During my tenure at NASA--although it was not actually NASA, but let's call it that, as it was NASA-like, but smaller, richer and less legal--I was a low-level satellite monitor looking for things I'm not supposed to talk about, but let's say they were sea monsters that could invade our lovely shores any minute, nuclear sea monsters. Despite the danger of sea monsters, which by the time I took the helm of sector 4, grid 29, had been a diminishing threat for decades, my job was tedious and boring. And to call it that is almost an insult to tedious and boring jobs everywhere. It was much worse than bottle stamping, popcorn manufacturing, monkey sales, water promotion, or asphalt maintenance. To stay sane, I made my own fun.
There is a nude beach near Santa Cruz called Bonny Doon. Yawn, right? I've been there in person a few times, and it's a gorgeous rocky beach, but mostly populated with leathery old men wearing plastic visors and too much oil. Still, I'd zoom in on it every once in a while for a laugh. Maybe thirty years ago the common perception was that spy satellites could read a license plate from space. I worked for not-Nasa maybe ten years ago, so the technology was much improved. I was looking for melanomas.
Just down the beach from Bonny Doon is a little rocky cove. It's not frequented much as there are better situated beaches north and south, but it's on the periphery so I'd scan it every so often. I discovered a beautiful woman sunbathed alone there, always in the morning. She'd read, usually chewing absent-mindedly on her lower lip, sprawled on a rock, her back reclining at maybe a twenty-degree angle. Other times she'd curl up and sleep for maybe an hour. It's enough to say that she was beautiful, as the specifics of her beauty are really beside the point. But if you are curious I'll tell you she had dirty blonde hair, pulled back into a pony tail, or sometimes pigtails. Her body was a normal size, not waifish or lanky, but more historically womanly. Classically beautiful: high cheekbones, long neck, high forehead, I'd sometimes imagine I was spying on a painting. I don't know the color of her eyes, as she usually wore huge sunglasses, plus the satellite's cameras do have some limits, but I imagine they matched the Pacific ocean. She read a lot, or it seemed so, as from one day to the next, she often had a new novel. Her taste in literature didn't coincide with mine, a lot of Robert Ludlum, who I hate, but it made me think maybe she'd like me, since I was technically a spy.
It's creepy I know, but I fell in love with her. I'd linger over her image too long. I became, for lack of a better word, obsessed. Eventually, after months of my infatuation, it was discovered I'd smuggled photos of her out of the facility. I was threatened with charges, put in touch with a counselor, and fired. I drove west that night across desert, then mountain, and by morning was charging up 101-north determined to meet the sunbather I loved. I arrived at the little rocky cove just before noon, the geography of the place was easy to recall, and I found her there, in the same spot I'd watched her the morning before, beaming from a low orbit, 700 miles east. She was more beautiful than viewed clandestinely from space, yes, and when I saw her I laughed, and looked up at blue heaven and laughed again, louder, and shook my fist, and just in case anyone up there was watching I gave them the finger, as the woman I loved was not alone.