FEBRUARY 5 , 2017

Marin, East Bay & Babies


So anyway, we got a few days to dry out a bit before the next set of dockwallopers set in Sunday evening. When the rain returned, it returned with savage vengeance.

he felt the entire mountain belonged to him

Up on the Hill past the end of Snoffish Valley Road, John Smelling of 40 Maple looked out from his perch with his spyglass, making sure that nobody used any of the parking spaces along Maple across the street from his property. To John Smelling, who had lived in his mansion since 1987, when the road was a quiet cul de sac, all this activity around him was an affront as he felt the entire mountain belonged to him by assumed right. He had a huge carport constructed to host about five big pickups, but he seldom used it as he felt the entire road belonged to him. So he put his enormous pickup trucks on the far side of the street. He had tried to buy the house across the street, but the Realtor, seeing him coming, had refused the lowball offer, knowing if the tyrant ever obtained larger purchase on the mountain, her company would never sell another house again in Silvan Acres. Already the man was putting out orange buckets and cones to block people from parking anywhere near his domain and neighbors had come to know of him as "that cantankerous asshole".

This did not bode well for property values in the area. As a consequence local Realtors stopped handling affairs for him, which infuriated Mr. Smelling for he had acquired much property by means of money gotten by selling drugs to school children.

the widow had a fence built

He had gotten accustomed to parking across the road on the property belonging to an aging widow, snarling at her and threatening to damage her cars if she dared park at the top of the stile that led down to her house. Faced with this intimidation, the widow had a fence built, which of course subtracted from the parking the man considered his by divine right. After all, his ancestors had been the first to rob the Native Americans who had lived here so fair was square. In anger he drove his truck up against the fence, breaking a few boards and claiming the spot right at her front gate to be his by order of custom and so there the truck remained from day to day, its bumper an inch over the mark in front of the widow's front gate.

Smelling smashed the front gate light

Eventually the widow tired of the man's intimidation tactics and so sold the beautiful craftsman house perched on the mountain with its grape arbor and delightful garden thrumming with hummingbirds to an artist named Sweet Bee. The widow moved to Austin Texas to be with family and kind people for the rest of her final days as life on the Mountain had become unpleasant with her neighbor who crept around the property, tearing out electrical wires because the garden lights annoyed him. Creeping around at two in the morning Smelling smashed the front gate light on the outside and the ones on the inside of the gate four times and all of the lights leading from the front gate to the front door until the widow gave up. In a place with no streetlights and few houses the front of the place became dark indeed.

When Smelling heard the widow was to move, to his great delight he made offers to buy the house across the way -- then, his control of the entire block for a quarter mile in both directions would be established. Instead the widow refused and she sold the property to Constance Honeybee and her dog, Toto, a delightful terrier who charmed everyone who met him.

Smelling raged and bit his lip and swore he would drive out the new owners the same way he had driven out the previous one and one day he would ramp and stamp as the king of the Hill with the key in his pocket.

The vast majority of the people living in Sylvan Acres were decent folk minding their own business, but John Smelling was not one of those.

Outside the Island-Life Offices the rain pelted down and marched across the Island, the Estuary, the Oakland flats and up the hill and over Grizzley Peak Boulevard to lance down and over the Altamont Pass with its spinning windmills, across the Valley and up the slopes of the Sierra where it even now is turning into a refreshing pack of snow that will alleviate the harsh drought of the past few years.

Down at sea level, though, recent transplants and visitors skid and slide all over the place as formerly stable roadways saturate and fill up with ponds several feet deep.

a roaring sound announces ... that another house has slid off ...

Among the well-matriculated hills of Marin a roaring sound announces the fact that another house has slid off of the mountainside, causing people in the neighborhood to remark.

"Was that the Hendersons or those people from Minnesota?"

"O no, that was the Smelling place. They put that house up there beside the creek even though everyone told Mr. Smelling not to do that. Not a good idea to build a house beside a creek around here. But he wouldn't listen, no he wouldn't. He owns five houses and he's one of them old timers you know."

"O he is, is he?"

"Yep. Had a dog. Got himself a Labrador to be a guard dog and kept it outside all the time. The poor thing barking and whining in all kinds of weather."

"I suppose the dog perished in the slide and the old man got away with that huge, ridiculous truck he has."

"I think I hear him barking now."

"Mr. Smelling?"

"No. The dog. The dog got away."

"O I am glad about that."

"And Mrs. Smelling?"

"I do not care about that crazy bitch. Sorry."

The more well-intentioned form a Committee.

In some places, like Oakland, people hear of disaster and they run up the way with firehoses, buckets, sandbags, and pulaskis so as to find a way to help. In Marin everyone goes to Google to find out how close the issue is to them. Then they have a discussion and resort to meditation and yoga so as to restore their Bliss since nothing can be done anyway. The more well-intentioned form a Committee, as if all of the County were a small town located in the Midwest and the only thing needed is to get a few laggards organized. Then, Reality either hits or simply does its work regardless. The laggards, dragooned into projects they detest, get burned and the Committee goes out for sushi.

On the Island, we form Committees that run up against local Mafia, but without guns. The experience of abutting against harsh Reality is somewhat the same as far as the end result, which is that self-delusion always wins the day. There are no laggards save for people flamed online and the Committee goes for pancakes at Olaf's or Joe's.

From the shadowy recesses of the third floor apartment in the Gold Coast a cry went up, great howling, and this was succeeded by a calmness and a soft effulgence of light around the birthbed helmed by the midwife. Into her exhausted arms was passed the newborn, yclept Ignacio. And so the household of Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Morales was blessed by the gift of new hope, new life.

Despite all the tumult of the Age and the burning, speeding planet and the mass extinction soon to happen, despite global climate change and all disaster, despite tyranny and overthrow of Liberty, the midwife began to sing a song. "Down among the reeds and rushes, a baby boy was found. His eyes as clear as centuries. His silky hair was brown. Never been lonely. Never been lied to. Never had to scuffle in fear. Nothing denied to. Born at the instant the church bells chimed. The whole world whispering: Born at the right time."

The midwife flung open the doors to the waiting people there and they rushed in to stand all around Ms. Morales. Our little town all gathered there. Jose ran down the stairs to the Methodist Church on Santa Clara and got himself let in and he went up to the belfry with the sexton carrying a lamp and after Jose told the Sexton, Dan Clarian, they set the bell ringing despite the hour.

Meanwhile, down on the street, members of the snarky Angry Elf's gang looked up at the lights streaming from the windows above with envy and hatred and they vowed to do what damage they could and they drove off smoking the tires of the Angry Elf's red Miata.

The street remained empty as the church bells pealed and the rain pelted down and the little drama continued up above in the room with the woman and her newborn child. Despite tyranny, life would continue despite all. Suffering would continue. Suffering would abide. But Life would continue.

And beneath the waters of the estuary, the captain of the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor observed all of this activity through his periscope before ordering the boat to dive, to run silent, run deep, out through the Golden Gate to the vast ocean beyond.

Out at the Point, Pahrump observed the brief glimmer of the spyship as it flitted out into the Bay and beyond. At a camp on the tarmac of the old airstrip a gang of roisterers whooped it up. It was more members of the Angry Elf gang, who had started taking advantage of the political climate to bolster his ranks of thugs and cutthroats. Pahrump avoided that bad company and drove his scooter down Main with its vacant warehouses and then over to Otis. He drove past the Household and ran into Jose who told him the news about Ms. Morales and the birth.

"The whole world whispering: Born at the right time." Pahrump said.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.