JUNE 18, 2017



So anyway, this Sunday was Father's Day. The sun arose, bold and furious, to slam the Island with incendiary fury. All the girls handling the teletypes and Morse code talking wires, sweat beading out on foreheads and drops dripping from wilted bangs started sending emergency messages East to where this brutal Balrog of whips and fire would soon come marching to make damn sure the Southeast would know all about Global Warming with punishing vengeance.

"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord, but Satan has a hand in it as well when it comes to temperature for nothing can make you doubt the Lord's mercy like a vicious heat wave.

The Household gathered up the Fathers they could find and identify to take them for the annual brunch at Mama's Royal Cafe, a jovial place endowed with vigorous Feminine Power.

As if the Fathers had not figured out all that already. The way the world really works and how things get done.

Fathers tend to wind up on the short end of sentiment in this country. To tell the truth, one cannot really say one has raised kids so much as helped out at best while footing the bills.

Anyway. Suan was there with her father, the tall and distinguished Mr. Washington, and Tipitina was there with her father Adopho from New Orleans, Sarah with her father Claude Barrows and Little Adam "brought" Andre with the help of Marlene even though Andre was not his real father.

My mommie was a crank ho' ...

"I like Marlene mo' better," Adam said to Andre. "My mommie was a crank ho' and other daddy throw me from the car; he be a skanky son of a bi-otch . . .".

"Enough of that," Marlene said firmly. "Or we go home right now."

"Well now, young man," said Mr. Washington, with deep sonority that Suan called his "lawyer's voice," and which make a bass fiddle strings start to vibrate. "The facts of the case you are here now. And this man here is doing his best for your welfare. Perhaps you should consider alternative language."

And with that, round eyed Adam listened to the distinguished Mr. Washington and Suan was never so proud of her father as she was that day he bonded with the orphan child, who had indeed been discarded like so much trash from the open door of an automobile.

the merciless sun wrought hot spears

The group disbanded on the hot pavement outside as the merciless sun wrought hot spears out of the bright chrome on parked cars and turned everything metal and dull into curling irons to the hand, melting rubber and stabbing the heads of bald men with lancets of molten slag, the street becoming an oven in which everything cooked, sizzled, bubbled, and fried.

A news program drifted through the air from an open window -- something about President Rump withdrawing from the Parish Accords on Climate Change.

Lord Fairfax . . . decided to root for the rebels of 1776

In his air-conditioned mansion, Mr. Howitzer III raised a solitary toast to Mr. Howitzer II, a Junior by traditional nomenclature, but the first to capitalize family assets upon land development, acquiring orphanages, low income housing, and International Hotels so as to toss out the residents and turn the buildings into condos and swanky resorts. High up on the wall was a portrait of the very first Howitzer wearing royal robes. That Howitzer had been a Tory with Lord Fairfax -- up until the Revolution, when Lord Fairfax, disenchanted with the miserly gift of swamp land located in a far off, useless colony, as well as King George's home taxes that were no less onerous that the famous one levied upon tea, decided to root for the rebels of 1776 just to spite mad old King George, whom he reviled as an effete nincompoop.

Lord Fairfax gave a speech before the House of Lords, declaiming the misuse of tax funds and the squandering of good money over a ridiculous war to keep a chunk of worthless real estate. The King could do nothing about this insubordination for the King was chasing the butterflies in his crazed mind.

Lord Howitzer he considered a bounder and an opportunist

Lord Howitzer he considered a bounder and an opportunist and Fairfax made sure his daughters stayed well away from the odious family and when the army finally surrendered after a lot of useless bashing about with the incompetant help of hapless Hessians who did not give a rats ass worth of a damn for King George, America or the British, Lord Fairfax held a party in celebration and sent invitations he knew would be refused to the Royal Family, guffawing the entire period in a way that was meant to offend.

As a result of this somewhat derived distant support, there are places named Fairfax located all over the newly minted United States and with each incorporation, Lord Fairfax would toss the notifications disdainfully into the hearth, exclaiming, "At least we still have India; something worth keeping!"

buying stocks on margin in the Twenties

From 1776, there was not another George Howitzer until the Modern Century. During the interim, various Howitzers gained and mostly lost fortunes speculating upon African adventures during the reign of Victoria, construction of the Maginot Line for the French in the Teens, buying stocks on margin in the Twenties, German railroads in the Thirties, Central American Dictators in the Fifties, oil wells that remained dry, despite the best assurances of the Bush family during the seventies, and Soviet atom plants in the eighties.

Each patriarch of the Howitzers had enjoined his sons to invest heavily in the Future, but unfortunately they all too often chose the wrong futures.

That next George Howitzer, skipping several generations of Adams and Billys and one unfortunate Neville, had done well with the remains of the family fortune until he had died up in the High Sierra in a place that had no ski lifts, expecting underlings to run to his aid as he fell down into a crevasse.

Pity the family mausoleum would be empty of that one, but nevertheless, the edifice remained over there in Colma, ready to receive another. Which most likely would be himself, as there were no more Howitzers of his kind any more. He was damned if he would waste good money to fetch that rotten carcass from that crevasse. As for the underlings, they had all been let go, save for Dodd, who was indispensable.

His cell phone skittered away

As Mr. Howitzer turned, he tripped and fell on the marble stairs and bumped down a landing until he came to rest in some discomfort due to a rather sharp pain in his back. His cell phone skittered away and landed with a smack on the marble some thirty feet below. He tried to raise himself but the property management mogul could not do that without assistance because of the excrutiating sensation of stabbing with a heated iron sword in his back..

"Dodd! Dodd!" He called out. But there was no answer to the echos.

He reached out and pulled on a cord that ran along the railing and something came loose. That is when the breaker blew and the stairs went dark and the AC cut off, leaving Mr. Howitzer in the dark. He had always gone cheap with electrics, trusting electricians who said, "The light comes on; that old knob and tube is good enough for rentals."

Knob and tube does not provide for ground in any easy manner and with no ground, the whole thing shorted out and a humid darkness descended.

"Dodd!" No answer. The house was empty. Dodd had left for the weekend to attend to his own family during the heat wave.

A trickle of sweat travelled down his brow. It started to feel very warm. The housekeeper would not return until Monday. He fished in his pocket and found some pills which he swallowed. No idea how many or what kind.

He looked up at the oil portrait of his father high above him. "O daddy daddy," he said with sentimental tears in his eyes.

"You always were a bad boy," said the portrait in Mr. Howitzer's delirium, and laughed.

"Doooooohhhhd!" yelled Mr. Howitzer III on the stairs.

But there was no answer. Dodd was far away. If he only could get to his cell phone. But Dodd did not carry a cell phone for he did not make enough money to pay for the service.

It got very warm indeed.

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 as the temperature rose higher and higher.