< Foondroppings 19 - Confessions of a Right Coast Beachoholic - SurfingVancouverIsland.com

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Foondroppings 19  


Recently somebody said it's been a long time since I contributed anything worthy of bandwidth. It's true. My surf reports and comments, for the most part are pedestrian. Trying to match wits with the people on this ng is hard work ;^).  At times I get discouraged and wonder why I show up almost every day. I figured out that the times when I most enjoy the ng is when someone is talking story. It's what I do best, better than surfing.  It takes awhile to come up with a good idea for a story and execute it. Recently I've gotten a few......this may be one of 'em.  Seven parts, if you can last that long.

  -Foon  

In Search of the Sandman Part 1

    "When written in Chinese, the word CRISIS is composed of two characters. One represents danger, the other represents opportunity." 
  -John F. Kennedy

   Flying into Bowerman Field, near Hoquiam, on a private charter connection from Seattle, I prayed the elderly looking pilot I saw as I boarded knew how to control this little tin can in high winds.  The cross runway gusts were making him lineup straight on the windsock but his experience was telling him by time we hit the ground, we'd be over the runway. Meanwhile, with my seatbelt tightened so low I was beginning to lose the feeling in my legs, the little plane surfed down a waterfall of air ledges then without notice, would drop with the suddenness of one of those free fall amusement park rides. My stomach was already unhappy about this ride, but for a different reason.

   The "chicken ala spew" entree I'd eaten on my cross country Northwest Airline flight to Seattle was making a not too subtle move to escape the confines of my gut. I checked the seat pocket when we first experienced turbulence and knew there was no vomit (or as Disney World calls it - protein spill)  bag. I looked at  my carry-on on the floor in front of me wondering how long it would take to purge it of the smell of regurgitated airline food and a few Jack Daniels miniatures. Looking out the window again I figured unless we got blown off the approach and had to  go ‘round for another attempt, I'd only have to suffer a few minutes longer - at least in the air.

   As the pilot guided the little plane in for a perfect FIVE point landing, my sense of relief was replaced with the apprehension of whether I indeed would find the elusive character known as "the Sandman." His presence on the internet newsgroup, alt.surfing, had been a constant source of interest and speculation over the years.  The readers of the publication I worked for, SurFoon Magazine, had asked....no dammit, demanded that the Sandman be flushed out and exposed, either as the hard charging Pacific Northwest surfer he claimed to be, or as the geeky, schizophrenic, computer-genius, poser some suspected.  As the little plane rolled up to the cinder block terminal this question  hung limply in the air like the soursmelling  burp I'd just made. There was no way to predict how this adventure would play out, but it was beginning to stink already.

   I'd felt guilty about the need to lie to my wife, MrsFoon, regarding this assignment.  Given my history of injury, illness and emergency room visits during past solo trips, she would never have let me go on such a dangerous adventure, especially in search of such a notorious flake. She was under the false impression that I was traveling to Montauk, New York, to visit one of my old college buds who'd become a carpenter during the summer months but wintered in Costa Rica, all the time quenching his need to surf whenever there were waves. I felt bad about the  fib and knew deep down I was going to be found out one way or another. But my curiosity about the Sandman had festered like a low grade staff infection on my ass, and I needed to lance the mystery and drain it to find the truth and heal my curiosity.

   I'd done my homework, contacting everyone I could think of about the official information on him. The government had quite a lot of paper on his background, it just took a little time to dig it all up. If you live in Washington D.C. you sometimes become friendly with someone you've met at the gym or pool who is in the service of the government; who over a casual beer at a local watering hole may offer to check the "file" on whatsisname after you pickup the $75 bar tab.  So, armed with copies of unofficial files from the FBI, DEA, IRS, CIA, USCG, PBS, and BSA (Boy Scouts of America), I took off in pursuit of my subject in a red, rented Jeep Cherokee.  (I thought the red color and Indian name would play as well with the local natives in Washington State as the term "Redskins" played in the Washington D.C. area...... I was  wrong.)

   Part 2    Where does one look for a mystery man?  Who do you contact about his whereabouts? Who can you trust to give you true information, hell, any information for that matter? Can a man who guards his privacy be found when he doesn't want to be?  Absolutely none of these questions will be answered in the next part, but I needed a teaser to see if you'd be interested.

In Search of the Sandman Part 2

"There are no facts, only interpretations."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

  As luck would have it, and since my sense of direction was formed in the streets of New York City (Avenues run North and South, numbered streets East and West), it wasn't long be for I was hopelessly lost somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I'd spent hours driving in circles in the back country, looking for where the Sandman was allegedly hold up. The unofficial surveillance files said he frequented one or two residences, a few safe houses and was able to camp out for fairly long periods of time with out much gear. Not many know this fact but he lives less than an hours drive from the coast in one of Washington's more remote old wood forests.

  Finally at dusk, after spending almost all day traveling unmarked roads, switchback logging trails, and dry (or very wet) creek beds, and ending up hungry, tired and disoriented, I came upon an old log building that was a small country store simply called, "The Cabin." I walked in just as the owner was about to close up. A strong gust of wind blew just as I entered, slamming the door behind me and shaking the windows in the front of the store The little bell mounted on the door that was used to announce customers went clattering across the floor. The owner looked up from putting some chewing tobacco on display, then bent over to retrieve the little bell, still staring at me.

  "Sorry," I said. "Wind's really blowing out there." "Well young feller," The crusty old coot in the brown plaid flannel shirt and denim vest said. "Welcome to Washington State, where it can get right windy at times. I'm getting ready to close so if I can get you anything.....?."

  Tired and fatigued from too much driving and not thinking too quickly on my feet, I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. "I was wondering if you had any fresh donuts?" The question lingered for a moment in the awkward silence that followed. The owner looked at me curiously, sensing the question was not really the one I wanted to ask, but he was still sizing me up for the out-of-towner I was.

  "No.....We have some stale old sugar-dusted ones, that's all." He said. I suppose this response was a veiled attempt to clue me in on what a stupid question it was. Nevertheless..... "I'll take ‘em," I said too quickly "and a bottle of Yoo Hoo, too."

  Again he looked at me with a steady but blank expression, wondering what kind of city slicker had walked into his store. "Ain't got no Yoo Hoo Two either, but we got some beer or soft drinks or how ‘bout one of them fruity Snapple drinks?" (The words, " you asshole," remained unspoken...... but I wasn't the one who didn't know what a Yoo Hoo was.)

  Remembering that the Sandman had expressed a fondness for Murphy's Nut Brown Ale I asked for a six pack. The owner nodded slightly thinking it was the first thing I'd said which didn't make him believe I was a total idiot. Great, I thought, Murphy's and stale donuts; What a great meal that would be on an empty stomach. I wondered if he had any Schlitz Malt Liquor and some old Slim Jims for dessert?

  While the owner rang up my purchase I decided to broach the subject I'd had originally come in to find out about. "I was wondering," I started out slowly "if you know this man and could you give me directions to his house." I held up a black and white surveillance picture from the DEA, taken with a really long lens in poor light. But the subject's face and his features were clear and visible. "His name is Pre....."

  "Sandman." The owner said abruptly. "His name is Sandman." He stared at me with new interest now, somewhat embarrassed by his blunder of blurting a name for the face. The picture had gotten his full attention and he was now obviously on his guard. The air between us seemed to chill about 10 degrees. He finished ringing up my items and quickly put them in a brown paper bag, pushing it across the counter and almost on to the floor. "That'll be $12.50, mister." Saying it more as a punctuation mark to end our conversation than to convey information. I could see in his eyes he would be happy to have me gone.

  I gave him a $50 and told him to keep the change. Then, still holding the picture up I said with a little more pleading in my voice. "Well, do you? I'd really like to know?" "Well, young feller," He said eyeing the $50, "that all depends on what your business is?"

  I was expecting this kind of thing when I got hot on the trail, but I have always thought being straight forward and honest was the best policy. Besides, some people have a very acute crap detector and my ability to finesse a less than truthful answer at this moment was questionable. It's not as though my mission was especially secret. But who knows what people think when a stranger comes in holding a picture of someone you know and asking questions?

  I told him briefly I was on assignment to write a story on the Sandman for my surfing magazine and desperately needed to contact him. He looked me over, weighing the looks of me in my cheap cotton shorts, Gecko Hawaii t-shirt, Airwalks, and Surf Free or Die ball cap. He must have either felt it was an atrocious disguise or was impressed by my simple, surfing sportswear, sartorial splendor. He started to chuckle when he realized there was nothing sinister going on and said slowly with what appeared to be an evil grin, "I'm sure Sandman wants to meet you all right. Real bad."

  The statement made me tingle with both curiosity and anticipation. Here was someone who obviously knew Sandman and he was willing to tell me where to go. What a break.

  He drew a crude map on the side of a paper bag and told me to be careful driving around in the dark. "I lose a lot of customers that way." Then he gave me what sounded like conflicting directions, but I felt just a little better as he escorted me to the door on his way to lock up for the night. He said it should take only 30 minutes or so to reach my destination, any longer and I was either lost or a total moron. Ha ha ha.... What a quaint sense of humor I thought, just like the Sandman.

  I thanked him profusely and walked out through the entrance to the store. Just as I turned to express my thanks one last time, another big gust of wind blew a large hanging sign that was mounted over the door off one of it's hooks. The loose side of the sign came swinging down, cracking me in the back of the head. I dropped to my knees and fought for consciousness, holding the back of my head tightly trying not to cry out in pain. (Which among my law enforcement friends I'm told is really bad form for guys looking for mystery men in the woods). The store owner quickly came to my aid helping me up and sounding very concerned (concerned he might have a law suit on his hands).

  He looked at the bruise and proclaimed it, "a pretty good knot," but he didn't think the gash needed stitches. It was just a little bloody. Great, my previous history with injuries proved I tend to lose the desire to stay conscious when I see Foonblood. He went inside to get some ice wrapped in a towel to put on my head. While he was gone I sat gingerly on the railing of the front porch of the store, feeling slightly light-headed and somewhat queasy. There was a metallic, bloody taste in my mouth. I guess I bit my tongue when I got cracked in the head.

  It seemed like hours before the owner came back, but I'm sure it was only minutes. Several times I felt like I would pass out, but I fought that by desperately rehearsing the story I would tell MrsFoon about my latest injury and wistfully hoping it would generate some sympathy in the glare of my fib to her. Not likely.

  Wincing with pain and holding the ice to my head, I thanked the owner again and I staggered slowly to my jeep. After taking 5 minutes to find the keys and still trying to clear my head, I drove away haltingly. After a few miles my head started to ache really bad, so I took a half dozen aspirin and washed ‘em down with a couple of stale donuts and two Murphy's. Somehow I did not feel all that much better. I spent the next four hours driving the same roads and trails I had been on before, only now I had a map and directions to further convince me I was indeed, a moron.

  The blow to my head must have affected my good judgment, I actually thought for awhile I was making progress in my search. I turned on a local radio station which happened to be a low powered AM station from the nearby Indian reservation (KMAK). Among the stories about someone named Blue Loon driving his 4x4 into a ditch for the fifth time, and a weather report that only described the weather that had already happened and not a forecast, I got the distinct sensation I was heading into some kind of other reality, where my normal instincts were useless. This was somewhat disturbing since I knew I had to be on top of my game when I met Sandman. It was going to be a true test of my desire to write his story.

  Finally, after going by a certain landmark 5 times and not noticing a weed and brush filled entrance to a path, I figured out where I was supposed to be going,...I thought. Slowly I drove down a washed out logging trail that was gouged with deep gullies and strewn with large boulders. Brush and branches scoured the sides and undercarriage of the jeep making a brittle, screeching, scraping sound. I struggled to keep the little jeep from getting stuck or tipping over. This was not a real road, more like a parkway to Hell.

  After 20 minutes I came to a clearing overlooking a small valley. On top of a ridge at the end of the clearing stood a small, two story structure. It was dark and looked slightly threatening as it stood in the shadows of a few huge trees. I wasn't totally convinced I was about to meet Sandman, but I was at the end of my wire and needed a place to crash. This was going to be it for the night. Whether it was his place or not, it was where I was going to hold up if I could.

  I got out of the jeep carrying the remaining Murphy's just in case (I got thirsty) and started toward the building. The animal sounds I'd heard when I pulled up went silent and I became extremely conscious of the noise I was making as I walked slowly toward the building.

 Pt 3 Whoooooooweeeeeee, it's getting dicey now!!!!. Does Foon actually find Sandman? Does he perhaps get to surf with him? Not yet, there's a butt load of stuff that's gonna happen first........read on.

In Search of the Sandman Part 3

"Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear." br>-Albert Camus

  Well it was not the bear cave, tarpaper shack, or burned out log cabin I had imagined. Sandman's dwelling was a rather cleverly crafted house made up of a patchwork of discarded building materials and lumber yard thefts. I'm sure a building inspector would have never approved of this place......not that he could ever get near enough to do so.

  There were no lights on. I walked as quietly as I could, though I don't know for sure why. I didn't relish the idea of surprising the man I'd come to see. It's just that at this point I was kind of jumpy and tense. I moved up the short stack of steps to the narrow porch hesitating a moment when one of the boards groaned. I waited in silence to see if anything would happen and was struck with the notion I was being watched from behind. I looked briefly in the window but could see absolutely nothing. With a deep breath I knocked lightly on the door jam and waited.

  Seconds seemed like weeks and the pounding that now resonated like a hand sledge on an anvil in my head, felt less like it was from the knock I'd taken earlier in the evening and more like a pulsing tumor of fear growing inside my skull. I could almost hear the ominous bass line from the "Jaws" movies playing in the background. My resolve began to waiver but I gave it one more try and knocked slightly louder. A feeling that something had moved up behind me sent what few hairs I have on the back of my neck out straight.

  I started to turn around when I heard the distinct sound of a round being chambered in what I later found out was a high powered Sig Sauer P229. I froze in mid turn and slowly put my hands up in the air. I whispered my introduction.

  "Sandman, d-don't hurt me.......it's F-Foondoggy.......from..... the news group."

 I heard a slight chuckle that started as a grunt and ended quickly. I half expected to be cold cocked from behind and figured it wouldn't hurt my head any worse than it now felt. Sweat poured out of my forehead and soaked the headband of my baseball hat. The hand sledge and the bass line pounded louder.

  "Turn around you dumb fuck, before I blow your head off." The voice was surprisingly even sounding and in control, as if the owner had rehearsed what he was going to say though a slight musk of whiskey hung in the air from the breath of the man who spoke.

  Very slowly I turned to face someone I hoped was the man I'd set out to find. In the deep shadow of the porch all I could see was his outline; average height, but well muscled in the arms and chest, weighing I guessed around 190 lbs. Long, and I assumed, dark hair framed his face down to his shoulders, and because of the light I could still not make out his features. The gun was clasped in his right hand and hung lightly but not fully extended downward in anticipation of having to be drawn up quickly for action. I hoped I would not say or do anything that would cause this to occur. I was already feeling quite poorly for the day. A big hole in my body would just make things a lot worse. The slight light that glinted off the flat gray top of the gun made it look awfully big, powerful.....and nasty. I waited for Sandman to decide what to do next.

  "How do I know it's you? Sandman spoke forcefully and with some malice.

  "Ask me a question.... anything." Time for the test Foon, I thought. I hoped I was ready as I stepped into the batter's box..

  "OK, what was the very best thing about my website?......the old one."

  "The Flame Form." I said quickly without hesitation. Hehe, this was gonna be easy though I figured it was a lob to set me up for a more dangerous pitch. "And who on the ng have I flamed mercilessly for their stupid club name?"

 "Hmmmm," I stalled to make certain. "Team Big Kook." Anyone who's been around for awhile on the ng could answer that. Inside and high, a sucker pitch.

  "OK, you poser. Who on the news group likes me the most?" This was a tough one, the change up curve in the repertoire. I started to run through the gaggle of sycophant bootlickers who'd cozied, and sucked up to the Sandman in the past. jb? Surff? Carson? Gamivia? There was a short list of others who'd tried to glom some authority and power off of Sandman by osmosis, but at times every one of them had lashed out at him for some reason. Finally, I had my answer. (Schwingggggg batta!!!)

  "No one." I held my breath thinking I may have just insulted a madman holding a gun.

  "Damn, I thought I had you on that one. OK, only Foondoggy would know the answer to this one. On Sunday, December 15th, 1996 at 02.46.02 GMT, what position did I offer Foondoggy based on his brilliant suggestions for developing a show to be pitched to MSNBC, called ‘Where's Sandman?'"

  OK, he was bringing the heat now. This was the overhand sinking slider that could enter the strike zone almost anywhere, or if it got away from him, become a bean ball going right for the head. "Associate Producer," I blurted with some confidence in the answer. I couldn't believe it myself but I still have the e-mail. Goodbye Mr. Spalding!!!

  "And at the risk of making your finger twitch on that trigger Sandman, you also plagiarized those ideas and took full credit for them, giving me a minimal acknowledgment, in fucking 2 point type, you bas........."

  "Ah, ah, ah, now, now Foonpookie," he held up the Sig showing me it was still cocked, "let's not bring up sour grapes again. Damn, it is you!! You are far uglier than I expected."

  "You were expecting me....?" Something was starting to make that anvil sound louder.

  "Let's just say I had a premonition I might see your stupid mug sometime soon." Sandman seemed to find this little exchange amusing. He uncocked the hammer then fingered the safety on the Sig, and slipped the gun into the front of his jeans. He stepped a little closer to get a better look at me and eyed my casual dress with smirking contempt.

  "Guess you didn't come ready to rough it Foonrookie, those Airwalks are gonna last about five minutes in my kind of terrain. Let's go inside.... I see you brought appropriate refreshments though." He'd noticed the 4 leftover bottles of Murphy's I had clutched in my hand. "Good thing too, I might of shot you if you hadn't had them where I could see ‘em. Ha, I might of shot you anyway just for trespassing, though I don't really own this property. I'm a squatter." He laughed at this admission. "Come on in you pathetic mess, you're outta here tomorrow anyway, what would my neighbors say if they saw me with the likes of you?"

  I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he didn't have any neighbors and satisfied in the knowledge I would have at least the night to try and learn what I could about the Sandman. Actually, the thought of spending a few days with him had entered my mind. I immediately started to pitch the idea of my article in SurFoon as a way to improve his image. At first he scoffed at the suggestion. In fact his initial reaction was, "Why would I want to do that, I have no image to protect? What do I care what your readers or that inbred club of cyberposers on the ng think?" It was a good and fair question. When had Sandman ever worried about what he wrote on alt.surfing? This was going to be a harder sell than I thought.

  Finally, knowing I would be thrown out the next day without what I had come for, I begged him to let me accompany him on a surf trip and let me write about it. Good, bad or ugly, I would tell it like it was, no holds barred. Further, and as an additional incentive, I promised never to bother him on the news group again. This had to be worth something since I had gotten the impression from three years of being a target for the man's ire, he would jump at the chance to get rid of me. Finally, I offered to pay him $200 just to tag along. Money talks, nobody walks.....except me.

  He rejected the idea at first, but the more I reasoned with him, the idea of taking me on an arduous trip began to have some perverse appeal to him. I felt sick to my stomach knowing what I was asking for and accepting the fact that he would make this adventure as disagreeable as possible for me. He looked me over again sizing up my lack of appropriate clothing, lack of fitness, and my perceived lack of resolve.

  "How bad do you want this Foonpussy?"

  "Bad enough to follow you wherever it is you go to surf and write about it, or...... die trying." He could tell from my tone I was dead serious.

  Sandman looked at me directly, then threw a hunting knife he'd been casually flipping in the air into the wall and said, "Well guess which one I'm betting on."

  Pt 4 OH Man!!! Now he's done it!! Will Sandman take Foon on his (last) surfing trip? Will Foon survive the incredible journey.....and take notes for his story? Did Foon pay his health insurance premium this month? Will the Sandman consider taking Foon to his secret spot and let him live to tell about it? Stop with the questions already! I'm making this up as fast as I can.

In Search of the Sandman Part 4

"It is dangerous to let the public behind the scenes. They are easily disillusioned and then they are angry with you, for it was the illusion they loved."
-W.Somerset Maugham

  "OK, here's the deal, Foonpootie. We'll go surfing at a secret break of my choice. If you survive, you can write your damn story any way you see it. If you don't, I tell everyone you were a stalker and had to be put down." Sandman thought this was an imminently reasonable proposition and smiled in a self satisfied way as he made it.

  To me Sandman's terms seemed less than fair (or attractive) but the look in his eye told me it was the only way I was going to get the story. I hoped we could re-negotiate the terms later once he found out what a great guy I was. Then again this might prove, like my first marriage, to be a disaster of my own making. Who was I fooling?

  "Damn Foonfogie, are those the only clothes you have? "I have some trunks and a sweat shirt in the Jeep." I said defensively. I didn't even mention my taperecorder and camera. Sandman looked at me and sneered, "You're not gonna get very far in that getup. What's your shoe size."

  "Nine and a half. Our family is not known for it's big feet." I said modestly.

  "Or big brains I see. Jesus, my ex-wife had bigger feet than you do. You can use a pair of her old boots I still got laying around somewhere. You're gonna need some long pants too. I got some baggy cammies from my porky days somewhere, what's that gut size 40?"

  "Thirty-eight, but when I suck it in, 36."

  "Well you're not gonna be sucking anything but wind fatboy. I guess we can cut the waistband and use a belt to hold ‘em up. I got an XXL divers wetsuit you can use, left over from my Coast Guard days. It might be too big, but you won't be in it that long anyway, if at all. I gotta go upstairs and find all this shit, you sit still and don't touch anything. And wipe that stupid grin off your face, this ain't gonna be one of your good time, yuppie, beach cruise, surf trips. If you don't die on this trip, by time it ends you'll probably wish you had."

  I knew Sandman was trying to put fear in my mind. He was doing a real good job. I had observed he was a master of messing with people's heads on the newsgroup. Now I was getting a first hand demonstration of how he did it. While he was up stairs I decided to nose around to get a sense of him.

  I've always thought you could learn a lot about someone by the way they lived and the materials they read. Sandman's little house was a microcosm of his existence and beliefs. The ground floor room was just a big rectangle furnished in Salvation Army, Good Will, and hand me down furniture. Nothing elegant but sturdy and utilitarian. The most interesting part of the room was the West wall. It was here I glimpsed inside of Sandman's soul.

  A waist high desk made from an interior door on two saw horses supported an array of computer and stereo gear. Two terminals were chugging away, with a small screen monitor for displaying data, and a big color screen monitor for visuals. A tri-stack of linked CPUs were hot wired for all sorts of illegal activity. Two modems, an image scanner, a police radio scanner, two phones and an uplink terminal to what I assumed was an outside dish, rounded out the gear. The two monitors automatically switched source material every 10 seconds. There were weather, news, marine, and atmospheric sites, displaying in continuous rotation. The big monitor displayed various surf sites, surf cams, and surf reports, automatically storing the days information on a preselected number of breaks. Once in awhile I saw the alt.surfing news group's latest postings displayed. A dialogue box informed me that a separate file was storing all the posts that were written by certain people and any post that mentioned the Sandman or any of his aliases.

  Up on the wall was a massive ceiling to floor set of bookshelves. I began to read the titles to see just what made Sandman tick. Early works on COBAL, FORTRAN, MS DOS and other esoteric languages showed he had a good basis in computer training. I also noticed less technical titles, some of which disturbed me. Things that had to do with surveillance, hiding out, disappearing and creating new identities. There was one binder that had the official seal of the DEA on the spine. I opened it and saw departmental announcements about wanted suspects and some rather serious looking procedural Department Memoranda, that looked like they were for "Eyes Only." I hoped I hadn't just discovered the reason Sandman might be a felon.

  Farther down the wall I saw books on internet activity, writing HTML, coding SGML and XML, deciphering the maze of interconnectivity of ISDN and cryptography softwares. There were various travel books and the CIA fact book which describes lots of stuff about every country in the world. There were books on ecology, environmental issues, politics, weather reporting and prediction, oceanographic tombs, and wave generation texts. There were also, books on firearms, shooting manuals, care and maintenance of hunting gear, a Coast Guard Manual on Ocean Safety, and a full color book just on knives. There were survivalist books, and even a book on how to get assistance from the government right next to a book on how to overthrow the government. He was such a well rounded guy.

  Finally, I had to laugh when I saw that he was also a student of the classics. There were two well thumbed paperbacks, probably from the dime bin. One was "Gidget,." and the fascinating sequel, "Gidget goes Hawaiian." When I looked at the cover of one I was amused to see that the fuzzy and faded picture of Gidget precariously balanced on a huge longboard, had been crudely altered with a Flair pen to give her not only huge breasts, but a mustache and goatee. The last book I saw did not amuse me. It was another well used book and one that I had heard of in my own reading about the occult. It was titled, "The Book of the Dead."

  On the wall next to the phone something caught my eye. A letter on the letterhead of the District Attorneys Office for Jefferson County was attached with a long hunting knife. I read the first paragraph and deduced that it was an official notice informing Sandman of a court assigned psychiatrist, and the schedule of appointments to attend individual sessions and group sessions on "Anger Management." Sounded like something Mike Tyson would be interested in. I tucked this little fact away hoping I would not have to use it.

  Sandman came crashing down the stairs from the upper floor, arms full of gear and a big grin on his face. He looked briefly at the computer screen, clicked to a couple of other sites and turned around declaring a fresh swell was due sometime that night. He was certain there would be waves at at least one of several places we could go. He started to stuff gear into a large well worn backpack and looked at me questioningly.

  "What's a matter Foonwimpy, starting to get cold feet?

 "Well no, it's just I was wondering if you had a bodyboard I could use?" I said very delicately. For a second the quavering of Sandman's pupils revealed a very frightening moment of sheer rage. But quickly, whatever control reflex he had developed (thank you Anger Management sessions) brought the shaky eyeballs back on track.

  "You horizontal pussy! You mean you're not going to ride one of my old long boards? Come on, be a man for once."

  I hesitated to drag out the old explanation of why I was now a bodyboarder, but the fact remained, I had not ridden standup in over 10 years. If there was any chance I was going to succeed in surfing with the Sandman, it was going to have to be prone.

  I could see Sandman was not in the mood to argue the finer points of how I would ride, and I do believe at this point he wanted me to come along, just for his amusement. So he headed for the door and said, "I'll go out and look in the shed to see if there's anything there. I might have an old inflatable air mattress."

  In minutes he returned with a god awful looking old, pink, warped, K-Mart boogieboard. He held it up to me with pride and said, "Here ya go Fooncutie, this is about your speed."

  As he held it up I could see light coming through several holes in the board. He sensed my questioning look and laughed. "Oh yeah, this piece of litter washed up at my favorite break one day. I couldn't just leave it to trash up the beach so I brought it back home and I've been using it for target practice. Don't worry, a couple of chunks of duct tape will make it perfect for you."

  "Uh, Sandman, I'm gonna need a leash too." This I hoped would not be pushing the equipment issue too far. Sandman looked at me again with utter frustration then perked up. "One leash, comin' up." He took a knife from a sheath lashed to his leg and walked over to a coil of hemp rope near the gear on the floor. He chopped about three feet off, poked one end through a hole in the front of the board and knotted it on the other side. He took the other end of the rope and quickly fashioned a hangmans noose, then held it out.

  "Your leash, and I've got some old diver fins around here too just in case you actually make it to the water. I don't have any gloves or boots for you, but the wetsuit has a built in hood. The whole rig is about 5/4, and once your hands and feet go numb, you'll be ok."

  To say I was thrilled with the prospect of surfing with such fine equipment would probably have been overstating my state of mind. But I was hopeful that this was going to turn out better than I had thought At least he was going through the motions f planning to take me surfing. How bad could that be? Realistically, I was afraid that I just might find out..

  Sandman tossed me an old canvas Coast Guard gunny sack with a rotting cord around the opening. "Here, Foonie Bauer, pack all your gear in this. Then fill two canteens with water and get some dried fruit and nuts from that barrel over in the kitchen. I'll be carrying all the heavy stuff, you just take care of your gear."

  I watched as Sandman starting putting various things in his backpack including an assortment of camping and climbing gear. The last thing I saw was the Sig Sauer and three clips of ammo. I wondered if we were going hunting for food with it? I remember my brother-in-law said he had to hunt wild boar with a handgun since they lived in such close vegetation you couldn't swing the barrel of a rifle around fast enough. This was also the guy who got gored in the ass hunting boars with a handgun.

  Sandman checked his computers once more, put in a phone call to someone named Daryl, typed some nasty comment to Ddaniel on the news group and told everyone in a post he was going to have a big announcement the next time he checked in. I was hoping it wasn't my obit. Looking over his shoulder I thought I saw a post from MrsFoon asking the group for information about me. Oh shit, she was on my trail. My head started to hurt with new intensity.

  Sandman turned to me with a slight glint in his eyes and said, "OK, Foonsnoozie. We have about 4 hours until we have to leave. You can bunk on that couch in the corner. I'll be upstairs. You sleep well, we've got a big day tomorrow." With that Sandman's face took on an altogether evil countenance. He grinned broadly with his eyes wide open and began to cackle like some kind of possessed madman. He bolted up the stairs leaving me with this question.....

  "I hope you like herbal tea and stale rice cakes for breakfast?"

  My head hurt really bad now, but for an altogether different reason.... I hate rice cakes!

  Pt. 5 ARE YOU SHITTIN' ME????!!! Foon's a goner!! He's TOAST!!! Sandman is going to wreak some EVIL revenge on him. Do you think he'll even make it to the ocean? NO WAY, JACK!!! Not on herbal Frickin TEA and RICE CAKES. FOON NEEDS COFFEE, AND LOTS OF IT!! Keerist!!! The Rice cakes alone will probably Kill him!! This could be the last part of the story........ But you won't find out unless you read it, will you?

In Search of the Sandman Part 5

"I can't believe out 100,000 sperm, you were the quickest."
-Steven Pearl

  "Most posts in alt.surfing lack desperation." -jb

  I tossed fitfully on the lumpy couch, convinced I'd only slept a few minutes when I became aware of Sandman loading gearing into his truck. I got up too quickly causing my head to pound like gong and stumbled outside in the darkness. In the dim light I went over to my Jeep, took my boardshorts and sweatshirt and put them on. It was cool and damp in the forest and the smells and muted noises of the woods had an oddly soothing effect on my already jumpy nerves. I took a whiz by a bunch of sticker bushes and walked back to the house. Sandman came out on the porch and threw me an old pair of camouflage pants and a pair of hiking boots. "Put these on, and load your stuff in the truck." Well good morning to you too, I thought.

  I slipped on the pants that were almost slit to the crotch and tied the thin, loose rope through the belt loops. The pants were actually baggy in the seat and legs. My boardshorts did not chafe underneath, thank goodness. The boots fit perfectly and were well broken in. I picked up my boogieboard and canvas sack and walked over to Sandman's truck.

  The truck was some sort of mutant hybrid created like Frankenstein, using major parts from an old International Scout and what I believe was a Dodge pickup. It had been lashed and bolted together and sported some rusty, crushed looking license plates that were either really old, or really stolen. At first I thought the paint job was a clever camouflage job, but on closer examination it turned out to be just a patchwork of red, gray, and dirty yellow primers that had been splashed on critical areas to reduce rust, which they did not.

  Sandman tossed me a paper bag with my breakfast, which consisted of two crumbled and stale rice cakes, some raisins, nuts, and a chunk of meat (undetermined) jerky. For a second I wistfully allowed myself the small pleasure of thinking about a Krispy Kreme donut and a fresh cup of java. I wondered if there was a Starbucks on the way to the beach? I'd heard there was one on every corner in Seattle. Abruptly, Sandman broke my reverie and muttered, "Mount ‘em up Foonloser. Take your last look at civilization." He handed me a thermos which I found out later was filled with a scalding and bitter tea called, "Over the Falls." Hmmmm,.......not good.....tasting.....or otherwise.

  I started to get in the truck then paused and asked, "What about the Jeep Sandman, will it be OK to leave it here?"

  He looked at the bright red Cherokee parked about 75 feet away appearing to weigh the options. He reached into his gear bag and took out the Sig Sauer, thumbed off the safety and jacked a round into the firing chamber. Taking a modified shooters stance, he quickly squeezed three shots into the Jeep's grill resulting in a nice tight triangle of green coolant spewing out of the radiator. Before I could utter a word of (regret) he snapped off two more shots flattening the right side tires. Finding my voice I yelled, "WHAT THE FUCK YOU DO THAT FOR ASSHOLE.!!??" (I often wonder where I find such eloquence in moments of stress?)

  Sandman admired his handy work and slowly turned to face me lowering the gun only slightly. This was calculated, I'm sure, to make me very nervous. It did. Smiling in a self satisfied way he thumbed the safety back on and repacked the weapon.

  "Fact is, Foontookie, my woodsy friends, the poachers, were gonna steal it anyway. This just makes it a little harder for them to do it. They may strip it for parts, and they may tow it anyhow. Either way, it's probably gonna wind up in ‘Rental Ravine,' where all the cars the stupid tourists leave unattended end up. I hope you got the insurance...... hehehehe.. Get in the truck and please use your seatbelt." A regular comedian.

  For the next two hours he barely spoke, preferring to listen to the police scanner in the glove compartment and scowling out the window as if he were contemplating some clandestine plot. I was too tired and sore to take much notice of where we were driving. Once we cleared some of the back roads we seemed to be on a main road and heading North. In the pre dawn light the scenery was just majestic and I cursed myself for leaving my camera in the Jeep. I was again feeling somewhat hopeful this would turn into a great adventure and an equally good story.

  Just after dawn Sandman left the highway and began a series of turns on fire trails and logging roads. I had tried to keep aware of the road signs and some indicated we were near the Makah Indian Reservation and Cape Flattery Trail. Suddenly we pulled over. Sandman reached under the seat and pulled out a greasy oil rag. He smiled and said, "I hate to put an end to the tour Foonnoodle, but from here on in to the jumpoff point, you are flying blind. Put this on around your head and make sure you can't see."

  I barely protested, figuring this was just another ploy to manipulate my fear and falsify his intentions. Oh sure, like I was gonna spill the beans about his secret spot. I tied the rag gingerly around my head because the bump and cut on the back were still giving me some pain.

  After about 20 minutes of slow and bumpy driving Sandman stopped and began speaking to what I could only guess were Indians. He was negotiating passage down one of their private roads claiming he was taking me to my ultimate death. He reasoned with them saying, "The souls of your ancestors will enjoy dancing on the remains of this putrid White Devil, whose own ancestors were settlers that no doubt stole holy ground from the native Americans of this land". The Indians laughed out loud at this explanation, as if they could care less why one white man would want to get rid of another. But the bottle of something that clinked as the Sandman handed it over to them seemed to be the deal maker. The Indians waved us on.

  "What did you call me?" I asked when I realized Sandman had spoken in their language about me.

 "Oh, I just called you by your Indian Name -Dances with Whale Shit." Sandman chuckled over his joke. I was not amused, and thought less of it's implications.

  In another couple of miles Sandman pulled over and killed the engine. "Take off the blindfold and start unloading." He was all business now.

 "We walk from here on in. You will carry your board and gear. If you can't, then don't go in."

  "Think I can manage that, though I probably will need several rest breaks."

 Sandman looked at me with utter disgust. "Well if things get tough, leave your food and just take the water. You could live for a year on the blubber you're carrying around with you." He picked up his own backpack and hoisted it on his shoulders. Then out of the truck he took the board he'd chosen for the occasion, a well used 7'8" Pearson, that had seen many a rock dance. As an afterthought he reached into the glove compartment, took something out and tossed it too me. It was a little green plastic compass in the shape of a frog, the kind you could find in a box of Cracker Jacks.

  I looked at it and wondered what it was for? "Look Foonturtle, this is no walk along the beach at one of your fancy beach resorts in the Outer Banks. We have 2-3 hours of hard hiking ahead of us and I'm not about to let you be an anchor. Should we get separated, use the compass to head back East. Eventually you will find the Cape Loop Road, and maybe someone will pick you up if you're lucky." With that short peptalk, he lifted his board and headed down a wooded trail toward the West, according to my new friend, the frog. I sensed I may be needing the little bugger some time so I put him in the wax pocket of by boardshorts under my cammies.

  Pulling my canvas bag over my shoulder and picking up the little pink boogieboard, I quickly lost sight of the Sandman as he disappeared into the thick forest undergrowth. I could still hear him walking ahead and I quickened my already tiring pace to catch up. Twice in the next hour I caught up with him as he was loading up again to move on after a short rest. He smirked at me and asked how I was holding up?

  "Great," I said, trying to sound up beat. But losing the conviction of my answer by saying, "Are we there yet?" "You'll know when Foonpokie, just try to keep up. I don't suppose you do much hiking in Maryland? When's the last time you even walked a mile?"

  "Well MrsFoon walked me around the Potomac Mills Mall one Saturday for 3 hours last May. That must have been a few miles."

 "Hummph," Sandman snorted. "That's what I thought Let's go. By the way, we're done with the easy part, now we start climbing. If you think you can't cut it, now's the time to bail." I can't tell you how comforting this sounded, really.....I can't.

  During what seemed like endless hours of walking, climbing and yes, falling, I managed to bruise or sprain nearly every square inch of my body. I did succeed in keeping up with Sandman mostly until we began to climb down some cliffs and ravines. At one point while I was trying to climb up a cliff, a yellow stream of his urine was arching gracefully over my head. I'm just glad it was number one.

  Suddenly, we came to a clearing on top of a cliff that looked out over the most gorgeous, pristine bay I'd ever seen. Sandman was already sizing up the surf and making my day by saying, " Good for you Foondummy, it doesn't look like it will kill you. A set of about 5 waves was lining up on an outside reef. The ultra glassy conditions allowed us to gaze in admiration at the machine like precision in which they broke to the left, one after another. It looked like about 6-8 foot faces, with potential for more.

  The drop to the rocks at the base of the cliff was over 50 feet and there didn't appear to be any path down. Sandman kept looking out at the break whenever a set would go off, judging what was the best reef setup and noting the various channels and tide pools. He did give me the benefit of his knowledge telling me I would only be surfing the middle reef, that the outside reef was too big and dangerous for a kook like me and the inside reef was clogged with outcroppings, boulders, and logging debris that had washed down from the river. I could see several large logs and branches bouncing around the inside and there were a few washed up on the rocky shore. He told me never to surf near or inside of floating logs for obvious reasons. Duly noted I thought, then asked him where we were approximately. He glared at me weighing whether to smack me or give me a straight answer. "Well for the purposes of your stupid story we're somewhere between Tatoosh Island and Hobuck Beach, but I recommend you say just somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula." I sorta got his drift and did not intend to reveal anything specific.

  Sandman bent over and started unpacking what appeared to be rappelling gear.

 "Uh, so how do we get down to the waves?" I said, not really wanting to know the answer.

 "Well Foondonut, to get to the surf you have to climb down, or fall off the cliff. Which one would you be choosing today?"

 "I've never done this Sandman, I don't think I can do it without really hurting myself." With a "no shit Sherlock" look, Sandman tossed me a rope and said, "I just knew you were going to say that Fooncoward, tie that around a tree as securely as if your life depended on it, which .....it does. Then climb into your wetsuit. You're going off this cliff one way or another to ride waves."

  Fifteen minutes later I was dangling off the side of the cliff like a bunch of bananas coming off a cargo freighter delivering fruit from Costa Rica . I clung to the rope with a death grip even though it was tied tightly around me at the armpits. I looked at the little pink board and fins hanging from the leash that was tied around my neck. Sandman let me drop the last 7 feet. I landed like a wet sack of laundry. Then I heard from up on the cliff, "OOOOPS!!! Sorry Foontubby, I just couldn't hold ya anymore!!!" He dissolved into hysterical laughter. At least he was in a good mood.

  After I untied myself, the rope went quickly back up. Sandman came down swiftly, board in one hand, feeding the rope into the loop of his rappelling harness with the other. He landed gently with a big smile. I looked at him with some concern. "I don't know if I'll be able to climb back up." I said. He looked at me with dead steady eyes. "What makes you think you're going back, Foondoodie?"

  HA!! Sucha kidder, I thought.......I hoped. I prayed. I took the noose/leash from around my neck and put it on my wrist. Sandman waxed the Pearson watching the break the whole time. Finally he said simply, "Come on, Foon. We're missing waves."

  Pt. 6 Holy Salmon steaks, Foon made it!!! He got to the break!!! OK, the smart money says he'll make it back, right? Whose got $100 says he does? I don't know, it depends on how this next chapter plays out. If the surfing session goes well, maybe the Sandman will be good-hearted and let him go. hehehehehe, Smart money my ass. You gotta read it to believe it. This part is money.

In Search of the Sandman Part 6

"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."
-Winston Churchill

  As we plunged through the shore break of Mysto Bay, Sandman warned me to stay close until we got outside. Easy for him to say. He was on a longer board, in great physical condition and knew the place well. I was cocooned in a massive and ill-fitting wetsuit, paddling a K-Mart Boogie toy using a pair of diver's fins and had no boots or gloves. Within the first 50 yards the cold and currents had done me in.

  Sandman moved swiftly and surely out to a point at approximately the middle reef and waited. With his back to me I could see him scanning the outside reef. It took about 20 minutes for me to get used to paddling a bodyboard almost under the water, and assimilate the sensation of so much rubber around me, especially my head.

  By time I got to him he'd already sized up the outside and middle breaks. Outside was breaking about 12 foot faces on sets. As that wave backed off the middle reef would take the same dwindling swell and show about 8 foot faces. As the swell moved even farther inside it turned into a big closing trash compactor with logs and debris that eventually rose up and dumped on the rocky shore with a horrendous crushing and grinding sound. I could have sworn I saw scarred up logs with my initials carved into the bark. Not a very comforting thought. Sandman filled me in on the quirkiness of the middle reef, where the channels might be and warned me again never to surf inside.

  He looked seriously at me and said, "Don't thank me for bringing you here Foonpootie. Seeing this place and knowing what you do now, you can bail, go back and write your damn story and I won't say a thing. Or you can stay and experience the true essence of PNW surfing in conditions you may never get to ride again. It's your choice. It can be your worst nightmare, or best dream. Carpe Fucking Diem, pal. It all depends on if you're up to the challenge."

  With that Sandman turned ass and headed outside. For the next two hours he rode big waves on the outside reef, occasionally connecting a few of the bigger ones to the middle reef and extending his ride half way across the bay. His style was relaxed and fluid. Standing barrels were his specialty and whenever he notched into one he would stand there with almost stoic indifference. It wasn't until he would blast off the lip, gash a deep bottom turn or roller coaster around a section did he show any indication that he was working the wave.

  I, on the other hand, took the first hour to just calm my nerves from getting spooked by every overhead macker that came within 50 feet of me. Being in a strange place, at a strange break, with an even stranger person, was not enhancing my confidence levels.

  Finally, after a few half hearted attempts to shoulder hop, I committed myself to a heaving, thick-walled crusher. The little pink board skittered down the face like a stone skipping on a pond. When I reached bottom I leaned into a desperate turn just to save my ass. The speed of my descent and the power of the wave had me plowing a deep groove in the wave face and I was launched out onto the vertical wall faster than I'd ever traveled before. I hooted despite my fear, exhilarated by the thrill and relieved to think I might survive this liquid green rocket sled. As the little board flew across the wave face, I hung on praying just to make the shoulder. Fifty yards down the line I angled for the top of the gathering wave face and was catapulted 4 feet in the air. A place I had never been before...on purpose. I let out a hoot Sandman could hear. He turned around to see what the commotion was about.

  When I got back from the ride I shouted, "PRETTY GOOD, HUH??!!" Sandman never stopped looking outside. He sort of gave me a limp thumbs up, and yelled back, "Actually, Foonwimpy, I expected you to choke and bail out, or at the very least get planted, considering you're crappy equipment and questionable talent. The fact that you even caught and rode a wave says you've got some backbone.......for a boogieloser."

  As the afternoon wore on, I became even bolder and more careless due to genuine stoke and increasing fatigue. My attempts to master the middle reef were very successful by my standards. I rode 6 waves, each one a joyous self celebration of the sport I love. As the tide went out the waves became even more exciting, and dangerous. Sandman connected several from the outside to the inside reefs, each time I was in awe of his apparent skill and experience.

  To try and change his opinion of me, I decided to snag a wave on the outside reef and ride it in. After Sandman rode by me on his last wave, I turned and paddled outside, scanning the horizon for a set wave. By time Sandman realized what I'd done, it was too late for him to warn me off. I'd already cut my wave out of the set that was approaching and was positioning myself for the ride of the day. Determined to connect the wall all the way to the inside, I ignored his shouts of, "DON'T DO IT, YOU STUPID IDIOT!!!"

  My wave came through like a runaway locomotive, the fluid embodiment of unleashed power. Experience taught me to commit early and take a high trim line just in case. By time I passed Sandman as he scrambled out to avoid getting caught, I was screaming down the line of a 10 foot tunnel on the thin pink edge of being out of control and aiming directly for the inside reef.

  Sandman's warning finally invaded my conscience and I could see the wave gathering to closeout. I glanced up the wave face to see if I could escape out the top, but a big log with all sorts of sharp branches was traveling up the face just down the line from me, preparing to come over on top of me. Punching through was not an option so I attempted to straighten out. In retrospect, not one of my smarter moves. The lip hoisted the log above me and proceeded to bring it down with a sickening crash. My last thoughts before the lights went out were, "Damn, this is gonna hurt a lot more than a store sign on the head,"

  Pt. 7 There you go. I told you. Toast, meat, fini, kaput. Who could survive such a horrible death? You got what you wanted. Foon goes toes up on a surf trip of epic desperation. Everyone knew he would. What a pussy. Don't even bother reading the last chapter. It's just stupid funeral arrangements and how Sandman didn't even bother to send a condolence card to his wife. Skip it.........why cry over a lost bodyboarder. Let me give you a tip. They didn't even have a paddle out for him at his home break. HA!! What a loser.

In Search of the Sandman Part 7

"We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy."
- Cyril Canaille

  "You don't die in the United States, you underachieve."
-Jerzy Kosinski

  I clawed to the surface of consciousness like a spelunker crawling out of a dark, wet cave. I could hear muffled voices, as if someone was trying to talk through a pillow. Slowly the voices came into focus and I heard a doctor talking about someone in a coma.. It sounded bad, I wondered who could it be?

  My head felt like it was tightly wrapped with bandages, which was probably because...... shit......it was. I lifted my hand and felt what I first thought was some kind of turban that somebody put on my head. Ha, Ha, Who's the practical joker? On second thought, this was not a good sign.

  I felt like I was in some kind of suspended animation. I could see the light green hospital walls and blinking monitoring equipment next to my bed. I could hear the murmured conversation of the hospital staff, but it seemed like I was observing it from another place. Was this an out of body experience?

  "Mr.Foondoggy, Mr.Foondoggy? It's good to see you awake." The doctor smiled down at me as he checked the monitor and made some notes on my chart.

  "I'm Dr.Onkst, Chief of Neurosurgery at Mason General Hospitial here in Shelton. I've been called in to consult on your case. You are in the hospital having suffered a serious head trauma. There is minimal fracture, some evidence of concussion and there was some brain swelling which had to be controlled with drugs. You are under observation and may need surgery within the next 24 hours."

  "Shit!" I thought. This was really going to cut into my writing time. How was I going to make the deadline for the story.

  "All things considered Mr.Foondoggy," the Doctor said solemnly, " you're doing fairly well. We were concerned about the coma you've been in since you were brought here, but MRI cranial scans showed no unusual activity (I'll bet). You just shut down due to the shock of the blow. By the way, we notified your wife and she will be here in a few hours. She took the next flight from Washington after we assured her you would be all right."

  So this was the good news/ bad news deal, huh? I would survive (yeah!).... so my wife could kill me (oh shit). Sure, the doctor would still collect his fee, the hospital would make a fortune off the insurance company, and MrsFoon would verbally pound me to a bloody pulp for lying to her. Everyone wins.

  "Uh, Doc? Where's the guy who brought me here..... the Sandman?" I said, weakly.

  The doctor seemed concerned about my question and stared at me evaluating the dilation of my pupils. I guess he was wondering why I used the name, the Sandman, instead of his real name. Using a vague name may have indicated to him a lessened sense of reality or partial amnesia, due to the head trauma.

  "Well Mr.Foondoggy," the Doctor peered down at the clipboard in his hand, "the man who brought you here last night said he was a store owner over in the Olympia National Forest. He didn't give his name and left after you were admitted in the Emergency Room. He claimed you'd been hit in the head by a falling sign at his store and........"

  "THAT'S BULLSHIT DOC!!!" I erupted. "I was surfing at Mysto Bay with Sandman and got caught by some crushing macker and a log that had my named carved in the bark. THAT WAVE WAS A SMOKER AND ARGUABLY ONE OF THE FINEST I'VE EVER RIDDEN!!"

  Though alarmed by my outburst the doctor smiled benignly and nodded, probably wondering what I was babbling about. I never even saw the nurse insert the syringe of demerol into my IV line. As I spewed on about the wave and how Sandman had obviously carried me out fireman style, in effect saving my life, I was almost unaware that I was slipping slowly into a soft, safe, and fuzzy envelope. A place with majestic dark forests, powerful green waves and lovely pink, puffy skies.

  My next experience with consciousness was even more frustrating as I was faced with explaining the whole story to the very unhappy and skeptical MrsFoon. I begged her to believe why I was here in Washington and all the events that had happened since I arrived. She had obviously spent some quality time with the doctor about my condition and adopted the same calm and humoring demeanor, as to not upset me the way the doctor had.

  When I insisted I'd come to find the elusive Sandman, she smiled and reasoned, "Why sure you did Foonboy, but since there is no such thing as Surfoon Magazine, and you were not a writer on assignment for anything, why didn't you come to me first if you were having trouble sleeping. We could have gotten you into a Sleep Disorder Program at NIH. There'd be no need to make up these phony stories about searching for a drug called "the Sandman."

  The horror of that statement crushed me like the log on my last wave. My own wife thought I'd come to Washington State in search of some illegal SLEEP REMEDY!! GARRRRRRGGGHH!!!!!! Thankfully my brain voluntarily shut down again to spare me the agony of this realization. I returned to my Mysto Bay of unconsciousness.

 One Week Later, on the Right Coast.

  "I don't care how hard I got whacked, or what that bastard Onkst said," I yelled. "I WAS SURFING WITH SANDMAN GODDAMMIT!!!!" The almost daily battles with my wife and therapist were starting to wear me down. The conflict between what I remembered and the facts that were presented to me by the doctor, was doing little to resolve the turmoil of emotions I felt each time MrsFoon raised the subject. I couldn't return to work. I rejected visits and calls from friends and family. All I did was watch the ocean and slave over the manuscript of my story, now up to 10, 000 words.

  I'd spent many hours trying to locate the store owner and finally was told by local Washington State authorities that a store called "the Cabin" had existed at one time, but it had recently closed it's doors for good. No one knew where the owner had gone off too. But the rumor was he'd taken off to Mexico with someone named Daryl. Due to my dazed and confused state when I got there, I knew I could never remember my way back to Sandman's place.

  Daily I sat with a piece of blank paper in front of me, trying to recall and write down details of the trip. I was successful in getting the Rental Car company to try and find it's Red Jeep and in fact, one of their investigators did find it stripped, junked and abandoned in a local dumping place for car thieves called "Rental Ravine." But he was not buying my explanation of the bullet holes in the radiator. We paid the $1000 deductible.

  Finally, on a bright sunny day on the balcony of the Foonbunker, overlooking the meager surf that was the standard for the Right Coast and a pale substitute for the powerful dark green waves of Mysto Bay, I had an epiphany. On the blank piece of paper I'd been doodling numbers that kept coming to me as I recalled my experience in the PNW. Suddenly I recognized a phone number. It was one of the numbers I'd seen on Sandman's phones as I looked over his equipment that first night I was there. I leapt up and grabbed the cellphone, quickly misdialing the number three times before I got it right. I was very nervous.

  Appropriately, I got a phone message:

  "Hello. This is the person you probably called, you numbnut. Unless you are a big, lucrative, multinational, software development company offering me a top programmers position with a high six figure salary, 3 months vacation, company wheels and use of the company Lear for surf trips, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.!!"

  "Sandman!!" I yelled in desperation. "It's Foondoggy!! I gotta talk to you, man! No one believes that we went on a surf trip to Mysto Bay and the great waves we had and the log that hit me on that final macker and that you carried me out and took me to the hospital, saving my life......."

  Someone abruptly picked up on the other end.

  "Never happened Foonpootie." A low, ominous and slightly inebriated voice said.

 "SANDMAN, You know it did!!!" I bellowed. "I remember every single detail and wrote them in the story." I proceeded to describe every thing that happened from the moment I showed up at his door until I was knocked cold by the log. Sandman never interrupted once, letting me ramble for 20 minutes or more. Finally, when I had squeezed every drop of detail out of my memory, I stopped; exhausted by the effort and knowing the man on the other end of the line was the only one who knew the truth. I needed his confirmation, I needed his support. I was sliding down the slippery slope of my own tenuous reality into a dark swamp of..........

  "Foon........buddy, get a grip boy. Listen to me very closely. You.......were never here. I...... have never met you, and judging by what I've just heard, I'm not sure I ever want to. What you sincerely believe happened to you......never did. You are delusional man. Are you sure you're getting enough rest. Maybe you're hallucinating from lack of sleep or flashing back to something that happened to you in your hippie days. Why don't you see a doctor?"

  I was beginning to feel very light-headed. I looked out on the small surf of my beach and slowly sat down in a chair, beginning to feel the tremors of involuntary muscle spasm all over my body. I was on the abyss of emotional breakdown.

  "You were out here in Washington, god knows for what reason. That's indisputable. And maybe you took a shot to the head. Let me clue you in pal.... Had you shown up unannounced at my door, at night like you said you did, I would have clubbed you myself, just for trespassing. I certainly would never have taken a kook like you surfing, especially to a secret spot. God forbid man, I've got a reputation around here. If I had even been seen with the likes of you, a boogieboarder, not to mention taking you to a secret spot, I'd have to go into exile until the locals calmed down. So believe me when I tell you this.... Are you listening, kook? It never happened.....and never will. Seeya on the newsgroup chump." With that, he was gone, the phone lay dead in my hand.

  Inside I could feel my emotions shatter like a window. The thin shell of stability I had been clinging to threatened to crumble and break with what little trust I had left in my own memory. How could I have been so wrong? Everything I felt and saw was vividly etched in my memory yet everyone was saying it was not true. Maybe I had been working too hard, sleeping too little, drinking too much, and creating my own reality to compensate for my unhappiness. It really must have been a powerful whack to shift my imagination into such high gear with all these crystal clear remembrances.

  With that MrsFoon came out on the balcony. "Hey Foonboy, I was just washing the clothing you showed up in at the hospital that they sent back, and before I put your boardshorts in, I found this little green frog compass in the wax pocket. Where'd you get it?" She held out the frog in the palm of her hand........

  Having lived with me for 20 years, MrsFoon knew from the sound of my head hitting the floor like a ripe melon, I was out cold. She snatched the cellphone and hit the speed dial for 911. The ambulance arrived in 10 minutes.

EPILOGUE

One of the nicest gifts I got in the hospital with my second concussion was a huge bouquet of thistles and thorn branches. The card read:

  "Foonkookie, heard you were in the hospital again. What a surprise. All the losers on the ng miss ya boy. When you get out go find yourself a huge clump of sticker bushes and go running through it, naked. You'll feel so much better....when you stop it."
  Your friend, the Sandman

  By the way, nice barrel ride. You owe me $200

  When MrsFoon saw the thorns and read the card she said it was just some irrational, troublemaking, sociopath trying to play with my head.

  Clearly, I'm inclined to agree. My therapist Dr. Surff, thinks this is an encouraging sign and that I am heading in a good direction. So does my......little green froggy.

  "There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself."
-Hermann Hesse

  Fini
-Foon

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