Submit your original drafts to stanley's
Excerpts of a mystery novella by Greg Goodwin
Stanley's isn't anymore. Both the seaside steak house named
Stanley's and the beach in front of it are gone. The concrete
tunnel under Highway 101 from the beach to the oilfields.is
gone. Now there is the usual eight-lane highway and a stone
seawall set out too far in the Pacific for the waves to break.
The round swells hump into the seawall, aborted, denied from
rolling into those green transparent tents that threw themselves
into themselves, to die on the sand like perfect martyrs in
the sun of the summer on the coast between Ventura and Santa
Orange groves turn into tracts of houses, green hills become
condo complexes, a row of Victorian houses by the beach becomes
a Holiday Inn, movie theaters become churches, small town downtowns
become shopping malls. And surf spots disappear. There's nothing
left, no physical evidence, only memory which says this was
not always this way, and when it was different, this happened
Stoned At Stanley's
What happened there started with Stanley's at its best--a hot,
white-bright summer day, a bitchin', out-of-sight day. Bobby
had scored a kilo of Mexican grass the day before and came to
Stanley's with the pockets of his navy blue nylon jacket full
of weed, dropping fistfuls into our hands as he cruised the
dirt parking lot like psychedelic royalty dispensing favors.
The tunnel under the highway leading from the beach to the
oil fields was the place. Crawl in from the white light of the
beach, into a world of cool, of grey damp half-light, with the
cars hissing just above your head, while you sat wrapped in
the concrete quiet, slowly getting stoned, slowly becoming aware
of everything around you, as the world moved closer to your
eyes, as your thoughts turned visible, as you looked at your
friends, smiling, falling into their eyes changing, turning
into genuine palpable stonedness, and the cars just above your
head, big American cars full of families on vacation, full of
white bread healthiness, white rice blandness, baked potato
brawn, orange juice vitality, cornfed confidence, red meat assurance,
full of post-war prosperity, while other guys sat getting stoned
in Vietnam, in the jungles, in the Saigon bars, on the white
sand beaches, before they went out to kill and be killed, while
the world turned, while the bombs fell, while the waves curled,
the fish swam, while the bullets flew, the mine sweepers swept,
the oil wells pumped, while the joint passes, shortening, burning
your fingers as you pass it, burning your throat as you smoke
it. Suddenly nothing but quiet, just heart beating, blood pumping,
the world inside running like an electric city, a universe of
skin, muscle and blood, neurons and synapses, all silently flashing
into thick halos of body revolving around something invisible,
flesh on the bone all hanging on the light behind your eyes,
all hanging on whatever it is that starts the heart, keeps it
beating and leaves when it ceases--the only true equality, the
democracy of death making us all lost children under strange
skies. Then crawling back from the tunnel, slowly, the light
getting brighter and lighter, until you crawl into the bleached
white ordinary sunlight, the carnival of voices on the beach,
the roar of the waves, the sun on your skin, the hot sand burning
your feet, the colors of bikinis, towels and trunks, the green
waves pouring in, and suddenly you were there, alive, well and
stoned at Stanley's.
Surfing At Stanley's
The day before had been unbelievable. No wind, in the 80's,
waves four to six feet, perfectly shaped, designed by the aquatic
engineers of Paradise, sent from some salt water Olympus beyond
the off-shore rigs behind them, the wells pumping on the other
side of the highway, all morning, all day, the waves pumping,
the wells pumping, nature pushing, wells pulling, we riding
into the afternoon, the sun backlighting each wave as the crowds
thinned and it was just me and Bobby having Stanley's all to
ourselves, until it was so glassy, green, gorgeous and alone
that we let beautiful, delicious waves go by, leaning back on
our boards and bowing to the sea with a "no thank you"
to waves we would have fought for in a crowd, but now let go,
like hunters sparing wild animals we had tracked for days, sitting
and watching the waves break in their exotic, transparent ritual
of sacrifice, unfolding, unmarred, pristine, throwing up steam
and spray as they collapsed into the sand, the sun setting at
our backs, the red sun dropping and cooling into the water,
while Stanley's was etching memory, changing blood.
Twilight At Stanley's
Twilight, peach sky, oil-rigs black on the horizon, waves translucent,
Bobby the only one out, black shape dropping in, ripping the
wave in his busy, hyperactive style, never staying still, riding,
dominating the wave's shape and movement. He climbed up the
rocks into the dirt parking lot. He stood outside the car and
shivered. I handed him a cigarette.
"How did I look?"
"But how did I look?"
"You looked good, but not as good as the waves."
"Your "ride the wave, not the board," philosophy?"
"Yeah, you know, how can you perfect perfection?"
"I perfect it by being there, by realizing the moves in
"But they're your moves, not the wave's. The wave exists
whether you are there or not. Harmonize, don't dominate."
"Hippy surfboy talk. It doesn't matter, it's perfect right
"Then what I did is perfect too, and what I'm saying right
now is perfect, and these words, I don't know I'm going to say,
will be perfect. . .REFRIGERATOR, NORGE, POPSICLE, STICK, HAMMER
AND SICKLE, SURFERS OF THE WORLD THROW OFF YOUR CHAINS, YOU
HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR MINDS!"
The sun was gone, all was dark at sea save the lights on the
oil rigs, the glowing end of Bobby's smoke and the red neon
"Stanley's" on the black sky.
Contest At Stanley's
I don't know if it was the dope, the sun, Bobby's board, the
craziness of the night before, the acid I'd been taking, or
what, but it was the worst contest of my life. It was to be
my chance--if I did well, I would get free surfboards from a
local shop and be "riding" for them. This was a singular
honor, it would elevate my status immeasurably, and probably
get me a cute girl friend. But I had gotten ripped in the tunnel,
come out just before my heat, grabbed Bobby's board instead
of mine, told myself that competition was a human disease, that
it didn't matter who was the best, that the ocean was neutral,
that fun was the answer, harmony the goal, and I fell, laughing
off the nose of Bobby's blue board into cool green waves, having
a great time, losing my chance for free surfboards, cute girl
friends and elite surfer status. It seemed like a good idea
at the time.
It's part of a little mystery novella.