Friday, February 5, 2010

The Plunge Pool


“This is our year, Colossus. Pavones is pumping.”

(click here to read the first episode and here for the previous one) 

Ten years ago, when we were young, Charlie and I surfed Pavones and got wrecked. Everyone was shredding  breakers, finessing aerials and spinners, and we crashed. Two paste-faces cranked by the foam.

“Charlie, we barely survived. We were so noodled we couldn’t walk. The heat made you puke.”

“You’re wrong, bro. That week was epic. You and me were major.”

We’re climbing upstream toward the waterfall. Truth is, Charlie barely survived Pavones. I cruised without him. Reef breaks, blue caves, going off, going deep—nothing fazed me. In the ocean, the jungle, and the mountains, I totally belonged. Twelve hour treks through the rain forest, blistering sun, sinister energy—to me the whole world tasted like nectar. Why bother living if you’re not gonna try whatever’s in front of you?

Charlie’s Pavones hype is freaky. I’m weak and he’s kinda fat and the swells curling on my own beach are bitchin’. Why leave? He’s got a tribe full of bikini-wearing babes paying him up to a grand a day to align their chakras. And he wants to go drown himself?

He’s tugging my right arm, trying to spin me around in the river and splash my face.

“Watch the wound.” He’s pressing on the blackened lumps left from the snake bite.

“Oh yeah, your wound.” He falls back in mock horror. Charlie refuses to comprehend. I could’ve died—could’ve, meaning obviously, no, I didn’t, but almost. Or almost, almost.

The doctors couldn’t decide. The San Juan hospital has stacks of old files about people who incrementally, internally bled to death long after the attack. Nobody still working there treated those old cases, however. The early antivenom killed so many people that lots of locals chose mud, herbs, and penicillin. Most of them died; the doctors have that in writing.

Charlie’s up to his ears in the river. Suddenly lunging at me, he tosses a live black thing that makes me jump from panic. “So now you’re scared of a little black river snake? Ha!”

I grab Charlie’s head and hold him under. “What? What’s that, Professor?” I’m screaming at him but keep him under.  He’s thrashing and kicking until I let go. We both laugh. But I charge ahead, so he doesn’t see how jagged I am. Yeah, a little black river snake.

No decent way to put this, but Charlie’s dying to wrestle and thrash around with me. In fact, I think it’s why he’s here every year. The pattern since high school is, Charlie and I compete and collide; dog and pummel each other. And we’re quick to apologize, which involves bear hugging till we’re swearing we’re twins under the skin. 

Now, however, my priorities have changed. Hanging with Charlie, rescuing him when he gets his head banged—I’d rather play with Emma.

But all week Emma has said, “Go to Pavones and have fun, Scott. A week of no yoga, no Logan. Just you and Charlie.”
  
Emma loves the guy, but she doesn’t know him that well. Charlie’s got some expensive, dangerous vices. It’s been years since I attended his marathon parties. But ever since he arrived, he’s been sending out desperate vibes like we gotta hit the heavy surf, pound the drums, and beat our chests. I
’m Colossus; he’s Professor Charles X. and we’re kamikazi mutants.

“Pavones next week!” he’s yelling while I’m scaling the cliff.

A swirl beneath the waterfall marks a plunge pool so deep I’ve never touched bottom. I dive and circle the surface.

Charlie’s squatting on a rock, squinting into the sun behind me. I twist around to look. The air ripples with color; the water’s a rushing prism.


(click here for the next episode)



3 comments:

Dan Leo said...

This reminds me of how happy I am that I no longer have any "Charlie friends" -- I've officially gotten old!

A beautiful chapter. The writing gods have touched you with their magic pen-quills that you can write so truly and so well about male friendship.

kathleenmaher said...

Thank you, Dan. If you didn't tell me, I honestly wouldn't know that.

Old 333 said...

More! More please more!