02 DESIGN AND EDITING by John Treadgold NOTHING TO LOSE by John Treadgold REDEMPTION by Jamie Rynd PHOTOS by John Treadgold (JT) Jamie Rynd (JR) E: email@example.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Nothing to Lose Words by John Treadgold
lright.” said Racca, cliff without so much He had his head down and his sodden t-shirt, the ran down his cheeks.
he turned away from the as looking at his mates. the wind whipped through rain soaked his hair and
He popped the boot of his car and started thrashing through his gear; he threw his surfboard out onto the grass. His mates approached slowly, glancing at each other, they pushed Dyson forward. “So you’re gonna hit it Racca?” he asked, with squeaking concern. Racca stopped still just for a moment, his fist was clenched tight around the soft rubber of his wetsuit. “What the fuck does it look like!” He snarled, without looking up.
No one moved as Racca continued to trawl through his car. He pulled his shirt off and threw it into the mess. “Dude it’s like... 10 foot and …. windy as shit out there.” Dyson replied. Racca was shuddering and twisting with heavy, uneven breaths. His teeth were clenched as he slowly lifted his head and brought his eyes to meet Dyson’s. “You.... fuckin’ pussies!” Racca spat. He slammed the boot shut, scooped up his board and dashed off towards the cliffs edge his wetsuit flailed like a rag-doll from between his white knuckles. ————
A southerly groundswell tending slightly from the east, is what Racca and his mates lusted for. It would arrive at the southern end of their beach with a pent up energy just waiting to explode around the point The swollen lines would rise as they reached the rocky reef, with nowhere else to go the leading edge of the wave would pitch, it would curl at the peak and then tumble forward. The crash would continue in a cascade of white water as the line of swell wrapped itself against the submerged cliff. Racca knew every rocky section of that reef. He knew where the first breaking point would be, that there it would be steepest and that the drop would be fast and blind. The barrel would wrap him up in an instant and if he didn’t get an edge in fast and drive hard, he
wouldn’t have the speed to make it out. These thoughts were like breathing to Racca. These were the thoughts that raced through his mind as he lay in his bed at night, they haunted his dreams and they were with him when he woke up. With the ocean as his teacher Racca had grown up fast. The power of the ocean couldn’t be denied like so many parents and teachers. Racca always took the biggest waves, he would sit the deepest and take off the latest. Thoughts of the punishing rocky slab left his mates hesitating, while he’d be deep in the pit, kicking spray into their adoring faces, arching high and shredding the smooth lines of the lip. Between sets he would sit motionless at the head of the lineup. His band of lost brothers looking up to him, his gaze fixed beyond the horizon.
Racca had clambered down the steep cliff a thousand times, but this time he’d smashed his way down. Kicking at the rocks and tearing over the grass and roots. Down on the slab of rock his heart was pounding hard into his chest, his feet were scraped and bloody. He ran his hand over his face, wiping away a mix of sweat and snot and tears. He could hear his mates shouting at him from above. “Oi Rack, it ‘aint worth it!”; “Fuckin’ wait-up shit-ead!”; “I’m comin’ bro!”. His body was a throbbing mass of anxious muscle and burning flesh. His legs were shaking and his fist was wrapped hard around the rail of his board, he could feel the thin fiberglass giving way under his fingers.
“Fuck it, fuck it all!” he muttered under his breath. He dropped his board onto the rocks, it fell with a sickening thud and a dull crack. He cursed his board-shorts when he realised he should’ve put his wetty on at the car. “Fuck it!” he mumbled out to the distant horizon through clenched teeth. Kicking his boardies off, he held his wetsuit open and balanced to push his leg through. Bending down his eyes were filled with tears from the spray coming off the waves. He pulled and cursed at the neoprene, “Fuckin’ come on!” The tight material wouldn’t give and he yanked harshly at it, he lost his balance and stumbled sideways, falling onto the rocks.
He lay there, on his side, with his two feet twisted in his wetty. He let his head roll into the puddles that had formed in the rocks. A soft mist of salt spray rained down on him. His bare body was heaving and his eyes were welling up with tears. A sob bubbled through his lips as he lay motionless. Minutes passed as the waves continued to pound the cliffs. His tears mixing with the drops of spray that rained over him. Eventually he rose to his feet and carefully pulled his wetsuit around his shivering body - he felt numb. So many thoughts swirled around inside his head, he shook it from side to side and salty water sprayed from his hair. His vision was blurry and water dripped down his face. He
couldn’t rationalise what was going through his head. Every thought brought pain, the confusion led to frustration. So he let them go all at once and cast his eyes out to the noisy, grey ocean in front of him. ———— The night had started like so many before. Knock off work, straight to the pub; the usual suspects milling around the bar. A hail of welcoming abuse as he approached, a schooner thrust into his hand. He rarely got to the bottom of his glass before another was put in front of him; and he never neglected to hurry the boys up when it was his turn to buy a round. The beer was comfortingly constant, always cold, always within reach. Racca could rely on beer, to help him laugh with his mates, to fill him when he was empty.
He’d seen his Dad sitting with his mates in their corner of the pool room. He’d nodded acknowledgement but had been ignored. Another schooner and the arguments got louder but didn’t diverge from the usual spectrum of girls, footy and the surf. “No shit, the swell’s comin’, it’s gonna be off the charts!”, “So does that mean you’ll be stayin’ at home?”, “Hahaha”, “Yeah screw you all. I’m gonna get shacked off my tits! It’s gonna be all-time,” Racca sat perched on a stool looking into the froth in the bottom of his schooner. His eyes were locked into the glass and nothing seemed to exist outside it. He felt a sense of calm in the abstract patterns of the beer dregs, they were chaotic, but orderly in the way they were contained within the smooth edges. His eyes squinted and pushed to look deeper, to immerse themselves completely in the simple confines of the flawless void. A slap on the back made him drop the glass; his vision shattered, along with the glass on the tiled floor. He looked around with a dazed expression to see his father, “Shit son, how many’ve you had?” “Um… what?” stammered Racca. “Aren’t you gonna say hello to your mother?” Racca hadn’t even noticed his mum. She was cowering under her husband’s arm. “Hi mum,” said Racca. He leant over and kissed her on the cheek but as he pulled away he noticed the bluish tinge of a receding bruise on her cheekbone, it wasn’t the first time he’d seen such a blemish, but it twisted the pit of his stomach none-the-less. “You boys don’t know how to handle your piss do ya!” boomed Racca’s dad before he strode away, his wife in tow. Racca swung back around to face his mates, they’d already resumed their hum of banter, Racca remained silent. He felt a familiar fiery angst begin to simmer inside him. His cowardice ate at him and that in turn fed his frustration at seeing it all so clearly.
He looked down at his hand as he felt it form into a tight fist. The simmer began to boil. He felt like smashing another schooner, a thousand schooners, into all the smug faces of these self-satisfied losers. His fingernails dug into his palm. I’m better than all these bastards, I’ll smash ‘em all! The rage seethed, but he had no energy left. He slid off his stool and walked out of the pub into the thick night air. He could smell a change of pressure as a salty gust of wind whipped passed him and flicked his fringe over his eyes. He didn’t know where he was going and he didn’t know that that would be the last time he’d see his mother alive. ———— The storm far offshore had been sending waves into the coast all night. There was frothy white-wash spraying far above the high tide line. The rocky outcrop that he’d normally jump off was submerged as deafening surges lunged towards him. On days calmer than this he would have spent half an hour studying the swell, timing the sets and trying to gauge the mood of the sea. But today he didn’t wait, he darted across the slippery rocks as one of the bigger waves receded. He stopped dead, for a moment, in tense readiness as another wave built to slam against the shore. The white wash surged towards him and as it engulfed the rocks at his feet he pounced with his board held in front of him. He clambered with thrashing arms and let the flow carry him out, over the rocks and into the seething mass. His eyes were darting across the horizon, trying to get a sense of this most ferocious of swells. Sets of four or five waves were constantly threatening to engulf him in a maelstrom of froth and foam. He thumped the water with the butt of his fist. Surges of anxious pain twinged through his body as thoughts of his mother’s fragile body, twisted in agony, flashed into his mind. He was desperate for a wave, a big one.
There was irony in his lust for so much power. There was respect but there was desperation. Today his eyes burned red and his teeth were grinding. The flurried paddle had set his heart pumping and the icy wind bit at his face. The shifting peak of the wave was making it near impossible to find the right take-off position. Looking back across at the reef he could see a sprinkling of colour on the rocks. No-one had followed him out. Racca’s fists clenched the rail of his board as he was hit by visions of his mother’s body being flung around the cars interior. ———— He’d gotten to the crash site after receiving the call. The pile of smoking, twisted metal didn’t shock him; his fathers lacerated arm hanging out of the door didn’t faze him, but when he saw a red smear, lipstick smudged on the inside of the windscreen, he broke down, dropping to his knees, his hulking frame twitching. ———— Racca was paddling furiously, pounding the water and shifting ceaselessly. A peak rose to his right and he kicked savagely to get in front of it, he slapped the water in a cloud of spray; but he was too late. He twisted and paddled back out. His heart was beating through every limb and nerve. The fire of anger seethed but the frustration was dull, his ferocious paddling only made him more desperate. He looked up at the next wave, a solid one. As it snarled towards him his eyes opened even wider, he swung around to point his board back at the reef and drove his hands through the water. His nostrils flared, he paddled faster without a hint of hesitation. The wave filled in under him and threatened to pitch him forward. It was the burst of energy he’d been waiting for but the height of the wall opening up below him made him gasp. He popped his hands off his board, his feet snapped under his body and for a moment he felt weightless, his board feathering under him as he dropped towards the bottom of the wave. He could neither see nor feel his board, but he knew it was there. The instant his feet met the board he dropped his body weight into his thighs and with gritted teeth he soaked up the power of the tonnes of water rising up next to him. He carved a line across the face, 8 – 10
foot at least, in a well rehearsed bottomturn. His feverish grin stretched wider but it turned to a grimace as he looked up to see the wall building steeply, far-out in front of him. In a momentary glance his wild eyes traced the line that would be his only means of escape; it seemed at once impossible and inevitable. He would need to drive hard with his thighs and push his fins against the force of the wave to build speed and flee what was easily the most powerful wave he’d ever ridden. Instead, he looked straight up the face, his board followed and he was whipped upwards, his board was vertical as a tombstone, and his body near horizontal. The clenching fist of the wave now had him, it was trying to engulf him; but with a maniacal grin he answered it with an explosion of all the anger, aggression and desperation that filled his body. Every inch formed into a tight spring that he unleashed on the lip of the wave. It began with a twist of his head over his left shoulder, a cursory dismissal. His shoulders followed and, as his torso twisted savagely, the weight of a fearless disregard burst from his heels and erupted through his board, his fins cut like an axe and ripped a gaping slash across the wave. The tail of his board flicked high and in an instant he was powering back down the face. With the scarred veneer of the wave dissolving into a mountain of white water, Racca drove forward with desperation throbbing out of every pore. He sucked in the force of the wave and channelled it back out through the base of his board, its electric power felt like it would rip him apart, but he only pushed it harder, lusting for release. The edge was so close and a perverse curiosity pushed him closer. He knew it was this drive that was needed to survive this wave, a lunatic emotion of answering a power that didn’t give a shit about his fickle inner turmoil. He carved higher along the wave and could see the wall getting steeper. Soon it would wrap him up in a savage embrace. His feet would weave the board at just the right amplitude and he would be completely absorbed by the screaming water and ludicrous physics of a gaping barrel. He watched the lip lunge over his head. He heard his fathers cackling laugh in the wave that was exploding behind him. The speed was ludicrous, thinking was too slow, it was instinct, reflexes and surrender. He felt numb, it was so simple. CW
R E D E M P TIO N
Words by Jamie Rynd
az bumped his head coming out backwards from under the house. Covered in cobwebs and gripped in his sausage sized fingers was an old surfboard. Baz straightened up and laid the dusty board out onto the sloping kikuyu lawn. Jeez, it’d been a while. There was still old wax clinging to the fibreglass, dark and hard, but the board looked good, considering its long purgatory under the house. “You’ve Barry?”
“Yeah Mum, I have” “No-one’s touched still alright?”
“Yeah it is Mum”. “Y’want a cuppa?” “Sure, thanks Mum.” Sitting out in the sunshine, toasting his legs, Baz looked out over the sea. Jeez, but how colourful it was. The dark chocolate brown rocks around the headland, the small path surrounded by riots of morning glory and lantana, and the sea itself sparkling in green and blue. It seemed like he’d been away for so long that the beach was making up for lost time, pulling out all the stops and glorifying in its display. Had it always been so nice?
“It’s a nice day.” “Yeah it is.” “Here’s your tea.” Taking short sips, Baz felt the salt and sea smells of the north-easterly against his face. It’d always been the smell of summer the nor-easter, blowing the warmth down from Queensland and the salt from the ocean. It’s the surfer’s wind too, making clean waves, and all the North ends of the beaches break so nice. Baz took in the view; his eyes clear as he looked into the past. Goin’ down the surfer’s path with Mick and Jackie, feeling the energy of the waves far off from the beach. The water was always darker and cooler near the point, and the sounds of the shore almost completely disappeared. Baz drained the dregs of the tea and walked out over the lawn. The sun had warmed up the surf wax nicely. He did a small dash over to the back steps to pick up a new block of wax and a comb, surprising himself by the grommet enthusiasm he had for the task. Kneeling down, he scraped away in broad strokes the old, dark wax. Cleared of the grime the board looked as it had ten years ago. Baz picked up a new block, and pushed the wax in circular scrapes, trying to make the little bumps that make the surface the grippiest.
Heâ€™d always loved the smell of surf wax. As a kid he used to keep some in his clothes drawer, so that he could smell it all the time. Maybe he shouldâ€™ve taken some inside with him to make his memories clearer. For the first year memories were the last thing he wanted. The blankness of the walls and the faces had helped him, both numbing him and driving him crazy at the same time.
always tell a surfer by the tan lines. The sunbathers would be coloured all over, but surfers had a white line where they attached their leg ropes. He looked at his own legs. They still had bumps just above the toes, where his feet hit the board as he was standing up. Jackie used to say that they looked like tumours, but Baz had always been a bit proud of them, as if surfing had given him something permanent binding them together.
Ten years inside though had faded his skin. When he was younger you could
On the inside everyone used to get tattoos to show where they came from.
Baz liked to think that the bumps on his feet were given to him, to remind him of what he was. With a stubby forefinger, Baz rubbed the sun cream on his nose, then his bottom lip. He took off his shirt and walked out the door down the back step and picked up the board again, feeling its weight under his arm. Through a tangled snarl of lantana, Baz threaded his way to the edge of the cliff. It always used to be his secret path, in that it ran steeply from his
backyard down the steep cliffs and onto the crinkled slabs of sandstone at the bottom. Heâ€™d had half an idea that nobody had used it but him, Mick and Jackie gone. You sorta had to watch yourself, as it was pretty steep, and if you lost your footing you would fall down to the rocks. It had always made it more exciting, especially in the rain and bluster of the southerly wind. Reaching the bottom, Baz bent over to attach his leg rope and stepped carefully over the seaweed and cungii covered rocks.
The wind had made the waves crumbly but they were breaking along the point in long green lines, spitting as they hissed past the rocks and spanned out towards the beach. Whipped foam and spray fizzed around him as Baz leaped over the back of a wave and paddled out quickly, the strong current sweeping him wide off the rocky point. The coolness of the water and the energy of the surf passed through him and pulled through his body, as if to strip the guilt and depression of his
inside-time, breathing life into him again. Coming up from the his first duck dive Baz felt himself laughing, completely natural and spontaneous for the first time in ten years. He stroked out a bit further to the deep water just around the point. They’d used to call it “shark alley” and Mick’s brother once caught a wobbegong just off the rocks there, adding to its reputation. The waves hit here first and you could get tubed before the wave slowed down and fanned into the beach.
Three young groms were sitting out the back, made identical by the bright of the sun, with white hair and shining skin. Baz sat in a little way from them, his body buzzed with feeling, his eyes bright and blinking rapidly as they took in the vivid colours of the sea.
wave beneath him, and felt his body rise up, his feet hitting the board. Baz looked down, as the water drained off the rocks, and felt the board accelerate down the face, slicing off the bottom and buzzing as it found its line on the wave.
The first dark lines of the set appeared and the groms squawked as they paddled out looking for the takeoff position. Watching a wave slip past them, Baz stroked towards the inside. He kicked as he felt the surge of the
As the wave swept into the bay Baz stalled and swooped, riding with an old insouciant skill, untainted by absence. A yell came to his lips as he pulled off casually down the line. Baz looked out at the world and saw redemption. CW
CW Crying Wolf 03 coming soon exile, expatriots and existentialism