Santa Monica beach, July 18th, 1977.
I sat on the lip of the
sand, my stomach burning with jealousy and
depression. Carolyn Bender, who I always thought sort of liked me and
would be receptive to at least talking to me, had just totally insulted
me at the snack bar.
I came up behind her quietly and tapped her on the back. I was going
to ask her if maybe she wanted to go over to the pier. I opened my mouth
to deliver my innocuous and friendly opening line ("Hey, what's cookin'
She whirled on me, her eyes full of hate and fire. "Stop following me
around!" she screamed. "You're driving me fuckin crazy! What kinda fag
are you, anyway!!"
Her friends fell over laughing, and I stumbled away from there across
the hot sand, feeling broken in half a dozen places, feeling almost like
I could actually puke. Now, a half hour, it still hurt just as bad as it
did at that moment, though it seemed to be abating just the slightest
A huge shape became apparent out in the ocean. Some kind of rock? A
shark? A whale?
Holy fuck, it was a submarine! Out about 100 feet or so, not far
beyond the farthest swimmers. I looked around. Others had noticed it too
and were standing up from their towels, sparkling mirrored sunglasses,
sand grains falling from legs & asses.
The sub disappeared, provoking a chattering round of analysis and
Something exploded out of the water.
Then two more big splashes.
Rising on star-bright orange fire, missiles grew from the water, their
stems a continuous ribbon of smoke. Three, then eight, then eleven, then
They quickly hit the vertiginous heights, and you practically had to
lie back on your towel to see them. I heard a lot of theories a test,
a publicity stunt, something for a movie. The movie one was the most
popular. I don't think anybody said Armageddon exactly, though it sure
looked like people were thinking it, especially the older people.
Up in the air the smoke trails diverged, making it look even more like
a bouquet of something. A bouquet of death, I thought. I smiled to
myself. I didn't feel so bad about Carolyn, anymore.