MAY 12, 2019

UNICORNS & DRAGONS

 

So anyway. The days have presented milder temps, softened light. Early mornings are packed with pogonip, the Ohlone word for fog. The afternoons have been bright with sunshine. The nights have been cool with the howling of coyotes approaching near dawn.

The girls still living on the Island and their exiled friends living in Silvan Acres reunited with their moms at Momma's Royal Cafe in Oaktown for the annual celebration of motherhood.

It has been 17 months since that terrible February of 2018 and the night of Shattered Fires when all that had been the Island had changed forever due to the evil actions of the Taikeff "Angry Elf" gang. Many things had happened not unlike the adventurous Game of Thrones now obsessing so many people with fantasy.

Marsha was there. So were Tipitina, Suan, and Sarah, all of whom had relocated to Silvan Acres. With them was their new friend Barbara who had always lived in the San Geronimo Valley. Rachel showed up, along with Malice Green, Latrena Brown, and Ms. Larch who was thinking of relocating to Marin, and all of them were there with their mothers save for Rachel, whose mother had passed away in 2008.

It was quite the Hen party there at the Royal Cafe with everyone talking at once and everyone getting caught up with the news.

Sarah's mother wanted to know if there were any Stores in Silvan Acres. You know so that a girl could get herself set up appropriately, but no, the San Geronimo Valley has no big box stores and it did not look like it would get them any time too soon. It had skunks and deer and coyote and raccoons but no Macy's.

This seemed a dreadful impediment to obtaining and keeping a man, as Sarah's mother saw it, but the others chimed in that there was always "going down the hill" to San Rafael where they had civilized things like salons and suppliers of fine linen and lace.

At the end of the day, all the mothers were satisfied that their children were on the right track and that the San Geronimo Valley, albeit somewhat barbarous and remote, did have potential for sophistication and marital possibilities on account of there being so many millionaires in residence in the neighborhood.

"Tell me again about the Town of Ross," Tipitinia's mother asked. "I hear the servants pay people to wax their Caddilacs!"

In the Valley, the Editor had a conversation with the neighbor, Mr. Gruffman, who was in need of a cow.

The Editor did not have a cow in his back pocket at the moment, but Mr. Gruffman felt that now was the time to clue the newcomers into a few of the differences that affected Marin County as seperate from the rest of the world.

"Come around back and meet Melisandre," said Mr. Gruffman, who turned and stumped along a ratty path bordered by wild poppies and thistle along a wall that led to a small open space.

The Editor followed the man and discovered there in that small open space a white horse, some eight hands high, with blue eyes and a knurled horn extending from its forehead about 28 inches in length.

"That is a unicorn!" said the Editor.

"I admire your perspicuity and directness of observation," said Mr. Gruffman. "That is indeed a unicorn which is found, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere but Marin County and parts of Minnesotta I have not yet explored."

"I thought you must employ a Virgin to capture a unicorn," the Editor said.

"Silly man! This is not a captured animal, but one that is free to roam at will. It comes here freely because I am an old man with no pretensions to contest, I have been through Hell and High Water, I have lost more than anyone will ever own, I have no more claim to ownership or dominance of anything, and so Melisandre is safe here with me."

"I see."

"You probably do not, but here we have an example of one thing that makes Marin County different from other places. And I am in urgent need of a cow so I must introduce you to Hubert."

"Hubert?"

"Yes, yes. Hubert. Everyone is talking about Tolkein and Game of Thrones and all this fantasy that is a distraction from the dreadful realities of mass shootings and all that comprises the execrable Donald Trump, the most detestable vermin to inhabit the White House since Richard Nixon. No one pays attention to the San Geronimo Valley because we are off the grid, so to speak. I can see that you are having troubles with Island-Life because your people are real. They have been abused, discarded, treated barbarously -- just like everyone else. Who wants to read about themselves when that is what they suffer all day long. Come along and meet Hubert and my problem."

The two of them walked around the field with Melisandre and came to a barn where Mr. Gruffman threw open the bolts and drew back a long plank to let the big doors open to reveal what was inside.

"Arrrouggheghhh!"

"Good god in heaven!" said the Editor. "You have a dragon in this barn!"

"I doubt the god in heaven had anything to do with the creation of Hubert," Mr. Gruffman said. "But here he is. All thirty feet and 1.5 tons of him. Once again I admire your ownership of statements of the obvious."

"Schnarrrrf!"

"Does he breath fire?"

"Of course not! That is a silly superstition and entirely impossible as energy consumption would be off the charts. This is a physical animal living in the real world of Marin County and it must have a cow."

"What happens if it does not have a cow?"

"Hubert starts eating people. Can you find me a cow rather soon?"

"I will see what I can do," The Editor said.

"Thank you," said Mr. Gruffman. "Welcome to Marin. We are different from other people." He then shut the barn door and the Editor returned to the offices, attended with the following offer from Mr. Gruffman.

"I see you have a readership problem. Everyone wants to see movies with flying wizards and dragons and pseudo-medieval gamesmanship with dragons and sex and ultra-violence and exotic magic. We have all that already in Marin. So I offer a unicorn and a dragon. Handle the sex and violence yourself. You just manage to get me a cow once a month and we have a deal. Capiche?"

###

So anyway, the weather turned unruly for this time of year. When normally we have dry temps in the 70's, we had storms come marching in with very cool weather to swell the streams and send cars sliding on the freeway because Californians just cannot handle any kind of precipitation on the road, North or South.

Fire, earthquake, mass murder, general foolishness, that we can handle better than anyone from New Jersey or Chicago, but rain on the road, that is such a rare commodity nobody here has learned to deal with it properly.

Sometimes they get snow in the mountains and that too we can handle. We do not run around with our hair on fire and close all the schools because of a few inches of snow like they do in Baltimore. We just handle it and if the snow gets like fifteen feet deep we just close the passes over the Sierra Crest and that is that. No big deal.

The Editor charged Pahrump and Jose with a singular task. They were to deliver a cow to Mr. Gruffman's barn and there was a lot of mysterious shuffling of cards about this particular transaction.

For one thing, the two of them went out to a field on the edge of Dickson Ranch and none of the Dickson Ranch would admit any knowledge of this transaction for the Dickson ranch is a ranch that features horses, and save for a couple that are unduly overweight none of them can be called cows. For another the cow was tethered in a field with a rope and nothing more formal other than a notice attached to a post in that field that this cow was "D feed source". And there were many signatures and writs involved that looked highly financial and official in all regards making this deal a fully bona fide sanction to sell a cow for some kind of purpose not yet divined but the papers were all in order and in this modern age it is most important to have your papers in order.

Generally speaking as mentioned previously the Dickson Ranch was devoted to horses so this introduction of a cow was an odd bargain.

So the guys took the rope halter and commenced to leading the cow out of the ranch and onto the road outside and the guys started talking about what to name this particular cow because all the paperwork just referred to her by numbers. The guys are going down the road with the cow in tow and various names were suggested, some obvious like Bessie and some not so obvious like Coliform and Sweetie Methane Pump and Midden Heap. Eventually they agreed upon the name Trillium for the flower that erupts so energetically in the area.

They arrived at Mr. Gruffman's yard and Mr. Gruffman said it was okay if they left at that point but they did not want to leave for curiosity and it was curiosity that revised their lives going forward forever.

"Moooooor!" exclaimed the doomed Trillium.

Mr. Gruffman threw open the barn doors and then emerged Hubert the dragon and then occured the end of Trillium rather violently and Jose was sick in the bushes amid the savage, atavistic crunching of bone and blood and viscera.

"I told you," Mr. Gruffman said before locking Hubert back into the barn.

"For Pete's sake what are you doing with a live dragon in a barn?" exclaimed Pahrump.

"O I do not think you would want Hubert flying about unfettered," Mr. Gruffman said.

"That thing can fly!?"

"Of course. He is a genuine dragon."

"What else have you around here?" Pahrump asked carefully.

"O the usual sort of stuff left behind by the hippies. Unicorns, faeries, a number of witches, elfs and elves -- that sort of thing."

"I should like to meet an elf," Denby said.

"No you wouldn't," Mr. Gruffman said. "The elfs of Marin are all bad tempered because of the wretched parking."

On the march back to the Household it was agreed between Pahrump and Jose they would never name a cow ever again for they had just witnessed something which no amount of cheap jug wine could be made unseen again.

It was up to Denby to report to the Editor while the others got seriously drunk that the cow had been delivered as charged.

"Good," said the Editor. "There will be another due in a month if we cannot capture a wild deer."

"Good lord, this is aweful!"

"The good Lord has nothing to do with it," said the Editor. "This is the Trump Era and the dragons must be fed."

"This sounds like a terrible political metaphor."

"Political metaphors are like farting in a crowded room. Social realities must be acknowledged while the place still stinks to high heaven during which everyone denies everything. Now get back to work making the media look like it is still useful."

The Editor turned to his desk as the others completed their tasks in the converted barn which had become the new Island-Life offices after the terrible Night of Shattered Fires which had pushed the persecuted people outward from their home of many decades to wander the earth. A story that has been told before and should sound familiar and which is perhaps another metaphor.

From some barn somewhere a person started practicing the drums. From another location another person started noodling upon an electric guitar. All the night was filled with sound.

As Spring returned to stir dull roots with rain, stimulating life to erupt from the dead land, metaphors flocked on furry wings through the gathering night to bang onto window screens. This land which has been so beaten down by adversity, by fire and flood, shall live again while in the darkness drummers were sending messages to distant listeners, musicians were communicating via secret code to one another. All around the area was fraught with messages being sent from unknown senders to unknown recipients.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

 

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