Frank and Claudia had reached the seaside around noon, carrying a basket of goodies: sandwiches made early that morning in her mother’s kitchen, papayas and oranges from Martha’s stall in Hambleford, sodas and beers from that grocery in St. James that never checked IDs, and a nickel bag of fine green bud.
When they arrived at the beach, they dashed into the sea still wearing their shorts and tops, splashing and diving and relishing the cool water after the long bicycle ride. It was Claudia who had first taken off her teeshirt, throwing it onto the strand where it washed in and out with the waves. Frank frankly stared for a while, stared at her breasts, her nipples, couldn’t take his eyes off them even when he tried to look elsewhere. She laughed, posed, twirling like a model on a runway and then dived away.
They swam for a long time, Frank staying as close to her as possible, she staying just slightly out of his reach. After a while they were both quite comfortable with her naked breasts (even though Frank just had to keep looking) and they swam out to Robert’s Rock like all kids had for generations. They climbed onto the rock and Frank noticed how the beads of water ran across her chest, changing course as they hit her nipples which were hard and pronounced. But the sun was too hot to sit for any length of time and they swam back to the beach where they lay for a while, exhausted by their play.
Later, in need of fruit and sandwiches, they had stood up and each noticed the sand encrusted on the other’s shorts. With a single thought, and in silence and almost in slow motion, they each undid the buttons and zips and let their shorts drop. For a long while they stood looking at each other nakedness.
By four o’clock, when the harshness of the sun had mitigated to a sullen stillness, they had moved off the sand and into the grass. With sticks and tee-shirts Frank rigged up a small tent cover under which a black square of coolness lay inviting. They sat in the shadow, naked, looking across the sand, staring intently at the waves as if they were oceanographers, sharing sips from a bottle of beer, his arm around her shoulder, sweat streaming from their every pore.
She turned her face to his, he turned his to hers and, with a pull of courage as strong as that needed to escape gravity’s pull, he leaned toward her and placed his lips on hers. Her arms moved slowly around his neck and they lay back on the grass, their tongues whiplashing between cheeks and teeth. His hand, cupped as if to accept a donation, moved toward her right breast and covered it, motionless. His palm felt her nipple harden, and his penis became hardened in response. It prodded her thigh and she instinctively moved a hand down to feel what it was. She explored it with interest with her fingers for a few seconds and then, quite suddenly, he was shaking and an excruciating sob erupted from deep within him and she noticed that her hand and thigh were unpleasantly sticky.
“I’m sorry,” he said and rolled away from her, lying on his back, his teeth gritted. She stood up, definitely confused, and then ran down to the surf where she washed her hands and leg. When she returned he was lying on his side, his knees drawn up, his head clasped in his hands, his arms like a boxer’s guard over his chest. “Hello,” she tried, but he seemed imprisoned in his own thoughts. He knew that to be eaten slowly by an alligator would be less painful than this. “Next time will be better,” she whispered, almost to herself.
Frank didn’t seem to be inclined to move, so she fished around in the basket until she found the cool greenness of the strawberry papaya. She used Frank’s Swiss Army penknife to halve the fruit and to brush the black seeds into the grass. Her strong white teeth bit deep into the fruit and her gums accepted the fresh taste like candy. A stream of juice coursed down her chin and splashed on her breast. Brushing aside an inquisitive wasp, she looked at Frank and then looked out over the beach to Robert’s Rock and hoped that for both of them today would be just a single map in the atlas of their lives.
In the swamps behind the beach, the curlews drank and fished and called their odd call, the huge turtles splashed slowly from pool to pool, and swarms of midges circled within nets of pheromones.
The plush vermillion drapes
were pushed aside momentarily —
a passing shoulder, perhaps,
or a microphone cord —
and a brindle shadow fell
across the hushed room.
He looked up from the false ivory,
looked out through the frosted glass,
and one tiny corridor
of his labyrinthine mind
wandered at the sudden, shrill, iridescent glow
of life outside.
and this moment passed;
the drapes fell back,
and his full deliberation returned
to the quickest kind of death
he could inflict
on his opponent’s queen.
With the last two years’ festivities cancelled due to covid, it was great to celebrate Italian Day once again on Commercial Drive.
This year’s event did not close the street as usual, and everything was confined to Grandview Park. It was not quite the same, but enjoyable nonetheless — and the weather was perfect. The music was great, the food was great, and the crowds came out.
Well done to the organizers!
“Damn stupid idea, if you ask me, naming a basketball team after the damn grizzly bear! Jesus!”
He pushed the empty bottle of Glacier beer across the bar and wiped the back of his hand across his moustaches.
“It’s no surprise the kids are going crazy and shooting up schools like Columbine. They see themselves surrounded by adults making stupid decisions – Give me another beer, eh – and they’re not dumb these kids; they know we’re setting them up, most of them anyways, setting them up to be the packhorses of modern industry. Drudges. Laborers and data entry clerks and burger flippers and retail sales associates. Jesus, I don’t envy them. Thanks.”
He paused just long enough to lift up the bottle by the neck and carefully pour almost half the contents through practiced lips. “Ahh, that settles the dust, sure it does.”
Thin strands of late summer sunlight cut like razor blades through the bar’s perpetual gloom. Cigarette smoke from an ashtray at the far end of the bar curled serpentine trails towards an invisible ceiling. The barman, a drudge himself, lazily wiped down the bar with a wet rag. He wished he were anywhere else.
“I came in on the float plane from up the coast. Good connection that. Should have had that years ago, I’d have been here more often. Damn! We saw a great storm just after we took off. Flying up there, we could see the lightning in the sky and its reflection in the sea at the same time. Damn that was neat!”
He chuckled with the memory, chugged the rest of the beer, returned the bottle to the bar. To his right stood a massive fireplace and he walked over to it, to examine the huge basalt slabs that formed it, smooth and cold to his touch. And in his memory he heard the owls rustling in the trees and the dry wood crackling and hissing and the shadows playing in the firelight on the cabin floor the last time they had shared a full moon weekend. She had wanted to stay an extra night and he had told her it was a damned stupid idea.
And here he was now, drinking alone.
A profound movie.
stock exchanges really
those on the
in a bare market
leveraged hedges and
than heroin from opium
Today we celebrate the genius of Aubrey Beardsley on what would have been his 150th birthday. He died at the age of 25: hard to imagine what he would have accomplished had he grown older.
16,435 days ago, Elvis Presley had been dead four days and Groucho Marx for one; Jimmy Carter was into the eighth month of his presidency and serial killer Son of Sam had just been captured. On that day, August 20 1977, Voyager 2 was launched into space.
This morning, 16,435 days later, she is about 18.8 billion kms away from earth, still heading out. She left the Solar System several years ago, heading into the Interstellar Medium, and is still sending us valuable data every day.
Voyager 2 was built in 1976-1977 with tools that we would consider archaic and primitive today, and yet these days we have trouble keeping a toaster alive for more than six months!
It has been a glorious and useful and enhancing project and I hope it has many more thousands of days to chat with us.
The Diamond Centre at VGH has a dramatic 7-storey atrium ringed with glass. The design certainly makes for an airy space in the offices on each level.
However, every section of the glass on every level is covered with ugly yellow CAUTION tape and signs warning people not to touch or lean against the glass. The signs have been there for many years, for as long as I can remember.
Surely this is a design fault of the gravest kind, and one that should be fixed in some way before someone stumbles through and falls.