You loved that mini-truck. I remember when you got it. You were gonna “get the fuck away from this place” every weekend if you could. You just about did.
But, again, that was my first time. Away from that place to the land of the soulful. Away from the base and her aswang of the soul, deretso na! Thanks for taking me along. And for teaching me how to surf. Which led to another near-death experience. For me. And your boogie board.
But there we were. In your truck. You trying to pass someone and get back over before we smacked someone else head-on.
Was that before or after that weekend when what’s her name was with a guy who pulled the same move? As I recall they were following a rabbit bus’s lead. The bus got back in time. They didn’t. A classic on that road. The guy driving made it. She was the passenger. Like me.
But you could see what you were doing, ’cause we weren’t following a bus. I don’t know if that’s to your credit or not. It’s funny how the person you’re passing will speed up, even in situations such as these. The feeling in my belly as you got back into the right lane just in time was like almost falling back in your chair while feeling your back pocket missing a wallet to the power of five.
You liked to talk about that movie Band of the Hand. Because you related somehow to the put-upon outsider, faux-punk kid. I guess we were both outsiders. In the chute shop, whether in front, or in the back with the rafts and preservers. Certainly on Clark Air Base. Maybe even in Angeles City. But we didn’t always have the same taste. You were a water going freak. I was just along for the ride. And what a ride it was!
We both liked Repo Man.
And then you said it. And it was true: The more you drive, the less intelligent you are. Relief. And comic relief.
Fuck, Ruford. If it weren’t for a different kind of whimsical surfing, I wouldn’t have heard. I don’t suppose it matters. It’s been a long time. I doubt I’d’ve ever seen you again or known otherwise. Were you doing something stupid when you hit the tree?
Searching around a bit more I found that you were doing what we’d been trained for and hated so much in the P.I. I wonder if you liked it. I guess context is everything. It certainly makes sense that you put it to good use. I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.
I think now of your life. A whole life, really. Had either one of us knocked up an island girl back then, our offspring could’ve found the god particle by now. And in all that time, I still don’t know where either of my god daughters are. Rachel and Lovely. Idaho? Cebu? Good thing I didn’t have children of my own.
Did you and Barry and Anton ever visit after the PI? We lost contact after I’d moved to Chicago and then they to wherever. Probably ’cause that fucker Barry is as bad as I am about such things. I should’ve been more proactive about it. I miss them too. But ‘ll probably never see them or Rachel or Lovely or Naia again.
It still produces wonder in me to think that a life – your life, wouldn’t’ve just begun the next time I saw you; that time exists for everyone within their own universe of experience; that had we run into one another, it wouldn’t’ve been news to you that the Terminator had been governor; that catching-up involves two, or neither one.
Salamat po para showing me how to catch a wave.
Baptism on the East China Sea
I remember how you told me that they measure the waves differently over there: from the backside surface upward, instead of trough to crest. Which made the size of the ones we were trying to catch– well, I was trying to catch – all that much bigger in the translation.
So there we were: you, a few of your homeys, and me, floating on our boards, waiting for the next worthy wave to roll in. Which’d’ve been fine, had we just been waiting. But we were bs-ing. Me probably just trying to fit in, or not stand out at least. I don’t remember.
All I remember is you guys saying something like, “There it is,” and paddling off. It couldn’t’ve been more than a half-a-sec before it hit me. At least I got to see it first. I turned around to look where “it” was and there it was. How odd that you guys caught and rode what smacked me like a wall of wet cement.
And down I went. Like a sack of that same substance. But not for long. I hit my head on the reef just when the undertow jerked me back away from the shore. That scraped me a bit. The momentum spit me out of the water, reminding me that I was no sack of cement.
Had it happened faster, maybe I could’ve caught the next wave. Instead it caught me. And so we repeat the process, during which time salt-water refilled my nasal passages and the thought came into my battered noggin: How many more times might this happen?
SMACK! PLUNGE! RRRIIIP! WHOOOSH! Cough-cough-spit pluh pluh. Repeat.
Fortunately just that once.
If the doggy-paddle had been my favorite stroke, now I didn’t have any choice. I’d been beat. What I did to get back to dry sand could best be described as a limping version of swimming. Even when I got to shallow enough water, I didn’t stand up. But then I had to, finally beached. And there you were. Sitting there. Waiting for me.
Thinking back to it now, I realize you were doing your best to express concern and look out for me, yet play it down at the same time. I love the way you gesticulated with your arm for emphasis when you said, “Let go of the board, man!”
It was a little late for that, but I appreciated the advice in case there ever was to be a “next time” for me to have to let go of your board.
That whole spin cycle in the water, what seemed like minutes, must have passed in all of a few seconds.
Did your final moments go as fast? Was being on fire as bad as drowning in a vortex, or had the impact already got you?
Why the fuck didn’t you take those words to heart? The more you drive, the less intelligent you are. Until you die.
I’m gonna miss you, Ruford. Even if I was never gonna see you again. I’ll never forget how you caught a tube at midnight on Christmas. During a full moon, no less! What can I wish for you? That, like Otto and Miller, you’re streaking through the universe in a glowing Chevy Malibu?
Shoot the tube! Mabuhay (ang) La Union!