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In the Water Before Light

Page 3

Chris Grierson

I spent all my time surfing out on the shoulder. I’d paddle for any of the bigger waves the other guys let go, or weren’t in position to catch. It was more leisurely then jockeying for position on the inside, it wasn’t as confronting or aggressive, and there were enough waves to keep me happy. Jacko used to stir me, saying I was wasting my time waiting for waves out there, either get right into it, or piss off. He’s full-on like that. Forever on the inside burrowing around trying to catch every wave. He looked like a ferret on his board with his reddish hair, long nose, thin face, legs and arms, scratching at the water, always moving. You could see he annoyed most of the guys out there, but that was a part of it. He was almost good enough to get away with it, and Phil was watching his back. The pay back came with the closeout set. Jacko was always caught a couple of metres behind on the inside and without exception wouldn’t make it and be sucked down the line and put through the ringer.

We’d hit the local milkbar after each surf. The play was always the same. Phil would demand we pay for his food to cover the petrol, and Jacko would argue that Phil owed him money for drinks the night before. I would always kick in more as I always seemed to have more. I had a paper round and I guess I didn’t have as much to spend my money on. We usually all ordered the same thing: cheese and salad roll (this milk bar’s specialty), sausage roll and a Big M. Occasionally it was a pie and sausage roll if the rolls were all gone, or two pies, or a pastie and a pie. I was never that fussy. After a dawn patrol it didn’t really matter what you ate, it was the tastiest meal you ever had. We’d drive up to the main beach carpark when the surf was good enough to stay for an afternoon session and loll around in the car for a while. Jacko and Phil would fall asleep whilst I usually just sat there looking out over the surf. Wondering whether it was getting bigger, or smaller, and what the afternoon would bring. I’ll never forget the smell in the car. It was a dank, musty smell. The smell of my youth.

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