west coast gothic
- predatory tourists on 101 wait for their slow-moving cousins, the RVs and trailers and kayak-bearing vans, to slow down around the curves, and then they make their move. there is no alternative route. you must wait for them to finish their meal and move on, before eking past the remains of summer vacationers.
- construction workers move patiently down highway 101, catching speeders in their slow zones and using the bones to repair the road. in their wake, the brand new concrete is pierced through with weeds dissatisfied with the sacrifice.
- a writhing mass of sea lions is barking on the bayfront. the people watch intently, and take pictures of the funny sea dogs. someone throws a piece of salt water taffy at them to see what they do; the mass heaves itself up as one bloated shining being and snaps it out of the air.
- glass-blowing workshops pop up like fragile daisies; there are glass floats everywhere. do not break them. do not pick them up. do not lick the splinters from your hands, sweet as candy.
- every candy shop in every half-hearted attempt at a town sells salt water taffy. there are always free samples. you take the wax-wrapped lump the earnest cashier offers you, and put the hard sweet in your mouth. something in the center crunches, and then it escapes your sugar-gummed tongue and slithers down your throat.
- there’s something huge and heaving on the beach behind the neighborhood full of rental houses. its stink slinks up the streets and chokes the ground squirrels; they die with their fire-colored bellies to the sky. a slab of fatty meat falls away from the thing, revealing ribs that reach like heavenly pillars towards the sky. everyone waits patiently with buckets of bleach; the harvest will begin soon. you’re hoping to grab a shoulder blade to go with your display of illegal driftwood on your front lawn made of gravel and bark chips.
- in the tidepools, the endless mussels slice at your sandals as you crouch down to poke at a puckered tight green anemone. there used to be sea stars here, but the species is rotting away. you can see the gelatinous remains of purple and orange ochres here and there, half digested by a mysterious bacteria or virus that science has yet to pin down.
- you sit down by a deeper pool, one with sculpins darting for cover in the clear salt water. you touch your finger to a white anemone that curls its neon pink tendrils lovingly around the tip; when you pull the finger away, a stinging numbness crawling up to your knuckle, the anemone tears itself in half, and both of them snatch up a sculpin apiece to draw into their maws.