|Patrick C. Crowell
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AN EXCERPT FROM
“Man, my nose hurts,” John Pfeiffer said. He recalled the ferocious
fist he’d taken, as he manipulated the crusty innards of his distinct
Move faster next time, idiot,” his buddy said, rubbing his own throbbing
Beaten up and exhausted, the pair was relieved to be heading home. Well conditioned
for their age—forty-eight—they were able to handle eight to twelve
foot Costa Rican surf for hours with relative ease on a surf trip like this,
day after day. There were always rashes, cuts and bruises, and deep-seated
aches and pains at the end of such a vacation. These were happy feelings for
surfers. But this time there was more, and the reprieve was different.
The sparse afternoon flight over the turbulence below was soothing. They were
belted-in, Pfeiffer reading a legal thriller and Peter Cromwell attempting
to write one. The two lawyers were best friends—middle-aged surfers craving
curls instead of golf or riding Harleys.
You look like W.C. Fields,” Cromwell said, knowing Pfeiffer hadn’t
had a chance. “I can’t believe you let that guy pop you like that.
I thought you used to be a boxer?”
I would’ve had to have been a fish, like you, to win that bout.”
Well, you won anyway … thanks to Miguel,” Cromwell said.
Hey … what’re friends for?”
Cromwell searched for literary inspiration out the portal, studying bulbous
squall lines crammed against a Costa Rican mountain range. Electricity crackled
and lit the darkened horizon. So this is what’s it’s like to be
on the throwing end, he thought, imagining that he was Zeus lobbing lightning
bolts like javelins. He and Pfeiffer had been on the receiving end of nature’s
fury on their mountainous drive to the San Jose airport. Hail, lightning, wind
blasts up to tropical storm speed; it’d been a typical Costa Rican corker.
The lurking flight attendant sashayed by and pretended to check seatbelts,
though the captain’s light had been off for some time. Scoping them out,
she zoomed in on their salt and peppered sophistication under Luau shirts and
cargo shorts, and smiled at the handsome lawyers ... interested, though trying
not to appear too obvious.
Cromwell leaned over the empty seat between them and tapped Pfeiffer on the arm. “Ask
her for some wine. I think better when I’m loaded.”
Pfeiffer stuck his head in the aisle and trailed her swaying posterior with his
eyes. The hard looking stewardess reminded him of the king of beasts, despite
the difference in sex—tanned skin, thick auburn hair like the Lion King’s
mane surrounding an angular face, muscular legs under broad hips stretching a
tight skirt the color of lion fur, and chesty—so chesty.
The solid woman misinterpreted Pfeiffer’s hail, having shot a glance over
her strong shoulder to ascertain whether her hook had been set. She was all smiles
and working her return so hard that when the jet bounced on an air pocket, her
wayward haunch smashed the elbow of a young business woman, causing deletion
of the meteoric maid’s data on her laptop. Excusing herself, she refocused
on her prey.
What can I do for you, darlin’?”
What kind of red wine do you have?” the surfer-clad attorney asked.
She found herself riveted by his deep blue eyes. “Shallo,” the woman
bragged. “Merlot … would you like some?” She clasped his arm
while her pearly-whites gleamed in the light, surrounded by vivid red substances.
God,” Cromwell said under his breath. “We shall serve all wine before
Don’t mind him,” Pfeiffer said. “He’s tired and grouchy.
He was just reflecting on the quality of your wine list.”
It’s Chilean!” she pointed out, as though that would help.
Bring us two, please,” Pfeiffer said in resigned voice.
I’ll be right back,” she promised, and swished away.
I think she likes you, John,” Cromwell said. “Want me to go to the
back of the plane? I can write back there, while you pork her under a blanket.”
One of Cromwell’s many nicknames was “Gorilla” because of his
long arms. A collegiate swimmer and water polo player, he spent an hour in the
pool at least five days a week. He was taller than Pfeiffer at six-foot-two,
and though narrow-framed, quite sinewy from leagues of hard-swum laps and paddling
surfboards. His royal blue eyes twinkled when engaged in one of his favorite
social activities—stirring the pot.
Pfeiffer changed the subject, ignoring his sardonic friend as much as the prowling
feline. “I’m glad we took Miguel to lunch. He’s really a good
guy, helping us the way he did. … He saved my life, man.”
Carlos seemed to know him.”
Yeah, when you were in the baño, he told me a little about Miguel. He
told me he lives in some squatter-shack close to Carlos’ restaurant. He
gives Miguel food in exchange for work around the farm and watching the kids
when he and Mama go to San Jose. After we told Carlos what happened, he fixed
Miguel up with a sack of pancake mix and three pounds of bacon.”
That Carlos, man, there’s another good guy. I’m glad we hooked up
with him an’ his family.”
They fed us great this trip, didn’t they? How many plates of arroz con
pollo do you think we ate? Man, I think I gained weight on this trip!”
Yeah, I can’t believe we took every meal there. We paid ‘em a shit-load
And they were grateful, too. It showed in how Mama and Rosalica looked after
The stewardess returned, deliberately positioning her oversized bosom close to
his face, as she bent over Pfeiffer in order to set Cromwell’s Chilean
Merlot on his drop-tray. She seemed disappointed that Pfeiffer didn’t nibble
a nipple right through her blouse.
Cromwell stifled an impulse to ask, “Got milk?”
That Rosalica’s a sweet young girl,” he said, after the mountainous
mammaries took their leave. “What’s she, twelve, now?”
Yeah, twelve,” Pfeiffer replied. “Pretty, too. We’ve been going
there to eat for six years. Hard to believe, huh?”
Yeah, I enjoy the waves at T-box, but I’m glad we tried the Fiesta. It
was different from Jacó for a change. This trip’s been a little
more adventurous … with the fight an’ all.”
I forgot to tell you. Miguel and I saw a monster shark in the water.”
Cromwell’s eyes widened and he jerked his glass from his lips. “When?”
Just before the fight. I’ll bet it was a twelve-footer at least. Miguel
called it a Tiburón de Nicaragua.”
That’s what the Ticos call a Bull shark. Nicaragua and Costa are known
for them. Isla del Cocos has a huge population of them. Aggressive suckers. Just
last week one killed a girl in the Panhandle.”
Yeah, I saw that.”
I read an article about illegal shark-finning, and Costa Rica seems to be the
capital. They kill the gray suits in order to harvest fins for delicacies and
shark cartilage pills, like I take for my arthritis.”
Well you oughta boycott, you shithead,” Pfeiffer said. “I thought
you were a liberal?”
I know. I want to research it some. The damn pills seem to help my joints so
much, but I don’t know. Anyway, we ought to send Carlos and his family
something from the States to say thanks. You know … something they can
That’s a good idea,” Pfeiffer said. “Let’s think about
it. They’d be really grateful.”
They’re all like that, you know? It’s still one of the things I understand
least, but like best about our trips, the Costa Ricans are so damn happy.”
Cromwell nodded and returned to the private world of a would-be novelist. Pfeiffer
opened a Surfer Magazine and turned to a story about middle-aged surfers in Indonesia. “Now
that’s where we should go!”
Cromwell ignored him, so Pfeiffer became lost in a jungle scene. Gazing upon
greenery much like in Costa, his mind drifted back upon the events of their own
Copyright © Patrick C. Crowell 1995-2004.
All rights reserved. Rev. 3-2