“Dawn Patrol”, a short story presented in parts – Part 1 (with initial disclaimer)

Disclaimer: I have been writing most of my life but have never published anything except technical articles or articles on business conditions. This short story represents my first venture into fiction writing that I have published, even if it is self published. This story is also being presented without any outside editing. In other words, it is my raw output and may not be the best in terms of grammatical adherence. I am pretty sure it is mostly free of spelling and conjugation errors (wow, that was a statement of commitment, wasn’t it?). When I have received the editorial input from those I trust I may post a link to the “finished” version. I made a commitment this year that I would produce a short story during the first quarter of the year and feel good that I have achieved that regardless of quality. I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment, I can take it.

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

Dawn Patrol – Part 1

Waking up

Suspended between less than restful sleep that results from carrying on too much the night before and the beginnings of waking, he wasn’t really sure his alarm was going off. Eyes shut so tightly that trying to open them hurt, he was sure about one thing, this was going to suck.

If he didn’t promise Marco that he was going to pick him up by 5:15 there is no way he was going to try and get up. Todd and Dave were going to meet them at their favorite north coast beach and depending on the conditions were going to hit it, or drive south until they found what they were looking for.

With supreme effort he sat up and hit the kill switch on the alarm. Oh, God, that was nice.  The sweet sound of silence after that harsh, grinding buzz that came from his electric clock was almost euphoric. He hated that thing with a passion. It would never run down and stop because it was never wound, it had a plug instead. It had no battery that would die. In the end it was always there, always accurate, and he knew that it would wake him again tomorrow. Piece of shit…..

His gear was in the corner of his room like it always was. He really should rinse his wetsuit more often but, shit, he never seemed to leave enough time to do that and get to work on time after a session. He loved his stick, the wax was really dirty but that didn’t diminish how he saw it. Every time he walked by it, he stopped and grabbed the nose, tilted it so he could look down the rails and see the rocker, enough rocker that he could get into any wave and keep his turns and transitions smooth. It wasn’t flashy, that wasn’t his style. Plain white, with a small logo from the shaper right where his chest was when he paddled and the shaper’s name spelled out in elegant cursive script along the stringer on the underside. The 3 fins were a solid dark grey. He had ridden this board in everything from 2 foot mush beach break to double overhead reef rollers just north of the city. It always worked, always held the line (probably that soft pin tail) and when he needed speed to make a section, it delivered.

“Okay, time to get rolling, what do I need to do?” he thought to himself. Still in the early foggy moments of waking it was difficult to set an order to the events required to get out the door on time, not forget something crucial and be ready to drive. “Shit! I forgot to get gas last night!” this meant he had even less time to get out the door and he would have to make a detour because the only 24 hour station was out of his way. Not to mention they charged and extra $0.17 per gallon for the benefit.

He grabbed a fresh pair of board shorts, an extra t-shirt and added them to his board bag. Next, he threw in a towel. Then he stuffed his board in and pulled the string taught to close the bag. New undies, casual shorts and his favorite Peter Tosh concert t-shirt went on, he slipped his feet into the comfortable flops he wore everywhere, including that party last night. He grabbed his board and wetsuit then changed gears and moved into the kitchen.

His friends called him Professor. He didn’t really like it. It was all in good fun but it seemed to him that it also was a dig, a burn of sorts. He was blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a gifted mind. He could recall information at will. He didn’t have to try when it came to completing homework or taking tests in high school. Straight A’s with no effort didn’t buy street cred with this group or with any of the guys they chilled with over the hill. The only time it helped was when he made the right choice for waves.  Which spots to check first based on the weather, wind, swell and tide information. He almost always got it right. He knew when a dawn patrol was called for or if an afternoon session would be best. Should they hit the ghostly northern beach breaks or one of the hidden reef spots they knew along the way? Maybe a town session? Could be that conditions called for a trip down south. That time he called a midnight session at The Hook was almost legendary.

The night was crystal clear and the moon full. There was a perfect west swell running, no wind and the tide was trending from a fairly shallow low to a middle. There were 5 of them that night and they hit the water just before midnight. They rode full on for about three and a half hours and they were wiped. His arms were like wet noodles and paddling was pretty tough to keep up. The mental images from that night will last a life time. It was too dark to be able to see sets on the outside. They only way you knew they were coming was when they started to break. The phosphorous from the white water seemed to glow…a bright, greenish-blue and white. If they didn’t know the line up as well as they did, getting into position would have been near impossible.

As it was, you had to guess just how big the wave was and try to predict where to be in order to take off anywhere near the upper end of the reef. More than once someone got tossed over the falls or had a lip land on their head while trying to figure it out. But the rides….. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. Nothing has come close since. One of those once in a lifetime moments and you knew it. The water was oily dark. The full moon provided a reflection on the wave face that showed the line and section changes if you knew what to look for. Every time someone hit the lip as you were paddling back out you would see a fanning splash of glowing whitewater. Carving turns or cutbacks traced a smooth, flowing line on the dark face of the wave. The west swell had just a touch of north in it and the sets were lining up all the way into Privates Cove. He must have had a few dozen rides that he chose to kick out instead of continuing, because he wanted to limit his paddle back out to the point. Times like these, he didn’t mind the gift. He loved his crew and wanted to do good for them. Deep inside however, his mind craved knowledge and he was always pushing himself as a result. He would finish his first electronics degree soon and that meant a real job. No more pumping gas from 3:30 to midnight at the Chevron in San Jose. He didn’t know how that would impact his life and he wasn’t looking forward to it. He also knew that he couldn’t hold himself back.

That’s part 1. Not sure if I will post one part a day or one a week but they will come. Thanks for reading (if you do) and a big pre-thank you for any comments or feedback.

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