Bits and pieces from summer 73' based on Linda Loue's recollections and my mother's journals.
You've smoked enough, he says the moment I send my cigarette butt down the throat of a cylindrical clay ashtray. We' re sitting at this wooden picnic table under a tent on the left side of the surf camp. The music is not loud, but loud enough to cover bits of conversation among the few regulars. He's having water in a large blue plastic cup and I can hear the ice-cubes dancing on its synthetic walls. I pretend to search some invisible pocket in my blouse.
Where did I put it? oh here it is... I grin extending my middle finger. He shakes his head, baffled at first, then looks at me, hardly amused. It's funny how childish I get sometimes at someone's kindness because that was no discipline shenanigan, just a remark to point the non-obvious, he cares. Next one you have, I'll light it for you.
Soon as Scott sits down with the drinks I produce another cigarette, so between picking up the cocktail glass he had me ordered and teasing Scott, I nod "here" and hold the stick in the air for him to light. He does. A frown follows: just hold it in your mouth, I mean to light it over there.
Five minutes later all conversations shift to an unbounded race of punchlines, scoop and dope cognition. Although the two of us -Scott and I- keep on palavering for over an hour, I notice how the field of reference gradually puts a soft-pedal on Ryker's enthusiasm. That's when I start feeling I just have too much nonsense coming out of my mouth. He has a lot to talk about and get asked on , but neither of us (especially not me) has shown the will to listen to or seems to care about.
Truth is, I get carried away by shitty stuff, but... at that point I know I want to hear what he has to say. I like the way Ryker goes silent and all patient. Silent as in he's truly listening to you (something that people rarely do) and patient cause he won't cut off your tons of bullshit, as he totally understands your need to sound so cool and shit. I envy Ryker for this quality, a trait I obviously do not possess. And had it been just me and him I would have asked (a lot) and kept my trap shut.
Here is a fact: I don't.
Here is another fact: I don't stop smoking either.
Here is a truth: I smoke because I like to smell my soul burning.
Here is the dope: I think when Ryker lights my cigarette it is because he likes to watch. That mirror-touch synesthesia when the flame torches blue and red causes him to feel the drag of my lips down the center of his stomach.
Perhaps my soul burning smells nice. Perhaps Ryker's able to understand why people like us love life so much they get obsessed with finding out why their soul smells so good when it's burning. Perhaps I like to think that way because I will never admit to him I care about what he thinks, at least not to the degree I do.
I've never told Ryker about my fascination with father-son relationships, how much I love to listen to stories, mainly the painful ones. A guy's relationship to his father speaks volumes if you wish to understand the nature of man. And I'm not going Freudian on you. It's just a simple thing really. It is a matter of inception spreading through your system in the form of septic (or antiseptic, it depends) nucleic acids, the biopolymers that make you meek, or difficult, or utterly fucked up. When Ryker brings his father's issues up I wish all the scatology would end and us to have a grown-up huddle.
Here is a fact: we don't
Here is another fact: Fuck!
Here is a thought: For fuck's sake, why do I care?
Here is the dope: We go night swimming.
Walking down that giant obsidian jam of mud and seaweed is like finding myself in the belly of a whale, in a dream where I'm stoned and happy. I wonder if it is a feeling universally shared if the millions of beings fastened to this world ever experience it one way or another if it has anything to do with how we felt inside our birth mothers' guts.
Are there any pen shells in these waters Ryker asks but I have no idea. I think I've just stepped on one.
Crap there are hundreds. My heels grope in the dark. There is another one over here. My toes pat around its sharp half-open mouth. The sea is warm and cool with drafts. Just go on swimming then keep your feet off the thing. Ryker splashes away. I watch his legs create a mess of white froth and black ripples. He vanishes underwater. I turn to Scott.
You coming in already?
No way I'm not wetting these trousers or the hair.
Ryker emerges right next to me. I yelp.
Here is a fact: that was an overreaction
You know those people who you see and despite their bodies, they seem too large for a doorway? It is something about the way they carry themselves, their personality, their smile or laughter; a mountain trying to force its way into a bookstore. Ryker is one of those. All of his size is held in his eyes, a monument trying to squeeze itself into the space beneath your chest.