Sea Side Stories

By Dave


Hi, my name is Schmedly Doogle. You may call me Schmedly, or you may call me whatever nickname I’ve concocted that day. It’s a somewhat fluid situation. I’ve been known as Lemuel the Great one day and Binky the next. My friends usually ask before addressing me.

My dog’s name is Goober, a pup of uncertain pedigree but certain loyalty and playfulness. I live in a small but glassy house on a jutting peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Because of my location on a peninsula, I have a 224.6 degree view of the ocean and coastline (more than 180 degrees due to an inset cove to the south, and the .6 because I’m sort of a pedant in some areas and actually surveyed), and possibly the best view in the world, or at least the neighborhood… though, around here, most of us have our own neighborhood, since no house is within a quarter mile of another. This is partly by choice and partly by divine design: by choice because we like our space and privacy around here, and divine because between buildable lots here are steep cliffs and dense underbrush (some overbrush, too, and yes, I cribbed that word from the art world). Some of our houses are situated on sloping pieces of land that most people would term ‘precarious,’ and anything more precarious would be…‘too precarious.’

The place just down the highway has a similarly (but not quite as) spectacular view. My neighbor to the south is a nice old dude named Darnell Bunlap, whose main occupation is surf fishing off his deck which, like mine, clings (precariously) to the cliff by heavy-duty steel beams and big ol’ nuts and bolts (Darnell’s pre-retirement occupation was in construction engineering, and he designed the deck and supporting structure himself). Once last year, Darnell caught a ninety-pound whitefin tuna that demolished the deck furniture when he thought it was dead. Darnell, that is…wait…the fish, that is…okay, Darnell thought it was dead…the fish, not the furniture…wait…not the part about the fish thinking, because fish don’t usually think about deck furniture, as far as we know. And Darnell’s deck furniture has always been dead. Well, at least since it was turned into deck furniture. Before that it was a redwood tree that had fallen over…and was, uh, dead. About as dead as my thought process on this topic, apparently.

The neighbors to the north are wonderful folks, named Paduca and Gore Finster. Paddy is about as round as she is tall, with a great big head of orange hair, and a voice a lot like a yelp, and Gore is basically normal, except he has virtually no chin and wears clothes made out of newspapers. Once Gore was out on his boat fishing, as he often is and does, and was surprised by a breaching, and apparently nearsighted, humpback whale that flipped his boat and left Gore bobbing around in his little rubber life raft, waiting for someone to come by and rescue him. Side note here: Gore said the whale appeared to be as surprised as he was, because it came back to the bobbing Gore and seemed to nod in sympathy before sliding away upcoast. But Gore said the whale nods created huge waves that nearly capsized the raft, so maybe the big guy just came back to finish the job. Anyway, Gore sat in his little life raft for hours, massively bored, not to mention cold and wet, and when he was finally rescued, the first thing he said was, “That’s the last time I go fishing without something to read.” Inexplicable, yes, but that’s Gore Finster. When he got home, he asked Paddy to whip up a shirt made from newspapers and Paddy asked no questions and pieced together the world’s first newspaper shirt (or possibly the world’s first first-world newspaper shirt). Now Gore always has his reading material around. He reads the upward-facing, forward-facing text first, and then he breaks out a mirror and a special Italian artist’s mechanism he found online, and reads everything else. This process requires some physical gymnastics—twisting and bending and stretching and such—a pretty impressive thing for a man of his age to do every day for personal edification and boredom relief.
For various reasons, relatively few people live here in what we call the middle of the end of the continent. But scattered around the area are some interesting folks, all of whom you’ll meet. Some might call these people, and for that matter, me, quirky, odd, strange, or eccentric, but we don’t see ourselves that way and, if you’re being honest, you’re probably somewhere on the quirky spectrum yourself, and if you think your neighbor is ‘just an ordinary, average guy,’ as Joe Walsh perceptively put it, you probably don’t know your neighbor too well. Anyway…

Our community is wedged snugly between the coast range and the steep cliffs that drop into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a small place, so small that many maps and search engines don’t even bother noting its presence, which is just fine with us. The town itself is barely 75 yards from end to end, but it contains everything a town needs and nothing it doesn’t, or so we tell ourselves. Actually, most of what’s in the town isn’t needed, but then I suspect that’s the case with most towns. So, I guess what’s in our town is what we want, and we’re happy with it.

And we are a remote place. The nearest town to the south is 40 miles away, and to the north you don’t see anything like civilization until you take the twisting coast highway all the way up to that ‘you can’t afford it’ community, the one where you have to pay to drive past houses that look like hotels and golf courses that look like Scotland. We are occasionally isolated by landslides and rockslides and mudslides (the latter being the environmentally-induced kind and the alcoholic kind, though the alcohol-fueled Mudslide-induced isolation is mainly due to someone being unable to find the doorknob), and when those events happen, we may be found celebrating, at least until the food starts running low. We like our relative isolation. But we’re also welcoming to strangers, and we get some serious strangers coming through.

What follow are accounts of those strangers, the townsfolk who some would argue are stranger than the strangers, and the ambience of this beautiful place out here in the middle of the end of the continent.

Up Next:
Goober’s M-S B-FF
My Sunglass Fetish


  1. davesaz

    Great story, love it!

  2. Cole B

    Hey there! Great first story! Always good to reread these and have a laugh. Looking forward to seeing Binky/Schmedly/Lemuel the Great’s adventures!

  3. janet

    Your dream home and location, I surmise. 😁


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