The dying loons crash from the branches of the eucalyptus trees that line the Pacific Coast Highway as the road curves towards the north and the sun’s glow diminishes with the latening day. I leave the small rental unit fronted by the tall palm trees and stroll to the nearby park where a pair of sweaty guys do push-ups on the lawn. Maybe it’s some strange form of male bonding, or simply the urge to display the body in the Californian sun, but there’s something amiss with this picture. The two spring to their feet and grab towels as they head towards the parking lot.
“Vaya con dios,” I mutter, my book in hand, the light fading, and far out to sea the oil rigs silhouetted against the islands. It is August, and I have come here to escape the marriage I’ve found myself stuck in. My wife is a blister, raw and angry, ready to explode and completely unwilling to change our dynamic. For my part, the marriage is convenient, the stroll to Trader Joe’s and Starbucks a short one, and her manicured fingernails systemic of our brittle existence, all polished and slick on the surface, but beneath, all crusty and diseased.