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The First Thing You See
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If you go to Bodega Bay, the first thing you see is a capsized trawler lying in the bay muck on its side like a dead soldier. If the tide is in, you only see the antenna and the sonar. But at low tide you can see the whole thing rusting and rotting away in pain. You want to scream “get up, get up” or you want to put it out of its misery. Six hours later the tide comes back in and it’s submerged once again.

I’ve been dating Bill Green for a year, driving out from the city every weekend to his funky, falling down bay house which has absolutely nothing going for it except for a killer view. Bill drinks too much, doesn’t make nearly enough money, and has absolutely no ambition. But at least he’s honest, kind, and we’re good together. With all my responsibilities at work that’s really all I want these days. Just someone who will treat me like a human being and not make too many demands.

We both like the routine: lots of wine on Friday night, me making dinner — fresh crab, when it’s in season, that I pick up at Bayside Bait and Tackle down by the pier — and then cuddling with Netflix and each other. If we’re too tired Friday, then we have sex Saturday night for sure and always a late morning tumble Sunday morning. I try not to work on the computer too much when I’m there because it seems rude, but Bill says he doesn’t mind and some weekends there’s just so much shit at the office that I spend hours responding to emails, editing reports, and what not. He says he doesn’t mind, that he likes everything about me including my Macbook Air with the hot pink cover. When we aren’t talking, which is often, we just look out at the beautiful bay, which never fails to calm.

You can see the boat right from Bill’s window. It definitely messes up the view and sometimes Bill and I wonder out loud whether the coast guard or the owner or somebody is going to do something about it. But we kind of like it too, especially when seabirds land on it. “It’s picturesque,” I say. Bill nods. “Picturesque,” he repeats, as if he’d never spoken the word before.

Last week, I get a call from him. He likes me a lot, but he’s met someone else and it’s serious. “You’re great, and we’ve got a great thing, but I’m not getting any younger,” he says. “It’s someone local. We’re talking about getting married.”

I click off the phone and hover over my kitchen sink waiting to puke. That son of a bitch, cheating on me all this time. Not getting any younger, what crap. He never once talked about love or marriage. I might have said yes if he proposed. God, I’m an idiot. Men make me sick.

The next day, Thursday, I call in sick. I go to a gas station, fill up my car as well as a two gallon gas can. I check the tide chart online; at three PM it’s supposed to be super low. Perfect. When I get out there, I go to a local bait shop and buy some waders. A busty little chippie with a nose ring and a Bodega Bay hoodie waits on me. Maybe she’s the one that’s going to move into Bills house, cook his meals, have his babies. Well fuck her. With the waders on, the gas can under my arm and a Bic lighter in my pocket, I walk down to the edge of the bay and take off across the exposed bay floor. The boat can’t be more have than a quarter of a mile from shore, but as I walk the bay bottom gets muddier and softer. The straps of the waders pull heavy on my shoulders as I trudge one step at a time through the mud. By the time I reach the boat, I’m exhausted. It’s all crusted with barnacles, and smells like rotting shellfish, but I can make out the name, Buona Fortuna. Well they certainly got that one wrong. I douse the fiberglass hull with the gasoline, flick my Bic and whoosh. Well kind of whoosh. In my mind the fire was going to reach 50 feet and the boat would explode in a massive conflagration. But instead there’s only a flickering puddle of flame shimmering over the hull that goes out in a few minutes. All I’ve done is make more of a mess.

I feel like more of a fool than before.


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