Some of us stroll down to the water’s edge as if we were in tune with some kind of personal Pacific Rhythm. Others lie about self-consciously on the sand and wriggle themselves about in weird and densely musculature disciplines that are half Karma Sutra and half Bikram Yoga.
– and the local brown-skinned kids pile into the shore-break like tearaways, all of them blessed with bones that bend, and hot summer afternoons that have no end.
Older men slowly ease into the sea-fold wreak, rafting away on their submersible logs, deluded and intent. Flinty eyed old gluttons, claiming every trough, every peak.
Vic though, always approached the tidemark with his own stiff gait and vastly stolid intent.
Built meanly but with the wide shoulders and the powerful torso of a man always at odds with his body; he was a red-bearded and clear-eyed man of about forty and his entry into the sea was always strangely laboured and intense. Once afloat he would struggle to mount the ancient board he used and his progress out to the break-line always looked like hard going. We would sometimes count thirty-five waves beaten before he reached clear water.
And once out there he would immediately turn about and strive for the shore, like a drowning man hearing some siren call. Little matter that the first wave chasing him was merely the heraldic for five more attractive others closely following – Vic invariably went for the number one, and unlike us he didn’t ever look over his shoulder to see what the wave was doing. Head down, thrashing.
And how he flailed onto it – and slowly lumbered to his feet – in whitewater now – and then he stood, ungainly and wide–footed, and triumphant for a just bewildering instant before his inevitable collapse into the sea.
Twenty waves in a session yet Vic never wavered in his passion to get up.
A couple of years ago he and his family sold up and moved north, I think it was muscular dystrophy that finally sold him out to invalidism.
He was in a wheelchair when we said goodbye, and somebody gave him a boxful of Jack McCoy movies, just in case things turned around for him.
So here’s hoping.
“Built meanly but with the wide shoulders and the powerful torso of a man always at odds with his body.”
I nearly wept when reading that.
My best friend… really, my only close friend, had a mother with a rather aggresive case of the MD. Hewed her physique from an astute, finger wagging, former bikini model and mother, into a curled up possum of a corpse the day she died ten long years aft.
We’re all busy dying ain’t we brother?
Just get me out quick and painless.
So it goes.
I saw Vic the day he left Avalon, went up to his home on the chance as he had told me earlier he was going up the coast permanently – nobody else ever spent any time with him he was such a bloody kook – (bad judges of character are we not?) – that was the day I saw him in his chair for the first time.
His wife ran a bookshop in Mona Vale – we knew eachother, I used to buy books there.
Vic was a very hard man indeed – his days in the sea were all over.
I am in the process of teaching my kids how to buy books.
Ebay, Kindle, Amazon… though the future is bound with a web of razor thin mathematical functions blubbering on amongst themsleves along the superhighway of Abaddon.
A sobering thought… yet the written words drift onwards… for now.
words blaster, words after words after words – this though is the best place to find them, this www – live and in your face, and free of charge …
– as you well know
And both of you (Peter and BREW) provide some of the finest free words you will ever read anywhere.
Good words for a sad ending. Lest we forget, we’re all kooks at one time or another.
I can’t get behind the e-book deal, give me a well handled copy of Catch-22 and a hammock in a dry and breezy spot and I won’t be bothering anybody.
Truth be told I copied/pasted/printed some of your old stuff from the Pelican days Pete, worked just fine in the hammock too.
steady seaman – I can’t speak for the bruiser but that sort of stuff leads to swelled heads and troublesome egos, and thanks
Well done, Vic! He will forever be a man of the sea, he seems to have the gait of an old soldier laying a wreathe at an Anzac march. Hope he is enjoying the view up north.
Love your words blaster! Would happily pay a few pennies but can’t find the donation box.