The turtles are restful creatures, of course, once you get them fed, cleaned up, lolling about by warm rocks, breathing quietly under the sunlight. They’re restful creatures in general, even in times of duress, which is why I’ve got to be here, and why they’ve got to be here, at the sanctuary near Coconut Grove. Their restfulness has gotten them into jams. These turtles have choked on plastic bags, been scarred and broken by motorboats swimming on the surface of the water (sometimes I imagine how our boats must look from down there, black shadows moving at lightning speed above the blue—apocalyptic, really).
I am not opposed to getting hurt, I told him, but only with good reason.
He was sitting on the same couch I was when I said this, but far enough away, because reasons abounded.
Evening then, the only light made by my little Target lamp. Both our sets of knees avoiding the first coffee table I have ever owned. Well, purchased with money. This data-point is only significant if you consider that, bloodwork-wise, I am now considered geriatric.
I understand, he said, and hope not to cause you any hurt. That is the last thing.
Coming out of the freeway tunnel in Santa Monica is a transformation. Dark, subway-tiled, no radio reception, then, instantly a burst of music, blue sky, white sand, and the glory of the ocean across Pacific Coast Highway. I feel like an ancient Greek coming out of the underworld. I am on my way to a Christian college in Malibu, a place I haven’t been to in over a year, since my banishment. Under the terms of my non-disclosure agreement I won’t mention the name. Like a lot of cults, they are extremely litigious.
The noodle maker came down Main Street with heavy sheets of dough draped over her shoulders, pushing an enormous, rickety cart that held a worn wooden cutting board, three giant pots of furiously boiling water, dozens of prepared condiments and toppings in neat wooden drawers with smooth brass handle pulls, several folding stools hung on wooden pegs, a crock of chopsticks inlaid with abalone shell, and a sharp cleaver in a slot. The solar panel that shaded the cart’s workspace and powered the noodle maker’s burners glinted dully in the hazy sunlight. The cart teetered and careened wildly over the uneven pavement between the abandoned shops, but the noodle maker did not spill so much as a drop of water.
Her first customer was mongoose, who trotted over happily and requested cut noodles with cabbage. He proffered a large bowl of fine, white porcelain. The noodle maker separated a portion of dough from the sheet on her left shoulder, folded it in thirds on the board, quickly sliced it into long skinny noodles with the sharp cleaver, and dropped the tangled handful into one of the boiling pots.
“Shave ice man go up Snow Mountain, eh?” said mongoose.
“Did he?” the noodle maker asked, keeping her voice steady. She handed mongoose a pair of chopsticks from the crock. “I had no idea.”