Shayne - Stu McKerihan

Shayne or Windmills in the Sea

“Lock the tray when you’re done will ya……and don’t piss about, you know I’ve only got 45.”

The last line was tossed in to the feint glow of the dawn as Lance tore off over the dune. Shayne chose to ignore it, like most things his father had to say.

Wearing nothing but his faded yellow boardies and a subdued air of contempt for his father, Shayne made his way towards the track. He passed a couple of the old boys who were perched on the bench, straining theirs salted eyes towards the horizon, cappuccino in hand. Somehow the tide or wind was never quite to their liking, a steaming cup and nostalgic banter having long ago replaced the morning surf ritual.

Greg, one of the elders of the area whom his father had insisted he show the upmost respect too spotted the donkey scrawled on the base of Shayne’s board and with a pointed finger quipped, “Nice ass Shayne!”

“If you are referring to Rocinante, she is a trusty and noble steed. If you were referring to my arse then I suggest you keep your curious musings to yourself.”

“You’ll find yourself taped to the pole talking like that boy. I don’t care who you’re dad is.”

Shayne had discovered long ago that his theatrical manner of speech had a tendency of inducing aggression in those with whom he interacted, so he walked on, glancing down admiringly at the sketch he had etched on his board, the tragically courageous Don Quixote aboard his exhausted mule, Rocinante. The line-up had its fair share of windmills to navigate, the reference a source of satisfaction. The fact so few recognised it only amplified his pleasure.

Tossing Rocinante onto the sand the fins let out a shoosh as they sank into the grains. Loosening up the sinews Shayne swung his lean and meagre torso from left to right, his conventional platinum fringe sweeping the top of his bleached brows. He bristled as his eyes caught the billboard of grammatical ignorance proudly scrawled over the north end retaining wall.

‘Local’s Only’

Shayne shook his head in disgust. He could forgive the occasional apostrophe mistake in a text message, but if you are going to sprawl a ten foot tall message in a public place, you would think the 'artist' may have written a draft and had it proofread. As it stands, what Shayne called the ‘apostrophe atrocity’ lived on.

As he skidded out over the shorey and began to feel the jealous hold of the rip sweep him towards the outside he laughed at the ease it afforded and the number of times his dad had forced him to paddle out further down the beach, to strengthen his stamina. “The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.” Shayne knew Joseph Conrad didn’t have surfing in mind when he spouted that claim but he thought about how it could account for much of what he’d seen in his short time.

As is probably becoming blindingly obvious, Shayne was an anomaly, a glitch in the otherwise homogenous tapestry of his beachside town. His origins were pretty typical of the area. His dad, a promising young buck with talent in abundance and competitive fire in his belly woos the heart of the local belle and in the lusty stealth of nature find themselves with far more responsibility than they intended. Though there was good sport at his making Shayne was fiercely aware of his Edmund status and his dad’s reluctance to acknowledge him. To Lance Shayne was an embodiment of dreams unfulfilled.

Whilst this might explain Lance’s demeanour it does little to illuminate the source of Shayne’s. His unorthodox bearings seemed to spring from a combination of the mysteries of personality and the environmental influences of an intellectually restless mother. Deb, a radiant specimen of creation whose own dreams of further study were cut short by the burdens of parenthood would spend lonely and sleepless nights devouring any classical literature she could source. Shayne’s childhood tales became that of Melville, Bronte, London, Hemingway and Conrad etc. As he grew they became more blueprints than tales. Now a boy is prone to rebellion but the direction of such rebellion is much harder to predict and Shayne’s manifest itself in the form of a cultural revolution, much to the chagrin of his exasperated father.

“Fuck off back to your own beach!” The roar seemed to clang against the stillness of the morning. Directed at everyone and no one in particular, the mood of the morning crowd shifted. If you had travelled further than five minutes to be there your presence was questionable. If you had travelled down Mona Vale Road your presence was a down right affront to traditional values. Accustomed to his dad’s outbursts Shayne’s eyes were fixed on a lump that began to rise as it pulsed towards shore. Alas, the same lump began to catch the attention of the whole line-up. An unfamiliar face had fortuitously found himself in the spot, stroking in and beginning to set their line just as Lance let out a baritone, ‘YEP,’ driving off the bottom and wrapping back around and directly into the hapless stranger. A tangle of limbs and fibreglass ensued before the juxtaposed faces of astonishment and pure rage surfaced from the froth.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Only locals get the sets here! Fuck off now!”

Clearly unfamiliar with the rules of engagement, the stranger, who couldn’t have been more than sixteen, attempted to plead his case. “But I didn’t drop in, you did!”

The tone was pure bewilderment, pitiful in its pleading but only sparking incense in Lance.

“I said, fuck off now!” Leaping from his board Lance seized his opponent’s board and with his paddle-hardened arms began snapping each of the fins out of the foreigner’s thruster. The boy put up no resistance, his eyes facing the water, watching his fins disappear slowly into the depths. He turned; face and shoulders hunched and began paddling his rudderless craft towards the beach. His body language up the dunes was a slump of unbridled defeat.

Shayne picked off a few inside runners as the sun began to blanket everything. On one he pushed his way around the foam as the wave began to reform again in the rip. One of the other boys his age, Kai, locked eyes with him and went anyway. Shayne hugged the pocket whilst Kai flailed aggressively on the shoulder, berating the wave to the beach. “You can resist everything except temptation, huh Kai?”

Kai stared at Shayne scornfully and then paddled away. Shayne contented himself with the notion that this theory was too much for Kai’s feeble mind to comprehend.

Back up in the carpark Lance and Shayne dried themselves swiftly and silently, the silence only broken by the occasional greeting of fellow locals, comments on the conditions and ever expanding crowds. As Shayne climbed into the passenger seat he felt compelled to pursue a line of conversation that had proved fruitless before but he knew his only other alternative was a dissection of the morning session and this he just simply couldn’t stomach again.

“Dad, have you ever read any books?”

“Again with this? I’ve told you before, I don’t read books. You and your mum waste enough time with that for the lot of us.”

“But you must have read something?”

“I started reading some book at school that was supposed to be a guide on how to kill birds but it didn’t have anything useful in the first few pages so I gave it up.”

Shayne was about to respond to this slur when they passed the boy from the morning. Seated on the grass with his board over his knees he was attempting to pick the base of his fins from the plugs with the sharpened end of a stick.

Shayne turned his eyes to his fathers, who were fixed on the road, and then turned his face away to look out the window.