You’ve got to be kidding me.
Fergie Jenizen watched the rowboat recede, little by little, one lazy pull of the oar then the other. Glad to see it go. Him go. He’s got to be kidding me, right? she said. The clouds above were heavy, scudding fast, the waves were billowy but her long hair only fluttered. She turned to her friend who had no hair, who had shaved her head the night before. Her friend stood barefoot in a flowing orange skirt that brushed the gray sand. She wore no top and her small breasts gleamed.
You think he’ll come back she said. Her friend only tilted her head to the side, raised her brows, skewed her lips. Do you want him to she asked herself. She gazed at the diminishing rowboat, the lean figure on the oars two hundred yards out there now, oars rising and falling rising and falling, how ludicrous it looked, inching along in the turbid gloom. Her fingers interlocked behind her head, she shut her eyes smiled and tightened her shoulder and neck muscles, she drew a deep breath and let it out slowly in a purring moan. She dropped her arms to her side, twisted and stretched them. He definitely was a challenge she said.
He was that her friend said in a voice like a streak of silver. She couldn’t remember her friend’s name. They’d only met last night, plenty late, after the headshaving and before the change in weather. It was a magical meeting. She just appeared on the scene with a basketful of hair, offered it to her with a halfsmile and dancing eyes. Almost all talking eating drinking on that warm patio stopped.
We’ve gotta get out of here he’d said with urgency. She turned to him as though he’d jabbed her with a cane. What are you talking about she said.
This is crazy, this is horseshit he said, he sounded like a wary bulldog. This is amazing she said. You’ve no idea. He clutched her arm, looked stern, she tensed and glared, And you have no idea what kind of scene I’ll make if you don’t let go she said. They’ll swallow you like a fly. The hairless woman’s eyes were wide, fierce, she stood with her basket illuminated by the sun rising in a band of red between the water she faced and the heavy clouds.
We’ve had our fun he said, let’s go. We’ve got things to do, business to take care of. This is crazy. Fergie Jenizen heard his voice but her eyes were fastened on his pretty dimpled chin, his black whiskers, always black always whiskery. She wondered about her vehemence. You don’t talk the way she just did to a man unless you don’t like him, unless you don’t want to be with him any longer, unless the thought of his thrusting drives into you, his slurping tongue, doesn’t offer succor anymore. He was always good at taking you away from things, the messes and the slime, transporting you away, taking you soaring gliding into that exquisite sometimes outrageous zone of flashing gasps, of searing waves and rumbles, always taking you away. Thank God.
But in all that taking away there remained something she needed to get away from that he, like that world out there, wouldn’t permit. Her own role. Her own place in it. In the world and in the lovemaking. Her own role she thought, as in no role. Like sliding sand she always took the gusts, the stormy blows, and yes the gentle breezes, and with each she moved on resettled waited for the next. She needed to get away from that.
He was mad that I didn’t go with him she said to her friend. Give me a break. Not far up the strand on a patch of dunegrass a man with black ropy hair a broad naked back and keglike calves was frying fish on a grill and eggs in a large skillet on a tripod over a fire. Two dozen others milled about or sat on the sand, some eating. Fish eggs mangos for breakfast, fresh bread said the hairless woman, wine if you want it, juice, goat’s milk. Can’t think of anything I’d like more Fergie Jenizen said. Her eyes met her new friend’s before returning to the horizon, now full clouded over. By the time he gets where he’s going alone it’s going to be night and his hands’ll be all bloody she said. Yes, but that’s what he wants said her friend with the gleaming breasts and basketful of hair. Her clear smooth voice sounded forged in a blacksmith’s shop. He did that all right said Fergie Jenizen, he always made things hard for himself. She turned, smiled at her friend.
Aren’t you hungry her friend said.
They trudged up the pebbly sand toward the group of tempered revelers, the staccato hum of voices, the aroma of herbcrusted fish. Of course there was always the sex Fergie Jenizen said. She lowered her head, seemed to focus on her feet in the sand. But oh I’m so tired of putting up with that long blinding night.
The clouds will break up soon her friend said. You can sleep in sunlight today.
You’ve got to be kidding me.