Two days after encountering the “pick up your trash” note inside the driftwood fort, I headed out on a frosty morning to see if anything had transpired there. I was somewhat hoping, dreaming the trash was gone and a handwritten note had moved a miscreant’s heart and mind to do the right thing. Ohhhh, the writer’s conceit of it all!
I approached the fort. I was astonished to see it occupied by two people, a thin younger man and a thinner younger woman. Quite obviously they had spent the night there. They must be the miscreants! I live for this sort of encounter!
As I walked toward the fort, I noticed the young man, who was wearing a t-shirt in 40-degree weather, started acting in the most peculiar manner: he picked up a piece of driftwood roughly the size of a bazooka and pretended he was firing shells toward the ocean; then he pretended the driftwood was a rifle and began shooting at invaders; then he shouldered the “rifle” and began marching around in circles. While he marched, the woman, who was wearing a Rasta-colored hoodie and plaid pajama bottoms saluted him. The whole time she was swigging from a plastic bottle that contained an orange-colored drink.
Now, I have seen a great many strange things unfold on Oregon’s socialist ocean beaches, but this ranked up there with the strangest. Doubtless meth had something to do with it, and I would know because I observe this sort of behavior performed by gaunt younger people at the beach all the time, and it certainly has ratcheted up since the Pandemic hit. Usually it also involves hatchets and hacking at driftwood for no apparent reason.
The couple seemed a bit too energetic and bizarre for me on this particular morning, so I decided to pass up the opportunity to interact and kept walking down the beach. When I came to a cliff that blocked my way, I turned around and walked back on the same path.
At one point, the woman saw me and waved. I waved back. The man was still playing army and waved at me. I waved back. He shouted, “We’re not crazy!”
I yelled back, “You’re just having fun!”
“Yes we are,” he yelled in return.
I returned the next morning with a pocket full of breakfast bars to hand out to the campers. I suppose it was a pretext to meet them and glean a little of their story. I wanted to hear it. I believe I am on the verge of writing some kind of book connected to this story.
They were gone! The fort was spotless except for an empty plastic bottle upright on the cut round of driftwood. It was so prominently displayed that it couldn’t have been an accident that it was left behind. Perhaps the campers left it there as a message for the note writer. But what did that possibly mean? It was impossible to divine with any surety, but there was a definite message there.
I left both happy and sad. The fort was cleaned up and ready for occupation again, a handwritten note had presumably prevailed to get someone to do the right thing, but, I had blown a unique opportunity to meet this strange couple and see what they were all about.
Great journalism of this nature is exactly like finding something spectacular in a thrift store. If you don’t buy it then and there, and expect it to wait around until the next day, it won’t be there.