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There’s One There Bigger Than a Submarine

By Andrew Kidman

“The horses figured it out,” said Paul Leon. “I mean, how would you know there was fresh water down there in those rock pools?”

We sat up in the scrub looking for movement on the surface of the ocean. The sun had finally fucked off, literally drowning on the horizon, its heat snuffed out by the mother of us all.

For me it was the best hour of the day, for a moment I could see straight. As the coolness of the sea swept over us, the muted purple hues faded up into the first star and off into outer space.

The beer was cold enough - “mad-man’s soup” they called it. Two swigs and I was half pissed. The days’ sun had drawn every molecule of moisture out of me.

“Now what was that you were saying Paul Leon?” I gabbed.

Paul Leon pointed down to the limestone rock pools that edged their way into the sea.

“There’s fresh water down there in those tide pools. Underground wells that seep up and leave fresh water in the holes. The drovers used to take their horses down there back in the day to cool off, the horses walked over to the tide pools and started drinking from the wells. It was a godsend. Whoever would have thought there was fresh water down there?” he reiterated.

Paul Leon pointed towards a lifting swell. “There’s one, you see that?” he said in his monotone drawl.

“Wow,” I said somewhat more enthusiastically, “you weren’t kidding.”

We’d come down to watch the salmon run. Paul Leon had predicted we’d see a White if we came down on dusk. And sure enough, there it was: a submarine trawling through a school of salmon and busting them up.

“Geez, they move,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Paul Leon. “Now you know why we’re not so fussed about going for the late.”

“Yeah,” I said. It made me nervous just sitting in the sand dunes. “Jesus, will you look at the size of that bastard!”

The White hooked a u-turn and blazed through the school again, fish and shit flying everywhere.

And then it was all over: just a pale green sea, gently calming down and putting itself to sleep as a blanket of wind began to puff from the land.

“It’ll be on again tomorrow,” Paul Leon said as he rose to his feet. “Let’s make a run to the pub. I need a few more, it’s been another dry one.”

Whilst his name sounded French, he didn’t much look nor act as such. He stomach-butted open the back door of the pub and made his entrance. Frenchy they called him, a name that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Paul Leon found his place at the bar.

“What’ll it be Frenchy?” said the bar lady as she wiped the bench in front of us.

“Two of you, take away,” said Paul Leon. “I’ve got a nice quiet retreat on the back of my truck. I’ve just had the curtains done in teal.”

The bar lady scoffed and turned her back.

I tried to drift in unnoticed, but no one was buying it. “Who’s you’re new girlfriend Frenchy?” said one of the sun-cured faces at the end of the bar. “You showing off the waves again Frenchy? You know how much we love to share our waves around.”

Paul Leon looked up and smiled, “Fuck you, Scrub Rabbit. Aren’t you from Tasmania?”

The locals at the bar acknowledged the sledging with wry smirks and eyes to the Scrub Rabbit, before drifting back to more important musings.

I’d been introduced and ignored, so I looked around. The bar was a shrine to the White and its hunter. Bent hooks, jaws and photographs of young fisherman standing next to bloodied monsters twice their age. Record catches and records broken - all taken from the surrounding sea. I’d heard all the stories from down here. I’d heard so many it wasn’t worth talking about. Not that I could stop myself from thinking about it. I had pretty much kissed the sand when I’d hit the beach earlier in the day.

Paul Leon had taken me out to the fabled left that broke a mile and a half out to sea. It was a sight to be seen, a natural wonder of the world: sweeping blue groundswells lifting on the shallow shelf, plumes of white cascading over dark blue caverns that flawlessly peeled into a giant breeding canyon.

“Best not to think about what’s underneath you,” Paul Leon advised as we’d paddled over the canyon on the way out. That said I’d spent the entire surf constricted by fear. He knew it too.

“Did you see that?” he’d quipped, “Oh, it’s nothing.” He wasn’t fazed at all.

“I guess you get used to it,” I’d said to him.

“Get used to what?” he replied, “Chicks fallin’ all over ya? I can’t help it if I’m a good looking Aussie bloke with a French name.”

As I paddled back out after each wave I felt sick. I’d wondered if a human could feel anymore vulnerable? Then the hysteria had set in, (that was always a good feeling) a cocktail of anxiety and reverie. I looked around and realised I was sitting in the line-up alone. Paul Leon had caught his last wave. No doubt the bastard had laughed his way to shore at my expense.

Paul Leon’s voice woke me from my cranial wanderings at the bar.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Oh, just thinking about today,” I replied.

“Good waves eh!” he said.

“Yeah, probably the best ever.”

“Ya know you’re sitting in Digby’s chair,” said Paul Leon. “Digby Stevenson. He got taken down here some fifteen years ago now. That was his chair. See his name’s still there,” he said as he motioned to the space directly in front of where I was sitting.

I looked down at the bar. “DIGBY” had been carved into the wood with a penknife. Around his name other folk had celebrated his life with drunken drawings and words. Someone had surrounded the collage with the jaws of a White.

“That’s ultimate respect,” said Paul Leon, “ultimate respect is the Great White Shark. Humans aren’t humbled by too much, but they sure is humbled by the White.”

“I think you might be right about that Paul Leon.”

“I know I’m right about it. I’ve been livin’ and surfin’ in this desert me whole life. Now let’s get the fuck out of this shithole, before they lock us in with the blow-ins.”

Note from the Author - (The title of the story was taken from the song Shark Fin Blues by The Drones)

*The story 'There's One There Bigger Than a Submarine.' published in KooK2, with illustration to accompany. Both illustration and words are by Andrew, who recently created 'Lost in The Ether.'

Please visit his website for more information

*All ordered KooKs were dispatched this morning. Thankyou very much to all those people that support the KooK by buying it. We are an entirely independent publication and rely on the support of our readers.