Stringers | Four

Caspar’s father had spent months on this inspiration and countless hours carving the gripping-beast motifs that adorned the joins at bow and stern. Beasts grabbing at and grappling with mortal enemies, seen and unseen, in battle to save their souls. Bleached a shimmering chromatic white from a relentless sun, the seventy-foot long oak structure could accommodate up to thirty seamen on a series of benches running the length and breadth of the craft. It was this ship, the pride and joy of the curious little rest-stop slash diner slash road-side repair shop and gas station, that had been Caspar’s immediate destination. Destination forgotten however, given eight years of age, a short attention span and one very dead lizard.

Caspar Kouyaté-Finn was incongruent if defined with a single brush stroke. But a more precise portrait would favour an intelligent boy, athletic nonchalance, tall for his age with heat browned skin, blue eyes and a janitor’s mop of floppy dark hair tinted light with desert sun. Genetic blessings of an adventurous Senegalese mother and an industrious Norwegian father. Living in the northern Chihuahuan Desert north-west of Las Cruces off I25, Caspar’s days would begin and conclude with the tasks of his parent’s roadside operation. Schooled at home, his only friend a thriving imagination.

With the rising sun Caspar engaged in a progression of repetitive acts. If not sweeping the sand that drifted in through not so sealed doors, he was stocking emptying shelves. If not pumping overpriced gas he was washing off bug splatter cemented to roasting wind-shields. If not dumping trash, he was breaking down boxes and so on and so on, all the while intent to overhear the tales told by the shop’s transient patrons about the exciting places they were off to or had recently left behind.

Schooling took precedence during the mid-morning hours. European and African history kicked off each session, followed by language both English and French, a course in mathematics and finally ending with the finer points of cooking akkra, boulettes du poisson, mafé and poulet yassa. Any edible remains of the morning’s lessons sold from the shop’s kitchen as authentic traditional West African cuisine. Afternoon activities focused on the Osberg, and it was the eventual execution of these chores that lead Caspar to his second life-altering discovery that day.

While washing down the mighty Viking craft, Caspar happened upon a thickness of papers folded upon themselves as a tube and stuffed beneath one of the ship’s wide oak benches. Unravelling the packet revealed an aged magazine dedicated to the art of surfing, forgotten, discarded, no longer of use to the previous owner.

to be continued

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