This is a story about a man who’d long been reported missing, the now-famous Trent McShane. My husband. The procurement of legends had become his passport to immortality.
I have not seen Trent for many years, and, contrary to popular belief, he had no sin to be forgiven—due to a few passages I’d read in his autobiography* that our teenage son, Tony, had found tucked away in his grandfather’s summer house in Bean Hollow Beach, California. Trent’s power of words was the manifestation of his emotions, and emotions speak a language all can comprehend. Page after page, I learned the names that Trent carried on the tip of his tongue: Eddy Thompson, Miss Lily Polite and Bambino, Mr. Franks, Captain Cole and the great Camerlengo, and Sergeant Swami to name a few.
The journey of one book had ended in Bean Hollow, where another book had begun. Within these pages you will find six chapters titled “The Bean Hollow Museum of Spectacle.” I had personally penned these glimpses with the hope of putting words to that very peculiar day in which Tony discovered his father’s telling book. The rest of Trent’s autobiography was later revised as Typhoon Coast, by a writer friend, Felicitas Leanders, who had been in search of an amazing world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, myths live amongst everyday life, and magic is commonplace. I’ve analyzed Trent with Felicitas, discussed Trent’s childhood, speculated upon adult Trent, and returned to Trent at the end of every one of Felicitas’ questions. We read The Wreckage of Saints and Sinners and Felicitas leapt from its binding and into Trent’s belt and boots, then rushed off into his years.
* The Wreckage of Saints and Sinners, self-published under the pseudonym of Sapien Culvain.
I must confess that when I first met Trent McShane I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. From his autobiography I would learn that three early crossroads had made the man I married extraordinary years before we’d ever meet. The first street was asphalt-paved Broadway in San Francisco, California. The second road was dusty, muddy Front Street in Dodge City, Kansas. And the third was Magsaysay Boulevard in Olongapo City, Republic of the Philippines—from which he disappeared, amongst many spectacles that most Americans have never heard of.
Trent was shaped by the dragons, sages, and elixirs he’d encountered at these junctures, banded by doors to rough bars, gambling houses, strip clubs, cheap hotels, brothels, and dance clubs. All thresholds crossed into the pleasures of a man’s lower appetite that humanity, God, and nature would eventually (as you will read) do away with. But Trent enjoyed them until the hand of providence tossed him out of the tobacco haze and booze fumes, his young and bewildered soul landing on the gravel roads and fresh salt air of Bean Hollow Beach, known to dedicated beachcombers, such as myself, as the Typhoon Coast.
Here is a poem I wrote for Trent about the day we met. I love him.
Memories of the Typhoon Coast
The turbulent South China Sea sculpts glass.
Typhoons churn the wayward shards of red, brown, blue, purple, and green.
Japanese fishing floats beneath the limitless sea,
Thousands of islands, vast coastlines, and volcanic belt, and ships journeying about the watery world.
The odyssey ends as North American Sea Glass Association’s gems,
Tumbling onto Bean Hollow Beach like dreams in summer surf.
Women and children flock from San Francisco to spend sunny hours hunting for the shattered, prized pieces.
Men wait at their long fishing poles.
All love the Pacific fury, flashing on rocks beyond the cove, slapping over tide pools,
A sandy place up the creek at the hollow, cutting brushy hills,
And the cypress ceiling over the Great Highway.
Such a wonderful rest.
—Ann McShane, beachcomber