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Registered: 03/18/03
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Short storry: Camping on the beach in Baja, Caliifornia
    #4172960 - 05/14/05 12:15 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Ya'll wanna read my latest short story? Figured I'd post it up, why not? Here it is: ::)


Their tent was staked into the sand ten feet above the mean high tide line on an unnamed stretch of shoreline on the gulf side of the Baja peninsula, Frontera BC, Mexico. The moon was close to full?the best time for exploration outside the realm of streetlights, headlights, light pollution, light meat. A 10 knot northerly wind whipped periodically down the beach, smoothing out the footprints they had made setting up camp before darkness and lust had sent them into their Nylon sanctuary. They picked their camps mostly at random?Stan would take one of the many dirt-road turn-offs tapping Mex 5 between San Felipe and Puertecitos, hoping for relatively simple access to uninhabited, unclaimed shoreline. That morning, as the Bronco bounced and rolled along the rutted path, a salt and wind-eroded sign had appeared behind a grove of Saguaro cactii: Colonia Gutierrez. Perhaps the Gutierrez family had watched them set up camp that morning from one of the inland bluffs, or perhaps they had died out or moved on decades ago. Spectral familias paraded through May?s mind as she lay awake in the Jan Sport tent. She shivered; it was cold there, inside and out, even bundled up in Stan?s bright orange ArcticZone sleeping bag (he graciously offered a trade), even wearing socks, sweatpants, two shirts, and a sweatshirt. Cold. She couldn?t wait any longer, she knew the urge to urinate would continue to keep her awake as long as she put it off. The cold air poured in through the fissure as she unzipped the tent flap and stepped outside? stars! Crystalline, beautiful, thousands. The expansive Universe wrapped into existence around her shivering little body. It enthralled her. She emptied her bladder into the sand and then lingered in the cold for a while longer?it was a moment that demanded to be extended, to precious let the cold air (not cold now?crisp) shoo her back inside. It was still, a moment. She looked towards the ocean, perceivable only as a lack of light, a vast black oil slick extending towards a razor-sharp horizon. Three brightly lit fishing boats floated in empty space; she wondered how their crew was tolerating the chill night. She pictured them wrapped in yellow slickers with two stripes around the cuffs of the arms and legs?she was picturing firemen. Her own mental faux pas made her laugh, and a bit more of the coldness melted away with the exertion. She turned towards the sound of the zipper.
?Hey babe?what are you doing out there??
?Stan, can we build a fire?? Stan had his arms crossed and tucked into the pouch of his dark blue hoodie. He paused, taking in the vastness of the playa as she had. He smiled.
?We?re awful low on wood, darlin?. ?Spose we could get more in town tomorrow. You all right without a cooking fire tomorrow??
It was too dark to locate any proper kindling. They would have had to cross the rest of the beach to the rasty dunes beyond, hunting for the odd driftwood or dried out tumbleweed. So instead, Stan retrieved the red plastic gas can from the back of the Bronco and poured high octane across the Walgreen?s square logs, cut from some Oak or Maple tree thousands of miles from here by loving machine. May delighted in dropping the Diamond Tip match onto the voracious material. It fell strait down, lit. Three bark beetles and thirteen carpenter ants died immediately, and the two humans stood motionless, staring at the eruption. A good campfire is one of life?s fullest experiences, especially after a long day of driving on dusty, questionable roadways.

Camping on Sea of Cortez, you awaken pretty soon after sunrise. Stan don?t have much choice. The warm, heavy clothing he needed to get him through the night is sticking to his body. The light and heat of good ol? sol reflects off the smooth water. Eastern horizon?s the waterfront on the gulf side?the beach becomes a focal point of converging solar energy?and the tent is literally steaming. He notices that May?s already up. He jealously rushes to switch these ridiculous sweats for a pair of shorts and get out side. He unzips the flap all the way across the arc. It falls away and?there?the bright blue ocean, framed by a lightly clouded sky, a strip of perfect silican shore, May in her green bikini facing the water, sprawled on the white-strap beach chair in a posture of delirious relaxation. This is God?s country.
Stan stretches. This feels good. Everything today feels good so far?the texture of the sand, the way it gives and holds underneath his feet, ol? sol, the 2 or 3 knot northerly.
?Tide?s high, Stan.? Stan is already jogging down the birm towards the briney North Baja water. And then a perfectly executed somersault and a noisy, awkward splash. 75 degrees. This feels good too.

Stan is twenty four years old, May is 22. They have been dating for three of those years. They met at the University of Las Vegas where May studied biology. Stan wasn?t a student there?he worked for DesertPlus! Experiences, a tour group catering to UNLV students which offers wilderness expeditions into the immediate Nevada desert. Officially employed as a cook, Stan?s responsibilities were as follows: set up and break down camps, cook food, be on the lookout for interesting flora and fauna, treat snake-bites (poisonous and non-poisonous), and lead small group hikes. May needed to complete fieldwork for Reptilian Physiology 437D, and was given a free ticket for the three day weekend ReptilePlus! trip. She would have sooner stayed in her air conditioned dorm room with her ROOR bong, her friends, and her DVD?s. She wore lots of bracelets. She visited Professor Mitchell on the Thursday before the trip, and complained that a three-day requirement was unfair, that she had responsibilities in her other two classes, and that he was overstepping his bounds. The professor sympathized. He thought furiously for a good long while. He offered to assign her a term paper on Paleogene reptile mechanics, Ypresian through Priabonian. He only asked, without a hint of irony, that she turn her free expedition pass back into the Bio office on the other side of campus so that another student would be able to benefit from the opportunity. May relented. She would have to bring her proto-human hominids assignment and study for a midterm on Monday in Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems. Her bracelets rattled as she turned towards the door. She fell in love with the cook.

Noon. Low tide. Margarita mix, now with Jose Cuervo brand tequila. Torpor and Sloth. Lovemaking. The sand is course. It leaves deep red patterns on their skin?mottled tweeds?reptilian. Sweat, silica, dust, Coppertone, and salt. Mild dehydration, sleep.
* * *
Life is backwards down here. Menial, necessary work is an absolute delight. May is grilling the flesh of a large, dubious crustacean on their Coleman stove. She cried earlier?the tear tracks created clean streaks across her flushed cheeks. She adds salt, ginger, and lime. Nourishment! The constant exposure and low-tide excursions create plenty of hunger. May spotted the crab as the pair walked the ocean floor, 500 yards from the beach. It was cream colored with fading beige rivulets, bat-tailed. Its core was the size of a small dinner plate. Its claw prints extended behind it, all the way to a tributary where the water was still flowing out to sea. It moved with an admirable single-mindedness. May couldn?t understand how it could possibly have any sort of specific goal in mind. It ambled with excruciating slowness. Stan ran off towards an adjacent ?island? of wet sea-bed, and returned with a bit of driftwood.
?Innit beautiful, Maybeline?? He carefully turned the crab on its back with the stick. Its legs entered a defense subroutine, creating a protective perimeter of sensing, snapping pinchers. May gasped. It was beautiful. The beige patterning was much thicker and more intricate?no sun exposure on the underside, no bleaching. ?Should we?what do you think about having this lil guy for dinner, Maybelle?? Stan tested the waters.
?I don?t know,? May said with apprehension, alert, ?you mean you?re just going to poke it to death with that stick??
?It?s either that or fish tacos from Persebu. I?m up for either one. But it?d be fun, catchin? our dinner like this.? May was a vegetarian who ate seafood. Stan grew up in a coal mining town in western Colorado. He made sure to be sensitive towards May?s peculiarities.
?But? that stick, Stan, its not going to go through, you?re just gonna hurt her.?
?Allright?how bout lets sharpen it then?? Stan wanted a spear. He felt an urge to hunt, to eat the crab, because he was in the wilderness, and because crabs are usually caught in driftnets anyway, and because May was so hesitant. He tore off damp shards of wood and slowly coaxed the travel-worn branch into an honest-to-God weapon. ?Cmon May. You don?t have to watch if you don?t want to, but don?t look at me like I?m a criminal. How do you think they killed the lobster you had at McCormick and Schmick?s? Boiled alive, that?s how.?
?Fuck you Stan! This whole thing is creeping me out.? May began walking briskly away, with no obvious destination in mind. Strait trajectory to?away. Stan impaled the crab and carried the prize behind his left shoulder?a successful hunt.

Sunset. The tide has returned. They are no longer required to drink pint after pint of warm arrowhead water, their bodies have transitioned to night-time functions. Nature is returned to her ancient role out here, she is the ultimate arbiter of feeling and activity. They are once again embedded in cycles, cycles and subcycles, relentless, difficult, supremely comforting. May is reminded of something she hadn?t realized was missing. Stan feels at home. Only slight tinges of dread at the prospect of returning to Nevada taint his otherwise impenetrable bliss. The crab fight is long forgotten, covered over by cyles. Hunger overrides neuroses, and May cooks the tender meat.
?Sorry.? Stan says.
?Sorry.? May says.
There is little swell in the Sea of Cortez. Small wind waves and boat wakes roll up the steep shore and back down again. They watch it for a long time, and its own cycles begin to emerge.
?Push on tomorrow? We could get a room in Puertecitos for the night, showers.? Accommodation.
?Yea, that?d be good.? May says. They roast smores for desert.

A work morning. The campsite needs to be broken down and fit, impossibly, into the back of the Bronco. May lays on the air-mattress, pinching the nozzle, shooting the escaping air into the sand, making landslides. Stan empties the coolers into the sand, the blocks of ice they picked up in San Felipe are almost gone. They have little food left to spoil. Three tortillas, an ounce of cheese, a half-filled bottle of La Victoria red salsa. Eight Tecates, and a bottle of Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, two thirds full. They work together taking down the shade and tent, the cook table and the dinner table. All these things fit in the car with little room to spare. Stan gets used to using the side views. The Bronco roars to life, 4WD engages, jarring. They are back to the world of machines, of unnatural speed and power. It is exhilarating, and sad. There is a wash?a small canyon where a river once flowed out to sea. Now the sea flows into the canyon, and the river is long extinct. The tide is coming in, and the exit route is an hour from impassible. Salt mud sprays on the side of the car, hitting May?s window, shrieks of delight, exhilaration. Another sort of freedom, the freedom of traveling, transcending cycles. They rise out of the wash and onto the dusty system of neglected dirt roads. Past the Colonia Gutierrez sign. Mex 5?pavement?looms. Stan stops the Bronco and removes a small scuba tank from beneath May?s seat. The Bridgestones get 20 pounds each. They stiffen up for the pavement. May has nothing to do, she naps. Two hours, by truck, to Puertecitos.

namaste said:
no flamz in da ODD, if you got nothing to contribute then keep yo lips zipped

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