FEBRUARY 14, 2017


So anyway. A dockwalloper set in to pound the Island with sheets of rain, letting up to provide a day of magical sun-dappled skies, which yielded to Blakean worlds stretching across the horizon from end to end with charcoal gods and violently billowing clouds above the dark human forms scurrying from doorway to doorway in the seaside town.

the Quirkyalone Society met in the Free Library

V-Day passed with few disasters. While the local radio station took calls so as to play the favorite song for this and that couple, the Quirkyalone Society met in the Free Library to discuss politics, freedom from connectedness, independence, and the best lipstick for people not wanting to hook up with anyone. The movie that night was The Lobster, an indie film which featured compulsory mating dances, public humiliation, failed suicide, eye piercing, oral mutilation, devouring by wild dogs, and generally repulsive behavior. Despite a certain nausea engendered by the film, several people left the room coupled up for one night stands, which promised to never to lead to anything serious. Per common agreement.

The Small Dog Walkers Association met for a little party

The Small Dog Walkers Association met for a little party at the walking area in Washington Park. They set up a table and someone brought in pink confections and someone brought in punch that was set in a kettle on sterno burners and the little yappers were turned loose within the fence to bark and butt sniff and vigorously mate with one another. Lyle brought a big flagon of vodka, which he dumped entirely into the punch when Ms. Pitz had her back turned. Pretty soon everyone was feeling quite toasty. There were no hookups made that night because people who are possessed by small, yappy dogs have no emotional space for anything other than their adorable poochie, largely because no human would ever abase him or herself to the extent a pampered canine will. People who are mated with their pooch, are wedded and the dog sees its human as an object it personally owns as a primary mate, regardless of intactness. Still, the party had a grand time with dog people meeting other dog people with knowing looks of understanding.

Andre showed up at the door after work with his shirt torn, a bloody scratch across his face, one black eye, bruises up and down his arms, and the neck of a broken guitar in his hands. It had been a rough day at work.

"You look like crap." Marlene asked. She had spent the day at the psychiatric institute filing Dr. Patootie's correspondence, typing the WHO letter for the 9th time because of changes in grammar, spot checking the JAMA article for errors, handling a 5150 who had leapt over the counter, pulling dogpiled security off of an adolescent who had started talking about joining the Jihadists, and talking down a man who had wandered over from the methadone clinic with a bread knife. Her hair was a mess and her lipstick was smeared.

"O yeah," Andre said. "Eff you."

"Eff you dickhead!"

"O yeah?"


The two of them went into the back room, closed the door and caused the entire household of anyone who did not depart for somewhere peaceful to stop up their ears and hold on when the cottage began to shake with the energy of their lovemaking and their crying out in release.

In the dark, Rolf paused outside the Household to smoke a cigarette and look at the newspaper by the light that fell outside the windows. The President was going to build a wall. The President was going to deport the illegals. All the immigrants of America would have to go.

Rolf was an illegal immigrant

Rolf was an illegal immigrant, come to this country on the back of a stolen passport he had discarded in the wastebasket at the airport on arrival. He was an illegal twice over if one considered the flight through the border barbed wire between what was then the DDR and the BRD. Years had passed and he had become as American as anyone. Although he was pretty much secure now from deportation and the DDR no longer existed, still, the old fears of the soldiers coming to take him away remained in the background of his mind. A part of him would always identify with the faces of los immigrantes.

Suan came out of the household cottage and the two of them walked to the busstop together where they would take the OX to the City where they both worked at the Crazy Horse Saloon, a so-called gentlemen's club.

You all right, Rolf, Suan said. You seem in a funk.

Ah, thinking about the immigrants. We are gypsies with no home.

Try living as a Black in America some time, Suan said. Internal exiles.

Along the way to the stop, Suan put her hand in Rolf's. She could sense his hesitancy and his insecurity in these past few weeks. The stripper and the bartender/bouncer stood there, holding hands while waiting for the bus and people driving by commented to each other in their comfortable cars, "Such a cute couple."

Denby decided to avoid this entire V-Day thing

Meanwhile Denby decided to avoid this entire V-Day thing with its historical litany of bad luck by going to a poetry reading featuring notables Robert Pinsky and Jane Hirshfield. The reading was in Marin, which he figured would be a safe place to hang out away from the Island. Pahrump gave him a ride to the bus station and the bus took him over the bridge to Mill Valley. As he walked a tune came to him and he began composing in his head; this would be a good one. The title would be "Rainy Day in New Orleans." As he walked along a slight drizzle began to fall.

Along the way he was buttonholed by a man from Porlock out in the Central Valley. This fellow wanted help with fixing his computer. It seemed that the wifi kept going out. He could not figure out the problem and thought Denby could help since Denby had helped Susan get over her issues.

Fancy meeting you here, said the Man from Porlock.

Sometimes Denby made money fixing computers -- every real musician has a day job.

While standing outside the hall, as people filed in to this very popular event, the man from Porlock kept on about his problem with the Wifi. The wifi SSID was Horse and it could not be found no matter what.

Have you tried rebooting? Denby really wanted this conversation to happen at another time.

O did that many times. The Horse never appears. The computer you mean. I don't see the Horse. Not the router. Exactly. Do I have to reboot the Horse? How do I do that?

People were thronging into the hall. Among them the redheaded librarian at whom he had been looking when Cupid smacked him a good one in the chest, but still the fellow was babbling about the Wifi and the connections.

I cannot get connected, you see. I have tried the AC mode and the G mode and still the 802 dot eleven will not work. Do you think I need to change frequency channels . . . ?

The red headed librarian entered the hall and disappeared.

By the time the man had left and Denby had got to the doors they were closed. A sign said "Max Capacity. Event Sold Out."

In irritation Denby turned away. Now he could not remember the chordal progression of the tune on which he had been working. Or the title. Something about New Orleans.

Then he remembered there was a side door off of the dumpster lot. Maybe he could get in and listen standing up in the hallway. He walked around to the dark area there and saw the little yard was full of cars and the dumpster and to get to the door he would have to walk around and climb over the railing. As he felt his way down the bank in the dark and the rain he slipped and slid downwards. He became disoriented and looked for a light source to find the library again. He stepped toward the light and realized, only as he plunged forward, that the light was from a stanchion posted at the edge of the creek walkway. On the other side of the creek.

Into the rushing creek he went, managing to hold onto his hat. The little brook that during the summer months amounted to a rivulet no more than nine inches deep had become a six foot torrent ripping along and Denby flailed in the froth, losing his shoes in the process until he managed to grab a tree. As he hauled himself up his belt caught on a broken limb and his buckle broke. He finally managed to pull himself up on the log and lay there gasping without pants or shoes but still with his hat and overcoat as the rain started to really pelt down.

Figuring it was time to cut his losses, Denby headed to the bus stop where children in cars stared and pointed at the homeless man and the police cruised by slowly, giving him the eye. It took hours to return to the East Bay where he took the BART to 12th Street and when he got to Oaktown it was a long slog down Broadway and then through the tunnel to get back on the Island, naked under his overcoat, passing bearded guys pushing shopping carts along the way.

Hey bro! one guy said. Any spare change?

Safe on the Island he was making his way through the Mariner Square parking lot when he saw the red headed librarian get out of a car with an East Coast poet wearing a black turtleneck sweater and sunglasses.

Sunglasses at night in the rain.

Denby stopped and stared with disappointment and the red headed librarian turned and looked and pointed -- Denby's coat had fallen open as he stood there.

The sunglasses called the police. "There's a pervert in the Mariner Square parking lot."

Denby tried to explain but the sunglasses punched him in the face and turned away, taking the red headed librarian by the arm.

At the police station, Sergeant Popinjay was empathic and gave Denby an ice pack for his nose.

"Denby," asked Officer Popinjay, "How is it you wind up here or Oaktown 7th Street every year?"

"God loves me, I guess." Denby said, groaning on the cot.

God nodded, looking down at the wretched mess of Denby. I just have to love you Denby. Nobody else does.

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 Edwardian house-rows 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.