One Day in the Life of John Dennis (part II)
Out the airplane rear door. Down the metal roll-up stairs still bopping and into the terminal. He has read, on iPhone, that the forecast is for clearing so his mood feels better. Plus that his car is here and he can drive himself home. Plus there is rumor of possible surf from mate Les who calls.
“Les…Nah ah just landed. Is it good? No no, ah’ll be down there by twenty. Where are you now? Are you goin’ out already? Ahhh call us when you’re goin’ down. See ya dude.”
Though Wes is unreliable. He just got a girlfriend so whenever he sees the surf, or gets to go, claims it’s all-time. Rock it like a baby cradle.
He is ready to get his bag and get to car. He knows his bag will be last because it is an oversized board coffin. Four boards inside plus one wetsuit some jeans and some t-shirts and some socks. Maybe he left his socks behind. The airport crowd is uninspiring and he needs a coffee and a surf and a breakfast and a sun. Oversized luggage is always last, never first or even mid. Leaning up against a stainless steel column he plays with one of the wool threads on his camel colored jumper. It was his dad’s or still might be his dad’s. In any case, he was too lazy to fetch a jacket out of his room before leaving for South Oz so has been wearing this oversized tan wool cable knit for the past three days. He pulls a black beanie, from his back jean pocket, over his long long almost to shoulder hair. Sunbleached from blonde to so many colors of the blonde pantheon. Girls die over it. Really go mad. He doesn’t really care.
His board coffin gets shoved, finally, through a small door near the luggage belt when only a last lonely suitcase is circulating round and round and round. He grabs its nose and drags it toward the parking structure across the way.
Silverchair made this town famous. Newcastle, Australia. Population . Maybe 100 kilometers from Sydney. The airport is an isolated almost Russian steppe looking area to the north. Green trees give way to a plain and there are absolutely no hills. He lives in the south, in a neighborhood named Mereweather. He’ll drive there first, collect his filmer, check the surf in Mereweather and then…He doesn’t quite know, but for sure surf somewhere.
Board coffins are such a pain. His scrapes and scratches as it drags across the wet concrete. Bounces a little up the stairs and then there it is. His car. A black Dae Woo station wagon handcrafted with pride and joy in South Korea circa 2002. Dae Woo. He got scammed on this car, royally. Picked it up from a man in Sydney for five thousand dollars as he was driving it home realized nothing worked. Not the electric windows or engine or anything. The man who sold felt so bad that after John signed the papers etc. he gave him the hugest lolly bag ever. Filled with all sorts of snakes and feet and everything etc. His dad told him to spend two grand and replace the shocks. Fat chance! For this heaper? But it still always seemed to get him where he was going and the interior smelled of comforting mildewed wetsuit but the front passenger side speaker annoyed like fuck with that little hiss it did.
He folded down the back seat and slid the coffin in, started the engine, weasled a CD from out of the glove compartment and backed out of the spot. Pursuit of happiness.
“Crush a bit; little bit; roll it up; take a hit
Feelin’ lit feelin’ like two am summer night
I don’t (hisss) care; hand on the wheel; drivin drunk; I’m doin’ my thing
Rollin the midwest side and out livin’ (hisss) my life getting’ out dreams
People told me slow my road I’m screaming out fuck that
Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
If I Fall If I Die Know I (hissss) Lived It To The Fullest
If I Fall If I Die Know I Lived And Missed Some Bullets.”
Driving round and round and round until the fee pay machine. He doesn’t know what the fee is because he pays on one of his two new credit cards and throws the receipt on the ground before looking at it. Credit cards. It took him, like, an hour to sign the back of these two because he was trying to sign the strip that is normally swiped. He finally figured it out but not before being laughed at by his friends. Li’l bastards! But it was funny.
He crawls through the exit gate and onto the main gate. Possible clearing? Looks not in the cards. It is raining and really raining. And really cold. He would turn the Dae Woo heater on if it worked.
The road leaving the airport, two lanes, is empty and speeds by the desolation and then the outskirts of The Steel City and then the plants where his dad works. He didn’t work here when the family first moved to Newcastle, he worked as an electrician, but now he is a manager at….this plant here to the right. John isn’t sure exactly what he does.
He continues driving. Oncoming cars’ lights reflect off the wet asphalt. The brick buildings look drab against the drab sky.
They pass. Pubs, etc. Opportunity shops etc.
He speeds past the downtown train station and looks at some of the new apartment units that have been built over the port. The construction is quality and they look like they’ll hold their value, whatever that might be. International housing bubbles, which sent the whole world into financial crisis, never hit Australia and things look better and better here.
He winds through parts of town and out in front of the ocean and stops to watch.
He gets out of the cold and a touch drafty Dae Woo interior, stands on the wet curb and looks at the waves for a minute and there is certainly swell. Looks to be either straight east or nor’east. Forster might be all time. Newcastle ain’t terrible. The Gold Coast is probably perfect. He stands in front of the ocean and watches lines streaming in. He watches a few surfers scratch in over the lip and down racing walls that line up not quite as good as he would want. Though he has been stoked for surfing heaps. Been so excited. As excited as he’s been in a long time. He’s got good boards going from JS, his shaper. That’s why he’s been excited. “I’ve got good boards.” Mmmmm.”
He stands in front of the white wooden guardrail, in front of the beach grass which leads to the sand and the ocean and watches the waves peel. “It’s shit.” It isn’t really shit but it might be a bit dumpy. But there is surf and surprise beyond surprise, possible clearing. The overcast ends in an abrupt line just kilometers away. “Clear here!” he thinks. “It is so wintery cold, huh? Looks fucked. Out there, there’s some good reefs. A couple. It should be improving. I wonder if Sydney’s sunny? It has to get sunny.” Another set steams in over the horizon. Thinks more, “There’s a couple of little swells. If it was bigger….this place gets so good when north swells come. Like, see how the lines are going down like that? It wraps around…You get big lefts that barrel. Funny how excited my friend Les gets. That sucks pretty much.”
He climbs back into his Dae Woo and heads home.
Almost there he pulls through an intersection that gave him a terrible fright a few weeks ago. Right there. He almost died. The memory floods. He told his sister moments after it happened, shakey kneed and pale faced. “Ah was comin’ from here and there was a car comin’ this way on that street and he started driving so I thought he’s driving and I’m not even gonna stop. I thought we’d go like that. Like in sync. So I was sweet. Then I looked this way. And there was a car fuckin’ straight in front of me. It almost tagged me good. And I pulled over and sat for ten minutes. It was the worst.”