If you would like to see and listen to a video in which I read my entire novel Table 41, go here
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TABLE 41 by Joseph Suglia
You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.
A squadron of gulls lifts uneasily into the air and then dissipates against the grey sky. You look meaningly at the gulls. They hover, the flurry of gulls. The gulls lull heavily in the air, squealing their dull squeals.
You incline your head downward and stare at the inrushing waves, each one a hungry-mouthed sheep, coming toward you ravenously. The water is deliquescent twenty feet from the shore. Beyond the shoal, the surface seems lacquered, solid, unbreachable, enameled, brackish, thick, as if it were a spreading mass of viscous aquatic jelly. From the shore, you cannot fathom, through the spume lid, the pelagic fathoms. The lake’s lid is swarming with wavelets, each one undulant and alive—afroth, the lake’s lip, frosting wisps.
You listen to the shifting of the water and the sifting of the silt. You watch the interleaving waves and the tempest of gulls.
The shadows of the gulls couple and uncouple, dancing on the drowning deluge, dancing on the shallows.
When the water rushes, it whishes; when it draws back, it seethes. The waves comb; the water-spasm draws close, then subsides, receding into the lush foam.
A woman, around thirty, is thirty feet to your right, recumbent on her beach blanket. She is violently shy and teething a toothsome nectarine. She has with her a nectarine grinder and a bag of nectarines. She grinds the fruit to pulp, pulping to the beat of a soundless music.
The water sluices into torrents. They rush to your feet.
You raise yourself and shake off the sand. You walk along the shore, looking at the water as you walk. A beard of kelp dances beneath the thin film, the eiderdown of sea-grass. A crab scuttles over the slickenside of a sea-rock.
You see a gull on a bulkhead, devouring a fleshless mollusk. The gull pulls out the gut and swallows the unchewed meat.
The gull squawks.
You see loping teenagers in the distance. A hipster is strumming his guitar on a beach blanket. Beside him, skintart girlfriend is chewing chewing gum with her mouth open. Her head resembles the head of a grouper.
There, an old man eating his soup. He looks like a duck dunking its bill into a bucket of muck.
You are drifting toward the pier. You hear the crackling of shells and the cackling of gulls. Combers comb the surface of the lake and strike the shore.
Spreading frostiness. The frothing is spreading over the sand.
See the motorboat sharking through the waves. The boat splits the foam, leaving a frothy trail in its wake. Tire tracks furrow the sand. There, bottle caps and crabs’ claws. A mass of striped shells, an exotic tapestry.
You step into the blue water. The water is cool. Tendrils of kelp envelop your feet.
Flows come in from the hazy juncture of water and sky, fluxes of light and spume. It becomes easy to imagine that the white waves are manitous, coming to claim your soul. Spangles scintillate on the surface of the beach, light refracted from the fragments of beached beer bottles. Bespangled beach-desert.
A feather is dancing in the air. It arcs, spirals, and whirls, sailing around in an anxiety of movement. The feather is confused. It cannot decide if it wants to move upward or downward or to waft away, buffeted by the breeze.
A pair of gulls trots across the sand, strutting in zigzagging formations, traversing your meandering shadows. In the aquatic waste, a thin gull roosts, propped on a buoy. Above you flutters a hurricane of gulls, screeching and cawing.
The platoon of gulls hovers, then dissipates.
The lake is blackening. You step out of the water.
Shaped like ovaries, shaped like melting hippopotami, black clouds unfurl across the sky, trained by ethereal forces, at supersonic speeds. One flocculent mass after another, they flop about on the aerial stage; the autodynamism of clouds, self-moving vehicles, entrances you. They are weighty with the pendency of rain.
Now the waves are bursting violently against the shoreline, and a thickening layer of water is covering the expanse of sand.
Towering above you now, the crests are white with angry foam. They are ramming the shore, spraying your eyes. The sand is invisible, only the waves leaping into the air and colliding. As tentacles, as lampreys, they embrace one another, seething liquid tubes. It seems as if you were encased in a glass tank slowly filling with bubbling gelatin. The black waves are engulfing everything.
The maw of the lake surging toward you, you step backward.
The sky darkens soundlessly. You are watching the broken sky, walking backwards, crab-like, across the sandy waste. You feel a chill and shiver at the emergence of something terrible foaming in the firmament.
Above is madness. A whorl of clouds, a raging maelstrom, the flashings of a celestial chandelier. The clouds are black and oily and spreading apart; they are floating over you, wagging their cilia menacingly.
The sand is spongy and moist. You are sinking, your clothes heavy with rain.
You fall to the sand, curbing your knees.
From the waves comes a sea-child with kelp in his golden hair. It is a boy. You can see his shape in the lunar semidarkness.
He is coming out of the water. What does the boy look like? Is it even a boy? Yes, it is a boy or something like a boy, something or someone that looks like a boy.
Who is this nautical angel who comes from the lake? Who or what is this aquatic messenger? A shiny white boy, his nacreous skin glistening.
The boy has no eyes. You can see this as he walks slowly toward you through the gusts and the thrashes. He has no eyes and is gazing at you eyelessly. No, he has eyes, but his eyes have no pupils. Oviform pupil-less eye-globes.
His eyes are wholly white, and he is gazing at you whitely. Or is he sightlessly unaware of your presence? He wafts past you now.
The storm grows ever-more truculent and is pounding you with its violence. You are alone. The sea-boy vanishes into the city of Chicago.
Copyright 2019 by Joseph Suglia
If you would like to see and listen to a video in which I read my entire novel Table 41, go here.