The yang twin unstrapped the surfboards from the roof of the official solar fed limousine that illuminated the worthy cause of brightness in the renewable State of California. He was uncharacteristically careful not to mar any striations in the faux moire finish that still wiggled weeks after removal from the come-on transparent packaging. Lt Guv Gav Newsom was in the back seat consumed by multi-tasking on wired left and right devices, orchestrating sordid state affairs with an uplifted pinky and polished nail while demonstrating his win-win smile in front of a handy mirror reflecting superior whiteness. He waved from the open window with a grand Nixonian sweep of pliable arms, a classic. I responded in kind with thumbs upraised and a crooked smile that was distinctly not a smirk. It was solid gold winning stuff, pure as recent flurries of snow from fair elections in inner Istanbul, and appeared to have at least one additional disorienting side-effect. The yang twin politely handed his sister her surfboard first. I heard no braying, bragging, boasting, crowing. He hosed the salt from his wet suit without recitation of verse by me from one of a standard series of lectures on the iambic value of inanimate objects for which I flex my bony fingers to the deft tips of ignominy. No weapons emerged, no barbs, no walls, no missiles, no moves, no death-defying attitude. I knew something going down was seriously up. I as yet had no clue but I began to wonder what I had done to make it all my fault.
I said, “Sup.”
He paused for optimal melodramatic impact and handed me a twenty dollar bill. I attempted to remain unfazed by an emergent bigger picture beginning to stink in bloom. I held the money at arms length for examination. It was dirty enough all right. It smelled bad. No light passed through. It could easily have been slipped by a minor slight of hand under any opaque table. It looked legit.
“I didn’t earn it today,” he confessed.
“What makes today different than any other day?”
“The waves were just not that good today.”
“Since when is the phrase ‘just not that good’ not good enough for you to pursue reckless fun at the expense of others?”
“That’s all I can say so far. I may have to think more about it.”
I thought, think? What the fuck kind of crazy shit is he trying to pull off to disarm me now? A straight ahead dishonest evasion would be far more considerate of my feelings. Then, he looked down at the wet and oily sand on his feet as if he might in some way care to be grinding new pits into the clean floor. His smirk turned sheepish. That was my next clue. Curved muscles in habitual contraction don’t lie. There had to be coercion occurring. Or torturous angst. I understood there would be no pure logic to follow. I shuddered to think of the conclusion. I felt the dread of a serious learning experience grabbing hold in a cowering bowel, one of my own. A mess was mixing.
“Did you hit your head on your board again and get another concussion? I’ve learned how to treat that with ice packs. Are you dizzy?”
“Does your big picture look a little fuzzy? Do you remember your name? Or maybe feel like puking your guts out.”
“You know where to go if you do.”
“Maybe you’ll get dizzy when you start to think.”
“If I get dizzy you’ll see me stagger.”
“Puking is not mandatory.”
“What do you want me to do with this tainted money?”
“That’s up to you.”
“I can pretend to be confident that this is not going to turn out a trap.”
“You could make a donation to the worthiest charity of your choice.”
“It’s all I’ve got right now.”
“If you tell me what’s wrong I’ll try to pretend to come up with a solution.”
“Are you sure you really want to know?”
“I’ll regret it either way.”
And I did. Still do. I began to desperately yearn once more for the first day of middle school. Even if this turned out to be the year in which the teen twins were beginning high school. I suddenly felt hot and chilly with an impending threat of chronic doom looming. I felt it fluidly in what counts as my twisted spine. A hole was digging a tunnel through tundra to rock with fire down below. Avoidance suddenly seemed the smarter choice to make on the many vital issues of the day. Fuck war, peace, pestilence, and putzes. Why was I not that smart? Later, I might be able to forget, forget, forget. And deny, deny, deny.
“It’s just that there was this creepy guy who kept watching us.”
A balloon of empty thoughts filled a blank layer of dense fog and resounded falsely even to me. I had to stretch far and wide to grab a small elastic wad of credibility to embrace. The ground under my feet began to shift quicker than quicksand. What if he had become deprived of important minerals required to digest defensive information? What if he needed realignment and braces to continue plodding? Annoying guilt can be so contrary to strict carnivorous teachings. And aesthetically displeasing, to boot.
“There’s lots of creepy guys every day.”
Naturally, I worried most about what I had done that I did not remember doing, and would I get caught? Prices must be paid and sacrifices made but does that have to include me and mine? Had I in my desire to extract beaucoup banh mi plus filthy lucre from my toils in the mud of horrific political warfare leading to the indigenous freedom of Californians to smoke weed and ingest edibles exposed the teen twins to untold futures? Blame is a heavy weight to carry. How do I get out of it?
He said, “You’re right.”
“But this guy was wearing a trench coat.”
“Was he hiding a machete or machine gun? That’s a key point to consider.”
“Who wears a trench coat at the beach?”
“He was probably only a spy who hates freedom.”
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“I’m right there with you on that.”
“What’s that lame phrase you use a lot?”
“No, not that one. But that one will do.”
“Does that mean there is uno problemo?”
“That’s what I have to think about.”
“Or maybe we need to consider some alternatives.”
Maybe later we would be able forget all about it over a good laugh and give all wounds a fair chance to heal. Knockout blows from the blind side don’t hurt so much during unconsciousness. Trying to beat the count is what leads from mere punch drunken aphasia to losing. After passage of AUMA, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will lead to the beginning of indigenous freedom in California to smoke weed and ingest edibles, it will be better.
“Don’t forget your elementary rules of contradictions,” I added obscurely.
“Yeah, yeah, there are no rules.”
“You’re sounding better already.”
“There you go again.”
“I’m leaving now.”
“I’m glad we were able to clear this mystery up.”
Later, I asked the yin twin for her more mature perspective on the calamitous issues of the day. Mysteries are often fraught with peril in front of solutions. She was applying the purple polish to her toes that was purchased free of guilt with the twenty dollar bill received from Lt Guv Gav. She even had enough left over for a bubble tea and a tube of green glitter.
“It’s no big thing, ” she intoned sagely. “He was embarrassed when everyone saw he had a boner.”
“Is that all?”
No mo’ problemo.