YEAR OF THE SNAKE CONTEST
Year of the Snake entry for August. An Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics. 500 words. For TK.
“Do you think there’s a message in that bottle,” Tommy, my best friend and fellow Dole Cannery worker, wondered. The gooey looking bottle bobbed lopsidedly in the gently rocking water. We were smoking some good dope on the rocks around the right side of Hanauma Bay. We’d been snorkeling for a couple hours and were now warming ourselves up with a nice, fat doobie. In the wash of the small waves that kept lapping up against the rocks, a bottle floated, green and mossy.
Tom took in a long one, held his breath. Blowing out the smoke, he said, “Fuck! Maybe it’s a genie! Let’s go get it and find out!”
Leaning out over the water, we used our snorkels to try to draw the water toward us, float it in, and snag the mysterious bottle, but the lapping of the waves kept pushing the bottle out away from us instead. I was actually working up a sweat, and we were out of beer. This catching process seemed to take an hour or two; we just couldn’t manage to coax the bottle within grasping distance.
Finally plan B. “Should I jump in and get it?” Tom suggested brightly.
“Are you straight enough to go in there?”
“I can handle,” Tom answered bravely.
He gave me two thumbs up and dropped over the edge. I waited for him to come back up. Just as I was about ready to jump in after him, he surfaced. He stroked to it and grabbed the bottle, then turned toward me and tossed it over, and swam back to the rocks. I offered him my hand and pulled him up.
It was like we’d run a marathon. The whole process seemed to exhaust us. Finally we caught our breath. I tried to pop the cap. It was stuck tight. Tommy took the bottle from me and pulled at the cap for a good five minutes without luck.
I took it back and tried popping the cap with the tube edge of my snorkel, then on the rocks. I picked up a jagged stone and tried to massage the top off.
“Try use your teeth,” Tom encouraged.
“Use your own frickin’ teeth.”
Behind us were some large boulders. Tom took the bottle, weighed it in his hand, and then with one mighty throw, burst the bottle on a boulder. It broke into a hundred pieces and some foul liquid spewed all over the place. The smell was some kind of putrid plus.
Up from behind the rock popped a man and a woman. We could see she was naked from at least the waist up. She pulled on her top and the two of them went running off around the bend toward the beach.
Tom and I looked at each other and then burst out laughing. “Kind of like two genies,” I said.
“I guess that’s the message in the bottle,” Tom said. “We should fire up another fat boy.”
And so we did.