15 Aug Stilts


“The Forgotten Four” was written by Ithaka, and published in Water magazine for his column “Fishdaddy Chronicles”.


As a grom,

born and bred

in the pristine coastal suburbs,

Brick never imagined

that he was destined

to become an inlander.

Go Back To Pomona !

He’d yell down

to peroxide-haired body boarders

foraging for waves on the north side

of the Manhattan pier.

Both his parents being prominent engineers

in the aerospace trade,

Brick never took into consideration

that not everyone in the world

was dealt a winning hand of cards.

But the L.A. aerospace industry

shriveled up

and both his mom and dad

moved out of state (separately).

Brick was not about to relocate to either

Oklahoma or Arizona.

Eighteen and on his own.

College now out of the question,

employment geographics

forced Brick deep into the depths

of urban Los Angeles….

..that was several years ago.

As he exited his dense,

degregaded East L.A. neighborhood

onto the Santa Monica Freeway,

Go Back To Pomona !,

kept echoing

around the interior of his skull,

Go Back To Pomona !

As usual,

the local news stations had been


the storm swells all season.

A High Surf Advisory

Didn’t actually mean BIG waves

It just ensured the following days

would be ridiculously packed.

But for once the predictions

and hype were reputable.

As the 10 Freeway

poured him out onto

Pacific Coast Highway,

he saw the normally flat beach-breaks

a hollow but sloppy five-foot.

He was tempted to park it and surf Chattaugua

(it’d months since he’d

pulled into anything

even resembling a barrel).

But the urge kept him going.

Out past congested, six-foot Topanga

(even the Charthouse had twenty-five people out).

Thru Malibu, also good size but bumpy.

Past Zuma, big and closed out.

And past Leo Carrillo to County Line,

for a coffee at Neptune’s Net.

County Line had size.

but who wants to surf powerless waves

with a hundred human buoys in the water?


…the right swell,

the right tide

he was SURE it was on…

but it was almost flat.

Today the on-shores

would probably arrive early

(no time for Rincon or Oxnard).

He slowed back southward

checking out every little cove,

beach and rock pile he knew of.

There was definitely a lot of swell,

missing some stretches, hitting others,

but too north for most of it.

The gas gauge on the Stonemobile

was broken, but he was confident

he had at least enough fuel to

make it back to Santa Monica.

But somewhere south of Solstice Canyon

as he flipped a cassette over

(Hammered, by Motorhead)

the engine died.

He didn’t stress,

just coasted it out

and pulled over next to

a makeshift wooden wall

in front of a construction site.

It was the only opening

in a strip of about forty stilted homes.

Their entrances street level

on Pacific Coast highway

with no gaps for beach access,

while the main volume of the structures

extended over the beach and water

(about fifteen feet below)

on a series of wooden and cement pilings.

He sat in the car,

music still blaring,

but in the brief silence between tracks

he heard the powerful SNAP ! of a wave.

What the HELL ?!

He scaled over the wooden wall for a look.

A short climb put him at water level

at the top of a small semi-point.

A sight that left him in momentary disbelief.

Less than a hundred feet

in front of the homes,

powerful rights were detonating

over a shallow flat reef.

Spinning almost in place

for a couple of seconds,

they momentarily backed off

in a deep spot

before racing sideways

for another five or six houses.

Up the building frame,

over the wall

and back to the Chevy.

The truck was stealth.

Both surfers and non-surfers

had no idea it was a surfer’s car.

It looked more like an immigrant

gardener’s vehicle.

No towel, he bare-balled it

on the house side of the car

to get into his wetsuit.

I’m going to call the police !

a woman yelled down

out of a second-story window.

SO AM I ! he laughed

scrambling over the wall.

After a short slalom course

down thru the beams

and around some jagged boulders,

he was soon muscling his way

into the last wave of an overhead set.

Barely making the drop,

He recovered into

a relaxed tube stance

and in wonderment ,

watched the antiseptically blue funnel

pass him by,


Like a doctor slapping

a newborn’s butt

to get it to start breathing,

the Pacific-pounding

breathed life back

into Brick’s soul.

He screamed through

the saltwater placenta

with prehistoric adrenalin.

When he surfaced,

there were no waves

behind it waiting to punish him.

Just glassy, kelpy silence.

Looking shoreward,

he saw the underbellies

of the homes

(the structures

did not seem secure).

Then up to the large deck-patios

extending out in front of each of them.

They were all vacant except for one,

where a large-breasted,

red-haired woman

sat in front of an easel

painting the horizon.

Soon more waves arrived,

This day seemingly a gift of the gods

designated specifically for him

and him only.

But after an hour of solo euphoria,

four short-boarders separately

paddled north toward the lineup

(thank god they were short-boarders).

He wondered if there’d be vibes.

Whatever the place was called,

with its tiny take-off slot,

It was not intended

for mass consumption.

A set stacked.

Brick snagged the first one,

Backdooring the section on takeoff .

Momentarily covered up,

the lip released him

onto a steep carveable shoulder.

He heard distant hoots

as he raced it all the way to the rocks.

Returning to the peak,

He saw each of the new riders

snatching up the remaining set waves.

Three regulars and a goofy.

All decent surfers,

but not pros.

And judging from the brand names

of boards they rode,

none of them from the Malibu area.

He was glad they were outsiders.

And they were relieved

that Brick (who looked mean)

was amicable.

With stoke level

running feverishly high,

the five strangers

took turns on the bigger set waves.

Considering the

actual abilities involved,

performance levels

were peaking

(with the tube success ratios

at least 50/50).

Does this place have a name?

asked the kid from SB

riding the Matt Moore board.

Brick, pensive for a moment

trying to make up one

(the kid, thinking he

was reluctant to tell him).

Brick looked toward the vertical

under-supports of the homes.

It’s called, STILTS, he said.

….and that section that always

tries to pinch you at the end

…that’s ENVELOPES.

Although none of them

had ever met before,

the five surfers

began to converse

between sets,

mostly about global travels.

Having never left North America,

Brick could only listen.

But it was hard

for the others to deny

that this was one of

the best days

of isolated perfection

any of them

had EVER experienced ANYWHERE.

It was understood that this

was an extremely rare day,

but none of them could believe

that makeable

barrels of this caliber

could possibly exist

within thirty minutes of Santa Monica.

No cameras.

No videos.

No sponsored riders.

The fact remained, however,

that as good as it was,

size-wise it was just a sideshow

to what breaks in

Palos Verdes, Ventura and beyond

were experiencing at that exact moment.

But nobody here was complaining.

Six-hour session,

the tide now bone-dry.

A few yards of sand had appeared

directly in front of the houses.

Exausted, Brick rock-hopped

out of the water and onto the beach.

Go Home,

it wasn’t shouted

but it was definitely audible

…but from where?

He surveyed the homes

and decks from below.

The woman with the big boobs

still worked on her scenic.

And now, on another terrace,

an elderly couple

was being served breakfast

by a stocky Latina maid.


two twenty-five year old trust-funders

still in their tennis clothes

fresh off the court,

sat on a wooden deck

(cluttered to capacity

with several surfboards,

windsurf boards,

a Zodiac and a jet-ski.

They had their backs

turned toward him,

but he could see them smirking

from the side and could hear

the faint whimper

of their cowardly giggles.

This time the bitches coordinated

their effort in unison,

GO HOME ! ! !

They yelled with both

hands mega-phoned

over their mouths

(still lacking the courage

to face the accused).

The euphoria of the day’s

gelatin-smooth barrels

and camaraderie shared

with four low-key riders faded.

Replaced with annoyance,

anger and distrust.

And a remainder

of who and what

he now was,

an inlander.

He looked back to the punks,

but they still wouldn’t make eye-contact.

What kind of worms play tennis

when the secret spot

in front of their own balcony

is disemboweling itself

as NEVER before?

Brick made mental notes

(the house wouldn’t look

exactly the same

from the street side).

Wooden. Gray with white trim.

Five doors over

from the construction site.

Up the beams

through the work-in-progress

and over the wall.

He easily identified the house

on the PCH side.

In front of its

white-washed garage door

was a brand new red

convertible SAAB

with chrome gansta rims,

white leather seats

(two Baboblat tennis rackets

rested on the passenger side cushion)

and a gold license-plate frame

that read,


with two bumper stickers

on either side of the plate:



Brick found an empty,

one-gallon plastic milk jug

in the garbage and unrolled the short

hose lying next to the garage door.

He opened the Saab’s gas cap hatch,

No lock.

He shoved one end

of the hose into the tank

and started inhaling on the other,

(almost instantly getting a mouthful

of 91 Octane Premium Unleaded).

He snapped his thumb over the hole

to maintain vacuum,

then released it into the jug.

With the optimum pressure

of a full tank,

the jug filled in seconds.

Thumb back on the opening,

he hesitated a minute…

…momentarily entertaining

fantastical thoughts

of dousing the car in fuel

and torching it.

Naaahhh…not his style.

He wasn’t about to

let those weasels

get the best of him.


Again circled his cerebrum

like a distant ghost.

Karmic repercussions

of his segregational

suburban upbringing.

He couldn’t believe

this is what

he had come from.

Although this last year

had been good to him

and he could probably afford

to move back to the coast.

Brick remembered what had been

holding him back.

His past.


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