12:1 Charlie Does Surf

KAUA‘I, THE STATE OF HAWAII  |  1969

The first time Fred Williams met Charlie Danger the two fused as if they had undergone a chemical reaction. Williams was standing outside of the Hale Café where he worked as a line cook and Danger came smashing into the gravel parking lot like a meteorite. He was putting his brand new ’66 Olds Cutlass convertible through its paces with the top down and the AM radio up as far as it would go.

Just when Williams thought the heavy chunk of Detroit steel was going to end becoming an artificial reef, Danger locked up the disc brakes and jerked the wheel to the left sending the machine into a four-wheel slide and kicking up a fuck-ton of dirt, rocks, and koloa shit in the process.

When the dust finally cleared, Williams expected to lock eyes with an archetypical wired-to-the-gills gearhead or one of the usual tanned and wave-toned surfers that frequented the Hale after the morning break; instead, he was surprised to see—back-lit by the sun still-rising toward apogee—the spitting image of Jesus Christ himself.

Danger threw open the perfectly balanced driver-side door—back when Detroit rolling stock still had bodies “designed by Fisher”—and immediately zeroed in on Williams who stood in the slowly settling cloud of debris dressed in his kitchen whites with a cigarette hanging from his bottom lip by a thin scrim of moisture.

“Hey, bruddah,” Danger addressed the incredulous line cook. “Ever been shot?” When this unexpected query gained him no equitable conversation, he took it to the next level. “I have, wanna see?”

Before Williams could answer one way or another—and to tell the truth, he would have said “no” had he time to gather his wits about him—Danger lifted his white T-shirt to reveal an even whiter scar on his abdomen. The cook took the bait.

“Who shot you?” Williams finally played his part perfectly, coming in on cue as if rehearsed.

“Charlie,” Danger answered and started laughing like the lunatic Williams was starting to suspect he was.

Even years later, all throughout the arc of their friendship, whenever the two men got together they performed their ritualistic greeting, each time Danger dissolving into laughter so that Williams never did find out if it was the Vietcong or actually Danger himself who pulled the trigger.

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