The Man at the End of the Beach

Yesterday was a strange one. I’ve been recovering from a slamdunk flu type thing, hit me Friday after the Glee party. The kids were dancing on the tables in the M.U. room at Cunha, wearing orange cones as hats, wheeling each other around in lost and found bins, strutting on the runway, really stretching out.  The vice-principal came in around 5 something, looked around agape and seemed to find another meaning for that word, a-ga-pe – he felt the love. We all thought we’d be seriously busted, the kids all jumped off the tables, starting trying to act normal, and he just smiled and said “who are these kids?”

The night before at the high school concert, he’d come to me and said, “This is really special what you’re doing here. These kids have a niche, they didn’t have one before.”  So I guess when he said “who are these kids?” he meant like, “where have they been all this time?”  Anyway we didn’t get busted, but I did get the flu.

So I was finally crawling my way out of it yesterday and prepping for my first ever solo performance last night at The Marsh, SF.  I was performing act one of a story I adapted for stage, “Mudballs.”  It visits a suburban colonial house in New Jersey in 1971, two crazy boys and their overworked, underloved mother and the days when a male suitor arrives, and becomes the unwanted stepfather the boys didn’t expect.  I took the dog to the beach and did the long walk from La Costanera to the northernmost end of Montara State Beach. Tide was low and sun was high. I practiced my lines from memory, running through the show on the way down. I got to the far rocks and climbed up to where you can’t really go much further. I took some photos, posted on one Twitpics, paused, and started to head back.

I noticed a guy sitting there alone on the sand. He was baldheaded, with major tattoos, he looked healthy, awake, but isolated with intention. I was in my own world too, not quite above water yet from my illness, trying to memorize my lines. I did not say hello. We did not make eye contact.  I came down off the rocks, removed my outer layer, made sure I didn’t drop anything,

tied the sweater jacket around my waist and walked back the mile to the south.

I got to the parking lot, very thirsty, very hungry, missed lunch somehow, 2pm, gotta pick up Bodhi and his friend at school, gotta get ready for my show. No keys.  Not anywhere, not in pockets, not under the car, not anywhere.  Remember this story of Todd attaching his keys to a kite string at Berkeley Marina?  The kite took off and he went screaming down the hill “MY KEYS, MY KEYS, THAT KITE HAS MY KEYS”  Well I remembered it.   Did it mean anything, was he paying me a visit?

I did the march of tears all the way back out to the north point, hotter now, thirstier, weary, repeating the lines from the play, rerunning the whole act again.  When I got out there I noticed that the bald tattoo man was sitting on the rocky point where I’d sat.  I hadn’t found the keys the whole way out, so vainly figured I’d check the rocky outcropping.  I called up to him:

“Hey man, did you see any keys around there?” No answer.

“Hey man, excuse me?”  No response. Was he meditating? Just couldn’t hear me? Ignoring me?

Louder yet, “Hey man, did you happen to find any keys around there?”   This time he heard me. He almost smiled.

“No, I didn’t see any keys.” He was nice maybe, not unapproachable, not suicidal. He had been waiting his turn. Waiting for the farthest spot on Montara Beach, the place where you couldn’t go any further away from everything. The place where my keys vanished. Who was he? What significance did he play in this mystery?

I lost the keys.

Amee rescued me.

I found a spare.

We drove to the city.

I performed the show.

I lay in bed.

The characters in the show, George, Marilyn, Otto, the people they are so closely based on, they are all dead. I am the only one remaining who was in that dinette, trapped in that car, step-son to that weird dude, brother to that hero, I am the only one here to tell it like it was.

Me and that bald-headed guy with the tattoos.
The man at the end of the beach.
And you.