Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Brother the Fed

I went surfing today with the older of my two brothers. I haven't seen him in over a decade and, up until last month, hadn't spoken to him in at least five years.

We met outside a Carl Juniors south of San Clemente. It's a pretty well-known surf spot and the streets were filled with surfers on bikes, surfers with dogs, surfers sitting in cars, all porting boards of course. We weren't surfing there but heading to a more isolated beach further south, Trails, past the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

My brother was driving his brand new, government-issue black Suburban. It doesn't have license plates. Built into the back are two heavy steel cases with combination locks. When I got in, my brother had to take a clip of ammunition off my seat. Federal regulations state that he isn't supposed to carry passengers but we weren't going far.

The beach was down an arroyo between steep bluffs colored rust, orange and yellow. The shore break stirred small rocks back and forth. It sounded like a subway train passing when you're on the sidewalk.

The surf wasn't that steep, maybe 2-4 feet, but a strong breeze made it choppy. My brother had brought a long board for me because I hadn't been out in years. I got caught inside the surf line and pounded for a while. Still, it was good to be in water again.

One of the guys surfing with us claimed he saw a big shark. There had been great white sightings on the beach before. The park bulletin board even had a posting about it.

We huddled on the beach deciding what to do.

Ah, my brother said, It's probably down there by now.

He pointed to some other surfers a quarter mile down the beach.

We paddled back out together.

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