Photo: Ashton Politanoff

The Inertia

The wind swell is small but peaky. I’m sitting next to Brock, waiting for the next nugget. Another surfer is near. He appears to be a friend of Brock’s. I don’t know his name. Brock has truck-wide shoulders, a bare shaved head, and a wall of tattoos. I’m not exactly scared of Brock, but I was at first, I admit. He’s dropped hints of his past, the trouble. I’ve surfed with him long enough now, even though I still find myself giving him waves to stay on his good side.

“Last night I was watering this little patch of front lawn I got,” Brock starts up. “And this bum walks over, whips it out, and starts pissing right in front of me on my grass.”

We eyeball Brock.

“I’m like, ‘Hey man, you’re pissing on my lawn.’”


We rise and fall over a passing wave, our boards now aimed at Brock. He speaks to the horizon, the ultimate audience.

“The bum’s like, ‘fuck you man, I don’t give a fuck.’”

“So what did you do?” I jump in, anticipating what I imagine to be Brock’s harbored violence finally finding a release.

“I stopped watering the plants and I hosed him right in the face. He was screaming up and down the street like I shot him and –”

Brock can’t go on. We’re all laughing. A slab of ocean hurls up and Brock turns around and launches cleanly into the wave. Later on, when I lift my face to the beach showerhead, I think of Brock and the bum that pissed on his lawn.

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