FEBRUARY 14, 2016



So anyway Jose has managed to conceal from Javier the fact that his birthday falls on February 29th. Birthdays are big business for Bay Areans, who look for any excuse to party. But Javier's birthdays trend to the violent with culminations that result so often in Highland's Trauma Center that they have a special gurney named after him.

knife wounds

Javier has gotten to know all the nurses there, especially the pretty ones, who all know the kind of dog he is after his many altercations with the wild women he likes to woo and Jose has often been an unwilling participant in these many escapades. Sometimes escaping with a few third degree burns. Sometimes departing with stitches binding up superficial knife wounds.

Hence, Jose practices a fair degree of disgression when his birthday rolls around, and because it happens only every four years, so much the better as Javier tends to forget these things amid his many adventures dodging bullets from Carmelita or narrowly sidestepping Veronica's racing T-bird as she attempts to run him down once again.

Certainly many people, including the surgeons at Highland, have asked just why Javier opts to pursue these wild women, but Javier feels that a man of his age and stature was honor bound to uphold the image of the virile Latino.

Jose and Piedro, two fine, hardworking boys who make their abuelitas proud, have alternative points of view. Jose tries his best to help his older friend, whom he admires perhaps a little bit. Piedro avoids Javier, calling him a bad example.

cherry blossoms have suddenly erupted

The dense tule fog has started to make morning visits over the hills and Bay bridges. The nights have started to yeild to softer temperatures although the chimneys of Woodacre and San Anselmo continue to fill the San Geronimo Valley. All along Snoffish Road the cherry blossoms have suddenly erupted into clouds that rain white petals and the shoots of the trees prod green fingers. Daffodowndillies nod yellow in bunches and beneath the frozen streams high up something is starting to happen.

Out on the chop, Pedro listens to his favorite radio program in the wheelhouse of his commercial boat, El Borracho Perdido while Ferryboat curls up in his corner bed. The Lutheran televangalist Pastor Rotschue is making his final broadcasts before heading off to wherever Lutheran pastors go for retirement.

Pedro imagined the fellow probably would take up fishing at Bear Lake near the Canadian border as a quiet sojourn in sunny Hawaii felt out of character for the crusty old fellow. Which brought Pedro to thinking about his own conditions. He was not getting any younger and the life of a solo commercial fisherman is not an easy one. That time when the Great White came up and wrecked the wheelhouse and killed Tugboat, Ferryboat's predecessor, nearly had done him in as well. He never imagined that pushing sixty plus years he would end up fighting for his life on the desks of his boat, but then, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans and death is even more unscheduled. If Tugboat had not distracted the thing he would not have had time to bring about his Mossberg 350 and fire on its damned reptilian brain that day.

The sea beyond the Golden Gate eased with the smooth chop of a storm that remained a few hunmdred miles off to the west and the boat engines pulsed like the motors of an iHarvester tracktor on the waving fields of wheat. Time and memories ran through Pedro. Thoughts of people lost along the way. Adventures on and off the sea.

From the radio the Tishomingo Blues drifted around the confined space of the wheelhouse. Now another old friend was about to gas up and head on down the highway to leave this man alone with his thoughts and memories and the increasingly less interesting radio.

In the Old Same Place Bar Denby rolled in with his guitar, having just gotten out of jail. Once again Valentine's day had proved a disaster. Perhaps he should not have hooked up with Larry Larch and Marvin of Marvin's Merkins for an evening. The guys decided to make a night out for the unattatched gentlemen as a sort of emotional defense against V-Day. While Ms. Light got all spiffy in chiffon for her date with Brunhilde, one of the masseuses out of Borg's A Touch of Wonder parlor on Webster Street, Larry threw on his jeans and boots and, taking one of his service dogs in training named Bobo, headed out over the Estuary in his Subaru to meet up with his buds at the Fat Lady Lounge. From there the plan was to head over to Eli's Mile High Club under the freeway for some gut bucket blues, which most appealed to Denby.

Things proceeded apace at the Fat Lady as Denby arrived on his blue Gitane and then Marvin appeared. Marvin caused only minor annoyance, as ever the businessman, he kept handing out cards for his shop to prospective customers (Marvin's Merkins: Never too many merkins! Put a merkin in your firkin!" ).

the last owner having been shot

They all piled into Larry's Subaru with Bobo and headed off to Eli's where they were sorely disappointe as Eli's had closed do to the last owner having been shot on the dance floor. Eli's had been upholding a long tradition of juke joints in Oaktown, serving up BBQ, blues and periodic murders for many years. Everytime an owner would get caught fooling around with somebody's wife another one would step up to take his place and get shot in turn and finally it got to the point nobody wanted the job anymore.

So Eli's closed and so, even though they never heard of a bar being closed on Valentine's Day evening, with tears in their eyes they headed off into the sunset looking for another place to put their junk for a while.

Bereft and at a loss for things to do, the group headed back to the artist's enclave along the water near Jack London Square. There they saw Merchants Saloon had been converted into an upscale place, calling itself The Hoity Toity and there was a special Bachelor's Show on for tonight featuring Vaudeville! Fun! Balloons! Comedy! Burly Que! Take someone home tonite!

So they thought it a grand idea that instead of hauling everyone out of the bar into the Subaru they would go into the bar themselves and have themselves a proper good time and when they got inside the bar they found a rangy mangy group of patrons lined up there and it was clear from the scruffy leather vests and bad haircuts and worse dentistry that they were all local boys and not tourist types at all.

Someone asked if they were dot commers and Denby said no, they worked for a living, which passed the muster.

They all looked at Bobo and the meanest nastiest ugliest looking local came up to Larry and asked if that varmint was a poodle. Bobo looked up at them and smiled about as well as any sort of scruffy terrier-type can do, trying to be self-effacing and not cause any trouble.

Larry said no, the dog was a Weimariner in disguise. Which made the locals all happy and they were welcomed into the bar and they were slapped on the back and called good old boys for all that.

So the short guy came out and did his thing with the very tall, thin guy and then the comic came out with a lapel sunflower that spritzed water on the patrons in front and who failed to make anyone laugh and then there were the poi dancers swinging burning balls all around, which looked sort of interesting and then Wanda came out wearing balloons and while a recording of Randy Newman played she popped those balloons and danced and pretty soon she was not wearing much of anything at all besides a merkin this being V-Day and all and the day being all about kinds of Love and stuff.

That is when Larry pointed at Wanda and said, "Hey! Is that one of mine?" He was quite happy about this obvious display of one of his wares being worn and in public at that.

One of the beefier fellows up there snarled at Larry "This is MY meat!" and he shoved Larry a bit -- not too much, just an informative shove to convey the message as bouncers are wont to do betimes.

"No she's not!" Someone else said. "She's MINE!"

That is when Bobo did what he was trained to do when confronted with bad behavior: he bit the man on the leg.

Now some of you will recall that Larry is the proud owner of PPA, aka Pushy People Anonymous, a self-help organization that intends to curb the rampant ill temper and rudeness that has been infecting the Bay Area for some time. Clients enrolled in PPA go through a 12-step program modeled after programs employed by well-known famous substance abuse centers. They undergo group therapy, admitting their problem in public and swearing to become better citizens and each client is issued a service dog trained to recognized pushiness and administer firm correction whenever the client pushed ahead in line, takes too many canapes, talks loudly in the movie theatre and generally over asserts themselves.

Most clients are arranged by family and co-workers as a chief component of this problem is first recognizing there is an issue.

Denby, trying to avoid the melee stepped backward a bit too quickly to tromp on the foot of a man dressed in a ball gown with feather boa. The man took exception to this treatment and punched Denby in the eye.

a certain amount of chaos ensued

Anyrate Bobo bit the man and a certain amount of chaos ensued. No need to drag out a long winded description of a bar fight which quickly descended into an atavistic demonstration of brutal savagery with chair smashing and punches and gouging and vile imprecations terminated by the arrival of the gendarmie and everyone being carted off to jail under suspicion of being a biker gang even though everyone had arrived in pickup trucks and a Subaru.

That is how Denby once again spent Valentine's Day in jail.

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 multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it 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; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.