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by Danny Fisher on December 15, 2010

carlaIt was the day after the Vietnam Moratorium. I was on the steering committee that organized the march from Lincoln High School to the Brooklyn College campus for the anti-war rally. Marty, lanky with long, frizzy blonde hair, was the head of the steering committee, and he urged us to cooperate with the police. “They’re not pigs, man!” he told us.

Carla was a dark skinned girl with long, dark brown hair, and was on the steering committee, too, but we didn’t really talk with each other much. Eddie, a tall, thin, light-skinned black student with a large Afro who lived in the affluent community of Manhattan Beach approached me at the end of the school day. “Hey, you know that Carla’s got a crush on you, don’t you.” I was fairly mesmerized. “Carla? A crush on me? You’re joking, right?” “No, man,” Eddie replied. “Haven’t you noticed the way she looks at you?” I hadn’t noticed at all, in fact. “She really likes you.”

manhattan beach

I walked home from school, the blood rushing to my head in a dizzying whirl. My normally deflated ego was pumped so high that I burst with excitement at the sudden joy of life. Carla, so dark skinned, and pretty – I never would have figured her as my girlfriend. I lay in bed at night, dreaming of being with her. I imagined walking her home to her glorious house in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn’s most exclusive neighborhood, where one could hear the waves crash against the large rocks on the shore and the concrete chunks of the broken esplanade.

I saw Carla at school the next day, and she was warm and receptive to my company and conversation. I didn’t feel like I was asking her out on a date, but somehow we soon had plans to go to the movies at the Avenue U theater to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It felt very natural, and I was not awkward. That’s because Eddie told me she liked me, and he was right – I could tell that she did. It is a nice feeling to be liked by a girl when you are in the eleventh grade.

moonlight ocean

There was a long line at the Avenue U movie theater. I guess that’s because they started a new policy of charging only one dollar. After waiting a long time, the movie was sold out and we were turned away. Carla suggested we go to Manhattan Beach – she had a joint on her. I said that was cool. I was smoking pot fairly regularly in 11th grade, as was everyone else – but unlike the rest of my friends, I haven’t smoked since that time so long ago. We walked along the ruined esplanade, and the waves crashed thunderously against the jagged rocks along the shore. We found some comfortable rocks to sit down on from where we could watch the crashing of the waves, and the nearly full moon illuminating the clouds in the night sky, and the reflection of the moon on the glittering horizon. Carla reached into her jeans pocket and took out the joint. She lit up and took a deep drag. She handed it to me, and it was flavorful and moist from being in her mouth, and the smoke was delicious and the coarse burning sensation deep inside my throat was exhilarating. The moon and the water and the surf became an impressionist painting. Soon we were kissing, with deep feeling, and our arms wrapped warmly around each other, sheltering us from the ocean breeze and the ocassional light sea spray. I looked into Carla’s dark brown eyes, and I could see in them the bouncing reflections of the moonlit ocean. We kissed again. The night was warm and magnificent.

party blur

The next time I saw Carla was at a party she had at her house. I was not all that comfortable being in her house with a crowd of people, and I hit the hash pipe right off. The hash must have been opiated, as I don’t know how else to explain the complete delirium it produced in me. The night raced by in a flash, and I remember only fleeting images. I remember crawling on the carpet in a stupor. I remember the blurred look on the faces of the other kids, some amused, some annoyed, and some concerned. I remember hearing the voices of a couple of kids arranging for me to be taken home in a car. I remember being lifted and carried out the door. Most of all, I remember looking helplessly at Carla as I was being carried away from her house. Her face took on the expression of cold stone, and the angry and embarrassed look in her eyes stirred my heart out of its oblivion. Her face receded into the distance and disappeared as I was carried away, conscious enough only to recognize that Carla would never speak to me again. I landed in the seat of someone’s car with a heavy thud like a discarded object, and fell into a dark and painful sleep.

* * *

Excerpt from a novel I have been writing called “White Sand Falling.”

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