The sky is now bluer than my skin feels in the early morning chill. The sand crunches cool and coarse between my toes as we near the ocean's edge. My heart starts to pound in my throat when I spy a fisherman in hip waders casting his line very close to the scene of our intended crime. My collaborator is walking ahead of me; I know he's eager to complete our misdeed just to get it over with. He looks calm on the outside, and it is impossible to read his thoughts when my own are in a state of paranoia. Maybe, like me, he is hearing the voice that both chides and encourages. We distance ourselves from the parking lot. Our idle saunter becomes a march -- left, right, left, right, look natural, breathe, exhale, breathe, exhale. You can do this.
"Why the hell are you two so nervous? When I had nerves, I’d do something really ordinary to calm myself down. Take a leak behind a tree, or skip a rock in the water. That jackass isn't looking at you. Hell, he's thinking about getting caught for fishing without a license."
My partner and I exchange a questioning look, neither wanting to say out loud that we're hearing voices in our heads. Eyes unlock, and we see our goal just ahead.Our pace is now much faster, and we scramble to the top of an ocean-scarred rock overlooking a small cove, a perfect spot for our transgression.We notice that old fisherman is still moving in our direction. Oblivious, this "Old man and the Sea", Santiago character, keeps casting out and reeling in, a white cigarette dangling from his dark lips. He inches slowly, interminably up the beach, never catching any Big Fish. He passes below our rock and his long pole flicks in backswing, the lure on his line almost hitting my head. I duck, and yell "Hey man, watch out!" but Santiago ignores me and keeps casting and reeling as if he is alone in the universe. I feel fortunate not to be his catch.
"Hey, almost caught the big one! Man alive… I sure wish I could get a drag of that cigarette. I can taste it right now. Move closer. Maybe I can get a good whiff. Aw hell … forget it. Damn shame that they really are cancer sticks."
After an eternity of hearing the surf beat its rhythmic cadence against our rock and impatiently watching the shadows grow shorter and shorter, Santiago finally moves up the beach around the jutting cliff and out of sight. His rhythmic movements and the repetitive, random sounds of the crashing waves put us in a hypnotic state. We continue now, fully merged with the landscape. In this twisted Hemingway story my cohort-in-crime becomes Santiago's devoted boy servant Manolin and he tenderly removes a plastic bag from his jacket pocket. Nervously glancing side to side and muttering words that only he can hear... he opens the bag and tosses the contents into the ocean below. Instantly a divinely comic breeze blows the contents upwards. We shut our eyes and close our mouths as we are baptized in a light dusting of ashes. The Hemingway part of our story abruptly ends and we are now actors in "The Big Lebowski" where Walter and The Dude throw their best friend's ashes into the ocean. We look at each other and begin to laugh; mainly from relief of not being caught, but also because we look funny standing on a wind torn cliff covered in ash. When the realization of whose ashes we're wearing sinks in our laughter hits a maniacal pitch.
"Ha! Now that's the way to go! Where’s a damn camera when you need one?
"That's one photo that'll never be in the family album!"
" Now, then. You two middle-aged delinquents ought to remember that you only have one life to live, so make the most of it, dammit!"