Buppa stands me in front of him, on the sand facing the ocean. Chan adjusts my feet so they point forward and are as wide apart as my shoulders.
“You ever ride a horse, Gio?”
“At the Festa de Sant Antony I did.”
“You remember how the horse felt under you?”
“Feel like that now. Make believe you’re on the horse.
Chan smiles. “My people call this a horse stance because it’s like you ride a horse. Make sense?”
Chan always asks if he makes sense. I have to show him I understand before he continues.
“Now put your hands out like this.”
The shadow of Buppa’s arms comes over me. I look up over me and behind me. He’s doing the same thing I’m doing.
“What are you doing, Buppa?”
“I’ve got to learn, too, Gio. Chan does this much better than me.”
Chan adjusts my arms, levels my hands, straightens my fingers, taps my belly.
“What do we do first?”
“Feel the ocean, feel its power, hear the waves coming in.”
My body gently rocks back and forth.
“Let the ocean move you. Be its water. Learn where its been. Feel where its going. Taste its bottom. See what moves there in the deep, deep dark.”
I rock with ocean’s movements, striking the land.
“This is Waves, Gio. We do this to learn the power of Ocean, this form of water, so we can draw on its power when we need to. Make sense?”
Buppa’s head rises, his eyes open.
Chan’s head rise. He follows Buppa’s gaze. “You’re needed, Giovanni.”
“Finish the boy’s lesson.”
“We can practice more later. Nobody gets it the first time.”
I stop rocking but keep standing, my arms outstretched, my fingers sensing the ocean. A shallow forms in front of me.
Chan claps his hands. “Gio! You make a liar out of Chan!”
Officers Morelli and Clarkson talk with Grandma on the porch. Their police car is in the street outside our gate.
They walk to us as we get out of Buppa’s truck, their hats held in the hands in front of them.
Offers Morelli and Clarkson are friends. They walk through our neighborhood often. Sometimes Officer Clarkson wears shiny black boots and rides a motorcycle. Sometimes Officer Morelli comes by in a police car and I get to ride around the neighborhood in front with him. Sometimes he sits me on his lap while he drives and I get to hold onto the steering wheel. “Oh, we’re in hot pursuit, Gio. Gonna get them crooks, Gio.” He drives funny so we go all over the street.
Officer Clarkson sits me on his motorcycle and puts his helmet on my head. It covers my eyes and I can’t see. He gets on behind me and goes “VROOM! VROOM! PUT-a-Put-a-put-a-put VROOM! VROOM! PUT-a-Put-a-put-a-put.” We put on the siren and Grandma comes out of the house, a kitchen towel over her ears. “Shut that damn thing off. You’ll deafen the boy.”
Officer Clarkson turns off the siren. “Sorry, Mrs. Fortune. Just giving the boy some fun.”
He looks at me and his face goes Whoops! Grandpa and I laugh.
Grandma goes back in and comes out with a cookie tin. “You ask that Cheryl girl to marry you yet?”
“Doing it tonight.”
“Gio, bring these to him.”
I hand him the tin and he starts to open it.
Grandma snaps the towel. “No, no you don’t. Those are for your girl to give you when she says ‘Yes.’”
Officer Clarkson perks up. “She’s going to say yes?”
Grandma looks at me. “What do you think, Gio? His girl gonna say yes?”
I shrug. I don’t know how to see through time yet. Buppa says time is a place like any other. You can get there if you know which direction to travel.
Grandma laughs. “You bring those cookies, Charlie. In case.”
Officer Morelli looks at Officer Clarkson. “I’m going to speak Italian, Charlie. No offense. So I’ll be understood better.”
Officer Clarkson nods. “Go ahead.”
“Abbiamo bisogno di te, Maestro Fortuna.” We need you, Master Fortune.
I tug on Grandma’s apron. “Maestro Fortuna?”
She pulls me on her lap. ‘People call Buppa “Master” when their need is great.”
Buppa nods. “They request the Old Ways and are afraid.”
“Una bambina è persa.” A little girl’s lost.
Buppa nods. “Il ragazzo viene con me questa volta.” The boy comes with me this time.
Morelli shakes his head. He turns to Officer Charlie. “He wants to bring Gio with him.”
Officer Charlie looks at me and then at Buppa. “I don’t know, Mr. Fortuna. We suspect…This could be…”
“So he can learn. For later.” Buppa pats my head. “Go help Grandma clean you up, put on fresh clothes. I got to wash, too. All this sand.”
Buppa sends me the sounds of the ocean, of the waves, the feel of the water, our feet in the sand, little crabs scurrying into the water, bubbles where clams lie under the sand.
I feel the ocean move me. Remember Chan’s lesson. Hear Buppa inside. “Good, Gio. Remember.”
We get in the police car. “Can I ride in front?”
Buppa nods. “For now. You’ll have to help me later, Gio. Do you want to help me?”
I get to help Buppa! “Always!”
Officer Clarkson lifts me over the back of the seat and puts me on his lap. “No sirens this time, Gio. Don’t want your grandma mad at me.”
I pout. He tickles me until I laugh.
Officer Morelli starts their car. He looks back to Buppa. “Where do we start?”
“Where did she live?”
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