by Citizen Cane
Ocean Beach is known as a popular destination, but someday it will also be an important point of departure. That’s because Ocean Beach is home to Space Dock XIB, the longest concrete space dock on the West coast. When the end is near, a large spaceship will dock with the pier and rescue those fortunate folks that received XIB identity numbers from Clint Carey, the Spaceman of Ocean Beach. I not only have a number from Spaceman, but I also have the dubious distinction of being one the Kings of a ten foot section of railing.
My adventure began when I was about twelve years old. Two friends and I had finished freeloading the comic books at Paras, and we decided to go down to the pier to watch the surfers. We were almost there, when we heard someone screaming for help between some cottages by the pier. We saw an old man rolling on the ground and pleading for help. He was being mercilessly soaked by a kid with a Hypo-Squirt.
I told my friends to grab the boy, while I ran over to a garden hose and turned on the faucet. I more than justly soaked the kid for the sin of disrespecting an elder. Then I ordered my friends to “make him dirty.” My friends proceeded to apply dirt to the wet kid. Our actions were a bit excessive, but that sort of stuff sometimes happens in law enforcement.
Spaceman seemed very grateful for our rescue. He gave us all XIB numbers for boarding the spaceship. My two friends were both given the title of Bodyguard, but I was made a King of a ten foot section of railing. I assumed I was being rewarded for my quick thinking and leadership. The Clint told me it was my job to take care of the people in my section. We spent a couple of hours with Spaceman that day. He had to make a couple of pit stops before we went out on the pier. One wine bottle was inside a bush, and the other was under a loose board on the front steps of a cottage. He didn’t drink them dry. He just took a couple swigs, and then hid the bottle for the future.
I’ll never forget our grand promenade on the pier. Spaceman led the way with a daisy in each hand. He waved them around as he walked, and made an odd swishing noise with his mouth. His two bodyguards silently kept pace about two strides back. I brought up the rear of the procession, and I waved to the peasant fisherman like a good king should. I was presented my new kingdom out near the restaurant. Spaceman asked me if I liked it, and I must confess that I was a little bit ungrateful. I pointed out that there wasn’t a bench, and it wasn’t close to a depth marker (small signs that are long since gone.) Spaceman said, “yes, but it’s close to the bathroom, and someday you’ll appreciate that.” He was right. The man had a knack for the future.
Over the years I tried to be a good king. I picked up seaweed and ciggy butts strewn around my kingdom. I always tolerated overhead casting, and the changing trends in radio music. Sometimes late at night, I would give away tiny bottles of Ripple and Thunderbird. That’s no longer legal. My attitude about Kingship has also changed. A while back I was reading some stats about the pier, and I was struck by the statement that there was nearly a mile of railing on the pier. If every King and Queen of the pier only had ten feet of railing, then there will be nearly five hundred monarchs on the pier when the spaceship arrives. So I’ve revised my assumptions about Spaceman’s view of title and rank. I’ve redefined what Spaceman meant when he said it was my job to “take care” of the people in my section. I now think it’s highly probable that the Kings and Queens of the OB pier will be the official butt washers to the proletariat in each and every ten foot kingdom.
A few years before he died, I asked Spaceman if we’d have to be naked when we boarded the ship. He laughed and said there would be a lot of naked people on the ship. He also said my final instructions would come to me in my dreams. I don’t think the official instructions have arrived yet, but I worry about having a reunion with that boy and his Hypo-Squirt. I fear he’ll be one of the people lining up in my ten foot kingdom. He’ll hand me his vintage Hypo-Squirt, bend over, spread his cheeks, and say, “I’m ready your Highness, now it’s time for me to make you dirty.”