Driving to Hawaii by James Bystander

Did no one tell him that he couldn’t do it?
That it can’t be done, period?
He got a few smiles (we found out later), some outright laughter,
but even the rental car lady in Baja
just winked and said, “Good luck, sure you don’t want the extra coverage?”
(They all speak English.)

His friends dismissed all prior remarks
As quips regarding an essay we figured he was writing
about the futility of both travel and trying,
two hallmarks of his thinking.
(I never found it.)

Not that intervention would have mattered.
He had the gun with him, loaded.
Still, it must have been so disappointing
to not even make the surf, which was crashing,
to get stuck in the flat sand short of the water,
to resort to the bullet, so unromantic,
now people running to help the man in the red rental;
now people caring.

Reporters got all over this one, of course,
and the story got better and better with digging.
I said nothing—politely, at first,
with rancor thereafter—but the rental car lady
wanted her fifteen and got them.
(He had accepted the extra coverage.)

I just wish he’d thought about the tides, checked the tables.
If he had, he would have waited.
If he had, he would have made it.
If he had, he would have drowned.


James Bystander is a pen name.