It’s a hot Tuesday in August.
Three bare-chested men stand around an old green council park bench overlooking The Point. The bench has half its seat missing and ‘LOCALS ONLY’ carved in all caps across the front.
A weak windswell ambles down the headland under the mid-morning sun. But the men, all in boardies or with wetties hanging around their waists, are paying no mind to the waves.
“…and that’s why I’ll never do a job while there’s a tiler on site,” No Nose, a tall kneeboarder with deep brown skin and hair like Iggy Pop, is saying. “They’re all fucken queer cunts.”
The other two, both short and bald, nod in firm agreement as a lone seagull zips between their feet and under the shade of the bench.
The faint threat of an onshore hasn’t yet upset the morning glass and the pale blue sea stretches up and into the sky in one continuous fade. A couple of learners loll on the inside on their bright red soft-tops, more impressed with their postcard vista than the barely breaking surf.
No Nose turns to reach for his board, ready to call it a morning.
Just another day on The Point.
Then, like a cloud across the sun, Marco appears.
Marco’s barely five foot tall, an impish build with sporadic facial hair and narrow, sad eyes. He could be fourteen, he could be forty. Nobody’s quite sure. Indeterminate stains blot his faded Pennywise tee and the loose cargo shorts that hang from his round hips.
He stands just behind the group. Materialising from some unknown corner. Close enough to be in their space but not quite close enough to initiate conversation. Not that it stops him.
“Check out all of these bloody blow-ins, where do they come from?” he drones, motioning to the near empty line-up.
“Yeah, I’m not too sure, Marco,” replies No Nose.
The seagull edges out from under the bench towards Marco and he kicks at it with a dirty bare foot. It lets out a squawk and jumps up and onto the half seat, so that it obscures the ‘LY’ in ‘LOCALS ONLY.’
“Out there, Marco?” No Nose asks.
“Me? No way. My board’s getting repaired, plus I wouldn’t bother with this garbage.”
He spits out his words like he can actually taste them in his mouth.
An awkward silence. The group, four of them now, turn in unison to watch the surf.
“I’m thinking of going up to Angourie next week,” says Marco finally. “It’s a classic curling right, that wave, like you see in the books. I think my surfing’s suited to it.”
He picks at his fingernails, kicks the dirt some more. Then he looks No Nose in the eye.
“You know, my economy of movement.”
“Oh yeah, right… Angourie,” says No Nose, struggling to keep up with Marco’s staccato rhythm.
None of them have ever actually seen Marco in the water.
“You surfed it before?
Marco looks to the ground, at his dirty feet, then back out to the line-up.
He shakes his head.
“I don’t think these banks like the low-tide anyway. So I wouldn’t even bother surfing until high.”
No Nose shoots a confused sideways glance to the short baldies.
“What time’s high?” one of them offers.
Marco stares at the baldy as if he’s speaking Cantonese. The onshore is picking up now, carrying with it the smell of seaweed from the exposed rocks lining The Point.
“Look at these bloody blow-ins. I really don’t know where they all come from,” says Marco again, even though the learners are making their way in over the inside shelf.
“It’s enough to make you want to pick up and leave this shithole altogether.”
“Like, to Angourie, you mean?” asks the second baldy.
Marco shakes his head again.
“Why would I want to move to Angourie?”
Baldy #1 attempts to help his mate.
“Didn’t you say you wanted to…”
No Nose cuts him short with a silent glare. Some roads just aren’t meant to be travelled down.
Out on The Point, the northerly is ripping through the line up now like a wildfire.
It’s going to be a long summer.
Marco walks off, still shaking his head and muttering under his breath.
The seagull shifts its position on the seat again so it reads ‘LO–LS ONLY’ and the three men pick up their boards, ready to go home.