To the victor

I went up to the concession stand, and thought at first that it was closed. But walked around the side and saw a smaller window open, and a man standing there filling a napkin holder. He had sort of a hang-dog face, very far from handsome. “Can I get you something?” he said, not even looking up from the task.

“You have fried clams?” I said, pointing to the sign with red, fading letters. He said, “Yep, will just take awhile to cook up.” So I paid him and sat down at a picnic table to wait. There was a fisherman coming off the pier, with crabs in his bucket. He put them in a trunk and drove off.

The wind was blowing, and the sand swirled on the cement paths. I inhaled the smell of the ocean, and the sun was still warm even though the breeze made it a little chilly.

Finally heard my name called, and picked up the fried clams and french fries from the counter. Following the cement path, I walked slowly out to the pier. The ocean in Southern California is a deep green, powerful and frightening as it surges around the pylons. The gusts of wind were stronger on the pier, and tossed my hair about. A seagull was eyeballing me, perched on one of the heavy railings. I threw a fried clam to him, and he caught it neatly. Swallowed in one gulp.

October, 1993



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