Todd.

imgres-1

Todd was king of our scene though I don’t think he would have made that claim for himself he had have been asked but no one ever asked and he never said, not that he said much. I think given the chance he would have said nothing at all but sometimes life forced him to speak and when we did we all listened intently because you never knew when you might hear him speak again.

Todd was not a speaker he was an actor, a man who expressed himself through movement and action. His body his method, his skateboard his canvas. Todd could do marvellous things on that slim piece of fibre. He could make those wheels hum and force time to fold in on itself. Airborne he would question the laws on physics and on the ground press the material context of matter to explain itself.

Not that he was some kind of demon showoff. Far from it, he was too contained and self-aware for that. I often thought he could have been a pro if he had of chosen and made a fortune performing in arenas to crowds of screaming kids who would rush home to have his image tattooed on their arms but I am not sure the thought ever occurred to him, at least that’s my take on it but one ever asked and he never said, he just skated: under the sun, in the wet, in the crisp morning air and as the sun touched the edge of the earth on its journey toward night.

That he was a leader was obvious but he was no self-appointed one, he was a natural and the kids gathered round just to be near and to watch and soak it all up. When he wasn’t in movement he would sit on the lip of the concrete pit where we gathered and watch the others. When he saw a kid take a spill he would grab his board, launch himself down and lift the kid up and without a word show them how to make the move properly. The kid would watch and under Todd’s steady stare, figure it. After, he would pat them on the back or tip them a wink or flip them a humorous move and ‘oh-lucky-kid-was-that.’

Sometimes a new face would turn up, new to town or maybe a kid from another scene keen to prove themselves and hearing about Todd saw an opportunity to show the world they existed and meant something. Not that Todd ever invited competition, they would just show up and invade his space. He never took it on just made his moves and watched them make theirs then he would up the game as required. That’s how he played it, slow and steady, a studied master letting the challenger lead the way until they reached that point where they could go no more and Todd would just go just that little more and that was that.

At this point one of three things would happen. The kid’s would just up and leave chagrined or angry or maybe they would come over and acknowledge the defeat gracefully or unable to handle it they would try and take Todd through sheer force, determined to size him down and save-face. A fist would fly and Todd would move just enough to avoid the worst of it while positioning himself to meet the next onslaught. This would go until the kid had had enough but sometimes the frustration spilled over into something more than rage. At this point Todd, calm and steady, would lift his board and disappear into the day with nothing to prove and of no need to prove it.

This one time a kid came back with a gun and confronting Todd said “Hey now bitch, what do you think of that?” We were all shitting ourselves and rallied around our man but the kid could not be told and fired that thing. The bullet ripped through Todd’s right shoulder missing bones and arteries but leaving enough blood to make us blink hard. Todd didn’t let out as much as a whimper, he just stood stock-still staring at the kid.

“Fucker” the kid screamed and made to fire again and then Todd did something we had never seen nor would see again. He faced that bullet the way he faced a fist letting it come straight at him, whipping aside just before it hit. It slammed into the concrete well of the pit and Todd, still half alight in the air, grabbed that gun right out of that kids hand then whacked him to the ground in a manner too fast and sudden to be easily described with words. Lets just say that the kid barked and fell heavily and next thing Todd was sitting on him.

Slipping the gun into the band of his shorts he grabbed the kid with his good arm and dragged him to his van throwing him in the back. He applied some gaffer tape and off they went the crew in tow, a convoy of vehicles stretching out along the thin road that led to the coast half an hour off to the West. I managed to jump in next to Todd and using something until that moment had rested unknown within me, stymied the leaking blood as he drove.

Todd pulled over at McCauley’s Cliff all the way up there above the churning Pacific and glancing about the collective I could see that we all expected the worst. He flung the gun way out into the air and we all watched it fall a thousand feet wondering if that was how it was going to play out but all he did was go back to the back of the van haul the kid out onto the dust and left him gagging in his own ignominy. Some of us stood and watched for a while and others jumped back into the cars making to follow Todd who easily shucked them off and disappeared. Where did Todd go? No one knew. If he had a place and where that place was and what he did there were just speculation and idle gossip. It was like when he wasn’t hanging at the scene he didn’t exist.

The summer of 1996 was my last at the pit and with the coming January I rolled out of town and went north to study medicine (as it turned out) and never returned. Except for Todd and the kids my memories weren’t happy ones and I was glad to leave that place behind. Years later wanting to express some kind of gratitude for his presence in my life I tried to track him down, to no avail. As the years have passed by I have asked myself on more than one occasion if he might have just been a dream I had conjured to sustain myself through those difficult years and with that in mind I have decided that somethings are better left as they are and just be content that life worked out better than I should have expected.

 

 

 

It was a Saturday and one of those hazy Autumnal days that are neither this nor that. The sky was prescient blue, the air sleepy and the kids were talking and smoking, a few were skating and scattered threads of music drifted about the place. As the evening chill set in the buzz of conversation dissipated and one by one kids made their leave until there was no one left but Todd and me.

I sat on the edge of the pit and watched while he fired off a move I had never seen before. It almost worked but not well enough to stop him falling ass-end into the curved wall. He blinked, stood up and shook his arms as if to check they were still attached and finding everything to be as it should scooped up his board and launched himself out of the pit and landed neatly in place right next to me.

He rolled a smoke and just before he lit it snapped his fingers and asked if he could roll me one. I shook my head and he said “I guess not.” He lit up and took a slow drag and then said something unexpected and shocking: “I know who your old man is and I want you to know that he’s not worthy of you.” He stared hard at me then winked and before I knew it I was overcome with emotion. I sat there for a time struggling with my composure and when I felt I could trust myself to look up without letting slip a few tears he was gone. I got up and stretched a little and for the first time I could remember I no longer felt alone.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s