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In the Water Before Light

Page 2

Chris Grierson

If the surf was flat we’d turn right back around again and be home in time for breakfast, if it was fair we’d be home for lunch, and if it was going off we’d join the day-trippers clogging the freeway at dinner time, with the day’s surf buzzing in our arms and ears. On the trip back It was my job to keep whoever was driving awake. I’d rabbit on about the rides I got, or the footy, or cricket, or bands, or teachers I knew Jacko and Phil had had, that I was enduring at the time. If things were looking particularly hard I always kept half my Big M to flick into their faces. That always jolted them back. Yelling they were gonna kill me when we got outta the car. You little shit. Stop it.

Most of our talk, most of the time, was about the surf, the latest tube each of us had, or thought we had, or the biggest wave of the day and who was on it, or the hot surfer that was out with us. We hit the surf before light to get a jump on the other surfers, mostly locals. We could get half an hour in before they descended. It felt almost magical being out there as the sun came up with the break all to ourselves. But half an hour never felt long enough. Phil and Jacko would start swearing once we saw first a couple, then groups jumping off the rocks on their way out to join us.

There was no way we were really good enough to compete with any of the locals. One time they turned on Jacko. He’d dropped in on a guy and apologised quickly. Jacko swore he didn’t see the guy there below him, but this guy was worked up and started hitting at him in the water, and Jacko hit back. Phil went straight over and dragged the guy away with his leg rope which stopped him dead. Phil has that effect on people. He’s six foot two, broad and muscle-bound as all hell, with long curly black hair and dreads forming. To look at him you’d think he was some feral bushman. The locals all seemed to respect us a little more after that, and they let us be every weekend from then on.

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