Caspar Kouyaté-Finn was incongruent if defined with a single brush stroke. But a more precise portrait would favor an intelligent boy, athletic nonchalance, tall for his age with softly browned skin, blue eyes and a janitor’s mop of floppy dark hair tinted with desert sun. Genetic blessings of an adventurous Senegalese mother and an industrious Norwegian father. Living in the northern Chihuahuan Desert just northwest of Las Cruces off I25, Caspar’s days would begin and conclude with the tasks of his parent’s roadside operation. Schooled at home, his only friend a thriving imagination.
With the rising sun Caspar could be found in a progression of repetitive acts. If not sweeping the sand that drifted in through not so tightly sealed doors he was stocking rapidly emptying shelves. If not pumping overpriced gas he was washing off bug splatter cemented to roasting windshields. If not dumping trash he was breaking down boxes and so on and so on all the while intent to overhear the tales told by the shop’s transient patrons about the exciting places they were off to or had recently left behind.
Schooling took precedence during the mid-morning hours. European and African history kicked of each session, followed by language both English and French, a course in mathematics and finally ending with the finer points of cooking akkra, boulettes du poisson, mafé and poulet yassa. Any edible remains of the morning’s lessons were sold from the shop’s kitchen as authentic traditional West African cuisine. Afternoon activities focused on the Osberg, and it was the eventual execution of these chores that lead Caspar to his second life altering discovery that day.
While washing down the mighty Viking craft, Caspar happened upon a thickness of papers folded upon themselves in the form of a tube and stuffed beneath one of the ship’s wide oak benches. Unraveling the packet revealed an aged magazine dedicated to the art of surfing, left behind perhaps, forgotten, discarded, no longer of use to the previous owner.