"There is a tratoria on the way to Uluwatu. Is that how you say in English, tratoria? Yes, there is a tratoria on the way to Uluwatu. You know it?” Just passed the tratoria, Uluwatu. Photo: Trevor Murphy

The Inertia

“It has been two weeks since I’ve been laid. Wait, let me see.” There is silence while Raphael counts with his fingers. Just the sound of ocean and air.

“Yes, two weeks. In Madrid. She was amazing. Not the best. I cannot say the best, because I’ve had the best and well, um, she was not the best. But close. Very, very close.”

We eat noodle soup with tired bodies. Sore muscles and relieved. No one says it, but we were scared out there.

“You know, here, I do not eat any meat. I am like a vegetable. No meat. But soon. Soon I will have to have some meat. Soon or my body will kill me. There is a tratoria on the way to Uluwatu. Is that how you say in English, tratoria? Yes, there is a tratoria on the way to Uluwatu. You know it?”


“On the left side of the road going there?”

“Yes. That is right. Tomorrow I will count my money and maybe go there if there is enough money. But not for a pizza. No pizza. For some pasta. Oh, what I would love for some pasta, some macaroni pasta. Ahhh, yes. Some spaghetti bolognasia!”

We eat in silence. The soup is hot. With a lot of hot sauce it tastes like a delicacy. Filling the body. The body is starved. Dry. Done. The sun is already down. In winter it becomes dark so early. The night opens up, a mystery, but nothing of mention, no plans, no one ever plans here. The tide is out and the beach is quiet. In a few warungs along the shore there is music and dim lights. The sound of German and French being spoken. The laughing local boys full and honest. A woman’s voice. A chime. The waves sound smaller. Today was enough.

“What is enough for you then, huh boy?” Raphael asks.

A brief memory. A giant shadow along the horizon. Blocking out the span of earth. Is this death marching towards me on the horizon? Will this truly be the end of it all? The body cannot handle millions of tons of water like this. You paddle for the outside with everything you have. Your life is in the balance, you think. If you keep thinking you will have less strength. If you have less strength you will not make it over the horizon. There is nothing to worry about. That is the mantra; of course everything is going to be okay.

Along the top of the cliffs, single girls and engaged women wait and watch their boyfriends and muscular men in the water as the sun drops. The waves look bigger from up here. On the water’s surface there is less perspective. The bay is being torn apart by waves and rips and white water. The ocean is furious. Long rows of foam erupt along the outer reef. The blonde kid with a colorfully painted surfboard is taking all the waves and making it look easy. You remember that. A tiny ball wrapped inside a barrel of water speeding down the line. Guys are getting washed up and destroyed on the inside.

“It is the food that I miss the most,” Raphael says. “Yes. The food. In my country we have great food. Like in Italy they have great Italian food, and in France they have great French food, and in Germany they have sausage. In my country we have great food. What do you have in America that is American food?

“Maybe hamburgers,” I answer. “French fries. But those are from Belgium, aren’t they?”

“Right. So you have every kind of food but none of your own. Very strange.”

We eat our spicy noodle soup and think about waves and girls and food. The food tastes very good and immediately the body takes it all in. The small village is already silent and half asleep. There are probably stars out, but we are under a thatched roof and can see out to the sea but not above. On the lower horizon there are no stars. Too tired to move.

“Today I went to the beach to look at girls,” he continues. “I don’t know what it is but I am very horny. It has been two weeks, but here I feel it, you know? Like a bomb inside of me. So I went to the beach and just looked at the girls. And my sunglasses are pulled down like this, so no one can see me. Ha!  Such a pervert, right? But they are so beautiful there at this beach. Oh my, what a beach.”

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