..... You first encounter Him in mid-August. 
..... It is particularly oppressive out and –seeing your dance card empty – you decide to take yourself down to the beach.  The beach is a public one and for a few bucks you can set out a blanket, open a book and bake in the noonday sun.  You know that you should be doing something more productive, but at the time you have no idea just what that might be.  Run for office?  Cure cancer?  Buy a GUN?  You can’t answer the question, so a day at the beach seems the next best thing.  “You deserve it, don’t you?” you tell yourself (it is the summer of lies).  You certainly can use a good rest.  Restorative sleep has been in short supply for about a year when you began an extended banquet of one pill after another, with a chaser of Vodka to wash them all down.
..... To the naked eye you appear normal enough, you suppose.  A little gaunt, with a misshapen hair-cut of your own invention and a fairly short fuse which diminishes daily as if pulled from inside.  What the others can’t see is that you are shrinking.  No, maybe not that, precisely, you are still as tall as you had been before.  You are lessening;  becoming universally redacted.
..... As you arrive at the beach you are confronted with the septic smell of rotting fish.  You pick your way across the sand, avoiding the droppings from Canadian Geese that litter the beach with the stench of decay.  This being a weekday, if you move farther down the shore to a more remote spot, you can almost have a small section all to yourself - not to be disturbed.   (Although, perhaps it is too late for that?)  You pass a father and son tossing an object back and forth and, in your current state, you momentarily believe it is a human head that they pitch to themselves; only to realize, on closer inspection, it is just some type of ball.   You find this realization disappointing.
..... You move farther down, locate a spot without too many droppings, and make camp.  A low haze covers the Sound turning it the color of gunmetal.  There is no breeze and the heat radiates up from the compacted sand and into cadaveric flesh.  A lone seagull dips and rolls above you with no sense of purpose.  You know how it feels.  You take a moment to wonder if any of this would look better from the bird’s point of view?  But you decide, no, it would all appear just the same, only smaller and less important.  The beach, the sand, the water, the sky all seem as irrelevant as everything else has become.  So you lay there, drifting in an out of consciousness (which is no longer too far a trip).
..... You had a good mind, once.  Clear/clever/agile, with an ability to reason and deftly deduce.  A straight ‘A’ student who could also tell a punchline and get the result.  But the jokes are infrequent this summer.  You seem to only use your brain as a battering ram.  You hurt yourself other places as well – places that no one is privy to see; places so remote that only God would be able to find if He were looking.  But He is not.  Not this summer.  Not for some time. 
..... You watch with no interest as the Shriveled Old Man with the Too Tight Speedo walks past, an ever-present cigarette dangling from his lips.   His skin is so brown and grooved it looks to be carved out of some exotic wood.  As you watch him you can feel your own tan/burn (thank you, Shriveled Man) and turn onto your stomach.  It is then that you see HIM.
..... If you hadn’t changed positions, you would never have seen him.  If you hadn’t changed positions, you might never have done so.  He would have drifted on by and you wouldn’t have known and your life would have remained as it is, as it were.
..... He is down on the right, walking on the beach carrying something.  As he draws nearer, you see that it is one of those beach combing gadgets the self-delusional use to search for buried treasure.  A metal detector.  You can usually catch someone sweeping a device like this back and forth, intently watching the ground below. He is shirtless, with a torso as if chiseled from stone and tanned/toned looks ripped straight from an ad.  Atop his aquiline nose he sports sunglasses – the reflective kind of the Tom Cruise/Top Gun variety.  But something about this man stands apart from the norm.  He wears long black dress pants that look expensive and wing-tipped loafers that exude more of the same.  Not the outfit of a usual beachcomber.  The shoes are black and SHINY as if recently polished by someone who cared.  The more you watch his effort the more distracted you become.  You can paint a scenario where someone might, on a whim, skip the late afternoon meeting and head to the beach for some r & r.  But why not take off the shoes and socks?  Roll up the pants a bit?  And what is he hoping to FIND?  A couple of coins?  Just as you think this, a wave rolls in and covers the pristine loafers with silt and muck and algae grim-green.  Whatever he found out here will not be enough to replace the expensive Italian footwear.  Who is this man to whom money obviously means nothing?  Probably some hedge-fund prick, who just made a killing swindling old ladies out of their pensions, or a plastic surgeon making millions off of American vanity.
..... You surreptitiously watch, only looking away as he passes directly in front of you.  Your attention returns as he continues his methodical journey down the beach.  Black wavy hair.  Thick.  Luminous. His powerful back.  Then he is gone.
..... You lie there on your shapeless belly and try to reach your previous semi-conscious state, but the image of the man will not leave you.  Curiosity tugs to have another look when he makes his return.  Twenty minutes pass.  Then an hour.  An hour and a half and there is still no sign.  You know for a fact that it would only take about fifteen minutes to walk to the end of the beach before it curves out of sight and onto private property (some fucking beachfront estate).  Maybe the mystery man is the owner, just slumming down here with the common folk?  Maybe, you think, gleefully, he is a thief and is casing the joint for an eventual heist?  Or maybe he simply came back by way of the dunes, hoping to catch needed relief in the reeds.
..... That night you lay in your bed, listening to Aidan’s soft snore. You hadn’t mentioned the man to Aidan as you ate your cold dinner off paper plates.  There was really nothing to tell, was there?  Just a man.  A handsome one, without question, but just a man with expensive shoes and a hobby.  Hardly a subject for conversation, not when there are so many other things to talk about like STUPIDITY and OBESITY and ARROGANCE and how much you DETEST this life you have made together…or not to talk about, like the many things Aidan is keeping from you (keeping and keeping and keeping from you).  Maybe you don’t tell him because it just feels good to have a secret of your own.
..... When had you and Aidan started to drift?   Maybe it doesn’t matter when.  You may have thought it mattered once.  But as time winds on, the reasons, like so much else, become insignificant.  So you lay semi-conscious, imagining the day on which you will die.  
..... Or someone else will.  
..... It isn’t always you, but Death is always in the scenario.  Oh yes.  A key player to be sure.  And a violent fellow He is, too.  Hurling people from eighteen story buildings or snapping their necks with the pull of a noose.  There are many ways.  All brutal.  None perfect.  You suppose that’s the only reason you haven’t done anything more permanent.  Despite it all, you don’t want death to be as mundane as everything else has become.  There has to be some style – some design, some sense of Feng Shui to it all.  Up until that summer, nothing will have come close.  
..... But that soon will change.

..... You determine to return the next day. You know you should go to work and God knows you need the funds but you are working on a sad little house. (It is also the summer of many jobs - anything and everything and a little bit in-between.  You two do anything on which you can get your hands and which, although might not quite keep your heads above water, will allow you on occasion to come up for brief indulgences of air.)  The house in which you are now working is a dreary affair and you tell yourself that you can’t deal with that today - or maybe you use that as an excuse.  You are good at making excuses.  Either way, when you wake up muddy-headed the next morning, you decide you will go back.
..... The usual crowd again – power walkers and power eaters; muscle guidos, and moms getting a jump-start on their children’s’ melanoma.  A pair of girls seems to be trying to break the Guinness record for consecutive cell phone usage with conversations about TANNING, and TEXTING, and OMG-ING.
..... And then you see HIM again, walking the same path as he had the previous day.  Shirtless again, he wears the same dark slacks, the same black shoes (still SHINY); the same dark shades cover the same, bronzed face.  He moves back and forth with a feline grace, covering identical ground as on the previous day.  What can he hope to find today that he hadn’t the day before, you wonder?  Is he so much of an optimist to think something of value might have been left behind in the last twenty-four hours?  Something that will make his time here worthwhile?  Optimism has ceased to be a part of your repertoire, so much so that you can barely even remember the sensation.  You resent this man even more that he still has that – along with everything else he will possess.  You want what he has; want what you’ve lost.  You want.
..... You stare at him, willing him to look in your direction.  Hoping he will.  Fearing he will.  But he either doesn’t see or doesn’t care to.  He passes you and continues along with methodic precision.  As he had done the day prior, he walks down the beach and out of your sight, not to return.

..... The next day it rains and so you are forced to go to the melancholic house to paint a sunroom a cheery lemon-yellow that on this grey day takes on the color of piss.  Throughout the hours you catch yourself thinking about the man.  No, not thinking – that’s too pedestrian.  A part of Him has become ensnared in your brain; seeped and shimmied, leached and insinuated into your thoughts.  The cut of his chest.  Every hair.  Every pore.  What is encased in those pressed, dark slacks.   You want Him.  You want Him.  You want Him.  You want.
..... The day after you awake in your usual stupor to see the sun again, streaming through the cracks in the wood.  You will be going back again today.  You know it.  And this time you have a plan.
..... You arrive at the beach about the same time you had the days before and position yourself at your usual spot.   You take out the object you brought and bury it - not too deeply in the sand, immediately in front of you and in the direct line of his path.  Then you sit back and wait.  It is even hotter today; you can only imagine how many glaciers are dying.  NOTE: That summer, glaciers have been melting at an alarming rate.  As they “lessen”, chunks will break free and drift away causing TIDAL WAVES and EARTHQUAKES and MEGA TSUNAMIS.   You are told that in the not too distant future there will be no more winters in Europe.  You have never been to Gstaad, and have no plans to do so.  But the fact that it might not be there in the event that you do, only seems to add to your depression.
..... That is incorrect.  It isn’t a “depression” which can also be defined as a “dimple”.  What you are feeling can’t have another so insignificant a meaning.  You are “Hollowriffic”.   You are “Megatsunamied”.  You are “Travisbickled”, (without the Mohawk or Jodi Foster.)
..... Time rolls along like the waves.   A half hour comes and goes.    Shriveled Man passes on his way to the john.  Then an hour.   Shriveled Man finally returns having won the battle with his prostate.  But where is “He”?  You start to tremble, despite the drugs.  If He doesn’t come today you don’t know what you will do and that thought makes the anxiety surge forth even more.
..... And then He is there.  The same man, same ensemble, same steady gait, sweeping his machine with the exactness of a pendulum.  He grows closer and you realize that you are holding your breath – the moment has come; the moment is yours.  One stride, then another.   He is only a yard or two from you.  You look away, out at the sea, your own shades shielding your desperate eyes.   And then you hear it.  The “beep” from his machine, high pitched and steady as it heralds the treasure you’ve hidden from view.  And then he is there, in your sights, on one knee, gently stroking the hot sand beneath.   He moves slowly, delicately brushing away the grains until he finds what you have hidden below: a bronze-plated “Good Luck” coin minted during the Depression, about the size of a US half-dollar.   It displays a Swami in a turban gazing into a crystal ball on one side with  “GOOD LUCK WILL ACCOMPANY THE BEARER” printed below.  On the other is an All-Seeing Eye “THE ALL SEEING EYE GUARDS YOU FROM EVIL”.  You had it from when you were a kid; found in a field under some high-tension wires and tucked in a box just waiting to be rediscovered.  You had come across it the night before and knew that the time for its resurrection had come. 
..... He holds the object for a while, examining it thoroughly.   And then he looks right at you and smiles and you are thunderSTRUCK.   That smile is so…you aren’t sure.  Is it sensuous or sinister?  An invitation or a warning?  Or both?  Whichever it is, it is devastating.  You are shattered, unable to think of what you should do – or could do – next.  But the decision is made for you.  The man simply stands, puts the object to his lips and kisses it lightly before pocketing it and continuing on. 
..... There is nothing else you can do. 
..... Fate or whatever it is in the universe has led you to this point and you know.  You jump up, abandon your gear and follow.   You keep your distance from him, always staying a few yards to his rear.   You can’t even imagine the scene that you make – he out in front with his ever-moving baton and his middle-aged follower pacing behind; like a half-hearted parade that no one wishes to see.  His gait never varies; no other objects are found.  He never turns to acknowledge your presence, if indeed he even knows you are there.  You watch the muscles on his back as the tool moves from side to side, right to left, sea to shore; watch the shiny black shoes contrast with the sand.
..... Sometime later you draw near to the end of the public beach.  He rounds the bend first, and you follow, unsure of what is next to come.  But when you get to the other side he is entering a waiting SUV, black, with tinted windows the kind favored by hip-hoppers and politicians.  Before the door closes and the man drives away, he turns again  - your twin reflections appear in his shades.  For a moment, there is promise implied; new destiny waiting, new dreams for the old.  Then an indifferent nod and your new light is gone.    His ship sails out of port, leaving you alone on the dock.  Now you see yourself as you must look to Him – pathetically broken, a hollowed-out husk.
..... Hours later you sit feeling disemboweled by the day.  Outside, the bees that had built a hive in your eaves BUZZ and they BUZZ and then BUZZ-BUZZ till you believe your head will implode with the hum.  You have already been stung several times.  Aidan is going to do something about them. 
..... But Aidan is supposed to do a lot of things that summer.
..... You will go back to the beach again tomorrow.  Of this, you are certain.  And this time, when you see Him in the distance, you will get up and lead the way to the other end.  You’ll find the car and wait there for Him and when He comes around the bend you will do…what, exactly?   BUZZ.
..... You could plant another object in His path and this time, when He bends down to explore His find you will say something like “This seems to be your lucky spot” or “Lucky for me, I sat right here…” and then He’ll….what?   Recognize you for your charm and wit?
..... BUZZ BUZZ. 
..... Or you could just stand in His path, stop His progression and declare ‘I AM MORE THAN WHAT I APPEAR TO BE’ planting your lips on His full sensuous pair.   BUZZ.  This man is not typical, that much is clear, so there is no way to anticipate a response, no matter which scenario you might confect.  If you could still pray you would do so - pray for guidance.  But you stopped that long ago.  One day god stopped speaking and has been silent ever since.
..... This man, this beach man, is a man of consequence, a man of daring, of POWER. It is obvious.  It is clear.  This is someone who will not even notice a man, such as yourself, simmering in a stew of your own making.   But you are MORE than that.  You pace. BUZZ.  You need to show him your worthiness. Pace. BUZZ.  You need to CREATE something that will elevate you in His eyes – Make him SEE that you are a man of consequence, as well.   MAKE him SEE what you are capable of.   You can feel the thing rising from the depths, forcing its way to the surface.
..... The dog, who has been lazing by the door suddenly looks up, as if sensing a portending storm.   And then it is there; materializing in front of you, delicately fragile but brilliantly clear.  You will go back to the beach, oh yes, you will go back.  You will pull into a spot and park, directly behind a Hummer with the “Pro Life Pro God Pro Gun” bumper sticker.   You will move towards the water (not even bothering to lock the car door).  No one will notice you. 
..... At first.
..... You will start with the TANNING TWINS – one shot each through their respective cell phones and into each ear, their heads so empty, that the bullets will travel out the other side with nary a thing to stop their trajectory.  A mother will scream and grab her baby.  You will shoot her next – send a bullet into her open mouth, putting your own personal exclamation point onto her shriek.   ‘It’s my SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT’, you will proclaim.  ‘ISNT’T THAT SO YOU STUPID FUCKS?’  Shriveled Man will make an appearance out of the toilet, unaware of the EVENT that is taking place.  You will take out the machete and lop off his head, tossing it  - cigarette still a-dingledangling, to the father and son, who will, out of instinct, drop the ball in order to catch what is thrown.  You’ll wait for the recognition to enlighten the young boy, wait to see the sheer terror in his eyes and then shoot him in the chest.  Daddy will be making a run for cover, so you will shoot him in the back like the coward he is.  Muscle guido, trunks stained from urine, will throw himself onto the beach, trying to dig his way into the sand, like a crab.  You will take the blade and cleave his legs at the knees – the perfectly sculpted calves of no use to him now.   You’ll not finish him off, though, enjoying instead the pointless effort as he continues to dig.  You’ll make your way down the beach, slicing tits and testicles all higgledy-piggledy, slaughtering the “innocents” one by one.   (Although, always being fond of dogs, a pair of playful Goldens will be spared).  A woman still showing bruising from a recent facelift, Are you looking at me?!, will have a face no more. BOOM! (BUZZ) and bits and pieces of newly stretched skin will join the cold cuts of her waiting buffet.  Blood will splatter your clothes - a white linen shirt and khaki slacks.  Travis Bickle by way of Jackson Pollack.  And to be true, this a work of art, isn’t it?  Those who are not SMOTE down will run, this way and that - away from the beach to their cars, or some, like Norman Maine, out to the sea to never return.
..... And then you will pivot and He will be standing there – watching your revelation.  And He will smile again, that utterly DEVASTATING smile.  You will nod your head  - just slightly – not needing to brag, only to acknowledge His admiration.  For He WILL admire it.  That is the one thing of which you are certain.  And you will walk down that gore-splattered stretch, side-by-side, waiting to see what new treasures you might encounter – together. 
..... You look at the dog, who has turned his head away.  You are not his concern and what you do will be of your own making.  You can count him OUT, he would have said if he could. BUZZ.  You register the hardness between your legs.  BUZZ.  BUZZ.
..... For the rest of that day and night you barely breathe.  It is if a switch has been thrown and you are running on an alternative current.  You can see, hear, touch, taste nothing.  No senses are intact.  You go about the motions of life, keeping up appearances but none of it means anything anymore; will not again until you have done the deed and you are with him.  You guess this is what a caterpillar feels like, entrapped in their cocoon, waiting for the day they instinctively know will arrive; a day when they will spread their wings and show their true colors to the world, floating through the air in the brightness of day.
..... You don’t sleep that night.  Can’t.  The heat is so oppressive, the sheets feel as if they have been coated with milk.

..... You get out of bed early the next morning, happy to see the sun ablaze in the sky.  You are not surprised at this because you know today has been pre-ordained.  You wait for Aidan to leave.  After he is gone you press your white linen shirt (you look good in it) and pants and pet the pooch goodbye, knowing you will not be returning.  You cross the line to the next state where a smiling clerk gladly takes your money for a 92 Series Over Mold Laser Grip Beretta.   It is a beautiful piece of work.  The transaction takes only a matter of minutes.  The knife is an old Bowie model that had been your father’s, kept in a box of his things.  It is mounted on a board, only meant for show, but you have been able to sharpen it – so that by now it is ready for “show and tell”.

..... You arrive at your destination feeling lighter than you have felt in years.  The parking spot is there as you had envisioned, as your prophecy foretold – just behind the PRO GUN Hummer.  You ease into the space.  Outside, you slice the rear tires of the big car for extra measure.  GAS GUZZLING FUCK.  From there you make my way to the waiting sand.  To HIM.
..... The rest unfolds almost as you had envisioned – the Tanning Twins, the Shriveled Man, the father and son and holy ghost.  All according to plan.  Almost.  Not quite.  After you are done.  After you are splattered with crimson and gold.  After the carnage you turn…
..... …but He is not there. 
..... The panic begins to erupt  – just a bubble at first, but you know what is en route; know that this time it will rend you and shred what remains.  You run down the beach in a desperate hope.  But there is no one.  You sprint in the other direction, towards the beach’s end – hoping to see the black SUV.  But the clearing is empty.  You make your way back to your spot, letting the gun drop into the sand by the water’s edge.  A wave washes over the gleaming metal and it quickly begins to be covered by silt.

..... They find you, easily enough, what is left of you.  You are quite the story for many days, as we can well imagine. Newsmen and pundits devour your tale, picking the bones of the dead and the rest.  At the arraignment, Aidan sits in court looking stricken.   Your family continues to ask “why?”, as if you have any way to explain God’s plan.  For it is HIS.  HE is speaking to you again.  In your cell.  In your room.  Quiet whispers.
..... A few weeks later, in the “dog days” a larger story comes along to swallow yours whole. You’ll hear of it when it happens.
..... A bullet kills the President. 
..... Dead. 
..... He will have been assassinated. 
..... The assassin  - to those that see him – is a man dressed all in black.   He is never identified and no one ever takes credit for the kill.  What they do know is that the mortal wound had been caused by a 92 Series Over Mold Laser Grip Beretta.   And near the slain leader’s body is a  “good luck” coin minted during the Depression.   A swami on one side, an ALL-SEEING-EYE on the other.  And no one will know why it is there. 
..... Except for you. 
..... And for that, you are glad. 
..... And you will sit. 
..... And you will wait.
..... For Him.