked, climbed out of the Jeep, sat down beside me, accepted the half orange I offered.

Jumper ran his hand along the fake wood paneling on the new Jeep, smiled at Ginny. “I know, Jumper, it’s fake.” He hit his pants leg with a side of his hand even with the top of the front tire. “Yeah Jumper, big tires.”

Jumper opened the driver’s door, looked in, looked back. “It is fancy.”  

“And not mine.” Ginny looked at me, then back to Jumper as he got into the truck. He kept the door open. “Did Joey tell you about this guy in our Police Science class? He…” She looked at me. I shook my head.

Jumper closed the door, looked out the window, obviously amused. “Our Police Science class?”

“Yes. Our. Jody and I have two classes… together… now.”

“Well, Ginny; that’s badass. Or romantic. Something.” Jumper hung out of the window of the farm truck as he moved it even with and perpendicular to the back of the Falcon. “Next time, in our one class together, you’re on my team.”

“Should’ve been, already.” Ginny smiled at Jumper, looked at me, whispered, “Badminton,” then turned back to Jumper. “You’ll be there for my surprise birthday, um, uh, extravaganza; huh?”

“Friday? I do have to… yes, Virginia; I will be there.” Jumper revved the engine, then shut it off, looked at me. “Sorry, just thinking about the, the guest list. Shit, I can’t hardly wait.”

Jumper had to pump the gas a few times to get the truck restarted. There was a bit of black smoke as he took off. Ginny waited until he cleared the parking lot before she turned to me, stuck an orange wedge in her mouth and attempted to kiss me.

“Badminton?”

She chewed and swallowed the orange before she kissed me. “Yeah; and I’m… good.”

“Of course.”

Ginny made some racket swinging moves in the air. “It’s… subtle, civilized.”

“Badminton. Seems like it. But, Friday. The party. Rusty’ll be there, huh?”

“Of course.”

NOTE- Because I care, and because I just can’t let well enough alone, I did make some changes in this. If it never appears in a book, it is appearing here. Thanks for reading. To all the real surfers; hope you find some real waves.