The blazing sapphire star of an ocean threw perfect tendrils of briny foot soldiers pitilessly forward, crumbling the resistance of the puny grains of sand that bound the pure ivory beach together. Above, fat overfed gulls barked commands at the outflanked pebbles, demanding that they hold fast against the watery onslaught. Ignorant of such conflicts, tourists and locals alike baked like ants under the magnified summer glare of the sun. Out away from the ubiquitous screams of children in the shallows, we floated like mismatched corks just inward of the last line of breakers.
The Doctor, Senor Inteligente, and I were content just to relax, occasionally stirring ourselves from our torpor to burst forth in blazes of speed to catch sets ranging from the miniscule to the slightly large, bodysurfing down the faces, and rolling loops in the few slow breaking barrels that appeared and vanished like mirages. Not so Bismarck. While he had been content to relax in our seal-like laziness for the first eleven days, his shark-like cunning had begun to thrash around as time had passed. Bismarck was like the ocean - not totally content unless he was molding and creating a new landscape.
“Hey. This is lame.” He said eloquently and succinctly, breaking in on our very important conversation about where to eat lunch.
“What?” I said, squinting at him with the salty eye of sloth.
“Bodysurfing is lame.”
“Well, what do you want to do?” I inquired. “Head in???” The very idea was heretical.
“No, no. I want to try something new. Something that’s never been done.” He said steadfastly. “I have an idea for a new sport.”
“Well, what is it?” We inquired, treading water with mild interest.
“I call it…” he paused for dramatic effect, “ ‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING BODYSURFING’.”
The waves applauded his wild notion. The rest of us merely stared in disbelief.
“You see” He explained “Instead of just merely riding the wave in, two people will go in on the same set – but instead of merely doing tricks, they’d battle it out. You know, punching, kicking, grabbing – nothing below the waist of course.”
“Of course.” I noted dryly “Some of us have girlfriends, and might want to have kids someday.”
“Anyhow, whoever manages to stay on the set on the way in, despite the other’s actions, gets a point.”
“And these points are good for…” I mused, avoiding a large swath of kelp.
“Well, nothing really. Just you know, to rank us, see who is the best, or can win the most matches.” He replied.
“So let me get this straight” Senor Inteligente mused “You want us to try and drown another person while we surf in, and whoever doesn’t end up at the bottom, gets a point.”
“Right.” Bismarck said enthusiastically.
“What a great idea.” I said sarcastically. “Who wouldn’t want to play a meaningless game for points that could almost kill you easily.”
“Don’t be a sissy.” He snapped back at me. “Are you guys in?”
Since there was still an hour to lunch, it seemed like the best idea on the table. We nodded our assent, and the challenge began. As the sets rolled in, the blows fell between contestants. Ribs were gouged. Air was expelled and sea-water rushed into empty lungs. Heads were smacked into the seafloor. Kicks and elbows ricocheted off cartilage and bone. Underwater oaths popped like angry bubbles. Style points were awarded by spectators who watched the commotion with quizzical expressions. Strange, unorthodox and complex holds flourished and disappeared with the current.
The Doctor’s suit was stripped off in a fierce tussle, and made a wild break for deep-sea freedom while the rest of us cackled with wild abandon as he frantically searched for it. Impromptu rules were set up. The original bracket of four was expanded to six, and then eight as our other friends showed up and joined in the recklessness. Praise was heaped on Bismarck for inventing a totally new way to uselessly risk one’s life before lunch, and for choosing such an innovative and creative name for the sport.
It was the last set before lunch. Bismarck and I stood tied in points, or rather bobbed tied in points. Each of us wanted to win the first Ultimate Fighting Bodysurfing Pre-Lunch Half-Cracked Shell of Victory. We waited. Each of us smelled blood in the water. I looked over. He grinned evilly at me.
“Hey – warm....” I muttered. Then I heard his chuckle and realization hit me. “Nooooooooo! Disgusting! Automatic half point disqualification at the very least!” I then jumped my legs into high gear to escape into clean water. Behind me, the wave started to crest and break. I accelerated and braced myself for the assault that was coming. In the second before battle was joined, my hypoxic brain heard the fish and crustaceans singing in tinny voices: Don’t go where the humans go…