Charlie and I settle into the biggest beach house, the one nearest the ocean. Soon a crew drops by. We’ve rented party central. No surprise, given the size and location of the place. No worries, though. These dudes have already hired a maid to clean up after every fiesta.
They’re carefree like me and call themselves “Trustafarians.” Cute, huh? Of course I’ve hear the term before but not by way of self-description. Hardly surprising, though. How else do you surf year-round? These dudes have fun.
Not like my father, who’s always been anxious about his friends’ motivations.
“What’s the difference, Dad? Everybody’s got troubles.”
“Everybody’s got troubles. Ha-ha, Scott. Remind me to remember that one.” My father hates my attitude toward privilege so much that if my late mother had left any loopholes, he’d cut me off.
But seriously, if somebody’s hangin’ with me because I foot the bills, so what? I figure it’s the other dude’s problem. The last few times I’ve phoned my dad—we don’t do face to face—he’s asked if I’m getting eager for his heart to burst. “Time’s running out. You’ll have twice as much.”
“Truth is, Dad, for all our differences, I’m just as glad you’re alive. I’m not like you.”
He hangs up on me then. His whole life, he’s worked like a demon even though he’s always been too rich for his own good. In fact, my father considers fifty lost bucks (which is how much he spends on wine at lunch) a permanent injury. Really, it causes him pain. A snake bite probably wouldn’t faze him, but spending more than the next guy for the same car? To him, that hurts.
I’m not saying he should be stanching every wound on earth. But he could give away half of what he’s got and he’d still have more than he could spend three times over. And when he does have that heart attack? Most of his massive wealth will go directly to our very own US government. Imagine the good that’ll do.
Still, it’s not as if I’ve directed every breath and every penny toward making sure the world has access to clean drinking water. Early on, I opted for fun. But just to balance my karma without sticking my fingers in it, I’ve hired experts to donate funds wherever they claim it will make a difference. Sometimes I even look at the reports.
All told, the arrangement lets me enjoy being a failed musician and worse surfer to the fullest. But what’s got me off my joy ride right now is Charlie. Years ago, he could binge and it might cost him a few days. Now? I’m afraid it’ll cost him his best self. No doubt I’m overreacting. Charlie’s been my main buddy since before my mom died.
At four pm, Charlie and I check out the scene. The lineup might be straight out of the movies. I go till seven. But Charlie keeps surfing till he’s too beat to make it back. About eight he’s beached and bellowing for me to come and get him.
Typically, Charlie surfs full-on the first two days and retreats on the third, because he’s red from the sun. This morning, however, he’s gotta rest. He claims it’s his age, but what the hell? He spent the night doing coke, pacing, and speed-jiving.
Solo on dawn patrol, I move south of the crowd. With water this challenging, I prefer going alone. Trimming the peel, I’m one with the water.
I’ve been orbiting nicely for a few hours when I’m ready to quit. But the next wave rolls in big and sweet. I start an S-turn but side-slip. The board pitches forward and I’m churning inside the pit, locked in the box.
I flash on Emma in that rickety little plane from San Juan, when Pedro asked if she was afraid of dying.
Her voice is my voice. We’re saying, “Not unduly.” And that’s it. I’m done.
Turns out, though, the ocean spits me out. My head hits a rock—a big dry jagged rock on dry sand.
(to be continued)