February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day This Time


So anyway Eugene went on a zen date with his newfound object of desire. Jose, seeking to avoid the same sort of problems that occured last year due to Javier's enthusiastic amorousness, hid himself in the porch hole with Snuffles the bum, getting the old fellow to keep quiet about it by means of the bribe of two gallon jugs of Gallows burgundy.

Javier stomped all over, looking this way and that for a companion to help him get into scrapes. Xavier, a hard working, clean cut boy from Mexico City refused to have any part of it.

The Editor, knowing full well that the leggy Joanna would be on the prowl, had secured himself in his offices behind double doors with a supply of Michelina's frozen dinners and a case of Glenfiddich malt scotch and Netflix supplied entertainment well in advance, and his redoubt was doubly redoubtable by way of the terrific dockwalloper that set in to confine sentient beings to indoors.

Pahrump, Martini, Xavier, and Denby had managed to secure gigs performing as step'n fetchits for the Native Sons of the Golden West Valentine's Ball, which after an evening of hauling ice, pouring beer, rousting drunks would culminate, after everyone had long gone home and the band had been gypped and underpaid, in a romantic round of carrying out the trash and sweeping up the leavings of those who had either left disappointed or in a state of soon to be. Once Jose felt it was safe to come out, he joined them.

It was harsh but the pay was better than a kick in the face or getting into some kind of state of erotic dismay worse than chipped beef on toast for letdown, all aroma and no savor. The band was a Beatles cover band and they were not very good.

One would think the rain would have helped keep Denby out of trouble this year. That and the gig shoving a mop at the Native Son's. For most of the night, it worked. He, like the others, ran about at the bidding of Marston Umbrage, a genuine five generation scion of the Californio's who had no problem ordering lesser species than himself all over the place. About Marston, he would be proud to say of himself -- and he often said it -- Marston was the one who got things done.

All night it was Denby do this. Denby don't do that. Denby go get the bucket for Mr. Creosote. By the end of the night the guy was wishing he was in heaven sittin' down. While he was shoving the mop over by the Hall's belljar encased Heritage Fantod where someone's internal constitution had rejected the bar Hurricane he noticed a gal with straight black hair sitting glumly at a table by herself. She had her purse up there on the table and she had on her hat and she looked to be waiting for someone. By then the place had emptied out and the crew was moving back and forth taking off the covers and folding up the tables and chairs.

Waiting on your ride, Denby asked. We will be closing up soon. He was tired, sweaty, aching and the Hurricane had been made with sticky sweet stuff.

The woman sighed, said most of her life was spent waiting. Tired and bored, ever the genteman, Denby placed one of the decoration roses on the girl's table and continued mopping up. The guys kept on stripping the tables and clapping up the chairs and carting them away. Eventually a big blonde guy appeared at the woman's table, staggering a bit from too much drink and the woman stood up. I'll drive, she said.

Who gave you the rose? The guy asked with a surly voice.

That guy, said the girl, indicating Denby. Let's go.

Next thing Denby knew he was dodging all around the heritage bric-a-brac trying to escape the enormous hamfists of an enraged Nordic giant. A wild roundhouse clipped his right ear and went into the glass-mounted official charter hung on the wall, sending shards everywhere. The belljar encased Fantod, a genuine Remington original of the Founder of E Clampus Vitus mounting a brown bear with his hat flung high, toppled, wobbled and, disastrously, tipped to fall sideways and roll to the table's edge. The giant kicked at Denby and so, jostling the table, sent the club's heritage over the edge to smash on the floor, and there the bronze statue broke into pieces.

Denby stood in horror at the shards of the club's heritage, and in so standing transfixed would have been slain on the spot had not Jose come up behind the roaring giant to smash a cafeteria chair down on the man's blonde poll. And so the jealous man dropped to the floor

Now see what you did, said the girl. How am I going to get this lunkhead into the car?

The crew was only too happy to band together so as to carry the giant, now trolling the cyclopean labyrinth cave of dreams out of the place and into the girl's backseat just as Officer's Popinjay and O'Madhauen arrived.

What's all this then? Officer Popinjay inquired.

Has there been a traffic accident or other vehicle infraction, Officer O'Madhauen asked hopefully. When learning it was a matter of a bar fight, he put away his ticket book with great disappointment.

Who is all involved with this? Officer Popinjay asked.

The girl pointed at Denby.

As the gendarmes carted Denby away in "come-a-longs", he protested that he was innocent of anything.

We'll be the judge of that, Officer Popinjay said. Or the Commissioner. Right after the holiday is over and court starts up again. Come along now!

It was a full moon, the advent of the Year of the Horse. As it was a full moon, Don Guadalupe Erizo sat out upon the sward and regarded the moon's glory, thinking whatever thoughts an echinoderm could conger on such a time while Dame Herisson remained inside, cooking up the evening crepes.

The recent storms had cleared the sky, but the evening high thin fog had thrown a pale transclucent veil over the goddess of the night, glowing high up there, enrapt.

"Ah, Mssr. Professeur! Les creps sont prêts, said Dame Herisson from the burrow. The crepes are ready.

For the life of me, I will never understand why you insist upon the French.

Parce que c'est le langage de l'amour. Because it is the language of Love.

A la, said the Don. No entiendo por qué me eligió. I don't understand why you ever chose me.

Of course it must be noted here that most little creatures of the earth understand all the natural languages, however it is seldom that any one of them encounter a human being whom they feel is intelligent enough to understand them, so the myth that they converse only in grunts and peeps persists. The dolphins, a quite intelligent species, have had great joy playing with humanity for generations, trying to get people to speak in the long unrecorded branch dialect of Urdu-inflected Rhaetor-Romanisch.

Parce que, tu êtes tellement intellectuelle, que vous ne pensez pas à choisi vous-même, Dame Herisson said. "Because you are so wrapped in your head you would never think to chose yourself. So someone had to do it for you.

O! Qué suerte la mía. Lucky me.

Que voyez-tu là-bas? What are you looking at up there? Viens, mon cher.

If you cast your troubles up into the sky they can be the stars in your eyes, my dear.

Toi chanceux, chanceux moi. Lucky you, lucky me.

Ahhhh . . .

Meanwhilte the Native Son's wrecking crew boys have gone to Denny's off the Nimitz to get eggs and sausage with their dime pay and hash browns, o those gorgeous hash browns draped with grease and tabasco and catsup, but Xavier stays behind to finish up -- hashbrowns, hashbrowns, he'd prefer tortillas and beans. And of adventures he had had quite enough that night. The sound of his broom echoes on the hard wooden floor of Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

All the Island drifts on the surface of the late night Bay, mutters and snores, laps of wave and clink of mast. Every sheet a luffing sail after storm has passed and tossed beds on the calm seas of sleep. The moon gently strews a serape of diamonds across the lot of unsold and cash promised SUVs before withdrawing into a descending nimbus behind the new higher buildings and the metal framework of the new soon-to be Walgreens rising on Park Street, now tossing a cage of shadows in front of the light reflected by the departing lunar goddess gathering her train of light and fog behind her. Leaving the town in the keeping of the one who is sweeping up the ghosts of Valentine's night.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights, quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to romantic parts unknown.