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Crisp 1

58 Country Squire

By: Trey Crisp

Alright, Mr. Romero, Im about to head home for the day. Is there anything else you
need me to do before I get out of here? Jeremy asked as he packed his whistle, sunscreen, and
towel into his bag and grabbed his shirt.

No, youre good to go Jeremy. And for the millionth time, call me Ed, Ed said as he
walked out of the pool office. Eduardo Romero surveyed the pool, making sure there werent any
towels or pool equipment left out. Ed knew he didnt have to though, it was just for show. It was
Jeremys third summer in a row working as a life guard for him at the San Clemente Public Pool
and Ed knew that Jeremy wouldnt leave without making sure everything was done perfectly.

Ok, Ed. Sorry, I just get nervous real easy, Jeremy said trying to be awkwardly funny.
Ed laughed in response. Jeremy waved goodbye and headed towards his bike. Jeremys long
slender form looked silly on his brown Schwinn bike but he rode it everywhere. His parents
wouldnt buy him a car unless he saved up enough money to pay for at least part of it, so hes
been working for the past two summers to save up money. Jeremy had just turned sixteen in
April and he hoped hed have enough money by the end of the summer to buy a car before the
start of his junior year.

As Jeremy took his usual route home from the pool, past Dannys Deli and the Akaw!
Surf Shop, he noticed something that particularly stood out to him in the parking lot of Akaw!
There was a bumper sticker on the back of a station wagon. Lifes a garden, dig it. The words
resonated inside of Jeremys head. The sticker was a deep coral color with black writing, before
Jeremy realized it, he was riding into the parking lot and stopped just behind the wagon. Jeremy
was staring at the back of the wagon intently, trying to calculate the probability that a bumper
sticker would have the same words that his brother, William, said to him before he got shipped to
Vietnam. Was it mere coincidence or was it something more? Fate? Destiny? Jeremy didnt know
but he did now that he was in love with the car.

Jeremy got off his bike and started to walk around the driver side of the wagon. Jeremy
moved slowly, cautiously, as if he was trying not to scare the wagon off. It was a pale blue 1958
Ford Country Squire station wagon with synthetic wood paneling along the sides. The paint on
the wagon had started to fade some and the synthetic wood was chipped in a few spots where the
wood met the metal but besides that, the wagon was in great condition. Honestly, the car
couldve been on blocks and Jeremy wouldnt have cared. He was in love. Jeremy ran his hands
over the side of the car and looked in the window. The leather was worn but still nice. There was
a wide longboard that sat over the back seat from the trunk of the wagon and a pair of fuzzy dice
on the rearview mirror the same color as the bumper sticker.

Jeremy took a risk and wrapped his hand around the handle of the driver side door. He
pushed the button in and with a click the door opened. Jeremys heart began to pound out of his
chest and he slid into the drivers seat. A wide, toothy smile spread across Jeremys face as he
felt the smooth polyurethane wood of the steering wheel against his hands. His heart fired on all
cylinders and his pulse began to race as he took in all that the wagon had to offer. He smelled the
wood from the dashboard and the leather from the seats, underneath that was a mixture of pot
and air freshener. Jeremy swatted the dice like a cat playing with a new toy and his smile
widened. He look at the passenger seat and on the floor board was a large brown paper bag, like
a grocery sack.

He reached for the bag and unrolled the top. Inside, Jeremy saw a large roll of $20 bills, a
gold trophy of a surf board, and a smaller brown paper bag rolled tightly. As Jeremy was about to
reach into the bag, he heard the door of the surf shop open. He re-rolled the large bag and threw
it on passenger floor board and jumped out of the car. Jeremy knew how this could look and was
upset with himself for being so reckless.

The man that came out of the shop was tall with lean muscle on his body. He had a smile
on his face, but it wasnt a friendly smile directed at anyone or a knowing smile. It was
lighthearted and seemed to have no meaning behind it. He had shoulder length, shaggy blonde
hair that was parted on the left. He had a thick mustache, the same color as his hair, and a thick
scruff on his face. He had mint green board shorts on with a white linen shirt that was only
buttoned up halfway and a pair of aviators covered his eyes from the bright California sun.

Jeremy was in awe of this stranger; he didnt seem to have a care in the world and just
looking at him made Jeremy feel more confident. Jeremy felt out of place in his white t-shirt and
his short red, life guard swim trunks. Jeremy was taller than the man, but then again, Jeremy was
taller than everyone. At sixteen he was already 63.
Crisp 3

The stranger, as if waking from a daydream, noticed there was a teenager standing next to
his car with the driver side door wide open. Jeremys heart dropped into his stomach and he
swallowed with the force of a tsunami. The mans smile went from meaningless to humorous and
the man started to laugh.

Whatre you doin man? The man asked Jeremy with a relaxed and even tone. There
wasnt a hint of malice in his voice.

I, uhh, Im sorry, sir! I didnt mean to go snooping. I just couldnt help but notice your
car and had to check it out. Its so cool! Jeremy was stumbling over his words and he was
embarrassed that he sounded like such a kid.

Whoa, whoa, relax brotha. Sall good man, he said while pushing his hair out of his
face. No need to get all excited, I dont think you were gonna steal anything.

I wasnt, I swear! I dont know what came over me! I just saw the bumper sticker and
couldnt control myself, Jeremy said looking at the ground. The man raised his eyebrows a bit.

The bumper sticker? You got a thing for vegetation themed musings on life? The man
smiled, he was giving Jeremy a hard time. Jeremy pushed his thick, horn-rimmed glasses up and
turned red.

Umm, it was, uhh, well, it was the last thing my brother said to me before he got shipped
to Vietnam, Jeremy said. He didnt normally share things like that with strangers but something
about the man made Jeremy feel okay. The man stood there for a moment, like he was letting
Jeremys statement swim in his head for a moment.

Well, man, I have to say, your brother must be one smart son of a bitch. Im Russell, by
the way. Whats your name, brotha? Russell asked him as he took off his sunglasses.

Im Jeremy, Jeremy Allen. Its nice to meet you. I really love your car, Jeremy said,
finally getting comfortable enough to smile.

Yeah brotha, you mentioned that. Thank you though, Russells smile had gone back to
that pointless smile that he was wearing originally.
Sorry, I get nervous real easy, Jeremy said with a half-hearted laugh. Are you from
around here?

Nah man, I just rolled into town, my sister lives around here and Im gonna hit the
waves and see what the towns got goin for the summer, Russell said as he closed the driver
side door and leaned against the car. Jeremy could tell from the emphasis on the end of sister that
Russell meant his biological sister. What about you?

Oh thats awesome! Yeah, Ive lived here my whole life. I wish I knew how to surf
Jeremy trailed off, his brother was supposed to teach him.

You wanna learn? Russell asked.

Huh? Jeremy was surprised.

I said, do you want to learn. Like to surf. I can teach you, Russell said with added
clarity. One on condition my man.

Ithat would be awesome! Whats the condition? Jeremy was stoked.

Ill teach you to surf, you show me around town for the next couple weeks. You seem
like a cool kid, I dig your vibe. What do you say? Jeremy was uncertain, he had only just met
this guy but he seemed like a good person. Jeremy was starting to feel more and more like this
was some act of fate and not mere coincidence.

Yeah! Youve got a deal, Russell! Jeremy smiled widely. Russell smiled back and put
his hand out for a shake. Jeremy took it and for the first time since William had been shipped off,
Jeremy felt actually confident in himself. Someone who was way cooler than him was asking for
his help. The sun was starting to dip lower and lower towards the horizon and Jeremy realized he
had to get home. Ive really got to head home but I can meet you tomorrow morning here? Like
7 am? I dont have to work until 1 tomorrow.

Whoa brotha, if were hitting it that early, lets meet at the beach. Might as well get a
quick lesson in, right? Russell pushed his hair back.
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Yeah, okay, that sounds great! Jeremy got back on his bike. Ill see you tomorrow
morning. Jeremy started pedaling home feeling more excited than he had been in a long, long
time.

The next morning, Russell was at the beach before sunrise. He liked the sunrise in
California, it was worlds different from the sunrise of the east coast that he was used to. He was
sitting cross legged on the hood of his car. He was rolling a joint, because he always felt more
connected to the waves if he surfed high. Hed never taught anyone though and was curious to
see how this would go.

Jeremy was an odd kid, but Russell liked him. There was something earnest and wounded
about the kid that peaked Russells curiosity. Russell liked to surround himself with people who
were curious. Average people bored him and he was constantly in search of the next adventure.
His parents called him a hippy, but it was 1968 and he was 24, everyone was a hippy. Russell
was just trying to find his own purpose in a world that felt all too vast. Forget what his parents
said, or anyone for that matter. Russell had a feeling, a hunch, that there was more out there than
what met his eyes, and he aimed to find out what it was.

Russell stretched out on the roof of his wagon and put his hands behind his head while he
waited on Jeremy. Right at 7, Jeremy rolled up on his bike in what looked like the same clothes
from yesterday. Russell sat up and grinned.

Man, dont you have any swim trunks that go down farther than those silly red ones?
Russell chuckled.

Well no, these are my swim trunks for work. Im a life guard at the local pool,
Jeremy said defensively.

Hey man, no offense meant, I was just asking, for surfing, the style is more about the
board shorts, longer, yknow? Russell said in a teaching tone. Also, dont you think its a bit
ironic you life guard a public pool when the beach is like, 500 yards from town?

I dont think its ironic at all, Jeremy said with a huff. People go to the pool all the
time! Especially if they arent strong swimmers.
Fair enough. Ok, I assumed you didnt have a board, so I brought two, Russell said
hopping off the roof of the car and moving toward the trunk. Help me out, brotha. Russell
grabbed one of the boards out and handed it to Jeremy, then he grabbed the other one out. The
boards were almost identical, both longboards. Ok, first tip, longboards are easier for beginners
because they offer more stability, and theyre more forgiving. Shortboards make for faster rides
and better mobility but theyre harder to control. Thus, the longboards. Russell was taking on a
tone different from the day before. He was still laid back and carefree, but there was a
seriousness in voice that had not been there before.

Ok, longboards are better for beginners, got it, Jeremy nodded in understanding. They
headed towards the sand and Russell continued to talk about the basics of surfing. The pop up,
how to drop into a wave, how to paddle out, how to fall off the board safely. Russell had to
remind himself of some of the basics because it had been so long since hed learned.

After Jeremy practiced his pop up on the sand for a while, they paddled out into the
water.

Luckily the break is super low key right now so you should be able to catch something
easy, Russell was smiling wide. He watched as Jeremy paddled hard out to try to catch his first
wave. Alright, turn around and try to get this bad boy! Russell shouted. Jeremy turned his
board and as he was trying to pop up, lost his footing and wiped out right into the wave.
Ouch Russell said under his breath with a flinch.

Im okay! Jeremy said when was back on the surface. Im going to go again! Jeremy
got back on his board and started paddling back out.

Thats the spirit brotha! Russell was liking this kid more and more.

After an hour and a half of Jeremy wiping out and trying again, he finally caught his first
wave. Jeremy paddled hard toward a wave that was coming at him and got turned around right in
time. As the wave was about to crest, Jeremy took one more hard paddle with his arm and
popped up to a standing position. Knees bent, back straight, Jeremy rode across the wave like a
pro. His form was perfect, better than perfect. Russell swelled up with pride, and though he
thought it was odd that he was so excited for a kid he just met, he let himself be unabashedly
happy for Jeremy.
Crisp 7

YES! Hell yeah brotha! Thats what Im talking about! Russell started clapping
furiously and pumping his fist in the air. Jeremy rode the wave all the way to the end and nicely
got back down on his board to paddle back out. Watching Jeremy catch his first wave reminded
Russell of his own childhood when he learned how to surf. Russell calmed down and smiled
softly to himself thinking of a time before his parents refused to speak to him. He enjoyed
thinking of those days, but Russell wasnt the type to long for a life that wouldnt come back. He
kept his eyes forward. Ever forward. That was awesome brotha! Howd it feel? Russell called
out to Jeremy.

That was amazing! I cant believe I just did that! Jeremys arms were in the air and he
smiling ear to ear. Russell couldnt have been happier for him. Hey what time is it? Jeremy
called out.

Dont know, maybe like 11? Russell replied. Lets head in, Ill buy you some lunch to
celebrate your first official wave! They paddled back to shore and Russell strapped the boards
to the top of the wagon.

Where do you want to go? Jeremy asked heading towards his bike.

Youre the one supposed to be showin me around remember? Russell laughed. Hey
man, throw your bike in the trunk. I put the boards on top so they dont mess up the leather since
theyre wet, so we got room.

Okay. You want to check out Dannys Deli? Jeremy asked.

The place by the surf shop? Sure thing, mate, Russell got in the driver seat and Jeremy
got in the passenger side.

At Dannys, Jeremy sat down in a booth while Russell finished paying for the food. The
deli was small, with just five booths lined against the tall glass windows at the front of the store.
Most of the shop was taken up by a display case that had an assortment of deli meat and the
kitchen where they kept the remainder of their inventory. The namesake, Danny, was a round
Italian man with a Brooklyn accent. He was abrasive and rough around the edges but he was
welcoming. Russell sat down across from Jeremy.
So mate, how do ya like surfing? Russell asked, running his hand over his mustache.

Oh boy, its awesome! Jeremy replied with his mouth full. After he swallowed he
continued, I didnt think Id catch a wave my first day.

Well you did, and it was a righteous one at that. You looked like a pro out there man,
Russell said, spreading mayonnaise on his sandwich. Hey if you dont mind me asking, why
havent you learned to surf yet? I mean the beach is right there, and youre a strong swimmer, for
sure.

Well, I, uhh Jeremy got a nervous look on his face.

Hey, you dont have to tell me man. Just a friend asking a question, Russell shrugged
and took a bite of his sandwich. Jeremy felt oddly happy that Russell used the word friend.

No its okay. My brother was supposed to teach me last summer, Jeremy said somberly.

Why didnt he? Russell asked.

Well, he was in college at UC Davis. He was going to teach me over his break, but
during that spring he decided that he needed to go fight in Vietnam. He didnt even really explain
his reasoning. He just said it was the right thing to do. And like I told you before, he said Lifes
a garden, dig it. I still dont fully understand what he meant, Jeremy pushed his plate away
from him. I dont even understand the war itself really, but something just doesnt seem right
about it to me. Everything Ive heard makes it seem like we shouldnt be over there. I dont
know though. My dad was pissed when William told him. My mom was actually proud, though.
They got into a big argument about it, my dad thought he was just going to get himself killed.
My mom said he was doing a great service to his country. Like I said, I dont understand it all,
but I kind of agreed with my dad.

My brother was my hero, and now Im not so sure. Why would he put himself in that
kind of danger? I mean, whats his logic? I guess, Im just really confused by it all. My parents
still arent the same, and its been just over a year since he left. They argue over a lot of little
stuff now. They dont think that I know about it, but I do. I can hear them at night. It really
stinks. My brother was the epitome of cool, and after he left and didnt explain it to me, I got a
Crisp 9

lot more anxious. I get nervous real easy. I always have, but now its even worse, Jeremy was
looking down at his lap. He was almost about to cry.

Damn, brotha, Russell didnt know what else to say.

Im sorry, I shouldnt have just blurted all of that out. I havent ever told anyone that. Its
just that, I dont know, you make me feel confident for some reason. Youre cool and laid back
and you can surf and you have a cool car. I guess you just make me feel like I can be like that
one day too, Jeremy looked back up at Russell. His eyes matched his words. He seemed more
confident than he was just moments before.

Hey man, Russell looked at Jeremy intently. First of all, its good that you have
opinions about things, and whether you agree with your brother or your parents or whoever
doesnt matter. What matters is that you have thoughts and feelings about things and that you try
to understand them. Its a lot better than not having an opinion. Secondly, I dont wanna hear you
saying youre not cool ever again. Youre one cool kid, you got mad surf skills and it was your
first day man. Youre cool, and dont let anybody tell you different. Now, I dont know why your
brother would just up and leave like that, but Im sure he has his own reasons and when he gets
back you can ask him yourself, Russell said with authority.

Well I would but Jeremy trailed off and looked at the counter of the shop.

Oh fuck man. Im sorry, I didnt know, Russell softened.

No, no, hes not dead! But I dont know if I can face him again after he just abandoned
me like that. I know he was away at college already, but thats different. There he was just a guy
learning, in Vietnam there are people that want to kill him. And he chose that for himself. I dont
know if I can face, or if I even want to, Jeremy took a moment to reflect on what he had just
said. It was as though he had made a big revelation about himself but couldnt quite figure out
what it was.

Hey man, youre gonna have to talk to him eventually. It doesnt have to be soon, or
even months from now, but eventually youre gonna want to understand him. So, I guess, just
keep an open mind, brotha, Russell said with a smile. Everyones got their reasons.
Really? What about you? Why are you driving around California instead of being in
school? Jeremy wasnt accusatory, he was just curious.

That, brotha, is a story for another time. It involves rich parents, and unwanted
expectations. Its really riveting stuff, Russell stood up from the table. Now though, we gotta
get you to work!

Jeremy checked his watch and realized it was a quarter to 1. Jeremy got up from the table
and threw away his half eaten sandwich. Russell was holding the door open for Jeremy and as
Jeremy walked towards the passenger side of the car, Russell called out to him.

Hey man, how bout you drive? Russell tossed Jeremy the keys and walked to the
passenger side of the car, putting his aviators on as he walked. Jeremys face turned bright pink
and smile as wide as the California horizon crossed his face.

As Jeremy put the car into gear, Russell messed around with the radio and it came to life
with the sound of a DJ introducing the next song, Alright folks, this is a newer one we got for
you. This is from our fine friends across the pond, the Rolling Stones. This ones called Jumpin
Jack Flash. Enjoy!

Oh man, this songs rad, man, Russell turned the radio up and started to play an air
guitar along with Keith Richards, kicking his foot up on the dash board. You like the Stones?

Cant say Ive listened to them much, Jeremy said, eyes focused intensely on driving.
As Jeremy pulled out on the street, Russell started belting out the lyrics with the song.

But its alright, now. In fact its a gas! But its alright, Im jumpin Jack Flash. Its a gas,
gas, gas!

As the two new friends drove towards the public pool, both young men couldnt help but
feel connected to one another. Jeremy thought of how the song was oddly fitting for the moment.
Russell was thinking about how Jeremy was a lot cooler than he thought he was. They were two
people just trying to find their place in the world. Neither one knew what the rest of the summer
was going to be like, but if the last day was any indication, their lives were about to get much
more interesting.

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