I lost my composure in the aftermath of the beach theft, pacing the beach and looking for someone who might be carrying my sneakers or wearing my jacket. I also trudged back-and-forth across the bluff, hoping against hope that the mako shark tooth had fallen to the sand as the conscienceless bandit fled from the scene. No such luck.
I’d intended to go back to my bungalow, stopping first in the CVS pharmacy at the intersection of 67th Avenue North and Highway 17 Business. Prescriptions I had filled that morning included bipolar disorder and anxiety medications. Pills alone weren’t going to help me deal with the overwhelming emotions that controlled my every thought. My mind raced. The pharmacy staff was most compassionate, understanding under the circumstances my distress. Art, Miss Tonya and Miss Teresa did their best to sooth me.
There was no way I was going back to my pad to sit and seeth. From there I stomped back to the beach, standing with my back to the ocean and studying local hotels, looking for places that might house monthly renters. Hotels that often serve as drug dens for pill poppers, crackheads and drunks. Nothing fit the bill, but that didn’t stop me from storming two of the smaller places like angry Frenchmen once stormed the bastille (1789). I grilled the desk clerk at both hotels. They assured me that they didn’t rent to losers. I assured them that I meant neither to insinuate anything nor to disrespect their establishments. I bid them good days and marched to the local food mart, wrongfully looking everyone in the face with distrust along the way.
Somewhere in my troubled travels, I dropped a bag containing one of my medications — valued at $300 for 30 pills. Mistakenly thinking the pharmacy had forgotten to refill that prescription, I went back to CVS. Again, the gang behind the counter set me straight. What can I say? My mind was muddled. I retraced my steps and found the Cymbalta laying right where I’d dropped it — on the sidewalk near the Dollar General store in my neck of the ‘hoods. Art. Miss Tonya. Miss Teresa. Good people. Helpful people. Pharmacist Jon who works there is also a good person, a gentleman; he wasn’t there that day.
In the days that followed I encountered many fine folks on the beach. Meeting them helped me immensely. A fellow journalist, Terry from Kentucky, who was in town with his family. Kim from West Virginia and her two friends from North Carolina. Diann and Ervin from West Virginia. Good people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia. Florida, Massachusetts and Ohio.
They reminded me that for every bad apple there are 15 folks with good intentions. With good hearts. People who would give you the shirts off their backs if you were cold.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few locals that I see on the beach who are the same way: Miss Jean, a former neighbor, an excellent photographer, a senior citizen who is still politically active: Brad and Miss Jane, who reside near the beach, they talk with me about everything under the sun; Angelo, a fellow former Pennsylvanian whose hobby is sweeping the beach with a metal detector, great smile; and Miss Linda, a personal trainer and wellness coach, who always gives me great advice, owner of Sweet Strength. https://www.facebook.com/sweetstrengthcoaching?directed_target_id=0
I’d also like to thank Food Lion clerk Miss Sara, who helped calm me in the crime’s aftermath. Props as well to Miss Dora, who is also a kind person. She reminded me the other day how to make great collard greens. Her recipe helped me make the best collards that I’ve ever made. Miss Sara and Miss Dora are good peeps.
I’m a good person too. A good person with a lot of rebelliousness against the establishment. The Man, in the parlance of our times. Rebelliousness that’s written in the recesses of my shadowy soul. But there’s nothing that I like more than chatting with kind-hearted people.
While I embrace them, I won’t step back from any criminal. Ever.
Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides
Upon four-legged (sea) clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun
Though its glow is waxed in black
All except when ’neath the (Palmetto) trees of Eden.
— Bob Dylan, “Gates of Eden,” album Bringing it All Back Home, 1965
Editor’s note: The narrator of “Gates of Eden” seeks truth in a false paradise. He’s tired of watching society decay. Hmm. Reminds me of somebody. The audacity of me! Littering Bob’s brilliant lyrics. He wrote “forest clouds.” Not sea. This three-part series is dedicated with love to my grandparents, all of whom have passed away: Madeline “Mattie” and James “Cork” Fenstermacher of Sunbury and Blanche and Gordon “Gordie” Hufnagle of Lewisburg. All good people.