One man's philosophy is another man's bellylaugh.

Jeff L. Howe

Jeff L. Howe
Strasburg, Pennsylvania,
April 19
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Jeff Howe is a bonsai enthusiast and harmonica player who has very good reason to believe that the Universe tastes like a cheap buck-fifty melon. He is a product of Walled Lake and a former Poetry Slam Champion of Milwaukee. He once shook hands with Rocky Colavito, opened for Leon Redbone and took a piss next to Mose Allison (no hands were shaken). All things considered, his best single day was July 4th, 1987 when he marched in the Marmarth, North Dakota parade in the morning, discovered a rare dinosaur skull in the afternoon, and then sat in playing harmonica with a drunken cowboy band until way past tomorrow. It's been downhill ever since. Jeff is a misemployed geologist who specializes in interpreting rock outcrops at 70 miles per hour. It's a gift. His daughter loves cows. ................................................................................................................... FOR MORE STORIES, PHOTOS AND HARMONICA RECORDINGS VISIT:


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AUGUST 12, 2011 12:12PM

A Day At The Beach With Zeke And Glenda

Rate: 6 Flag




(Cape Cod, late summer)

They were residents.  They lived here.  Zeke was a musician/house painter who fixed cars and wrote fiction.  Glenda was an oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic.  He spent his days melding seventh chords into shape and making words and music make nice, while Glenda analyzed sediment samples from the ocean deep.  He could create something from nothing.  She could read mud like a book.

And together, for nine glorious months out of the year, they enjoyed this peaceful, out-of-the-way stretch of sandy, wind-blown beach.  For nine months they watched the sun rise and set, ran the dog and enjoyed brisk jogs and gentle walks.  They lived inland and could ride their bikes to the beach, down quiet sand-blown roads. For nine months it was paradise.  But then summer arrived and the quiet became filled with tourists. 

•     •     •

"You gotta have badges," a sun-burnt old lady in a black Escalade with New York plates insisted, "this is a private beach, it's only for club members, you can't get in there without badges!"  Zeke and Glenda had just fought their way through throngs of aged fatsters and their idiot, brain-dead kids to this favorite stretch of beach in hopes of escaping the masses.  Instead, they were confronted by this shrinking wisp of sunburnt beef-jerky in a baggy swimsuit.  "You gotta have badges!" she nagged, "You gotta have badges!". 

But Zeke and Glenda were different.  They were desperados.  They had come too far for too long.  Now only this old woman and one hundred yards of body-littered sand stood between them and the Atlantic Ocean. "We're residents" they offered casually, hurdling the hood of her Caddie, vaulting the wooden fence and dashing across the open sand, "we don't need badges." 

"They don't have badges!  They don't have badges!"  The old women screaming excitedly as the trespassers dashed across the hot sand.  Immediately groups of large, extremely white people sprang up from behind coolers and laptops and looking menacingly in their direction.  A few began to chase after them like a scene from "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" bellowing mindlessly: "They don't have badges!  They don't have badges!  This is our private beach.  We own it!  We paid for it! They don't have badges!"   Slowly, more and more patrons joined in the chase until a large crowd pursued Zeke and Glenda across the hot sand.

They were surrounded and outnumbered, but they were game for a fight.  If this is the way the tourists wanted it, and if this is the way that Zeke and Glenda were to go down, then so it must be.   Zeke grabbed and unfolded a beach chair, holding it out in front of him like a lion tamer in a circus.  "Stand back," he exclaimed, "I'm a scientist!"  Although not true, this caused those in front to stop in horror as a murmur went through the angry mob.  But quickly those in the rear surged forward, replacing the ones in the front, driving Zeke and Glenda back even further towards the sea.

Glenda, ever the warrior, quickly sized up the situation and boldly grabbed the biggest, baddest, more fearsome beach member of the bunch and began to pummel him mercilessly with her bicycle lock.  Inspired by her courage, Zeke pulled out his Frisbee and expertly took out three businessmen at the knees.  The crowd surged forward again and together, shoulder to shoulder, Zeke and Glenda fought like savages.  One by one the vacationers would drop, but for each one that dropped, two or three would arise to take their place... Zeke and Glenda continued to scrap and claw and fight but slowly, surely, they were pushed back to the sea.  It was hell or high water.  There was nowhere to flee.

Zeke glanced over his left shoulder and saw Glenda valiantly clubbing two snow cone vendors with her sandals as she stole furtive glances towards the sea.  He could read her mind.  "Data", she screamed in sudden realization, "there's data out there and I'm need to collect it!  If I can collect one more sample, identify one new species, then I must, no matter what the cost!  It's bigger than the both of's for Science!"  

Then, before Zeke could ask: "what time will you be home?", she grabbed her piston core sampling tube and her binocular viewing scope and went dashing, diving, driving her lithe body into the surf.  Zeke may not have exactly agreed with her immediate need at that point to collect more data, but damn it, this is still America, and he was ready to fight and die if necessary to defend her right to do so.

"Go!" he called.  "You must.  If there are new species to be found, you are the one who will find them.  If there is data to be collected, you are there!   Go my love with god-speed.  I'll hold them off as long as I can!"  

"She's not on vacation," a fat lady screamed, "she doesn’t have a  badge, she's getting away!"  This brought a new vigor to the angry crowd and they surged forward like a lynch-mob.  It was Zeke and his beach chair against ten thousand.

Glancing to the ocean, he could see Glenda’s strong, courageous arms pumping through the surf, microscope in one hand and piston core in the other, driving her way to the deep water where the fine sediments lay.  It would likely be the last time he would see her in this life, but he vowed to hold them off as long as he could.  With new resolve, Zeke beat the old lady in the Escalade once, twice, three times over the head with her own cheap paperback novel - driving her into the sand.  Then whirling, he raised his beach chair.  Giving a mighty roar he took out an entire golfing foursome with one swipe.  The crowd continued to surge forward and pressed him back to the very edge of the beach. 

Collaring a fat greasy rich kid wearing a Chicago Bull's cap backwards, Zeke pitched him like a bowling ball into the middle of the pack, scattering them, at least for the moment, like ten pins.  But from the left flank rushed a battalion of real estate agents, from the right came screaming mothers with spoiled kids and from the rear surged the afternoon macramé class of the Falmouth Summer Seniors Recreation League.  Zeke was doomed.  He had no choice but to stand proud and firm until the last.  They would find him, if necessary, the next morning, surrounded by dead tourists and vacationers, still clutching his chair in one hand with the sand of this private beach driven deeply beneath his fingernails.  He and Glenda would go down the way they would want to be remembered: she collecting data and he clubbing stupid tourists with a beach chair!

But then, when all appeared hopeless and lost, the ground began to tremble and the earth shook.  The white sand shifted and became black with muck as the salt marsh lurched towards the beach ahead of a wall of dirt and boulders.  The air turned suddenly and decidedly cold as the glitter of tiny crystalline snowflakes began to appear out of nowhere. For a short instant the crowd fell silent.

"THE GLACIERS!!!" screamed a retired orthodontist from New Jersey into his car phone. "The glaciers!  Oh, my god, it's the glaciers. They're returning!"  

The crowd wheeled around in surprise and panic and looked behind them in amazement.  Sure enough, like the cavalry, the marines and Joe Montana rolled into one, the shimmering blue-white wall of glacial ice loomed on the northeastern horizon, plowing across Cape Cod just over the speed limit of 45 mph, leveling everything in its path. Panic ensued as the vacationers frantically grabbed up their coolers and portable devices, running in circles looking for their keys.  They tried to escape but they were cut off.  Behind them advanced the thundering glacier.  Ahead of them stood Zeke, his beach chair, the expanse of Nantucket Sound and the entire Atlantic Ocean.

•     •     •

For some as yet unexplained reason, the glacial ice had built up suddenly and mysteriously in the mountains of Vermont and had then rushed madly southward, almost single-mindedly towards Cape Odd.  It had spared Vermont and New Hampshire of any significant destruction (save for a short, tacky stretch of Shelburne Road south of Burlington) and only began to seriously bury the land when it reached the suburban sprawl outside of Boston.  By the time it reached the Cape it was three miles thick, composed mostly of concrete, steel girders and styrofoam cups.  It ground over the tourists and their ill-planned vacation homes.  It leveled antique shops and flattened little mailboxes painted with seagulls, kissing kittens and lighthouses.  It made matchsticks of fake front yard imitation lobster traps.  It enveloped miniature putt-putt golf courses with giant water slides and made mincemeat of downtown Hyannis. 

It advanced to the shore crushing beneath it the startled members of the Private Beach.  Then just as it reached the shore, a lobe of ice reached out and scooped Zeke up, hoisting him to the top of the glacier while another lobe plucked Glenda from the sea and deposited her upon a snowy white mastodon at Zeke’s side.  Together they rode the glacier like a surfboard until it eventually ground to a halt somewhere in the vicinity of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Cape Cod was saved!  It had been rescued from the crowds and the schlock and sprawl.  It had been rescued from the geeks with red noses and white legs that all sound like the hot dog vendor at Fenway Park.  The Cape was free to be whatever it wanted to be!  The glacial ice would slowly melt back to Vermont and within a few thousand years the Cape would be as good as new, maybe even better.

Zeke and Glenda stood on top of the silent glacier for the longest time, not speaking a word. Finally, birds began to appear and the air warmed as the sun broke through the snow clouds.  The long, slow process of melting the ice had already begun.

"Did you get your samples?" he finally asked Glenda when the lurching movements ceased and the last blocks of ice and rock crashed down the face to the bottom below.  Pulling a dripping piston core from behind her back, she winked as a devious grin began to break from below the brim of her floppy beach hat.  "Stand back," she said softly, "I'm a scientist."  They smiled at each other and then climbed down the face of the glacier and off across the outwash plain, arm in arm, into the setting sun. 

They went forth to grab a six-pack and some smokes before settling down to the task at hand: repopulating the new land.

It really happened that way.  Exactly like that. 



© Jeff L. Howe, Aug. 2011, all rights 

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This started off years ago as a letter to friends in Vermont, when we moved from there to Cape Odd. Over the years it has been edited to make specific references more general. This is a longer piece than I normally post.... I'm hoping you'll read it this weekend at the beach.
I read it now, and laughed my ass off, Great writing Jeff, and almost believable. The "Badges, the Badges" is a classic!
So what did you do when the sun-burnt old lady in the black Escalade challenged you for not having a badge, tell her she'd end up as laffing stock on Open Salon? Or did you shout, "Stand back! I'm a bonsai enthusiast!" My comment's not gonna disappear along with the entire post this time, is it? I mean...OHH, NOOOO! LOOK OUUUUT...
All that, and I forgot to rate.
I believe every word of it; “They don’t have badges!” is just too true to life for mr to doubt it.

All stories guaranteed 93.73% true unless otherwise specified*
This is an experiment. I just want to see if a title change makes any difference this late in the game. (The old title was: "A Day At The Beach With Zeke And Glenda")
I totally believe you, because I soooo want to believe you. A great beach read (in more ways than one) and the only thing missing is an abandoned alien baby, a hooker, a prophet and a really smart dog. I guess that's chapter two!
However, in your next life move to NJ: There are no private beaches, by law. Access to any tidal body is guaranteed by law ...and overcrowded. So much for government over-regulation.
The socialists are taking our beaches away. And the audience of what we call "Jersey Whore" around here. Why doesn't the government regulate them??