JUNE 8, 2017



So anyway. There was a great hustle and bustle during the week with all sorts of people running around and nervous jumping up and down. Those who had them checked their weapons and those who did not looked for places to hide. Many people checked the condition of their fire extinguishers, while the Island Hospital ER stocked up on gauze, sutures, and pain medication. It's that time of year again.

It was time for another Javier's birthday.

Javier is not a bad person, really. It is just that every year on his birthday people get injured and wind up in the hospital or jail or both.

Things always start out benignly

Things always start out benignly as they did this past Thursday, with the sky providing a pleasant skein of mildly breezy clouds for a BBQ out at the Cove where rusted parts from the 188 howitzer someone brought a few years ago made a pleasantly nostalgic trellis for clambering morning glories. Mindful of what happened the year that the propane canister had exploded, igniting Jose into a ball of Sinaloan fire, the Household members brought good old fashioned charcoal and a limited amount of carefully shielded lighterfluid.

None of Javier's violent ex-girlfriends showed up

Other than a brief moment of tension when the Angry Elf gang drove by in an open convertible Miata, sneering and cackling and planning the unhappiness of some particular poor soul, the day passed uneventfully. None of Javier's violent ex-girlfriends showed up with guns, crossbows or poison blowdarts and an fine time was had by all there by the Strand with the gentle breeze stirring the old coastal oaks and kite surfers performing their acrobatics offshore and Pahrump turning over the wieners on the grill and all the pastors and preachers and deacons from the Island Faith-Based Initiative playing mumbly peg down the way and there was music from instruments and all sorts of jumping up and down with great abandon and it seemed for once that everybody would have a peaceful day that was Javier's 59th birthday, the old rake.

A little snafu happened when the drone Javier got as a gift from Martini, who had made it from spare parts found in the dumpsters, got hung up in the trees. Martini probably should not have made the control device from an old TV remote -- also found in the trash.

The thing sort of buzzed over Pimenta Strife and Omer making out with their clothes off in the canebrake near the pond, causing Omer to throw a rock at it, giving everyone quite an eyeful via the drone's camera. Javier next sent it over the Parlor for the Native Sons of the Golden West, while Omer's rock landed on the deck of Mr. Howitzer's yacht, startling Mrs. Cribbage in her lounge chair.

The rock hit the secondbase man

Mr. Cribbage picked it up and angrily threw it in the direction from which he imagined it had come -- the baseball field where the Otters were playing the Stingrays. The rock hit the secondbase man, causing him to cry out and distract the pitcher who lobbed such an easy one over the plate that Vinnie slammed it hard and out of the park while the secondbase man threw the rock back over the outfield in a wild throw and Javier's drone startled the squirrels and the birds to descend to peer briefly through the windows of the NSGW Parlor by the Marina. David and Wally ran out the door followed by the girls, causing Javier to yank the drone up and over to the palm trees where the storks had been nesting each year for decades.

it struck the windshield of Dr. Titrake

The rock thrown by the secondbase man lobbed into Eighth Street where it struck the windshield of Dr. Titrake who responded by turning on his windshield wipers and accelerating suddenly so fast that his car leapt the curb at the hairpin curve there and ran smack into the windsurfer's shack, sending sailboards, athletes and equipment scattering in all directions while the rock flipped up to knock the transformer up on the pole that served the area. Sparks flew outward and an unlucky squirrel got fried into fritters in a millisecond as the palm fronds caught fire and the internet went out for blocks in all directions around Washington Park.

"That had never happened before!

Meanwhile the baseball smacked out of the park struck Mr. Snail's mailtruck, causing him to veer to the right and so run over and kill Mrs. Kupcake's toy poodle, Dearie, in a way which involved the wheel crushing Dearie in the middle so that portions of her insides erupted explosively to the the left and right which caused Mrs. Kupcake much distress, but her daughter a great deal of delight for Imbecilla had detested the hound ever since it had bit her legs in nervous frenzy, drawing blood, while all the while Mrs. Kupcake had exclaimed, "That had never happened before! He is such a good dog!" even though it had and many times to Imbecilla and several other children. And so Imbecilla ran around with her hands holding bleeding viscera laughing and saying, "Here it is! His hideous beating heart! Just like that poem in school!"

Johnny Cash, the black Labrador from the Household, scooped up the ball and ran off with it.

Wally came up with his 50 cal pistol

In this time Javier's drone got hung up in the trees amid all this confusion and Wally came up with his 50 cal pistol -- certainly an ungainly and odd sort of thing, and so shot at it to bring it down, bringing down instead the top half of the palm tree which slammed into the BBQ, scattering hot coals everywhere while the drone flew off to the east towards the Southshore Mall, now unmanned as people and animals fled the destruction.

It was then that sirens began to wail.

it took a sharp right due to a gust of wind

Leaving all this chaos behind, the drone coursed along with its helicopter blades fashioned from cooling fans, bobbing and dodging all on its own past the outhouses, past the Post Office there and the decrepit Micky Dee's and the Sushi House and the bowling alley and then the West End Point and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge where it took a sharp right due to a gust of wind and so headed out over the narrows and the shoreline of Harbor Bay back over the Bay itself, causing the naval facility down the Peninsula to scramble fighter jets to intercept an unknown aircraft in the vicinity of SFO, but the thing got carried by the winds westwar and so disappeared glinting on its mysterious solar-powered journey to Babylon and reaches beyond.

Back at the scene of Javier's birthday party, Carmelita had arrived with a crossbow firing flaming darts and Sylvia had arrived with a medieval weapon called in some circles a "morning star", and they were laying about with great vigor on account of not having been invited such that Jose was already pierced and battered some ten times as Javier escaped via a motorboat anchored in the lagoon for this very purpose.

Jose, they took to the prison infirmary

When the police arrived, they arrested Denby, who sat there with his guitar, trying to stay entirely out of it. Jose, they took to the prison infirmary as all the likely suspects had already fled the scene and somebody had to pay. They put intense surveillance on him, checking every fifteen minutes as someone heard him say that he wanted to die at some point and so they had him on Suicide Watch. Such is the way of the world.

the advent of the new Post Truth Age

That night The Editor walked up and down the gangway of the Offices, thinking about the terrible situation that had gripped the Fourth Estate. For over two decades he had run a tight ship, conveying news and satire and always keeping the two religiously apart, but now with the Social Media Revolution and the advent of the new Post Truth Age his core values felt threatened. Indeed all the honorable newsies who had held to the rigorous standards of Edward R. Murrow felt marginalized and delegitamized by an agitprop machine that had no specific face, a cottony blather of nontruth, of deliberate fake news..

Outside of the limits of the Island-Life office spotlights, the Angry Elf gang plotted new outrages, new crimes the like of which our century has yet to experience and suffer. Yet within the pale where Truth still held value, the Editor stood fast, a new Admiral Farragut at the helm.

Truth still matters, and he would see that it continued to do so.

Out beyond the dark treeline a fireball arose, another symbol for the Age in which regional conflict takes new meaning.

"What the heck was that?" Festus the messenger said.

"Must be Javier's birthday again," said the Editor. "Let's hope the disaster is not too costly this time."

"Ah tradition," said Festus.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.