February 15, 2009

It's been a rainy week on the Island, our hometown, set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. That cold front which moved out of Hawaii a week ago finally got here, trailing a great line of thunderstorms that have been drenching the Bay Area with needed precipitation for five days.

Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt was seen at Jacks Bistro with his usual consort, who uncharacteristically gave a nod to the weather by donning boots and a slicker over her usual sans culottes attire. Pity the dedicated nudist in Wintertime. Madeline had been complaining to Jacqueline that Percy just didn't seem to be noticing her as much any more. That's when Jacqueline had come up with the novel idea of putting some clothes on the girl. Nothing really fancy, just a simple black dress, a few paste jewels here and there, some highlights for the hair. . . and Voila! When Percy laid eyes on her coming through the door, he was stunned into an acre of silence.

"My darling, you look absolutely ravishing!" he exclaimed. Well, we shall see what happens when the weather warms up.

Another one to pity is Bear, for his vintage Panhead must remain in dry dock beside the livingroom couch until all this moisture clears up. In true Bear style he taxied over to Chinatown there to fetch up a mess of rockfish and roses to give to Sophie on V-Day. He is such a Romantic, that Bear.

The Editor has Sophie to thank for keeping Bear out of his hair on this largely manufactured holiday, a day on which the Editor tends to keep a really low profile, largely to stay out of the clutches of Bear, for he had no desire to spend another Valentines eve in the 7th Street slammer with Bear and his friends like the last time (see sidebar story, Bear Gets the Editor into Trouble). That's why every year the Editor comes in with a case of Glenfiddich and soda to lock the door to his office and remain there for 72 hours straight with a camping port-a-potty until all the danger has passed. One year the leggy Joanne came striding up to pound on the door to his office with a look in her eye that meant business, but open up he would not. So Joanne twirled about on those six-inch stiletto heels of hers and strode out while Jose and Piedro cowered behind the file cabinets and all the copyboys scattered not unlike chaff blown before the wind of the Lord in a whirl of flying papers.

Joanne was one woman you just did not want to mess with.

Rumor has it she has taken up of late with one of those Boho nature poets, the kind that likes to dance around with vine leaves in his hair while singing the Greek and all of that. Whatever.

That loving stuff is a nasty piece of business all right. Get a fellow killed if he wasn't careful to step lively. "Never fall in love," the Editor told Denby as he finally emerged late Sunday evening. "It will stick to your face."

Fortunately, bad weather sent most of the trouble indoors this time. Certain localities were ones to be avoided and they were well known. But by late Sunday, those localities had become safe havens once again.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar Suzie and Dawn are serving up hot toddies and what Padaic calls "Gaelic Coffee". The Irish, according to Padraic, would never originate anything like ruining the "daycent water o' life" with brown mud.

Suan was in there, all tuckered out from her job at the Crazy Horse, where Management had flung open the doors for the "V-Day Extravaganza Bonanza!" When it comes to making money off of anything resembling affection of the physical kind, FTD, Giradelli's, and places like the Crazy Horse rake it in on weekends like this one. When its all over, the florist takes a shot from an inhaler, the chocolatier chews a lemon rind and the stripper takes Tylenol No. 3 with her beer.

It was early yet, so her timeshare bunk over at Marlene and Andre's place would not be free just yet. Because of the rain, those folks who sometimes slept outside had elected to occupy dryer zones in the one bedroom bungalow there on Otis. Snuffles Johnson had taken to sleeping in the charred hole in the porch with the opossum and the racoons, so it was crowded everywhere.

Just then Wally came in, dripping wet, carrying his shoes, which he put on there in the entrance before sloshing over to order a brandy toddy with a brandy chaser and perhaps a brandy on top of that. Make mine a double.

Seems his date with Maeve had not gone well and he had wound up standing out in the garden in the rain until she had opened up her window to throw his shoes at his head from the second floor.

"Some things you just cannot explain", said Wally, shaking his head.

"Some women are like that," Eugene said.

"What do you mean by that," Suan said, ready for a fight.

"She showed some kindness, there. Could have kept the shoes." answered Eugene. He knew Suan was Off Limits, even if he had possessed the emotional, intellectual or physical ability in any dimension required to handle her. It could be justifiably said that his success in even handling himself was subject to audit.

Later on, as Suzie closed up for the night she noticed two women with bicycles standing on the curb -- it was Lynette and Susan. Susan was staring straight up into the sky, letting the rain fall on her face as they waited for traffic to clear before crossing the street. That's when Lynette leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek. Susan's face brightened then, and the two of them ran with their bicycles across the street and disappeared down the block. Their laughter dissolved into the steady rush of the water along the gutters.

Suzie looked up and let the rain drops tap on her forehead, her lips, and her lashes like soft wet kisses until the strands of her dark hair dripped down to either side. But there was no one there but herself. So she tilted her head down and walked home beneath the glowing streetlights. She had left her umbrella inside the bar, but did not go back to fetch it and the rain drove through the sequential penumbras of light like diamonds suddenly there and gone again, each streetlight a miniature deserted island, one after another, ranging out in an archepelago line off into the distance, and into the distance she walked, flashing into and out of the islands of light, pelted with diamonds.

It's a dark night in a City that knows how to keep its secrets, but on this Island there is someone still puzzling over Life's Persistent Questions: Suzie Maldonado.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.