VIR­GIL'S POINT

WE ALL MIND SURF, VI­SU­AL­IS­ING YOUR RIDES IS GOOD FOR YOU ... OR IS IT? CAN YOU DO IT TOO MUCH?

Carve - - FOAM: - WORDS BY PATRICK ROWHAN

His cell over­looked the point, a jun­gle fringed head­land jut­ting out into the Pa­cific Ocean. It was ru­moured that the po­lice sergeant re­spon­si­ble for his cap­ture, a bit­ter and jeal­ous old man had de­manded this to be the case. Vir­gil’s fame had meant he had been able to do the thing he loved most for a liv­ing and for a very long time but it had its pit­falls too, and the old sergeant’s per­verse re­quest was pal­pa­ble ev­i­dence of this.

‘Pro­fes­sional surfer put be­hind bars for drug smug­gling is given cell over­look­ing surf break’ read the lo­cal pa­pers the week he’d been caught. Non-surfers chuck­led into their morn­ing cof­fees as they read the ar­ti­cle whereas all surfers were united in their un­ease as they read the head­line.

The cruel irony wasn’t lost on Vir­gil and at first he naively be­lieved that it might not be the worst out­come, he loved the ocean af­ter all so surely it was bet­ter to be within view rather than away from it. Un­for­tu­nately as time passed this the­ory was dole­fully dis­proved.

The win­dow was at the far end of the cell op­po­site the door, just ten feet away. It was rec­tan­gu­lar in shape just 12x14 inches, five inches deep with a re­in­forced plas­tic glass be­hind three rusty iron bars. Vir­gil had grasped the bars in the first few years but grad­u­ally his grip had loos­ened un­til now when he sim­ply rested his palms on their rusted sur­face as he glared at the peel­ing right han­der. He had promised him­self that he wouldn’t do this but in­stead he checked the point ev­ery morn­ing as soon as he woke.

The wave had bro­ken con­sis­tently for eight months of the year, on av­er­age 244 days of ev­ery year for the last seven years. Vir­gil knew this be­cause he had made cal­cu­la­tions, rough at first but they quickly be­came more ac­cu­rate the more ob­sessed he be­came. The prison of­fi­cers were only too happy to oblige with pro­vid­ing him with pen­cils and notepads be­cause they took amuse­ment from the man con­sumed by scrib­bled num­bers and ar­rows, it was their theatre.

Vir­gil’s sen­tence had been steep due to the scale of the nar­cotics smug­gling op­er­a­tion, he was by no means the head of the op­er­a­tion but had been at the helm of the yacht when the po­lice had in­ter­cepted him on that tem­pes­tu­ous night. Vir­gil had re­sorted to smug­gling be­cause he had cash flow prob­lems and felt un­able to work a nine to five af­ter twenty years of be­ing paid by spon­sors to surf.

The point was ru­moured to have been un­rid­den for a gen­er­a­tion by any surfer on the is­land due to its vicin­ity to the prison com­pound, and this fur­ther tor­tured Vir­gil. He’d spent his life­time search­ing for empty per­fec­tion and now he’d found it.

If it was flat he’d have a day of rest - from his mind. He’d ex­er­cise or read and he’d eat well, he’d even con­verse with other pris­on­ers dur­ing his breaks. These were his good days.

When there was av­er­age surf he’d stay by the win­dow for a cou­ple of hours tak­ing his cal­cu­la­tions, the pre­sumed size, wind di­rec­tion, tide, etc.

How­ever it was on those days when the surf was crank­ing that con­sumed ev­ery ounce of Vir­gil’s be­ing, and even­tu­ally led to his slide away from re­al­ity.

In his ninth and penul­ti­mate year in­side Vir­gil no longer looked out of the win­dow and mind surfed the long walls of wa­ter, in­stead he fo­cussed on his notes and scrib­bles but now a stut­tered com­men­tary co­in­cided with the task. His de­scent was a grad­ual process but to ev­ery­one else it al­most ap­peared to hap­pen overnight. The prison war­dens had laughed at Vir­gil’s des­per­a­tion but they weren’t ma­li­cious they be­lieved he’d get out soon enough to live his charmed beach bum life once again.

For Vir­gil his co­nun­drum had been solved, his suf­fer­ing had ceased be­cause he didn’t feel the need to surf the point any­more. He didn’t need to surf any­where any­more, his mind was else­where…

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