Shark Man (#9) Nothing

The next day I walked over to Tim’s house. I didn’t really want to see Tim, not after yesterday, but my surfboard was in his garage.

When I knocked on the door, Tim’s father opened it.

“Hello Mr. Olson,” I said, “I didn’t expect you to be home.”

“A rare day off,” Mr. Olson replied.

“Is Tim around?”

“Nope, went shopping with his mother.”

The news washed over me like a cool summer shower.

“Do you think I could see if my surfboard’s dry?”

“Sure, come on in,” Mr. Olson replied, tossing the newspaper he was reading on a chair. The inside of the Olson’s house was just like the outside, filled with plants. As we entered the garage, I could see my surfboard lying on the sawhorses where Tim and I had left it.

“Let’s see,” Mr. Olson said, running his hand along the edge of the board. “Yep, looks like it’s dry, but it still needs a little sanding here and there.”

I watched while Mr. Olson took a small piece of sandpaper and sanded each of the areas we had filled. Like Tim, Mr. Olson worked carefully. When he was finished smoothing out the last patch, I thanked him, picked up my board, and headed outside.

It took all of my strength to carry the surfboard from Tim’s house to the beach. Not only was it big, a full four-feet taller than me, it weighed a ton. When I got to the beach, it was empty. Not a fisherman, or sunbather, or surfer in sight.

I set the end of my board down in the warm sand. I tried to get it stand upright, by itself, the way I had seen on the television special a couple of years ago. But either the sand was too loose or my board was too heavy because it kept falling over. So I stood there, one arm around the middle of my board, the other shading my eyes, looking for waves. But there weren’t any. The storm surge had gone as quickly as it had come.

Finally, more out of boredom than anything else, I kicked off my sandals, pulled off my shirt, and lugged my surfboard into the water. Then, I flopped down on my stomach and started paddling.

When I got past the break, what little there was, I sat up and craned my neck, hoping to spot a wave worth riding. But there wasn’t any. Not one decent-sized wave. Anywhere. I sat on my board, looking, hoping, until I saw it—a fin.

Shark! I thought to myself.

Frantically, I angled my board toward shore and started paddling, but my board hardly moved it was so heavy. I paddled with all my might, not looking back, terrified at what I might see.

When my board hit the sand, I jumped off and dragged it up onto the beach. Then I spun around and looked out to sea. Nothing. No fin. No waves. Nothing.

Maybe what I saw wasn’t a shark. Maybe it was another kind of fish, a dolphin or sailfish. Maybe it was just a piece of driftwood.

I kept straining to see it again, whatever it was. I shielded my eyes with my hand to cut the glare of the sun bouncing off the ocean. But nothing. Not a fin. Not a fish. Not a bobbing stick or tangle of seaweed. Nothing.

Slowly, I bent down and picked up the front of my surfboard and started for home, dragging the tail end in the sand.

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