Also by Don Winslow
—Nick Hernandez, Common Sense, “Sugar in My Cup”
See “flatter than.”
Like the ocean this August morning in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California.
As the Dawn Patrol gives way to the Gentlemen’s Hour.
Earth, air, fire, and water.
The four elements, right?
Let’s let air go for a minute—except in LA, it’s pretty much a given. Fire’s not the topic either—for now, anyway.
Leaving earth and water.
They have more in common than you’d think.
For example, they can both look static on the surface, but there’s always something going on underneath. Like water, earth is always moving. You can’t necessarily see it, you might not feel it, but it’s happening anyway. Beneath our feet, tectonic plates are shifting, faults are widening, quakes are tuning up to rock and roll.
So that dirt we’re standing on, “solid ground”?
It’s moving beneath us.
Taking us for a ride.
Face it—whether we know it or not, we’re all always surfing.
Boone Daniels lies face up on his board like it’s an inflatable mattress in a swimming pool.
He’s half asleep. The sun that warms his closed eyes is already burning off the marine layer relatively early in the morning. He’s out there as usual with the Dawn Patrol—Dave the Love God, High Tide, Johnny Banzai, Hang Twelve—even though there’s no surf to speak of and nothing to do except talk story. The only regular not present for duty is Sunny Day, who’s in Oz on the Women’s Professional Surfing Tour and also making a video for Quiksilver.
It’s boring—the torpid dog days of late summer, when Pacific Beach is overrun with tourists, when most of the locies have basically sung “See you in September,” and the ocean itself can’t work up the energy to produce a wave.
“Kansas,” Hang Twelve complains.
Hang Twelve, thusly glossed because he has a dozen toes—fortunately six on each foot—is the junior member of the Dawn Patrol, a lost pup that Boone took under his arm when the kid was about thirteen. White as a Republican National Committee meeting, he sports Rastafarian dreadlocks and a red retro-beatnik goatee, and despite or perhaps because of his parents’ many acid trips, he’s an idiot savant with a computer.
“Have you ever been to Kansas?” Johnny Banzai asks, sounding a little aggro. He doubts that Hang has ever been east of Interstate 5.
“No,” Hang answers. He’s never been east of Interstate 5. “Then how do you know?” Johnny presses, in full- on interrogator mode now. “For all you know, Kansas could be covered with mountain ranges. Like the Alps.”
“I know there’s no surf in Kansas,” Hang Twelve says stubbornly, because he’s almost certain there’s no ocean in Kansas, unless maybe it’s the Atlantic, in which case there’s probably no surf either.
“There’s no surf in San Dog,” Boone offers. “Not today, anyway.”
Dave, lying on his stomach, lifts his head off the board and pukes into the water. Again. Boone and Dave have been boys since elementary school, so Boone has seen Dave hung over many, many times, but not quite like this.
Last night was “Mai Tai Tuesday” at The Sundowner.
“You gonna live?” Boone asks him.
“Not enthusiastically,” Dave answers.
“I’ll kill you if you want,” High Tide offers, propping up his big head on one big fist. The origin of the 375- pound Samoan’s nickname is obvious—he gets into the ocean, the water level rises; he gets out, it falls. Simple displacement physics. “Something to do, anyway.”
Johnny Banzai is all over it. “How? How should we kill Dave?”