Human Pocket Knife

Night Surfing Waikiki


Photos by John Hook // @john_hook

Story by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison // @scrappers


I’m not naked, 

but paddling in the dark sure feels that way. 

The water seems to go into my skin 

deeper than my freckles, tattoos, and hair. 

It’s cold in a good way like sheets 

when you first slide into bed or 

flip the pillow in the middle of the night. 

Feels like dreaming. 

I can’t see where I am. 

This is a place I’ve been, but it doesn’t look right. 

It moves the same way, the old up-down-up-down of passing waves, 

but I can’t see them. 


I’m here floating in a place I can’t see. 

I’m awake and dreaming.

I’m paddling in the dark into outer space. Above and below are the same blackness with dancing light streaks. 

The light does a hippy amoeba dance, waving its arms and legs around like a mellow castaway casually waving for a passing ship. We are passing ships in the night. 

It’s a trippy light that lives in night water. The light of Waikiki plays like a movie and the waves are the screen. 

We are the audience and the actors. 

This is an action movie full of bromance and artful wonder. We are twinkling from the light of stars and parking cars. 

We are reflecting off the black water surface. 

All the lights around blur into long streaks as the water swells up into a wall and curls over on itself. This is where we want to be. Right in the center of that curl of streaking light and black water. 

This is the dream we are lucidly living.

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The locals I’m with ride with pure grace on these waves of blackness and streaking light. Not me though. I stub my toe with every step. My take-offs are too early or too late. I close my eyes to feel the movement of the wave better since I can’t see things right. I catch a wave. Time moves slower and faster all at the same time. 

Night surfing ain’t easy, but my friends sure make it look that way.

Sharks hunt at night. This is a fact. This is the only fact I can remember about sharks. I need to stop thinking about sharks. If I get bit I won’t pull away or put up a fight. I will climb into its mouth, passing over its razor sharp teeth, curl up on its wet tongue, and go to sleep forever. I’m ready to die. I’ve taken my mental inventory of accomplishments and am cool with what I’ve got so far. My survivors will say “At least it wasn’t cancer or a car crash.” If I or someone else out in the water tonight gets pulled under we will disappear into the blackness. We are out here risking it all together. We are a suicide squad. I feel horrible about being here and deeply grateful for the people I’m here with. I lose my sense of self and am one shadow of many humans floating on the water surface with certain death below.

Then a shark brushes up against my foot and I’m done dreaming.

This is a nightmare!

I’m paddling faster than waves I should be trying to catch. I’m paddling off the front of the board. I’m paddling out of the water. I’m Scooby Doo and Shaggy’s love child of pure screaming fear cartoonishly panic-paddling for my life then the reality sets in. It was just the leash. Yeah. the leash, or seaweed, or some tourist’s lost goggles, or the Universe gently waking me up from this living dream.  

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