When the Sea Shall Give Up Her
By A.M. Stickel, Editor
The Second Angel
No one believes
me. But I stand by what I saw. Judge for yourself.
I’d boarded the
bus at the end of the line, and transferred, en route to the beach. It was
nearly full despite the gloomy weather. People take what they can get and make
the best of it, especially old beach combers like me.
Out in the unincorporated
areas of our county, designated stops are far apart, so drivers make courtesy
stops if someone even remotely looks like they’re waiting for the bus. That day
was no exception.
For a few seconds
the light penetrated the clouds. Sun kissed the wind-tousled golden curls
spilling from under the hood of a figure in white sweats seated atop a brown
suitcase beside the road. No waving hand or outstretched arm caught the
driver’s attention. In fact, she had to back the bus up. The figure unfolded in
the slow motion manner of the too-tall, and stepped to the door—the driver
didn’t bother kneeling the bus—whoosh!
Move to the back. Pay when you get off.” Bus drivers rarely made such exceptions!
heavy.” To my further surprise, the pregnant woman seated beside me rose to offer
the nonpaying stranger her seat. Wedged into the right rear window seat over
the wheel, and half asleep, I didn’t move fast enough to give her my place. Before
I knew it, the brown suitcase was nudging my left leg. Its battered bulk
gurgled loudly, distracting me from the painful music exiting earbuds, the
one-sided conversations on cell phones from users too rude or lazy to text, and
the stench of smokers, garlic-lovers, the unbathed, and winos.
Sweats—who sounded male—squeezed in next to me, patting the suitcase as if it
were a companion animal. Although my long-limbed co-rider had a spare frame,
the seat groaned under him. He smelled of the earthy apple orchard where we’d
picked him up.
“How far you
goin’?” I asked, hoping it was just into town.
“All the way to
the bay,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I don’t plan to stay long,
said. “It looks like rain. You’ll be on the inbound before you can enjoy your
“I don’t think
We rode the rest
of the route (including another transfer where we both sat in the last row—bouncy
but with plenty of leg room), in silence, except for the sloshing suitcase. Is it
full of some kind of special protein drink
for athletes? Or, more likely, booze?
White Sweats never
did pay for his ride or show a pass. He fit the role of a celebrity all the
drivers knew or a gangbanger they feared. I didn’t bother keeping up with
sports, the crime scene, or even world events: why deal with news that’s always
bad, or at least scandalous?
Sand warmed my
butt after I’d plunked down to watch the impressive waves. Roaring monsters
struggling against invisible tethers, combers flashed white teeth in foamy
mouths. I breathed in their salt perfume.
of sitting?” said White Sweats, folding up next to me on his suitcase. I hadn’t
noticed his approach, and jumped to my feet. The surf had drowned out the
Before I could
answer, one towering wave sent out an exploratory tongue. Even though it missed
us, I gasped and stumbled back, recalling nightmares of massive tsunamis, their
hapless victims sucked into the sea.
“If you’re so
afraid of the water, why come to the beach?” he taunted over the noisy surf and
raucous gulls, which now sounded like a cursers’ convention at Babylon.
I was silent until
I recalled, “Revelation says the first dead resurrected will be those claimed
by the sea.”
He stood and bent over
for the suitcase. “The Bible has quite a lot to say about the sea, doesn’t it,
like how, before the End, everything
in her has to die?” He patted the suitcase. I shivered and looked up at the
Then, despite Nature’s
din, I was startled by a blaring horn—the Ram’s. My husband had driven our
Dodge pickup to the beach to meet me for early dinner on the wharf. I turned to
wave at him…
When I turned
back, where the suitcase had sat lay a golden sash. He was gone. I shaded my eyes
and scanned the watery horizon: no
surfers, no sails, only clouded sun. Sunset bloomed blood-red to stain a single
set of large footprints that led straight into the thunderous waves.
Inspired by Revelation:
Chapter 16, verse 3 and Chapter 20, verse 13a