Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Point - part 2

           At the back of the otherwise empty cupboard there were a few packets of crisps and some unsliced bread that he'd picked up on the way down in the car, a jar of coffee and some eggs from the village shop. He chucked a packet of ready salted over to Jaz and then plonked himself back down, making the 'van shudder. He leant back against the wall and felt it give slightly, felt the cold invading through the thin shell.

          “That whole religion thing, did Joe keep it up ?”
          “Yeah, kind of …religiously…” Jaz smiled. “I tried it too y’know”
          “You ? “
          “Yeah, for a while – back along. But I realised that I was more into the getting stoned than the meditation and chanting, so I cut those out and after a while I realised that it wasn’t really a religion for me – more of an excuse. So, never found Nirvana or any of that shit. Still just trying to get by really. If I can get through a day without a fuckin’ row or without feeling that bit older ‘cause something else in my body is hurting then I consider that a bit of a victory.

          Truth is I suppose that surfing was always pretty much my religion substitute. Now, I was never as hardcore as some people‘round here, never one of those eight-hours a day every day types. I was always too skint for a start, needed to work. But it always has been one of those things that take the world away, on a good day it just lifts it off your shoulders for a few moments, a few hours if you’re really really lucky. Just nothing but the sea, the sky and you. No sense of anything, no sense of even needing a purpose. I love it.

          Well, I loved it once. Too few and far between the times I get in the water these days, partly it's me – just apathy and wearing out. I can’t do a couple of hours in February any more – too fuckin’ cold. Partly it’s the crowds, ‘specially in the summer. At some point, an’ I don’t know when, it stopped being fun when you had to hustle for a wave and then get some twat drop in on you with a hired pop-out. Partly as well it’s because I can see that there’s a lot of other better people out there. I know some people don’t get off on the whole competitive thing, I know you never really did, but I always have and now I see that I can’t keep up, well, it just takes some of the buzz out of it for me.

          Still have good days though – still have fuckin’ brilliant ones at times, but its not the religion it used to be – nowadays its just something that I do.”

          Terry gazed out of the window, it was pitch black and the only things to be seen outside were silhouettes of tree branches, thrashing about in the wind as it guttered down the valley, bringing with it the salt taste of the sea and volleys of flying leaves. He turned back to Jaz and raised his glass.

          “Here’s to the meaning of life then– and its answer, a good day’s surfing….”
          Jaz smacked his can into the side of Terry’s glass and sank the remainder of the contents, throwing the empty across and into the open bin. He rolled a cigarette.
          “Terry, tho’”
          “You haven’t always been this fuckin’cynical – there must have been times when you thought there was a point. You must have had one of those times at least, those times when you look out and the whole place is just made for you. Those times when it all falls into place ?”
          “Oh yeah. Yeah, I’ve had them. A few times – but when you’re not in love anymore, or when no-one is with you – I know that sounds stupid and wet and over romantic – but when there isn’t any of that going on then there really isn’t a lot of point somehow.”
          “So – you and Marie then…..?”
          “Nah, not really, not for years. Wish we were. Wish she had been. There’s only ever been about three or four people who have ever really done that to me, I used to think I fell in love at least once a week, but over the long term, well, maybe just those three or four people. If you define it as those people that you care enough about to stop a bullet for, to put yourself on the line for. Only a few. Marie used to be one of them, but not anymore, we rubbed that out of each other, shame, but we just did. What about you ?”

          “Well, using that definition I dunno – there’s the kids of course, even now I’d still get in the way of a truck for them. The missus, well, depends on the day really, but yeah, I guess. Other than that – well, like you, maybe two others and I ain’t naming names!”
          “Past or present?”
          “Past mate, past. I’d be stopping a fuckin’ bullet now if they were still present, and I wouldn’t have to jump in front of it to save someone else. It’d have my name on it in a fucking neon sign an’ all !
          Go on though, since you raised it what about you ?”
          “Well, at least one of ‘em you’d never have known, so no point there, like I said, Marie at one point and well, sounds stupid after all this time.”
          “What ?”
          “Remember Ali ? I think I’d still stop one for her if she ever turned up. Maybe it’s the romanticism of a relationship that happened so long ago that you start to mythologise it, but she was the one. I still fucked that up.”

          Jaz stared at Terry. Terry stared back, relieved at having said something that had sat quietly inside of him for years and years.

           Jaz’s tone dropped, “You spoken to Dave ?”

          “What ?” Terry wasn’t sure he understood the change of subject, then realised it wasn’t one after all.
          “Did he say anything ?”

          “No, why, what about ? Has she been in contact ?”

          Jaz seemed to backtrack suddenly,“No, No, just wondered, y’know, you know he had a thing with her too….”

          “Yeah, no – he hasn’t said anything. Never knew why she went off like that, was like she just walked into the sea and turned into a mermaid or something, never came back.”

          Terry was feeling maudlin now; something pulled at his memory and span away in a drunken spiral so that he couldn’t quite catch it.

           “Look,” said Jaz, getting up. “I better go – y’know, don’t get a late pass that often these days – well, not to come back home half pissed anyway.”
          Terry shrugged, he was worn-out too and needed to get into bed and sleep. He slapped Jaz on the shoulders and told him he’d look him up soon. Maybe not tomorrow, but perhaps they could get in again at the weekend. Jaz pulled on his coat and opened the door to the swirling pools of leaves and rubbish. The cold blast of air woke Terry up a bit, he stood watching Jaz disappear into the dark, headed in the direction of the sea and then home.

          He shut the door and stood in silence, looking at nothing in particular. His thoughts bowled along after themselves in this drunken state until he finally had to lie down, promising himself that he’d unravel them in the morning, if he remembered. He knew that here was something that he had to work out. Just not sure what.

          He started to pull off his clothes as he lay there in the ‘van , then decided that for the first time in years he didn’t have to, left them on, pulled the duvet over himself and collapsed into unconscious dreamless sleep.

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