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Chapter One: An Introduction

        He had little time.

        “I just need the most recent edition.”

        “Yeah, number ten fifty?”

        “No, I got that one last week, remember?”

        “Oh, right. Have we got fifty-one? I haven’t seen it yet.”

        “It should have come today. See that package by the door? Look inside there.”

        “Whatever you say, boss.”

        “How long have you been working here, Larry?”

        “Last Monday was my first day in here.”

        “Well, you can expect Physics Digest every Friday, at around three. And, you can expect me here about an hour later.”

        “Hey, what do you know? We do got it.”

        “What’d I tell you? Wowzers! that’s a radical photograph on the cover. Do you see this? This is a fly’s eyeball, up close. That’s gotta be thousands of magnifications.”

        “Sure, that’s alright. You got some money for it? It’s two twenty-five. A stick of gum as well? Out of three? Here you are.”

        “Keep up the good work, Larry.”

        “I see you’ve got a board in the truck. I should let you know that the report says there are no waves today.”

        “No waves? You can’t trust the report, you know. Was there any sign of a swell on the report yesterday? No, sir. But, guess who got drained in the cove when everybody else was was trekking to Pismo!”

        “I’ll see you next week, Mr Steak. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

        Ivan left Kelly’s General Store and lept into Faithful Rusty with determination. Soon, the white truck sped along Highway One. Ivan thought highly of this drive. How many times he had made this drive in the last month alone he didn’t know. Family-owned pizza parlors and local banks and little gas stations lined the west-bound road towards Morro Bay. The dense forestry coating the volcanic hills in the distance slowly faded into the periphery of Ivan’s imagination as he considered his life. He thought he was doing quite well for being only a senior in high school. He’d won several local surf competitions in the last year alone, establishing himself as a surfer of reckoning, at least in the local circuit. However, Ivan could leave surfing and find success in the world of science. Heading up the space-science club at school this year was proof to himself and everyone who knew him that he was certainly not merely a surf rat. He knew his parents were proud of him and that his friends supported him. He trusted that his career as a surfer would begin inevitably and that his part-time restaurant job would terminate along with his last year of high school. If that plan didn’t work out, he knew some people that could get him into a high-paying gig at a telescope up the coast. He would stay near the ocean. That was the priority. He could work anywhere as long as the ocean was near enough to sustain him.

        The One has an intersection with San Bernardo Creek Road, about ten minutes from Morro Bay. San Bernardo goes from North to South, and nobody takes the route unless he’s a local farmer or a drug dealer or vagabond needing a hide-out. As Ivan approached the light hanging above the highway, he noticed a beautiful shamrock-colored van screech to a stop about a hundred yards ahead. He was about to pass by when the green light became a red one. Faithful Rusty stopped a few feet past the yellow line on the road and then the van resumed its route along San Bernardo. Carrying a roof-top tent and a fire-engine-red-colored bicycle, the van scuttled along just a few feet from Ivan’s truck. The thing was definitely older than the driver, who sat inside with a gloomy face and a deflated countenance. The man did not look at Ivan, but his passing by left an impression on him. At the time, Ivan was unsure what prompted him to believe that this encounter was important, but the incident would eventually prove to be the beginning of a never-ending chain of events. Ivan’s thoughts returned to the ocean when the traffic light changed to green and the van had disappeared from view.

                 

~

                 

        Despite his distance from Baker, Nevada, Peter’s thoughts were fixated on the home he had left behind. With every turn in the winding road, he was reminded of the mess he had caused on his way out and the reason for his bruised shoulder. The right humerus itself was stamped by the impact, causing what doctors call hematoma. But, it was nothing more than a bruise, and the drive was too entertaining to be so sentimental. He laughed to himself when he passed by some cows. The three of them were huddled up beside a picket fence, centered around the last patch of long grass remained in a quiet field beside the highway. Sunset colors blanketed the coast for miles on end. Was San Luis Obisbo always infused with such majesty?

        From behind the wheel of the van, Peter spoke quietly, “Master, Your creation is beautiful. I do not yet understand why You are sending me here, but I am captivated by these hills. If You ask me to stay here until You come back, I would be content. But, I will be content wherever You take me. Give me instruction and I will follow. I trust You.”

                 

~

                 

        The sun was resting hesitantly upon Morro Rock, painting the vast expanse with silver and purple hues. The bay was rather quiet for a Friday afternoon. Some fishermen lingered upon the sunburned blocks that lined the harbor’s perimeter, while the boat-dwellers dropped their lines from their respective decks. There were no surfers to be seen.

        Faithful Rusty slid into a dusty lot within the shifting circumference of Morro Rock’s blacking shadow. The crisp afternoon sea breeze called for a four-three wetsuit, so Ivan scooped up his Incandium rubber and changed out of his black pants and black hoodie. Soon, a tall man with white-hair approached from the beach access. He wore a large red jacket and wool gloves. He seemed tired and was likely hungry. Ivan grabbed an apple from the glove-box of his truck and walked towards the man. He had certainly seen him here before.

        “Hello, sir. How are you? Would you like an apple?”

        “Eh, boy! Yes, that would be splendid. Thank you kindly.”

        “Sure, you got a place to stay tonight?”

        “Well, you know, I’ve got my tent set up over there under that tree there. What are you doing in a wetsuit? Are you surfing this evening?”

        “Yes, I’m about to paddle out.”

        “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the swell has faded away.”

        “I’m sure I’ll find something out there.”

        The man shrugged and said thank you again. Ivan bid him farewell.

        The water was unusually frigid. The kelp strands that stretched their bubbly nodes across the foamy surface reminded Ivan of electrical wire from his Chemistry lab the day before. A girl was heard crying in the parking lot. “Probably tourists,” Ivan thought, curling his eyebrows. The pyramidal stone of mossy granite was still illumined by the fading sun on its westward facing side. A falcon stood motionless upon a branch of a crooked tree. Ivan soon realized that he was not going to catch any waves on this particular November evening. He drifted through the choppy flat and muttered things to himself. He had been at school for hours that day, and he had unwisely believed that surfing would be an anecdote to his weariness. Unfortunately, Ivan ignored all the indications that could have prevented his disappointment. After a chilling fifteen minutes in the unruly Pacific, Ivan left behind the towering rock and its white-haired captive and the darkening colors of silver and the purple. As he drove away, he heard the bum yell something. It was difficult to hear over the sound of jittery engine-noises, but he made out the phrase, “to appease a sea god.”