FEBRUARY 23, 2014



So anyway, Commissioner Dudgeon let Denby out of jail after the weekend had passed when the woman he had tried to save declined to press charges, so Denby was turned out on the street with a firm admonition from the harried jurist with a firm admonition never to be seen inciting riot, causing public mayhem, or tossing Molotov cocktails into wedding parties, be there present a swimming pool or not.

Denby thought, given the outcome, he should not mention that it appeared the Commissioner had grabbed the file to someone else's case and he have never incited a riot or tossed back so much as a molotov cocktail in his life for he was a devoted teetotaler and a pacific Buddhist as well.

Then it occurred to him somebody was walking around, setting wedding dresses and ministers on fire without even a swimming pool in which to put them out, but Jose and Javier grabbed him away from that bad place while the Commissioner fumbled to open his child proof bottle of prescription Protonix, finally getting the thing open with a few deft gavel wacks, sending pills skittering here and there and with the Bailiff chasing after them with an envelope.

"What the hell are you still doing there, gawping like some "innocent offender!" The Commissioner shouted. "Get out of my courtroom and never come back, neither as witness, nor jury, and certainly not as some kind of guilty as hell bastard whining for a fair shake! Go!"

Leave the papers," Pahrump said. "Let us eke go!"

Safely outside, Javier, who was a well-read man, mentioned that he had not considered Pahrump a Joycean.

For answer, Pahrump stepped up upon the round pedestal that was designed to hold the memorial bust of former Senator Archibald Sniggins, a memorial that had lapsed in effort due to lack of funding, even as a collection of citizens coming to dispute their traffic citations with futile writs of despair approached the glass doors to the lobby. "I hereby intone the following, Introibo ad altare Lex."

Denby offered mild applause. "Pahrump, you are neither stately nor plump, as was the original Buck Mulligan, but here, here! Here, here! Now let's go get drunk."

This show was all due to Denby trying to intervene between a fist-slinging brute and his target of a girlfriend at the end of the Native Sons of the Golden West Valentine's Ball fundraiser. As is usually the case, the woman had taken to punching Denby for getting involved in a private matter without so much as a by-your-leave and then the boyfriend had done the same until Jose had clocked him with a solid whack on the noggin with a broom.

That is not the thing about which you want hear; you want to hear about the weather. Sudden sunshine has been breaking through to warm the place during the day after mornings of high, dense fog. Evenings remain chill and the raccoons have been keeping quiet. The squirrels have ceased their mad scampering and the night presents only the solitary peeps of the Norway rats going about their business in the fruit trees.

Pre-Spring is an odd time everywhere. You look out and it is still light at the end of the day, the air feels somewhat warmer-ish than the bone-chilling sap of a few weeks ago, but still the ground is soggy, the sky is oystershell gray, and people walk head down, preoccupied with internal things rather than the bland slate-colored world around them. All the music is a reiteration of what was hot a few months ago. Right now the relationship that is doomed is slowly collecting evidence and reasons for the final blowup.

Eugene broke up with his brief fling, the Buddhist nun. The whole monastery was going to do a field trip up to Berkeley to see the Dali Lama, or at least the place they are building for him to stay when he comes to visit so as to help out with labor of construction, but the bus broke down.

So the Rinpoche said, "We are determined and we are hearty. Let us meet this challenge as with the difficulties of any chore. We will walk."

So about fifteen monks and nuns strapped on tennis shoes and, each carrying a stick and a bundle with their red robes, all began marching up San Pablo Avenue after crossing under the estuary through the tube and dodging through Chinatown among a throng of Opas carrying bags and wearing conical hats.

This proved a bit much for Eugene, who had been earnestly suffering the trials of Hercules so as to prove his love for Sabine by living attentively with Zen mindfulness for several days now. True zen practitioners wake before dawn, polish wooden floors on their hands and knees with dishcloths, speak only when necessary, eat vegetarian at the stipulated hours according to strict protocol with chopsticks in such and such an order, sleep on cold, hard floors protected only by a thin tatami, and attempt to unravel intentionally baffling koans between their hard, physical labor of gardening and breaking rocks and when the koan's answer does not satisfy the Master Abbot -- which is seldom -- endure gladly thwacks of a blackthorn stick.

The march up to Berkeley, however, proved to be the final antidote to the arrow poison of Eros. That and the sore feet he got from always going around barefoot.

Eugene parted ways just after the group crossed West Grand. Sabine looked at him with big round eyes and said, "There is the Five Fold Way to Enlightenment, but each must find his own path. I hope you will find at least contentment, for I am afraid you have a long way to go before becoming enlightened. Good-bye!" And with that the nun kissed Eugene on the cheek before turning to march on up the avenue.

Eugene, brokenhearted, entered a sandwich shop and ordered a foot-long roastbeef sandwich. With all the trimmings. It had been quite a while since he had eaten meat during his vegetarian experiment for love of Sabine, but after eating most of the sandwich, he felt better. Soon, it would be time for trout fishing.

It was dark by the time Eugene had returned to the Island, convinced he had finally discovered his true nature. By that time, the little group had no doubt reached Berkeley and been welcomed there to stay in unheated rooms laid with tatami mats. The man lay down alone, without Sabine there, of course, but in a nice warm futon with a down comforter and he fell asleep to dream of lotus blossoms drifting on the black surface of a deep, impenetrable current while a fat golden man sat on the shore and laughed, and laughed, and laughed

Xavier, who among all the Household had fared the best getting through this past "holiday weekend" by dint of sticking to his core principles of hard work, diligence, discipline and sturdy Mexican character, rested easily in a hammock after a long day working for El Gabacho Senor Howitzer digging a trench. Tipitina woke him to come inside for some of Marlene's bread soup.

Bread soup is a staple of folks at the Household. We printed a recipe once but perhaps need to post that in the sidebar for reference. Should the reader's circumstances ever descend so low as to need bread soup for sustenance.

The Great Recession sowed its bad seeds in 2001, producing economic Fleurs de Mal in profusion by 2005, and becoming a thicket of troubles by 2006. 2009 began the long slow process of amelioration of this thing, but it takes a long time to turn around an economy as big as the United States. Hence, we are likely to need bread soup recipes for quite a while yet.

In the wee hours, cupid safely tucked away by his mother in a feather bed, hoopla and store shelves now given over to either foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, bunny rabbits, and fertility symbols or improbable plastic shamrocks, bearded dwarves, and green tchotchkes, the Editor emerged from his den, frowsled and bearing an armload of empty Michelina's frozen dinner trays. He dumped the entire lot into the trashbin and paused in the garden to look up at the declining moon's crescent.

In the estuary, the Iranian spy submarine, El Chadoor observed all of these things, or at least its commander did via the spyglass periscope.

"To think some of them go to such trouble to avoid love," First Mate Mohammed said. "What a people!"

"Indeed," the captain said. "It should be only necessary to enlist in the submarine service to forever forswear amorous companionship."

Fortunately, all the men laughed who heard that. This crew had been a long time at sea and the submarine service has more than a little in common with the monastic life.

The captain slapped up the handles of the periscope and the sub ran out the estuary to the starlit Bay where it dived beneath the Golden Gate to run silent, run deep out to the freedom of the Pacific Ocean.

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 parts unknown.