One Day in the Life of John Dennis (IV)
10:00 am The Great Debate (pt.1)
John thinks of going up to Forster but isn’t quite sure, wants to have a sniff around Newcastle first. The thought of better surf haunts him. A plus about Forster is Benny S. John’s long time friend Benny and his brother are proper gangsters. Both white as the snow, short, trim with long long brown hair and green eyes. Benny has gold-capped teeth too and just bought a mid-seventies Cadillac in the States and had it shipped out to his home in Tuncurry, just across the river from Forster. He explains all this to Pat. Tells him, “I heard he doesn’t even take it out of the driveway.” Pat asks if he is too paranoid? “Nah. Oh, maybe paranoid but I just think he loves it too much.” Benny and his brother both rip, surfing. Amazing. And they know every break around their area. From Blueys to Bulls Paddock.
“I don’t even know where to go out,” John says. “I don’t want to miss somewhere.” The beach is in view again. The wave looks like it might even have little sections on the corners to punt. The wind isn’t right, though, for air but, “Look at that guy go right there…” He pulls over. Pulls the emergency brake. Gets out of the car. “Ahhhh it feels like a new town.” He stares out to sea. “This is fuckin’ ridiculous right now. The winds will be offshore in Forster. If this was eight foot…that’s when it gets best here at eight foot. Tide’s going out…”
This stretch of sand and water appear a different place than they did just one hour ago. Mereweather floats above the blue bathed in sun. The white buildings look so white! The brick pop red! The blue beach hotel does too! And the green weedy beach grass looks positively Irish. The ocean, groomed by constant offshore breezes, is inviting.
A kid maybe ten or twelve runs by in wetsuit holding board. He has an eyepatch over one eye. It looks to be medically necessary but also still looks like a pirate eyepatch. Black etc. Pat asks, “Does that kid have an eyepatch?” John answers, “What?” And Pat repeats, “An eyepatch.” John looks. “Sick.” Then, “Ah fuck. These conditions with this swell is heavy. Forster is probably the best it’s ever been. I bet it’d be so good. What do you reckon? Should we go hang out with Benny for the day?”
He continues a tortured monologue. “This swell is north east. Don’t get it very often but when we do…. Fuck. Or we could just sit in the house all day.” He pulls out his phone and pecks away with both thumbs. Pat looks from water to light to wave. If John paddles here he’ll shoot it from down the beach and get him in left barrels even though they don’t really need more film of left barrels. Bali equals a left barrel. John speaks up again. “I’ve just messaged the guys in Forster to see what it’s like. They probably won’t write back though. Oh that guy just got belted!” A surfer eats shit. “I wonder what Bosco’s doing?” Bosco is a photographer who might or might not be angry with Him. He didn’t choose one of his photos for a new ad campaign so… He stares at the ocean, arms folded. “Somewhere it’ll be the best it’s ever been.” He stares more. A knot of five surfers bob on the surface. One takes off and doesn’t do much but it still looks fun. Maybe six feet on the sets. “I’m so bad at making decisions. I need Walshy here.” Anthony Walsh is a surfer with ridiculous knack for calling “the spot” and also rock solid, unwavering conviction. He doesn’t dilly-dally or debate. He knows and goes.
He watches another less than spectacular surfer take off and race past a section. “Oh what? You gotta hit that!” There is no word from Benny yet. “It’d be really good up there. Fuck.” Ding ding. His phone and he assumes Benny but it’s not. “Hoy. Yah man. After ten tomorrow? I don’t know…I don’t really want to do it now. It’s kinda almost firing. Forster. I don’t know, I’m thinking about it. Ummmm not here actually. It’s horseshit. Nah. It’s just just too small. It’s three foot. If it was eight foot it’d be good but…I’ve been here for like fifteen minutes…Dave O’leary on the mal…Nothing. Yeah. It’d be bigger probably. Maybe Bluey’s, your spot…Yeah. Where else up there? Everywhere huh? Ohhh shit. Well when can we do this car thing? Tomorrow. Noooo I’m gonna help you out. When are you gonna do it? Today or tomorrow? Ok. Then tomorrow we’ll do it. Ten o’clock. In the arvo? Ok then we’ll do it tomorrow arvo. Ahh perfect. Ok. No it’s alright we’ll just tie the coffin to the roof. Sick, well…ok well, we’ll do it tomorrow arvo then. Alright old boy, I will talk to ya. I don’t know. I’ll be fuckin’ leavin this place though. It’s baaaad. Yeah. Boskie’s down there? Ahhh he hates me these days. Ahh I’ll call Sfennie then. Alright Hoyo, I’ll talk to you soon. Yeah I’m gonna be back. I just messaged the Forster boys and they haven’t got back to me. Yup. I’m up there. See ya, man.”
He looks over at Pat who has his eyes fixed on the lineup still. “Hoyo sounded so gutted cuz he has the kids.” John puts a hand up to shield the sun. Looking. “Ahh what to do. I’m not surfing out there, that’s for sure.” He asks Pat, “Do you want left barrels, cuz that’s pretty much all we’re going to get here.” Pat, spotting another empty peak a little further down the beach asks John why nobody is surfing it. “People are like sheep here. They just follow each other. They’ll just surf where everyone else is.”
Bosco drives by in a white truck. He either doesn’t see John or pretends he doesn’t. “There goes Boskie. So funny that guy.” He follows the truck down the street then turns his head toward the water. “Look at this shit are you kidding me? Ahhhhh…” A left barrel reels, perfectly, across the bank. “Is that Desert Point or…” Desert Point is a famous famous dredging Indonesian left. John tells Pat, “When it is double that size it goes from there…” pointing to a rock outcropping off to the left “…all the way….ahhh it’s so good. These waves can be so good.”
Les, the loved up man who called earlier, pulls in behind the Dae Woo and looks thrilled. Eager, excited. John says, “What’s up Lessy…it’s almost doing it…” Les says, “Yeah, When I drove past this morning it was all time. Like the biggest sets ever.” John doesn’t show his dubiousness. “What, six foot?” Les says, “Yeaaah…” And John breaks in, “Ahh that would be alright…” And Les caveats, “…but it probably only rolls through every two hours.” John asks, “Are you out there?” Now a slightly embarrassed smile crawls over Les’s face, “Yeah.” And Ding Ding. John answers, “Ollie…What’s up? yeah a little bit. Looks like it’s getting a little bigger. Looks four foot on the sets maybe bigger. It’s like a proper nor’east swell. Forster. Stop working and I’ll come grab you.” Ollie is one of John’s longtime friends. Surf is rare for him lately because he works with his dad doing some sort of construction. John doesn’t really know. A gorgeous blonde passes in skin-tight black lycra jogging pants. “Ahhh Johnny, how are you?” Her voice is like honey. John says, “How are you?” At the same time and adds a sheepish, “Good.” After. She powerwalks on. John watches her. Turns to the surf one last time. Opens his drivers door and gets inside. Pat is already there. They back out, decision made, and head through the fresh sunny light home.
The car wheels down the beach road then takes a first right. Around a roundabout and, again, it is at the dreaded intersection where his fate was almost undone. He explains to Pat who has had the same expression on his face for the last fifteen minutes. “I rocked through a stop sign. Like it was a four way stop and they have to stop so I just kept going…” The expression is dispassionate but interested. It takes exactly two minutes and fifty-eight seconds to reach his driveway.