By John Brodie
Tire by tire, the truck spat dust at the sea as my dog and I whittle to a slow roll. I yank the handbrake. Bathtub lines stripe the side of the bluff above a creek shallow enough for a shin wash. I place my wetsuit on the driver side mirror while my dog admires a threesome of pelicans – wings in full sweep but without a shadow on the surface. The ocean as dark as the sky. I place a pair of swim fins on the hood and put my left foot through my wetsuit. My dog and I both look at the water now and it’s a loud and noisy and uninviting. Overhead just beyond the rocks and who knows what madness was happening beyond the cove.
Doors left unlocked, there’s no people here. The sun began to make a run for it and ‘maybe I should follow’ was my thought but I couldn’t turn now and drag back to the car with my tail between my legs… Imagine what my dog would say? I found an opening and jumped. My fins felt stiff and stubborn. Water made it’s way into the hood of my suit as I go twelve rounds with the kelp. Set. I dip under three walls of water and I could feel the cheers of all the spectators perched atop the cliffs. Yelling and screaming and saying, “Waaahooo! Yeah John you did it!“ spilling popcorn and high-fiving one another. Under each wave my thoughts, ever so present, however built on a foundation of fear and loneliness while my dog is in the truck only concerned with the fish hunting birds.
I face the rocks and kick my fins, which have softened up now and feel fine. The wave comes closer and I swim harder and it takes me away, free of thoughts and inhibition. I did it! Goddamn I did it! Sun was close to down now as it dips under the grey sending streaks of contentment all the way to the valley. It was all over, no more confinement and hallucination it was just myself and the ocean and my dog – joy in the purist form. I look up at the sky see what magnificent bird can shed this shadow. There is no bird in sight. Was it a low flying airplane? I didn’t here a plane… and the thoughts come swimming back. I submerge myself fully in reach of calm security.
Slowly the top of my head surfaces until my eyes hover above the water line to see an animal staring right back at me. Black marble eyes, his yellow teeth rotten and worn to the root – his whiskers, stubbed and split from prior war and we fell face to face, off the coast of the pacific, a cliff or two south of Big Sur.