February 14, 2011


Some stiff wind swept away the incipient warm weather, knocking over tables and tearing branches from trees earlier this week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

High wind advisories remained throughout Monday for all the bridges where high-profile vehicles were warned to stay off due to the gale force conditions.

This let to startlingly clear skies for a while, along with some chilly temps (for California) at night.

Some folks wondered what had gotten into Pedro Almeida recently. Truth has it that the man working all alone out there on his boat started to imagine that his radio was talking to him. Not the two-way transmitter used for communications, but the transistor radio to which he would listen while motoring to and from the fishing grounds. He had become fond of listening to the voice of a televangelist who ran a syndicated variety show out of the middle of the country.

The man possessed such a folksy, warm, comforting tone, combined with such reasonable delivery that made mockery of all vanity and foolishness, Pedro found himself enraptured by the voice over the course of some twenty years listening to the weekly broadcast to the point that Pedro began to feel personally addressed.

Since there was not a living soul on the boat save for himself and Tugboat his dog, he fell in to naturally talking back to the radio as if it could hear him. "O I know what you are going to say next. You are going to say, 'Well that's a fine thing!"

And the voice from the radio said, ". . .and that's a fine thing, indeed!"


"Heh, heh, I bet you knew I was going to say just that . . .".

It helped that he, like many Islanders, was going through some particularly tough times financially. His old boat was in need of a serious overhaul; things were leaking, fittings coming loose, paint was worn, rust was showing, motors kept failing. And then the herring decided to vacate the Bay. The radio voice made a perfect friend, for it never complained, always delighted, offered sound advice, never borrowed power tools, and seldom asked for money. Just once in a while. And since he was a friend, Pedro gave him a little bit and bought his books and his CD sermons and put up the LED crucifix he got from the radio website in the wheelhouse where the thing shone bright enough to read charts by, so it kinda worked out as a deal.

One day, he came around the corner after having just lost a net of fish due to some foul-up when he heard the preacher say, "And you! Yes you! I am talking to you now. When was the last time you called your mother? I say get down on your knees. Right now. Go ahead, right now! Repent I say!"

And Pedro got right down there in the running bilge, saying, "Yes! Yes!"

Denby was not so sympathetic when he heard about this. "Dude! You gotta lighten up, man! When times are tough, people who sell Fear rake in the big bucks. You gotta know that."

Fay, from the Filipino Center, and her friend Mona had the idea that the main problem was that Pedro needed to get his hiney over to see Father Danyluk and lay off whatever strange sect to which he had been listening.

"I trust him," said Pedro defensively. "He's a Democrat."

"O for Pete's sake."

So that is how the whole thing got started with Pedro and the radio.

As most folks know, the dreaded V-Day thing has rolled around again. Denby holed up through the weekend with supplies of bean burgers while the Editor barricaded himself in his office with Festus and Javier and a case of single malt scotch. Festus was sent to peer through the blinds for any sight of the notorious manhunter, Leggy Joanne.

It was still early, early by the clocks of the nightowl, when the phone rang. Festus answered by rapping the speakerphone button.

"This is Highland Hospital . . .".

The Editor grabbed up the receiver and listened gravely for a minute before setting the handpiece into its cradle.

"Javier, get your hat. We've got to go collect Jose from the ER."

So the two of them went off to Highland. "Must be serious if they took him to the Trauma Center," Javier commented. "Instead of the Island Hospital."

The Editor just nodded.

When they got there, Jose was out front leaning on a metal pole, his left leg encased in a cast.

"Hola amigo," Javier said. "Cómo está usted?"

"Ah . . . estoy bien," Jose said, looking pretty damn pale.

The Editor was more blunt.

"Okay, what was her name this time?"

"Angelica," said Jose sheepishly.

"Angelica? Ella es una morena impulsiva!" Javier said.

"Sí,ahora sé," agreed Jose.

"What did she do?" the Editor asked.

"Uh, she impaled me with a spear."

That's when they all noticed the pole that Jose was using for a crutch was a javelin.

"O for pete's sake, come along," said the Editor. At that moment the ER crew came out to wish Javier bon voyage, something not every patient in one of the business trauma units in the country enjoys.

"Bye bye Jose!" A pretty doctor waved along with several nurses. "See you again next time!"

"Why on earth do you always get involved with women like that?"

Jose hesitated a moment and then looked at Javier. "Como las mujeres apasionadas son las más interesantes."

The Editor looked at Javier with a raised eyebrow. "Translation please."

"I think he means he likes them . . . excitable."

The Editor drove Jose back to Marlene and Andre's Household where Jose slept in the closet with the javelin sticking out the passenger window from the back seat. "People do many things for Love, but Love is precisely the wrong reason to do most of anything."

"Ah," said Jose. "Senor Editor you have never been in Love."

The Editor paused. "You may be right about that."

Jose and Javier exchanged knowing looks.

"Ah señor, I have someone you should meet . . .", began Javier.

"Ooooo, no, no no . . ."!

"Is nothing serious. Maybe coffee or . . .".


Right then the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the romantic, moonlit waves of the estuary and the starry grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week. And do try to stay out of trouble.