Town & Country Ch. 6: Marked
Marlon and Tim silently sat in front of the television. They met in order to discuss just how they were going to expose the cop who, as far as they could tell, was hot on their trail. They felt themselves in a David and Goliath battle but, as their brains retreated into auto-pilot with each passing commercial, the likelihood of their victory—or survival, for that matter—withered on the vine of a silver winter. Any moment now, the expected could overwhelm them and disembowel them from themselves. Alert they must remain, for they were now beginning to understand clearly why the Greeks recognized Morpheus and Thanatos, the gods of sleep and death, as brothers. Finally, after two and a half episodes of mid-nineties reruns, Marlon spoke up:
“We should stake out the police department. Since we were downtown, we can sit outside the station there and wait until we see the cop we saw that night. And if we have to sit out there for a few nights in a row, so be it. We’ll use different cars so they don’t notice. And just wait.”
“And then what do we do once we spot her? What do we do if she spots us first? Put her under citizen’s arrest? Where are we going to get more cars other than my piece of shit car? Do you have a car? Nope.”
Tim mercilessly shot down Marlon’s suggestion. Silence fell between them as the show returned and filled the void. Marlon and Tim had shared experiences over the last few weeks that had caused them to grow closer. Now their bodies nudged each other at many points, merging like two conjoining and charismatic white water rivers, which maintained an imperturbable knowledge of the self: self-possessed and aplomb, their new selves still representatives of their former selves, but different somehow. Upon pulling back the skins of the two sentinels one would find a filet of commonalities, shaking and shivering from the ups and downs of being caught up in the skullduggery of a corrupted officer and her potential and kinetic wrath. Marlon tapped his feet and gazed at a spray painted picture hanging from the shadowy-beige wall of the moon, space and mountainous forest all as one. The moon was at the center, surrounded by black and blankness, which served to give the illusion of twinkling stars, tall trees and toppling water falls.
They surveyed the episodic co-occurrence and avowed that they would get to the bottom of this. For revenge, as one they radiated the heat of an entrenched determination, befallen by passion. Increasingly often the thought grew further removed from their minds—which were not their brains—that they themselves existed in the continuum; thus, they pretended that they didn´t exist and concerned themselves only with those goals which were now beginning to emerge from the vacuum of existence without definition. The roller coaster ride enticed and touched the deepest recesses. Their relationship grew closer and closer until it had become as if each time they were together, it was for the first time—or, perhaps, it simply was as if they were never too far apart—and they were blinded by the differences between.
Everything you see, feel, touch, create, bare, love, give and take, leaves its residue on the soul, that transcendental ocean sloshing within and reflected in the aura without. Bombarded with the call of duty, they were each responsible for the other; clockwork constellations with many moving parts, whose meaning arose from where ingredients intervened. Two commercials into the next break, Tim revealed to the universe, frocked in Marlon, an idea of his own.
“Let’s go surfing. Do you want to go surf?”
“Yeah, I’ll go surfing, I guess. I am not good at it, though.”
“That’s fine, most people aren’t. At least you’re no poser. Let’s go grab my boards, we can take my car.”
They walked into the Tim’s bedroom and took the surfboards from the closet.
“You can use this one with the leash, Marlon. Usually that’s the one I use but since you said you’re no good.”
“Ah, hell no—why you got to put it like that? I can surf, here.” Marlon handed the board with the leash back to Tim and took the one without. “You use the one you’re used to.”
“All right, if you say so.”
“I’m gonna need some trunks, too, since I wasn’t planning on surfing today.”
“No sweat, bro.”
Tim went through his drawers until he found a pair of extra trunks. He handed them to Marlon, who held them up in front of his face and made a gesture Tim did not see. It said they would be too large, but this he never expressed to Tim. Tim grabbed his pair of trunks from the dirty clothes hamper and motioned to Marlon with his hand that he was ready. He turned off the television and apartment lights, and they walked down the stairs of his apartment building. They got into his car and headed for the beach. Along the coast they drove for forty-five minutes, for parking was nowhere to be found.
They originally had planned to surf Zuma Beach, but, due to a drought of space for parking, drove for Malibu. Outside of their cars, wrapped in towels, they changed into their trunks. About then Marlon wished he had spoken up, since his trunks were entirely too large, as he knew well before putting them on they would be. A cocktail of apathy and shame at his small waste size implored him to stay quiet and apprehensively grateful. He remained quiet as they walked onto the sand and down the coast. They set down their towels on a stretch of beach relatively isolated. Sitting on the beach, swept away by the chrome white of the sea, Marlon and Tim watched the scene into which they had entered. All around children ran about, kicking up sand with their feet, while their parents preferred a stationary bath of sun. Discourse was muffled by the swooshing, like basketballs through hoops, of the tides.
An inspiring swell announced itself between the horizon and the shore, and roused Tim to lift his board from the sand and jog to the water. Marlon hesitated at first, but quickly, partially out a fear of the unknown, darted on the sand to stay glued to Tim’s side. Into the unknown they went, to the edge of America. Dragging their feet on the ocean floor, so as to deter sting-rays, the two walked next to one another at first, Marlon doing his best to surreptitiously hold his trunks up. Eventually, Tim had paddled far out ahead of Marlon, and Marlon pulled the trunks up to his bellybutton before jumping on his surfboard. Without a chance for even one stroke, a wave came barreling down on him and he nosedived into the water, but the water was so shallow the surfboard almost immediately wedged into the muddy ocean floor and the wave smacked into Marlon’s back, flipping him around in an acrobatic, but completely unintentional, three-sixty. To this setback, he lost the better part of ten yards. He started over, this time making it out past wave break to sit leashless on the floating board next to Tim.
“Oh man, you should have seen a wave I caught back there, Tim—it’s why it took me so long to make it out here!” Marlon lied.
“I must have missed it,” Tim said, his attention on the horizon and a fast approaching bend in the water. He bent forward his back and paddled the board to face in the opposite direction. He took the wave and was gone. Marlon glanced around at the surfers scattered about and felt vulnerable and alone. He saw an approaching wave and imitated the motions he thought had seen Tim take. He felt the wave lift him up, like a hand scooping up an insect from terra firma, and he began to slide down the front. He picked up his back leg and immediately fell backwards and then freely to the base of the wave, surfboard held in one hand.
The wave, swallowing him whole, smacked his head back and forced him beneath the sea. He was tossed in multiple directions at the same time. He had no choice but to let go of fate and do his best to avoid the possibly rocky bottom. Eventually the tumbling subsided and he was let free. The wave, with its miles of strength, had brought him near shore. He could stand with the water to his belly button, exactly where he had worn his trunks on the way out. Only now, he realized once he caught his breath, he was trunk-less. His eyes, hoping to find his trunks in the nearby, darted around panicked—but nowhere to be found were they. He quickly thought up solutions but knew instantaneously there were none. All he had there in the ocean was Tim’s board—now broken—wet skin and organs. Impressive he had held onto the surfboard, at least, he thought to himself. He looked at the heads in the water, but could not make any of them out to be Tim’s.
And so he walked to the shore, expecting to find his towel right away. Thing was, during his struggle to paddle out, he had drifted down the beach half- a-mile or so. Forthwith he did not realize this. Once he was in shallow enough waters, he darted with the board covering his genitals towards two white towels he recognized on the beach as theirs. Once there, though, he spotted a purse and a cooler, neither of which they had brought with. And so, basking in the fever of the fatherly southern California sun, there he stood, nude as a newborn, his tongue tied just the same. Around him people were busy noticing him. He acted quickly, holding the surfboard high above his head as he boldly shouted so that all close enough would hear:
“You might be laughing now!” His penis shriveled and shrunk by the luke-warm salt water. “But you should have seen the wave I caught! I was tubed for one, maybe five minutes! Y’all shoulda seen it! Yeah, look now, but y’all just sitting there acting all cool and safe on the beach while I am out there ballin’ it up! What, what!”
“Damn straight you’re balling it up!” one twenty-something yelled, surrounded by four gorgeous women in bikinis. Laughter and disbelief in the faces on the beach made him feel alone.
Marlon guessed in which direction the tide had taken him and began to walk up the beach. He was caught in between walking confidently, bearing all, and covering himself with the broken board out of respect. The indecisiveness made him look, in the end, awkward and uncomfortable. He found the towels and wrapped himself in one. He sat on the beach to collect his thoughts and enjoy the reflection of the sky and sun off the splashing waters, when there began a tapping on his shoulder.
“Excuse me, sir. Do you mind if I had a few words with you?” a uniformed Los Angeles Police Officer asked. Marlon sprang to his feet.
“No. But why?”
“A mother, who was enjoying the beach on this beautiful day, about half- a-mile or so in that direction, complained to us that you exposed yourself in a threatening manner to a number of beachgoers. That you yelled and waved your hands about maniacally.”
“In a threatening manner?” Marlon exclaimed, the tone in his voice signaling that the officer had offended him. He then opened up the front of his towel. “Is there anything threatening about this?” he asked glancing down at himself.
“Okay, that’s it son, you’re coming with me,” the officer ordered, forcefully taking Marlon by his bicep.
“Oh, Goddammit!” Marlon swore.
The officer led Marlon to his squad-car in the parking lot and continued asking questions about Marlon’s past and his associations. People coming and going glanced and stared at the officer who stood with a confidence so sure next to Marlon who stood well-aware that, beneath the towel, he was exposed and vulnerable. He wondered where Tim was and what the officer had in store for him. “Look,” the officer said. “You don’t strike me as terribly bright, and so I am not going to take you to headquarters.”
“Oh, I appreciate that so much, Officer,” Marlon replied. “I imagine it’s tough for a nude inmate to make friends in prison.”
“You’d be surprised,” the officer monotonically said. “I am not going to give you a ticket, either. You have a lot to be thankful for on this day; you’re lucky it is so nice. I am going to write you a warning for being nude in public and I want you to be sure not to expose yourself to a beach of innocents ever, ever again,” the officer raised his voice just an inch to drive home his point.
“Yes sir.” Marlon went and sat on the beach wrapped in his towel. No sign of Tim. Marlon glanced up and down the awesome coastline. Homes upon cliffs, stretched as far as the eye could see, were doormats to the city-scapes laying further inland.
Meanwhile, it crossed Tim’s mind that Marlon had for a time been disappeared in an elsewhere that escaped his line of sight, but the thought did not stop-off long in the crosswalk of his consciousness. He glanced over the shore for some gathering—a crowd or emergency vehicles—but everything appeared normal. Little did he know. He turned his back on the shoreline and paddled northwest a bit so as to position himself where he predicted the crest of the next swell would transfer. All around him sat on their boards older men and teenagers and all of the ages in-between. A multi-generational subculture, what a rarity in this age of constantly new uploads and downloads—upgrades and degrades—to the global psyche, the hard drive of culture. An elderly man of about sixty paddled up alongside Tim and engaged him in conversation.
“Do you see that over there, son?” the man asked, pointing to a slimy green crust floating in a united state on the water’s surface. “You never used to see such things thirty, forty years ago,” the man said shaking his head. “But today when you paddle out it comes as no surprise. No surprise at all.”
“It’s pretty disgusting,” Tim said, having noticed earlier the blotch. He hadn’t thought much of it, though. It was, as the man said himself, a normal thing to see these days, and Tim was young.
“I used to think such patches were runoff from the shore and sewage lines like we know exist,” the man continued. “But then somebody told me that, matter of fact, they’re algae blooms. The water is so warm the algae blooms or something. The water gets so warm so fast these days it is killing off our kelp beds here.”
“I’ve heard that. Which is too bad because that is where a lot of the sea creatures live,” Tim offered.
“Absolutely,” the man still spoke with the shakings of his head, this time a nod. “It’s a sanctuary for marine life—for the seals and sea stars. You name it—if it inhabits the shallow waters off the coast here, its preference is to be secure in these kelp beds,” the man pointed southwest, where darker waters, no more than 50 yards away from where they floated, revealed the kelp bed beneath. “You know what I’ve heard,” Tim said. “I’ve heard that some people up and down the coastline here are dropping boulders on the seafloor—you know, where there’s mostly only sand—to help the kelp grow.”
“Yep—I’ve heard the same as well. That’s just great, I think. I’ve also done some researching on global warming or climate change or whatever and, well, I don’t want to sound like some crazy, going and saying we humans aren’t raping the earth, but, as it turns out, the climate has always changed—the earth’s temperature changes as part of natural cycles based on all sorts of stuff. Who woulda guessed?”
“Yeah, but we go around driving and ruining the planet and stuff. We’re like little farts marching around in two’s. Merry little farts.” Tim said, stating the near-obvious.
“Hmm,” hummed the man, pondering the thought. “A lot of it has to do with the sun.” The man pointed to the sun, his eyes squinted for mercy. “Sunspots acting up and what not.”’
“Huh, I’ve never thought of that before.”
“Keep it in mind,” the man said. “Your generation has got a lot on your shoulders. Plus, you’ve all been more or less abandoned,” the man let out a laugh. “You’re basically totally screwed.” He began to lie down on his board. “All right, I am going to catch this wave. Be well, and remember the Truth,” he said as he paddled to the crest.
Tim watched as the man’s long board was propelled forward by the splendor of a turbulent sea’s creation. The man stood up. Wind in his face and hair, he was eventually blocked from Tim’s view by the backside of the wave. Tim, struck by the wise-old man, looked at the sun fostering its garden.