Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

stayed warm, pretty much, and I had an old carpet pad to crash on, and nobody could see me if they tried. I always liked sleeping in a cramped space. When I was ten the parents let me sleep in a linen cupboard once, just to see what it was like. Made sort of a nest with the towels and sheets. I liked it. They thought it was pretty funny, and Sis played tricks on me all night, but I liked it fine. When the parents were killed, we walked past their coffins and that’s one of the things I thought, that they should be snug in that satin, or whatever; but I was looking at faces’ I couldn’t recognize, hardly. Dusted and stiff as driftwood; their eyes were closed hard, like against a wind, so I grabbed onto Sis. All of a sudden I felt some kind of undertow around the caskets that was sucking things into their death, me and my sister included, if we stared at them another second. I remember Sis wanting me to calm down. And I guess I went a little wild after that, a time in my life that was just a lot of pieces laid one on top of the other; a few split lips and kicked balls; a lot of going from room to room and having dopey visions of lightning and blood, then quiet boredom; and answering questions about feelings and the past, like the night Martin John took me all the way to Newport Beach to show me the red tide. We rented a boat and hung over the side for hours watching the fluorescent flash of the barricuda and sand sharks schooling in the harbor. We didn’t even bother to fish, it was so great to see those fireworks underwater. The doctors flipped out for stories like that. Finally, somehow in the middle of all that weirdness at Sherman Oaks, I could smell my summer coming on, I could smell the rotting seaweed of the beach, and putting my head to the hospital pillow was like holding a shell to my ear—I wanted to be out there cutting water in the worst way, like it seemed I was meant to do, and screw all this. So it was a simple, flat out decision, and that’s one of my strong points. I collected my act and started smiling and building ships in bottles and whatever else would please the whitecoats. By May I was easing back on the hot Malibu sand, watching the gulls scream and guano the beach, listening to the foam sizzle, and feeling pretty excellent, considering. Yeah, maybe not always pure fun, but close to it. Closer than most people come. Sis doesn’t get it. She says, “How do you manage to live?" She wonders why in five years I’ve never touched the insurance money and all that. She figures I’m dealing and stealing, naturally, even though I’ve explained it a million times. I just know exactly how to live the California coast. You’ve got to watch for Opportunity and Waste, then glom onto it, simple as that. And work a job on occasion, what the hell. You’ve also got to give up regular beds and cars. That last is the hard part. I love everything about cars. And stay healthy upstairs, which is what Sis worries about. She still doesn’t get it. She asks me too many questions, when she can, and sends me gift certificates care of General Delivery. Here’s what I mean: that morning they turned me and Kyle out of the tank I blew a kiss to the Malibu police, grabbed my fins and hitched down to Huntington Beach. They were hosting a pretty big meet in a couple of days, even some cash for the body surfers, so I hit the water and practiced hard, won twenty dollars in a handstand challenge, came in second for the meet, and out of the clear blue, scored the job of a lifetime. It was a great day. And even if I came in behind the Hawaiian, Watanabe, it wasn’t by much, because I’m pretty much a beautiful sight to see. I cut waves like a surgeon’s first cut, smooth and just breaking the surface; I won’t wear a Bradner, either, screw that, so when I’m in some glassy swell I feel like I’m in the belly of a fish, warm and neatly wrapped in salty water, stroked along my muscles head to foot, and drinking in that sense of falling, then being rolled under to count some air. And that’s what I like about the body surfing—if you’re going to die, it’s not because you get stabbed in the head with a fiberglassed plank; it's because the wave takes you down and won’t give you back. I’ll take Watanabe next time, at Point Panic, maybe. Besides, if I hadn’t come in second, I might not have met the soap star, and I know for sure—because of the way they lined us up—I wouldn’t have had the chance to lean against his girlfriend’s spongy bosom. We were all up on the KSRF flatbed for the ceremonies, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hawaiian, the surfing officials, me, Sharon and Jarrett. Things were so tight up there, my arm nested just right between her arm and her most excellent breast. With the TV. cameras turned on us, the sun on my cheeks, the money prize coming up, the hoopla and Sharon not wanting, or not able, to move away, you could have heard me purr. After Jarrett announced his scholarship endowment thing and people clapped and women moaned and screamed at him, we took our checks and everybody spilled off. Jarrett and Sharon were facing me when I landed. “Will you put in for the scholarship?” he asked me, not knowing I couldn’t care less; but I wanted to check out Sharon head on and see if something could happen. I said I was too old, which was true, probably. I looked Sharon in the eye figuring she’d look away, but she just looked right back, pleasant as hell. Jarrett asked me about the combers at Oahu, North Shore. He’d heard about my win over there; they'd almost called the meet because the breakers were coming off some earthquake in the Pacific, and at first they thought we little body surfers couldn’t handle it. This Jarrett was a big enthusiast and wanted to pick my brain, is what the deal was, but now we were getting swamped with people pushing flattened Coke cups and envelopes and autograph books at him. He did a little of this, using a gold pen, giving me a chance to really take in Sharon. She may not have been the bombshell you would have figured, but I thought she was pretty nice, cool and composed in all this pushing that was going on. She had the kind of cold blond hair I liked, too, and a decent chest, which I already knew. She asked me if I was from around there, if that was one of the reasons I was so good, and I thought, oh, you don’t know how good, sweet girl, and said, “Yeah, all my life.” A few more questions along these lines and before you know it, she’s figured out that she knew my sister from high school. She seemed tickled shitless about this and put her arm around Jarrett’s neck—about as easy as whispering to someone in a bumper car—and told him she knew Sis. “That’s incredible,” Sharon told me; she said it twice, in fact. Alot of people knew my sister in high school; she was the brainy, student government type, and real good looking; and all her teachers became her friends, that sort of thing. I was the “gifted-but- not-applying-himself” type, a comedian, basically, and being two grades below Sis, I did my best to embarrass the squat out of her. Martin John figured I’d grow out of it. Mother and sister weren’t so sure. They always wanted me to “act right,” whatever that meant. Jarrett finally turns, puts his chin down on his chest, and says, “Let’s get out of here,” meaning me, too. The next thing I know the three of us are shooting up 1-405 in the choicest Lamborghini you ever saw, homing in on some fancy lunch. I was wearing shades, trunks, huaraches, and four day’s shadow on my face, but when Jarrett breezed into Chasen’s, or wherever it was, they swept us into the back of the restaurant like we were a well-rehearsed emergency. Sharon ordered a winey halibut deal, Jarrett got a Caesar salad that smelled like a lady’s gash, and I went for a steak sandwich, telling the guy to keep it away from the mesquite. Jarrett talked nonstop about body surfing. He even ignored the little act that went along with his salad. While he went on and on I watched Sharon snake her fork around his elbows and pick away at the falls of lettuce. Then he asked about me. When he found out I'd done the National Guard and been a crack mechanic and a few other things, something jelled that must have been sloshing in his mind for a while; he sprung the job on me. Five hundred a month, plus room and board, “Good board,” he said, looking down at his plate. And car privileges and some time off every day and weekends. I’d live in the guest house at his place in Woodland Hills, a spread complete with putting greens, grottos, pools, tennis courts, aviaries, a movie theatre, gym and the I just know exactly how to live the California coast. You’ve got to watch for Opportunity and Waste, then glom onto it, simple as that. And work a job on occasion, what the hell. You’ve also got to give up regular beds and cars. That last is the hard part. whole bit, even a pistol range in the basement. “In return,” as he put it, he wanted me to nurse his two beautiful children— the four-seater Lambo and a Ferrari 365 GT4—drive him and Sharon wherever; run errands; teach him how to surf the big stuff if we had the time; and do some protection once in a while, which meant tucking a Browning 9mm automatic somewhere near my armpit. “Be a bodyguard, you mean,” I said. Sharon squirmed a bit and looked dead- on at Jarrett. “I doubt if you’ll ever pull it,” he said, “It’s just in case.” Then he smiled. “Times are a little strange, I’m sure you’ve noticed.” Later I found out he had a thing about the John Lennon deal. I guess a lot of his type did. “Let’s just call you my man Friday,” he said. Fine with me; a cherry job like this, with guns and Ferraris and maybe a little saddle-slipping with his girl, and he could call me dickhead for all I cared. But it wasn’t a piece of cake, exactly. These guys were busy, him the big daytime star, and her a designer at the same studio. Bugle call was seven a.m., no matter what went on the night before, and that’s when Selena knocked on my door with a bamboo and glass tray in her hands. Selena was their chubby house- keeper/cook, cheerful and as black as asphalt, just like you’d expect The breakfast would be some grunt—a couple of croissants or whatever, and this granola that was just like aquarium gravel. Their mangy beast, Sir Gielgud, would come in with her as if he was a customs dog, sniffing everything in sight, my breakfast and crotch included. I’m about as lively as a roadkill that time of day, I guess. But the coffee was completely excellent. Then we’d all have to streak out of the house like we were shot from guns. I’d burn a little rubber on the brick drive partly to scare Sharon and partly because Jarrett seemed to like a spot of danger now and then. Most of the time I dropped them both at the studio, and at that hour there was usually only a couple of crazies waiting to land on Jarrett, so no problem. (Everyone except me ignored Sharon trotting across the lot to her building.) Otherwise I’d run Jarrett around, racquetball matches, tanning studio— later on I got him surfing for his tan, an hour at a shot—hair appointments, dermatologist, agent lunches, voice coach, smoking clinic, crap like that, or even back to the place so he could work or do an interview. But no matter what he’d ride along to see Sharon off. Depending on the car work and the errands, the middle of the day was mine. I’d check at the P.O. for something from Sis or the A.S.A., then cut over to the beach. It was a hot summer, and I trimmed a lot of breakers; after a couple of hours I’d dry myself in the breezy sun, smell the lotions, and sit there feeling rich and famous. Saw Kyle a few times, too, blew his mind with the Lambo; naturally he thought I’d stolen it. We got royally fucked up one of the times, then laughed till we cried trying to straighten me up for the drive over to pick up my employer. I never showed him the gun, though. That was sort of my secret. Kyle sent me off with a “Ciao,” and said, “You’ve got it fucking made!” Yeah, in fact, one day I was feeling cocky and went to the rental shop and looked under the decking at my old nest. Naturally, I couldn’t see anything, but I imagined myself curled up in there; it seemed like twenty years ago. And I must have given off rich and famous vibes, too. I can make my abdominis and oblique do this sort of hula thing; some girls like it, some don’t. But working for Jarrett, I’d wave my belly and they’d draw right over, moths to a flame. I think they could feel the way I was living, could tell I shacked in a mansion alongside a celebrity, had a gun packed away, and all that. Late afternoon was one of the times Jarrett figured he might need my muscle. Between three-thirty and four he’d come out of the east sound stage building where they let in the women. They’d be laying in wait for his autograph, or to land on him with a lipper, or grab a button off his jacket, or glom on to his crotch, or whatever. Then some of these ladies actually believed his T.V. role so much that when UTS character fucked someone over—which was about twice a week— they’d be there swinging, cussing him out, spit shooting out of their mouths, like he’d butchered their babies or something. A very strange scene; you got twenty wobbly women swooning, and two or three scary jobs with mussed hair hissing, and nothing but seventy year-old studio security guys there to keep the peace. So Jarrett had me part the sea for him. I did the same for all his appearances too, the rodeos, and shopping malls, cancer wards, all that. I knew the Browning was a last resort, naturally. Once this real twirly-eyed fan threw her arms around Jarrett’s neck at a hydrotube opening in Reseda. She said something like, “God, what a fox!” and dove in to give him a mouthful of tongue, looked like. Just as I was going to referee this thing, some bull-necked guy, who must have been the lady's husband or something, comes up behind Jarrett and turns him around, with intent to clean his clock. Of course he didn’t get the chance. It was a weird punch I threw because I sort of had to weave it in and out of a few people crowded in there, but it caught this clown right in his nose hole and split it clean open. A little rope of blood followed my fist out and completely freaked two of Jarrett’s fans 22 Clinton St. Quarterly