on a beach (recalled)

I was in the wrong time zone and so I went to the stony beach at dawn. A man lay sprawled on the stones, his stained shirt open to the sun, his belt undone, his arms stretched out like christ. The stout old ladies in their bathing caps had left a wide clearance around him. A fly settled on him. I wondered if he might be dead. Then a shrill beep broke apart the murmur of the lapping waves. The man sat up, dug into his pockets and found a phone. He spoke a moment, hung up. He slipped off his shirt and approached the surf, splashing his armpits with water from the warm sea. His back was spread with round welts from the stones of the beach. The old ladies watched him, giggling, as he put his shirt back on, tucked it in, buckled his belt, smoothed his trousers, and walked back up the steps to the sidewalk, back into the world he had taken the night off from.

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