By Timothy Rosini
The wreckage looked alien strewn across the otherwise pristine beach. It was a rare overcast afternoon, as if dusk came early, bearing gifts of grey blankets to clothe the sky. Clouds rippled in off the coast, casting shadows like fleets of airplanes. The steady breeze smelled of salt and drug-tinged smoke.
I pedaled up to the rest of the audience, watching as firemen frantically dug at the edges of the car like archeologists. A truck lined the shoulder of the coastal highway, surrounded by police vehicles and ambulances. Barely visible beacons of light flashed incessantly, a pulsating quasar at the edge of vision. The unnerving silence and tension made a dog go sketchy—attacking a passing fireman as he walked through the crowd.
“Get that fucking dog outta here!” yelled a voice from somewhere.
The dog’s owner had a bushy, muppet-like mustache, a protruding gut, and a vibe usually attached to the hard-asses who defend their front yard foliage like the beaches of Normandy—so
I was quietly surprised when he submissively complied without reaction. Traffic on the highway was at a standstill. I kept looking from road to wreck mentally trying to piece together the rubble.
A murmur snaked its way through the crowd. I turned just in time to see several firemen reach underneath the car—seemingly into the bowels of the earth—and pull out a large, bloodied, bald-headed man.
The scene seemed remote, even as crucial moments of a man’s life were taking place before our eyes. Wind at the shore has a way of muffling everything. The silent film I witnessed was filled with deliberate movements. Emergency workers mouthed words I couldn’t hear while they shifted the man onto an orange stretcher. His bloodied stomach jiggled and I wondered if the thin board would hold his weight. An oxygen mask was placed on the man’s face, only to be torn off in one fervent motion as a spout of blood erupted onto what was once a white shirt. The shirt, cut open and removed—blood and vomit leaking across the man’s stomach, sliding down his sides and dripping onto the sand.
The portrait held an odd juxtaposition—the beauty of the rolling blue green waves touched with white foam crashed into the shore; yet in the foreground, metal ruins lay half buried in sand. A massive upside-down four-door sand crab billowed smoke out over the ocean as a man’s life teetered between the abyss and shallow waters.
“Do you know what happened?” A low voice said behind me, interrupting my internal assessment of the situation.
“No, I just got here a minute ago.”
Before I could finish my reply, the lady reached into her shoulder purse and pulled out a phone. I stared in disbelief as she proceeded to step forward, aimed, adjusted the zoom with her thumb and forefinger—her tongue flat against her teeth in concentration—and took a photo, the little flash illuminating like a lighthouse beacon. She looked down at the picture, frowned, erased the picture with a click and snapped another.
I turned and noticed the crowd, a host of arms extended—phones inseparable from hands. Small shutters clicked—insects buzzing in unison. From afar it must have looked like a primitive culture collectively making an offer to some oceanic deity.
The emergency crew continued to cater to the stranger’s vitals, yet I found the resolve to turn away. Pedaling down the path the shoreline whizzed by—waves chanting their battle cry as they endlessly attacked the surf. I turned back and saw little black dots littered across the sand. Smoke still silently streaming into the atmosphere. Instinctively, I reached into my pocket feeling a familiar rectangle. Grimacing, I retracted my hand, staring at the wide expanse of the sea, mesmerized by its chaotic beauty.
An hour later, a revelatory pang of irony and defeat hit me as I swiped across the illuminated screen.
Timothy holds a BA in English Literature with concentration in Creative Writing. He currently writes professionally for his day job and has been published in several Regional and National Magazines as well as various websites. However his true passion is for crafting fiction and non-fiction short stories. Tim also covers music and has been published on several online music publications. Transplanting himself years ago from the East Coast, he currently resides in the Greater Los Angeles area. While Tim has a tenuous relationship with social media you can find him on Instagram @tros81