Authors: Duncan Ball
Selby is not my dog. I don’t own a dog. He lives in a country town which he calls ‘Bogusville’ with people who he calls ‘Dr and Mrs Trifle’. He made these names up. He also made up the name ‘Selby’ so that nobody could track him down and tell the world that he knows how to talk. I don’t even know his real name myself.
A while ago when he rang me to tell me about another one of his adventures I couldn’t stand it any longer. ‘Selby, please tell me your real name and where you really live,’ I said. He was ready for this.
‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘but I make it a rule not to tell anyone.’
‘But I’m not just anyone,’ I pleaded. ‘I’m your biographer.’
‘I write the stories about you. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Don’t you trust me?’
Selby was quiet for a moment. ‘You might talk in your sleep. Someone could hear.’
‘I never talk in my sleep,’ I said.
‘How do you know if you talk in your sleep if you’re asleep when you’re doing it? You could babble away all night long, for all you know.’
He had me there.
‘Now do you want to hear about the time I went surfing?’ he asked.
‘Surfing? But you don’t even know how to swim!’
‘I know,’ he said. ‘That’s what made it exciting.’
And that’s how this book began.
‘Oh, I’d love to go surfing,’ Selby thought as he and the Trifles watched the International Surf-Racing Championship on TV. ‘If it’s this much fun to watch it must be a grillian times better to actually do it! There’s just a couple of teeny tiny minor things keeping me from being a champion surfer: one, I’m a dog and two, I can’t swim! Every dog except me knows how to swim as soon as they’re born. It’s not fair! I must have missed out on the swimming gene.’
‘Look at that huge wave!’ Mrs Trifle exclaimed as she handed Dr Trifle a slice of watermelon. ‘It’s humungous!’
Dr Trifle said, slurping his slice.
‘Very very big,’ Mrs Trifle explained. ‘It’s bigger than all the other waves.’
‘That’s what they call the Colossal Curler,’ Dr Trifle said. ‘It happens when one wave is going faster than the others. It keeps catching them up and sucking them in like a big watery vacuum cleaner getting bigger and bigger. They’re the reason that they hold the Surf-Racing Championship at Point Vertical. You see, this is surf-racing, not just surfing. Whoever goes the fastest without falling off their board wins.’
Selby watched as the surfers, one by one, dived under the approaching wave.
‘Why aren’t they getting up to ride it?’ Mrs Trifle asked. ‘Isn’t it big enough?’
‘I think it’s too big,’ Dr Trifle said.
‘Yikes!’ Selby thought. ‘He’s right! That thing’s as big as a building and as fast as a freight train! Only a dare-devil would try to ride it!’
Sure enough, almost all the surfers took one look and dived under it, letting it roar by over their heads. But as the wave built up, adding more and more waves to its huge bulk, one lone surfer appeared at its top, his hair streaming backwards, his jaw thrust forward.
‘I can’t believe it!’
the TV announcer cried. ‘
Cool Jules! The man is mad! But if he can ride this monster he’ll be the champion for sure!’
The camera moved closer showing the towering wave thundering towards the beach.
‘Oh, no!’ Selby thought. ‘The wave is starting to break! He’ll be ripped to pieces!’
The crest of the wave curled gently over and the surfer disappeared.
‘He’s in the pipe!’
the announcer yelled.
‘If he gets out of there standing up he’ll set a speed record!’
Suddenly the wave crashed down with the roar of a jumbo jet and a great foaming mass swept up the beach.
‘Where’s Cool Jules?!’ Selby thought as lifeguards dived into the swirling wash. ‘Nothing but a fish could survive a dump like that!’
Dr and Mrs Trifle munched their watermelon furiously like a couple of harmonica players in a hurry.
‘He’s got to be dead,’ Dr Trifle said, spitting seeds everywhere as he spoke.
A moment later a lifeguard saw something in the water and leapt in and grabbed it, pulling its limp form onto the beach. The stunned surfer struggled to his feet clasping what was left of his
broken surfboard as a man with a microphone dashed to his side.
‘What happened, Cool?’ the man asked.
‘I-I dunno, mate,’ Cool Jules replied.
‘What was going through your mind when you were there in the middle of the wave?’
‘Well, I was like … like here I am, man. But like I do this cutback off the lip and then there’s water all over the place and I’m upside down and … like before when I’m out there and I see the Curler barrelling up I’m like, “Hey! I’m outta here!” and like when I’m in the tube I’m like, “Oh, you beaudy” and I’m slewcin'—’
‘Oh, mate! Like I’m rippin’ along, spankin’ the spray and it’s really filthy but it’s like, “What am I, mate?” You with me? I’m not thinkin’, I’m just in there and it’s on and like, man, then next thing I know — cowabunga!’
‘Yeah like I’m takin’ a foam nap and I’m not coming up till Christmas — ya got me?’
‘Well, yes, thank you,’ the announcer said. ‘I hope your next ride is a bit better.’
‘Gotta get me another board, mate,’ replied Cool Jules. Then turning to the crowd, he asked, ‘Can anybody spare a malibu?’
‘Goodness me,’ Mrs Trifle sighed. ‘Or cowabunga, as this Jules fellow would say. He may not be great at explaining things but he certainly has guts.’
For the next hour Selby and the Trifles watched as, one after the other, the surfers tried to ride the Colossal Curlers but failed. Finally, with no one able to ride the big waves, the Surf-Racing Championship was postponed till the next day.
‘The problem is the boards,’ Selby thought. ‘They’re not made for monster waves. I’ll bet Dr Trifle could come up with a perfect Colossal Curler board if he wanted to.’
‘You know,’ Mrs Trifle said to Dr Trifle, ‘I think the problem is the surfboards. I’ll bet you could invent a better one.’
‘She took the words right out of my brain,’ Selby thought.
‘Me? Surfboards?’ Dr Trifle said. ‘I hardly know what one looks like.’
‘So what? I think that the best inventors are people who don’t know about the things they try to invent.’
‘Yes. People who know too much never invent anything because they can always see reasons why something won’t work. Ignorant people like yourself — nothing personal, dear — just go ahead and invent and sometimes their inventions work even when there’s no reason why they should.’
‘I love the way Mrs Trifle’s mind works,’ Selby thought.
‘Hmmm,’ Dr Trifle hmmmed, ‘I’ll have to think about that. Surfboards, double hmmm. I think this calls for some serious pacing.’
Dr Trifle sliced off another slice of watermelon and then started walking faster and faster around the room as he ate it.
‘I still can’t think of anything,’ he said. ‘The pacing isn’t working.’
‘How about just throwing out some words?’ Mrs Trifle asked.
‘Okay. Surfboard. Surfboard. Surf … board. Board. Wooden board. Board games. Board
shorts. Bored out of my brain. Let’s try surf. I can’t think of anything that goes with surf.’
‘Surf-vival?’ Mrs Trifle laughed.
‘Very funny,’ Dr Trifle said seriously. ‘How about water?’
‘Well there’s waterlily, water biscuit, waterhole, watercolour,’ Mrs Trifle said, ‘waterproof, water spaniel.’
‘It’s still not working,’ Dr Trifle said, eating another piece of watermelon.
‘Watermelon,’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘There’s another water word.’
Dr Trifle looked down at his watermelon slice.
‘That’s it!’ he cried.
‘Of course! What do you get from watermelon?’
‘Something scrummy to eat,’ Mrs Trifle said.
‘And seeds! Watermelon seeds. That is the answer to the Colossal Curler! The surfboards shouldn’t be long and thin, they should be short and wide like watermelon seeds.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘It’s suddenly crystal clear. What happens when you pinch a watermelon seed?’
and shoots across the room. When my sister, Jetty, and I were kids, I once shot one right up her nose,’ Mrs Trifle giggled. ‘That was so good.’
‘And that’s just what a surfboard should do when a huge wave comes crashing down on it. It shouldn’t go flipping around up in the air, it should shoot straight out in front of the wave at a zillion kilometres an hour.
‘How can a surfer stand on a board that’s doing a zillion kilometres an hour?’
‘You know, that stuff that sticks to itself. They’ll be all over the top of the board. All the surfer has to do is put his feet where he wants to and then whack a couple of straps around his ankles and Bob’s his uncle. Hmmm, I wonder if I can make one in time for tomorrow’s championships.’
Selby watched as Dr Trifle worked well into the night on his melonboard: shaping pieces of styrofoam, spraying them with smelly plastics, and then doing lots and lots of sanding.
‘The man is a genius,’ Selby thought as he nodded off to sleep. ‘He could invent anything.’
Long before sunrise, Dr and Mrs Trifle lifted the half-sleeping Selby into the car and began the long drive to Point Vertical on the Sunburn Coast. They arrived just in time for the last day of the championship.
‘I can’t believe how rough it is!’ Selby thought as Colossal Curlers came roaring in every few minutes. ‘How can anyone surf in this?!’
The boat was ready to take the surfers out around the point to the calm water beyond the surf when Dr Trifle ran up with his melonboard.
‘Wait!’ he cried. ‘Cool Jules! I want to show you my new surfboard.’
‘It looks dumb, man,’ Cool said. ‘Like a watermelon seed. You a surfboard designer?’
‘Well, yes. This one’s specifically designed for Colossal Curlers.’
‘Man, I can’t talk. Got this surf gig, you know?’
‘I’ll come out in the boat and explain, okay?’
The Trifles and Selby piled into the boat which roared off around the point. Dr Trifle spoke about his board. Cool and the other surfers laughed and talked about it. Selby climbed up on the board to get his paws out of the water in the bottom of the boat and lay down.
Finally the boat stopped beyond the surf and all the surfers except Jules jumped in the water.
‘I don’t want to like hurt your feelings, man,’ he said. ‘But that thing’s like uncool and I’m Cool Jules, know what I mean?’
‘If you use that other board in surf like this,’ Dr Trifle warned, ‘it’ll be smashed to bits. You could drown. Aren’t you afraid of that?’
‘Hey, man, shhhh,’ Cool said. ‘Not so loud. What are all those dinkuses on the board?’
‘Straps,’ Dr Trifle said. ‘Wrap them around your ankles so you won’t fall off.’
‘Straps are for sissies, man. I don’t do straps.’
‘Oh, go ahead, Cool,’ Dr Trifle said. ‘Give it a go. Just once. You could win.’
‘I don’t know, man.’
‘I wish they’d stop arguing,’ Selby thought as he watched the waves forming on the other
side of the boat. ‘I don’t like it out here, I want to get back to dry land. If a big wave comes along, I’m history. It’s okay for the Trifles because they have life vests.’
Cool stared at the melonboard.
‘Okay, I’ll give it a go. Off the board, dog,’ he said, grabbing the melonboard and jumping over the side. ‘There’s serious surfing to do.’
Suddenly Selby felt his world spinning like a top. He was flying through the air and then there was a great splash and he was drenched to the skin.
‘Where am I? What’s happening?’ he thought. ‘Oh, no, that fuzzy stuff that sticks to itself also sticks to other fuzzy things — namely me! I’m stuck to the straps! Get me back in the boat!’
‘Cowabunga!’ Mrs Trifle exclaimed without even thinking. ‘Selby’s stuck to the board! We’ve got to pull him off, quick!’
Dr and Mrs Trifle reached out and grabbed Selby by the paws while Cool Jules held the board. Then, just as they were pulling in different directions, Selby saw something coming from the other side of the boat.
‘Shivers!’ he thought. ‘Here comes a Colossal Curler.’
‘We’ve got to get out of here!’ the man driving the boat cried. ‘Sit down everyone!’
With this, the boat roared forward, pulling the Trifles loose from Selby.
‘Stop!’ Mrs Trifle yelled. ‘I’ve got to rescue our dog!’
‘If we don’t get out of the way of that wave,’ the driver called back, ‘we’ll all have to be rescued!’
Selby watched as the Curler picked up one wave and then another, growing all the time.
‘Hey! Get offa my board, you stupid dog!’ Cool yelled, still trying to prise Selby loose. ‘I’ve gotta catch this wave!’
But all of a sudden it was too late. The huge wave lifted the board skyward and then crested. Cool Jules crouched down on top of Selby before getting to his feet.
‘I said, get off!’ Cool shouted again, pushing Selby with his foot.
Ahead of them the other terrified surfers, seeing the growing wave bearing down, dived under the water.
‘I can’t believe this!’ Selby screamed in his brain. ‘It’s my worst nightmare come true! If this bozo chucks me off, I’m a goner. Oh, woe woe woe.’
Selby watched as the wave grew higher and higher, its crest spitting a line of white foam into the air.
‘Oh, you beaudy!’ Cool cried. ‘This is the wave of a lifetime! If I can only get this dog offa here I could win this thing!’
Cool reached down and grabbed Selby’s front paws, pulling them away from the board but Selby’s hind paws stayed stuck, leaving him standing up in front of Jules.
‘Oh, well,’ Cool said. ‘I guess we’re in this together.’
On and on they tore as the mammoth wave swept along over the reef, churning up sand, seaweed and rocks as it went.
‘Yeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwww!’ Cool screamed as the wave leaned over. ‘She’s barrelling up! Cowabunga! I’m in the tube!’
‘This guy’s nuts!’ Selby thought. ‘In a second, the whole thing’s going to crash down on us. If the melonboard shoots out in front the way it’s
supposed to, I might survive but Cool could be history! I’ve got to talk to him.’
Selby turned his head and looked up at Cool Jules.
‘Now listen to me, Cool, and listen good,’ he said. ‘Crouch down and grab my waist.’
‘P-P-Pardon me?’ the shocked surfer stammered. ‘Did you … speak?’
‘Forget about that. Just hang on to me or you’ll drown, okay?’
‘But you’re a dog. You can’t talk.’
‘Hey, am I talking or what?’ Selby said. ‘Grab me, you ninny! It’s your only chance!’
Cool got down on his knees behind Selby and clutched him around the waist just as the wave came crashing down on them. Selby held his breath, suspended in space, and waited.
‘The watermelon seed action isn’t working!’ Selby thought. ‘But Dr Trifle just
to be right!’
Just then he felt the water pressing down on top and then up from under them squeezing like a thumb and finger squeezing a watermelon seed. Suddenly there was a huge
and the board shot forward, skipping over the waves in front of them.
‘Look at that!’ someone screamed. ‘A dog riding a surfboard!’
Up onto the beach they went and the judges watched, dumbfounded, as Selby grabbed the trophy before they skidded to a stop. In a second the television crew rushed over to them.