Ozzie Ausband

Slay, rend & chew.

The ‘Combi 2’ at Vans in Orange California is receiving a ‘skinning’. The sharp tools of the concrete crew tear into her hide. She lay there wounded, her plaster bleeding out of her. She will receive a new skin, tiles & coping. I have a vivid imagination so, seeing her all chewed up, I am reminded of a visit to San Francisco in 2003. We wandered far that first day. The air was cool. It was always cold in San Francisco.

We came across the hillsides & found ourselves on a rocky ledge along the water.  We could glimpse Alcatraz Island squatting malignantly on the boulders, dead center in the bay. It brooded there like a bad dream. A small sailboat & several larger barges would pass across our field of vision, yet Alcatraz held our attention.

The island sat there in the cold morning sun and although it appeared harmless to the casual observer, I could feel its latent power & portent of doom. It was pregnant with antiquity & the burden of broken men, along with all of the life it had sucked out of mankind. The water around the island was flat & dark blue, yet underneath this placid disguise was a furious and unforgiving death trap.

Dark sinister shapes cruised hungrily; always and evermore. The sharks here –in the chilly water –came & stayed. There was  no ‘turnover’. Seals were plentiful & Great Whites were found in abundance.Twenty foot eating machines with rows & rows of white  chiseled teeth that cut & tore gobbets of meat…shrieking & slippery. The largest sharks on earth have been found here.

Sinister & gloomy, they twist their muscular bodies, hurtling up out of the inky blackness. Absolute mind-bending horror. Remorseless, with ancient eyeballs, black with the promise of pain & a rich bath of your own hot blood. A smashing blow, driving the air out of you. An obscene strange thought flashes through your mind as you are driven at great speed through the frothy water, with the unending pressure on your pelvis & chest. Where!? What?! Your mouth fills with water & blood. Salty. Salty. “Oh Gods! Oh sweet Jesus!”

You begin to be sawed in half. Shrieking, you glimpse a row of teeth that never seem to end. The pain burns across your mind and pieces of you fall, spinning softly & slowly down into the dark places. The crabs scuttle out of their sleepy, shadow-filled niches, nibbling at your toes & shredded calf muscles. You should see what you look like!

The water above is calm. Softly, one can hear the ringing of the cable car bells, as tourists climb back up the arching spine of Powell street & into Chinatown. Alcatraz crouches over the water, a brooding picture of menace. It remains a scourge to mankind, with its iron bars rusting, locks sealed tight & the soft lapping, as the bay licks the ancient stones that line the foundations of the prison walls. Thanks to MRZ for the images. Go skate-Ozzie