the shadow at tallows
The first thing we did wrong was get out of the car.
There is a matrix isn’t there; a late summer afternoon, an overcast sky, an ocean of dirty water after a northern rivers deluge, big confused seas, warm water, and two young blokes just looking for a bodysurf before dinner on an unpatrolled beach away from town.
No problem getting out, everyone under twenty is fit enough to battle through a hundred waves a hundred times aren’t they?
Battle through and finally get to the break about a hundred yards offshore until we were deep in the fast moving swells, deep in the confused and dirty water. Dodging explosive low water dumps and picking off the body barrells. Freefalling down to the base and emerging out of the back of the waves, born to it.
– and everytime we rose up onto a swell top during the gap between larger sets we glimpsed a shadow further out there, and indistinct black mass just travelling up inside the face of the larger waves. A lump of kelp torn loose from the bottom? A dead animal? Neither of them unknown around here after a monsoon deluge, whatever, it just rose and fell with each wave, and the next set wave ten minutes later, and the one after that.
Every now and then we caught sight of it as we swam back after catching a ride in. Again this indistinguishable black mass, not moving, just hanging in the wave, and it stayed there suspended in the sea for the whole of the half hour we were in the water.
The biggest set of the session finally stacked up outside and being idiots we waited for the biggest wave to go home on, and it looked like number four was ours.
Number four reached the shadow; number four raised it up and held it there, just twenty feet away from us now, and what had been shapeless in the water for so long silently unfolded itself into a shark massive beyond measure.
The huge beast cruised between the two of us, and now it was waiting in the three hundred feet of whitewater that separated us from the shore.
Where’s old Shearer? Got himself chased from the water at Lenny last Friday.
I’ve never seen a shark while surfing. Not one. Been to South Oz 7 or 8 times, surfed Cactus plenty, surfed Blacks plenty more, drunk beer under the jaws at Streaky Bay Hotel, even seen where they filmed Jaws at Port Lincoln.
Yet never seen one of the fuckers in the water.
Either my eyesight is shot or I’m due big time.
Hopefully it’s the former…
Trouble is, that if it’s the former old nettlesome, you will never see the big bastard when it rises at you …
…prolly prefer it that way Pete.
And if you want a real freak-out go mat surfing with George out past the back banks on 7 mile or past the Cape.
Fucker does nothing but regale you with monster shark encounters while you paddle around on an inflatable lure.
Then what happened?
well … now that you kindly asked
I was wearing a hi-tensile carbon fibre attack blade and when the ravenous beastie lunged at me – huge mouth agape, rows of massive teeth etc etc – I managed to slip to one side and as it sped past and I dug the knife deep into its belly – disemboweled it completely and the shark disappeared into a cloud of red blood and hanging entrails.
I have never told this to anyone before Dan, too traumatic – my hand still shhhakes