John Maradik

The Day Waves Came

I woke up. I took a rip. When I ripped, I realized how tan I was.
When I left for work I saw the waves. Waves were crashing onto our roads and slamming into the buildings. I usually rode my skateboard. It was the most important thing I owned. With huge words it said Dope on the bottom. But today the waves were horrible. I couldn’t ride to work. I asked myself, “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” I said and offered myself a rip.
Jacks and Jackets everywhere were baffled. The ocean swarmed us and it sounded like wind. A Jacket skateboarded by holding her baby. I said, “Secure that baby. The waves are beside you.”
I rolled into work over an hour late. All the Jacks I worked with were gawking out a window. At first, I thought they were looking at an important person, someone tan or with jewelry. But they were looking at the waves.
I said, “What the fuck is up with the waves?”
“The waves are fucked.”
“I’ve never seen this,” I said.
Nobody said anything.
Our job was to research what cheered people. Horniness. Woody scents. These were things that provided our city with cheer. And we discovered them. But we weren’t working now. Someone started ripping and then we all were. Waves weren’t supposed to act like this in our city. The ocean was normally friendly. We used to ride up and stroke fish. Crabs would crawl up and click our toes. Now the ocean was stroking us back.
“Is this cool or is this weird?” a Jacket asked.
“The Bigs will deal with this,” a Jack said.
The Bigs did actual work and handled the crises that made us all want to die. That’s why they never had to wear shirts. They had nice hair and teeth. They worked in the biggest buildings. They ruled over the ocean and the city.
Ripping and speaking, I spoke, “Why aren’t The Bigs making the waves stop?”
A Jack said, “Maybe they don’t know how.”
That made me take the hardest rip.
The Bigs should know how to fix everything. I felt crusty with fear. I decided to bail on work.
On the road, I passed a Jack I knew. He asked about the waves and then got pushed over by a major wave. Waves were lined up as far as I could see. I tried to keep going, but I was insane in a wave.
Some Big rose up out of nowhere and said, “Remain calm. Rip one of these.” He handed me a rip and I ripped it.
I said, “These waves.”
He nodded his head. He was being somewhat tan and shirtless. I couldn’t help but think this Big was crisp.
“Jacks at my work need somebody important-looking to calm them,” I said
The Big gripped his skateboard. It said BIG on it.
We were immediately ripping together like two legends.
“You are our only hope,” I said.
“I don’t think we are,” he said.
I almost already knew this. I took a rip. Waves sprayed against us and we had entirely no flow.
A Jacket rode by on her skateboard and made me trip out. I asked if she needed help, what with the waves and all. She said her skateboard was the most important thing.
I said, “I know.”
Me and The Big were skateboarding in slow motion. Some ocean crept up on us. We saw a Jack in a wave. Then it was no one. Just buildings and waves. The ocean barfed against a building and broke windows. The whole city was ghosty. So many kinds of Jacks were not there.
Suddenly, I saw a big badass Big. He was standing on the road, blocking it off with a bunch of other Bigs. This Big wasn’t wearing a shirt and he was so tan I put my hands over my face. I was real ripped.
The Big ignored me and gave instructions to his crew. They were setting up gear and instruments by the buildings. One of the Bigs plugged some wires, hit some buttons, and a building standing in waves collapsed. It fell down and crumbled and got covered in more waves.
So it was just me and these Bigs and this crew blowing shit up. And the waves.
“Get the fuck out of here,” that Big finally said to me.
“Did you make the waves do this?” I asked.
That Big looked at me. “Yeah,” he said. “Bigs did this. Bigs love this.” A wave smashed his hip. I tried to ride away. I got stuck in a wave and just sat there. I looked back. Buildings fell around me.
I slowly made it to the higher heights of the city. The waves weren’t bad here and I could ride again. I finally saw other Jacks and Jackets riding. The sun behaved normal and made me less wet. But I was so soggy. I envied the Jacks who were dry. I wanted to figure something out. I didn’t take a rip. Seabirds flew across the sky.
I followed noises until I found Jacks gathered around some hill. They were yelling things like, “My house is covered in waves.”
Why the waves were doing this, we did not know.
Most people were ripping, but I didn’t feel like it.
Then a massively beautiful Big stepped out of the crowd and stood at the top of the hill. Everyone realized how tan this Big was. His hair was nappy and we forgot about the waves.
“All you quiet the fuck down,” he said.
We knew it was time to chill.
“Check this shit out.” The Big held up his wrist and a huge gold watch glinted. This Big wasn’t just tan and nappy. He had the goldest watch.
“I need to tell you some shit. But first I want everyone to take a rip.”
Everyone did exactly what this Big said. I only pretended to rip.
“We’re moving the city to higher ground,” the Big said.
People were too ripped to ask serious questions, but I did.
“What the fuck?”
The Big stared at me, his golden watch blaring.
“We’re giving everyone more rips. Start ripping,” he said. “Stop worrying. Forget about the buildings.” Then that Big pulled out rips and threw them over the crowd. Rips were raining down on us like rain. Everyone bent over grabbing rips. I did not.
The Big looked at me and his eyes were coming out of his face like a nightmare.
A moment passed. A cloud abruptly drifted. This was the longest I had ever gone without ripping. My head felt buttery and soft, but something in me was crystal clear. What were we doing? How were we going to fix our city? It made no sense.
The Big told me with a whisper, “You’re being weird.”
“You are,” I said.
“Rip one of these,” he said.
Sitting in my hand was a rip, the only comfort, like a pathetic jewel.
The Jacks around me were ripped beyond repair. Everyone was wearing a tank top. A Jacket saw me and looked away. I was torturing myself. And for what? For someone else’s problem?
“You’re a lazy coward,” is what my mother said the first time she got me ripped. “But this is how you take care yourself. Jacks have done things this way forever.”
The rip in my hand practically whistled. My hand reared up. I had to rip it. There were waves now. There was no way I could feel all this shit and look good at the same time. I ripped it.
I started walking towards a group of Jackets. They were dancing together and it looked like they were about to have a sexual experience.
I finally figured it out. I would get tan. Maybe real tan.

 

Maradik_PhotoJohn Maradik received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Fourteen Hills, and Unstuck, and he is the co-author of the chapbook Peer Confessions.