April 1, 2018

Silvan Acres

 

PART I

So anyway. Some people may wonder that since the Island-Life Offices burned down on the Night of Fire, two issues remain outstanding. Firstly, how is it the enterprise continues to put out its content. Because it is clear you are reading this sentence right now and the masthead indicates an unbroken continuum. Secondly, what on earth became of Chad, the coder?

To deal with the more insignificant issue first, let us say that the morning after the Night of Fire, Chad pushed open the trapdoor that lead down to the HTML Hell dungeon and was amazed to see the entire place destroyed.

All the desks were gone. The lamps and computers had been rendered into piles of molten plastic and slag. The wind blew across the cindered landscape and a pile of charred timbers stood where the jalousie had bulwarcked the Editorial Offices.

Where the Editor's cube had once stood, there remained only piles of shattered glass in this new Kristalnacht.

Chad wandered down the aisles that had been destroyed by the wrath of the Angry Elf and, as was his nature, wandered off to his bungalow on Bungalow Court where he took up his computer and surfed the web.

Tammy, his patient and loving consort of many years entered to find him alive, to her mixed pleasure as he had missed two dinners already, and said, "Chad, you stink."

"I love you, dear," said Chad, who was always politic.

"I mean you stink of smoke and ash and burning. Take off your clothes now!"

When one's mate demands that one disrobe immediately, one does not question, for anything eruptive may follow.

Let us depart this delicate familial scene and consider how Island-Life continues although its main offices have been destroyed.

In truth, like all responsible businesses, Island-Life had paid lots of money to a high-priced consultant for an IDR Plan.

What is an IDR plan, you ask?

A good IDR plan produces the results that AMEX experienced when its nerve center in the World Trade Center was destroyed by maniacs on 9/11.

Did you miss a payment or fail to pay a bill because of that? No you did not. That is the result of a good IDR plan. Do not ask us what the letters stand for -- no one now remembers. The fact is, it works due to the magic of IT.

a network of hamsters and hedghogs

The Island-Life IDR was unconventional. It involved a network of hamsters and hedghogs carrying flashdrives that held backup data. It was the distributed backup schema of course. When the Household of Marlene and Andre established foothold, they had Festus, the messenger hamster. Mainly, they needed to rebuild the large Habitot that had once occupied some 600 square feet. This would take some doing. Fortunately in Marin there is no dearth of tubing due to the local mania for irrigation. Why construct elaborate irrigation systems in the only place in California that does not suffer from want of water is anyone's guess. It is not like people are maintaining Subsistence Gardens in large numbers for most of the foliage is entirely for show with no edible qualities whatsoever. Go figure.

On a grey, foggy day in Silvan Acres a grizzled man stepped off of the bus and looked around. He was the Editor's brother who had answered the IDR summons, which he did not understand, but it promised in the text a free drink.

The Editor's brother was a complete alcoholic for various reasons, but the IDR plan had all of this built-in.

the Editor's brother set up shop in a Silvan Acres shed which he filled with filched and borrowed equipment. Martini was very instrumental, as the man ported over his skills as a scavenger from the East Bay with great effect. As soon as he had his internet up, Chad sent a message saying he would be happy to continue at his usual fee, but physically coming to Silvan Acres presented a problem. He would have to remain a Road Warrior Remote Worker. Something about carting his oxygen tanks and his COPD.

Rachel sent a message, saying that she was also available for remote work, but she would be damned if she ever got on a ship without a decent telephone ever again.

These past few days have seen drenching downpours and as the son of the Editor puttered about the new offices of Silvan Acres, putting things into place, setting the paper cutter properly in the Xerox room, although few people ever use a Xerox anymore, aligning the hole punch machine and the MFP thingie with its supplies as the MFP thingie is an insatiable beast, things started to fall into place.

What was the Island is becoming Silvan Acres athough it may come to pass that both towns will continue to exist, each in their seperate worlds. And in the late hours, the mists swelled in the vale and drifted through the trees and the coyotes appeared, howling and yipping just outside the door as if to welcome the enterprise to this wildness that was part of Old California, the part of California that remained a Republic despite hundreds of years of isolation.

As he stood there, a sphinx moth banged against the screen of the window. His brother used to wander the sandy paths with a net and although he was gone, transformed into some other shape which is all we know of death, tonight was a good night for mothing.

PART II

The settlement of Silvan Acres is an unicorporated state of mind that resides west of Fairfax and off the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, that now functions as a sort of rural freeway in the area. Because the speedlimit wicks up to 55 right there at the entrance to the place, most people entirely ignore the presence of this hamlet .

If you were to irritate drivers behind you and slow down to take the entrance there between the trees, you would travel a good half mile of road hemmed in by overarching oaks and redwoods before arriving at the hub of Silvan Acres, a country store with overpriced Quesadillas and bottles of cheep wine and the usual deli offerings. Nobody residing in Silvan Acres ever goes there. It is frequented by the bicyclists that swarm this area of the country.

Up the road the County maintains its Western County call center for fire response in a forest clearing. At this facility, several water rescue craft are kept for lake rescues. A water treatment plant resides on San Geronimo Road and there is a bland electrical substation. Other than that, there are no official buildings. There is no City Hall and no general meeting place. There is the Silvan Acres Improvement Club, which features a swimming pool, a fairly useless weightroom, a meeting hall, and a very useful parking lot that is more important than all of the above. Next to the SIC extends Warner Field, the storied Field of Dreams.

There is not much in Silvan Acres other than people and dogs. There are poodles from time to time, but they do not last long for the coyotes ranging freely dispatch useless animals with quick efficiency.

a faun grazing upon the foliage

Jose stepped out from the rattletrap porch to see a faun grazing upon the foliage. At that time, Martini had not yet completed the Fortress Wall with the help of Pahrump, Denby, Tipitina, Sarah and Suan. So the faun stood there, doe-eyed as they are wont to do as Martini walked up to it surrounded by the Disney fog of his imagination. Perhaps he wanted to pet the wild creature. No one knows and no one will ever know, for a very large, muscular female deer appeared with rage in its eyes and a clear look of "keep away from MY baby!"

Bonkers and Wickiwup ran out to join the fun and, fortunately for Martini but not so much for Bonkers, the doe launched a savage kick that lifted the thirty-pound dog into the air and tossed him some ten feet distant.

Mr. Gruffman, their neighbor came hauling around the corner, shouting and carrying a baseball bat.

"Keep away from them damn things!" Mr. Gruffman shouted. "They are wild and mean and they be dangerous as all hell!"

Martini backed off as the mom-deer came at him with flying hooves. A nasty kick caught Wickiwup in the head so that he staggered back and wandered in a circle with his mouth foaming in a daze.

The faun, meanwhile had scampered off to safety, but mom-deer felt a need to provide rearguard coverage, apparently, and as Martini tripped to fall on his ass, she prepared to destroy her enemy utterly. She launched a kick that would have shattered Martini's skull, but Mr. Gruffman intercepted her with the baseball bat, delivering a full shoulder swing which cracked on the deer's head with a solid report that echoed through the woods.

The deer sort of staggered back and wobbled as Mr. Gruffman grabbed Martini to haul him up the porch steps and into the house, closing the door just as the deer recovered and launched a fusillade of kicks on the solid core oak portal. One razor-sharp hoof snicked cleanly right through one and a half inches of oak panel. Martini and Mr. Guffman panted on the other side until the doe, satisfied with the damage it had wrought, went off to see about its precious baby.

"Them things kill a thousand Canadians a year," Mr. Guffman said. "This aint no Disneyland. Them deer travel in packs around here and carry switchblades, I am certain."

Such was Martini's introduction to living in the bucolic countryside.

On the Island, gorgeous weather brought out the wind surfers and the sailboarders, scudding just offshore like exotic birds or flamboyant insects. Newly empowered bicyclists roamed in droves, wearing their tight pants and neon-colored tops, animals donning plumage to initiate the Spring Season about to arrive. Freesias bloomed in profusion. Tulips had already erupted. The buckeyes had sprouted green shoots and everywhere acacia drooped yellow treasures, ephemeral and beautiful.

Even though a deplorable man-baby sullies the White House, even though those people attempt to drive out Nature with a pitchfork, it always comes roaring back.

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro's boat coursed its way

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro's boat coursed its way to the fishing grounds through the changing air. Yes, the Sea has Seasons, just like on land. Some of this is enforced by regulation. You take crab and shellfish during the cold water months. After that you shift to mackerel and then to albacore. But even without regulations, Pedro as an old salt can sniff the air and sense in a thousand undetermined ways that go back thousands of years the subtle changes that announce seasonal change. Maybe the algae blooms start to occur. Maybe certain fish have migratory patterns and start to appear or disappear around this time. Maybe it is the dolphins appearing and maybe the migration of the Leviathan, the Great humpback whales. All Pedro knew is that from year to year the seasons manifested themselves as natural and subtle changes.

The radio crackled and at times produced some sounds, but the program he loved that was produced by the Lutheran Pastor Rotschue had gone off the air. The man had been driven off by some sort of "Me Too" scandal and the network had decided to cut him loose rather than risk any sort of lengthy battle that would surely cost ratings and advertising.

So now Pedro was left alone out on the sea lanes where the radio had been his only companion, save perhaps for his Second Mate, who once had been Tugboat and now was Ferryboat with a woof.

Tugboat had been a greathearted dog for many years and he had fought the Great White that had started to destroy the ship with ferocity and so died as greathearted dogs will do, throwing all towards defense of the Pack and the Master.

Now, getting older and pretty certain now none of the kids were going to follow the path of the sea, Pedro shifted his creaking bones as the Seasons revolved. Maybe it was that sense of being invisibly accompanied on each voyage. He was composing the story of himself as a fisherman by doing it from day to day. A story that some absent Creator might read some day. Now, alone on the sea, he was doing all for Company and he hoped that his fisherman's story would help the one who was troubled.

In a sense, Pedro realized, he had become a fisher of men and that perhaps he should devise his own radio program, so as to aid lost souls out there in the darkness.

The time was coming when he would no longer be able to man the winch that hauled up tons of albacore. He would have to find a way to keep his hand in the game. But he could become a lighthouse man.

And the game was set long ago at the foot of a cross as men threw dice for a hanged man's last belongings. Three days later something arose from the tomb.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

 

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