Photos by Alan Van Gysen
Act I — Skeleton Coast
Cosmic Glitterbug. Reticulated Falcon Wing. Style Boyz. Shredscapades. Liquid Concentration. Sand and fog and a desert beige, safari vehicle. There could be a song playing on the stereo but it’s inaudible beneath the mighty drone of the V-8. The sound is primal, something terrifying. Alan stomps on the gas, so we can all hear the roar. Somewhere in the distance a lioness perks her ears, aroused by the sound.
Moments prior, there were blood-red salt flats and cryptic marshes, but now we gallop through sand. And fog. “Is there a song playing?” asks Dustin, over the thunder.
“Hard to say,” says Craig, crumpled beneath four boards that didn’t make it to the roof. When we’d piled in the car, he’d refused to sit anywhere else.
Everyone’s stare remains locked on the windshield, our collective gaze trying to burn through the vapor. There is a line in the dawn light, like a false horizon, where the fog meets the sand. Alan and Beren, seated up front, scratch at the windshield with stray towels to wipe away the steam. Out the windows, the landscape: utterly directionless. “Alan, how the hell do you know which way to go?” we ask.
“I just follow the other tire tracks,” he replies, still glaring through the fog.
Indeed there are other tracks. And there are foot prints — paws of small and large animals and birds and sagging reptilian bellies having slithered from the marsh.
“I think whatever we choose,” says Craig out of nowhere, “somehow it will work.”
“You just don’t want it to be too serious,” says Dustin.
“Yeah, I don’t want that. But there’s such a fine line between serious and funny,” says Craig. “And you want the audience to know if you’re being sarcastic or not. Because when it’s too serious…”
“Like Scratching the Surface?” I ask.
“Yeah, too serious,” laughs Dustin, “It should just be something super obvious like, Stylemasters.”
“Right. Rad Stylemasters,” says Craig. “I like that.”
And suddenly — the sea. Still foggy, the waves invisible. We follow the shoreline down the point and daylight seers away the fog. Whitewater peaks through the mist. Ahead of us, silouettes limping into view, enshrouded in fog. Black zombies. We rumble closer and the zombies are surfers trudging up the point wearing expressions of disbelief, unadulterated awe. Dane Gudauskas sprints by us, pointing to the water, yelling, incoherent, slapping his forehead. We come to a stop in the wet sand and the lion’s roar cuts and funk music resounds. James Brown’s “Hot Pants” was playing the whole time.
We jump out of the Land Cruiser and tear at our fullsuits, frantic, sand flying everywhere, someone on the rooftop screaming, “Board coming down! Board coming down — take it!” Nathan Fletcher walks by, dripping with his board, and we ask him how the surf is and he shakes his head and mumbles something. Moses in a 4/3, back from Mount Sinai — weary and old and enlightened. He keeps shaking his head, walks over to a truck, locks himself inside and lights a cigarette.
“Beren!” Alan hollers, holding his water-housing. “If you’re getting the angle down the point, watch your back for jackals, bru! They’ll rip one of your legs right off when you’re not watching!” Alan looks at me and shrugs. Beren gives us a thumbs up a couple hundred yards away. Behind him, pink flamingos perch one legged in the tidal marsh, making quick grabs at sand snacks peaking from their holes.
In the sea, a daydream. Zombies lost in funnels. Craig on his heels — fall, plop, stall, pumping, hiding — and reappears in a half a minute. In the water, our eyes wide, mouths agape, top to bottom safari pits. Jeremy Flores, Aritz Aranburu pig dogging forever. Craig on another set — twice overhead, two miles long — wave of his life, wave of a lifetime. He pulls out, looks up to the sky, shakes his head — a daydream.
“I’ve never claimed a wave in my life until today,” he says.
There are a few more days of swell. Green lines like flawless, giant boat wakes. A cumulative hour of tube time. Zealous seals barking, hooting us into smokers. Jackals nipping at Beren’s tripod. On the way back to the airport, through the desert wasteland, more sand and endless sky. Out the window, a caravan of black murder-vehicles. Tanks with canons, mounted automatics, Gatling guns on SUVs.
“Coup d’etat,” I think aloud.
Alan laughs, “Nah, bru. Just filming for the new Mad Max sequel with Charlize Theron.”
“Ahhh, Charlize,” sighs Craig and the whole car groans.—Beau Flemister
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