Saturday, November 19, 2011


Tom Sugerland sat on the sand watching the morning surf, drinking coffee out of the plastic cup from his thermos. The air was crisp, the sky sunny, it was a perfect November morning in Los Angeles. Tom was a man that could smell bullshit a mile away, but here he could only smell the salty sea air and his coffee. He was three months shy of fifty-nine; he hadn’t been out in the water with his board in over a year, not since busting his collarbone that day out in the surf. He missed it, but he figured that his time on the board was over, let the young guys and now gals, have their time on the beach. No need for an old man out there, getting in their way. It was ironic, that it was surfing that brought him from Sacramento to L.A., after watching all of those Frankie and Annette beach party movies, not to mention all those Beach Boys and Jan and Dean tunes that he used to listen to on his little plastic transistor radio. Putting his foot in the Pacific Ocean was the one thing that he’d promised himself he’d do, before he had to report to basic training in Fort Lewis, Washington, his last stop before Vietnam. And he spent all his money on a Greyhound bus ticket to do so. Funny as fate would have it, he barley set foot in South East Asia, when they pulled the plug on the whole damn mess. Not that he complained about it. When he returned to the States, he only went back to Sacramento to tell his family he was moving down to L.A. to be a surfer.

Tom squinted as the morning sun became brighter, he finished his last sip of coffee and screwed the cup on top of the thermos bottle and stood up. He was a rangy looking fellow, and his once dark hair, had gone from a pepper to now almost a snow white. It was so long; he often kept it in a samurai-style pony-tail. Tom walked back to his Chevy S 10 pickup; it looked empty and incomplete without a surfboard laying in the back. As Tom walked around the front of his truck, he notice parking ticket slapped on his windshield. “Damn it," he said. He stood there looking at it; fuming. Tom always tried not to sweat the small shit in life when possible. But something about parking tickets got his goat, made him rage in fact. To cool down his anger, he figured that the sixty-eight dollar fine, was just somehow the price that he had to pay for such perfect November weather. He remembered when beach living was casual and cheap, a thing of the past like those old cowboy movies he loved. But he was still mad at himself, for letting them get him again. “Damn, like I have sixty-eight dollars to throw away right now.” Tom took the ticket and stuffed in his glove box, then got in his pickup and started it. As he drove down Pacific Avenue,
He turned on the radio and pressed his programmed station buttons to find the proper tune that would momentarily take away the sting he felt from that parking ticket . Tom found it in “Spirit in the Sky," a song about Jesus, sung by a guy with an incredibly Jewish sounding name; Norman Greenbaum… he laughed to himself, as he wondered; what was with that?  Jewish name or not, that was cool with Tom. He felt he could use a friend in Jesus anyway; it couldn’t hurt, he figured.

It had been a year since his injury, which started the domino effect in his life; him losing his job as a tow-truck driver. He was pretty broke these days, but broke was better than poor… broke was temporary, but poor to Tom was something else all together.

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