Sunday morning is the right time for North Beach
across the bridge from Corpus Christi. Sunday
morning brings the truth to a place full of Saturday night
fantastical absurdities fueled and created and sustained,
desperately, by whatever the drug of the day is, or cheap wine.
I am twelve and following my father along the shoddy shore. We parked
and we are heading for TexMex at a nameless diner. Skirting
outstretched palms, eyes whiter, brightened falsely by the sooted cheeks.
We eat perfect tortillas and enchiladas and walk back tomy father’s grey Thunderbird.
Dark now, the hands are gone, more sinister tasks at hand, I imagine.
We go home, not talking about the oddness of this place, or the danger. It is part
of normal. My brother lives in these places in other places, under buildings, around
corners, hand to mouth, hand to vein. Maybe we are looking for him.
Sunday morning breaks harsh, like thrown plates, over North Beach.
I found my brother, thirty-five years later. He is safe, squared in a 6 x 8,
three squares a day, squared away. And I am still looking for him
among the ruins of refurbished North Beach. It looks worse since the improvements:
imported sand, dayglo curios; it’s obviously dishonest, but in a sinister way, different
from the honest lies involved in robbing your car if you leave it open
there along the “beach”. The motels empty at an erratic pace, old time drunks
emerge from old time haunts. It is not quaint, but it is honest, this Sunday morning.