JULY 4 , 2016



teens are finding ways to amuse themselves

July came bringing summer weather, with summer weather being chilly evenings sheltered by high fog that burns off in the late morning to yield to hot sun for a few hours. Butterflies dodge around the golden poppies and hummingbirds dive bomb the blackberry bushes. School is out and the teens are finding ways to amuse themselves without getting caught, which generally involves cars, skateboards, spray cans, and, occasionally, healthy athletic equipment.

Some of the young men and women who found they had been accepted to college earlier began making preparations for this new beginning to their lives. A few, accepted by either of the public systems, imagined that their lives would not be changing much. They would keep their high school friends and sweethearts and simply go off for a few months at a time to Chico or Santa Cruz, LA or, for the smarter ones, San Diego. They would come home to do laundry and drink beer with the bro's and hang with their best buds, just like it always had been.

Then there were those heading East for the Ivie's or even further afield to England. Luke Edger, who had spent much of his time at Encinal, Home of the Jets (When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way. . .") getting in trouble with Officer O'Madhauen and Officer Krumsky for tagging every flat vertical bland surface he could find, had gotten accepted at Trinity College to study art calligraphy, of all things,

One could say it was ironic for the boy to study letter writing at the home of the famous Book of Kells, but it was certain he would not be returning home to do laundry.

Gary Olafsson, who had been quite the reclusive, nerdy, writer-type for his first few years at Washington on the East End before developing a theatrical bent, bloomed and flowered as a stand-up comic with a routine that featured a Lutheran pastor from Minnesota telling droll stories about an imaginary small town. He was heading off to New York to study a year at the prestigious Juilliard Academy with an additional scholarship from the Rhode Island School of Design in his back pocket.

Over in Dan's Grocery there was a hubbub around the rhubarb for they found Mrs. Olafsson flat on her back with the RISD acceptance letter in her hand. When she had seen the news with her own eyes, she had just keeled o'er.

Sara, Sarah-James, Aoife, Heather, and Christine, who had been inseparable best buds ever since middle school, were now each to go their respective ways. Aoife was heading off to Galway and the Gaeltacht to study storytelling in Erse, Heather was heading for Berlin to study Art. Christine was going to study Italian folk music in Verona, while Sara would be working with the Southern Poverty Center in Appalachia. Sarah-James was going to study hydrology at Sugar Hill Engineering.

they drank chardonnay and remembered...

The night before Aoife left, the group of them met at Crab Cove to pledge undying loyalty by the light of the crescent moon and the sparkling eye of the constellation Taurus overhead. They recalled old times and people they had known and they drank chardonnay and remembered how, when they were no more than eleven or twelve, they had gathered late at night in the gymnasium to chant secret spells and levitate each other by using just their fingertips. Something that should be impossible became true when they were together. They each swore to meet again in a year.

So now Gary and Luke, the West Ender and the East Ender, are walking around the lsland looking at the old haunts like the Javarama Coffeehouse (aka, the Slut Hut") and Juanita's, wondering as they note the changes in progress what will remain once they return from the far flung corners of the globe. The florist's shop still had the green tile facade and the neon sign, but it was not a florist shop inside anymore -- the shop had closed a couple years ago and was now a boutique for handmade furniture and high-end tchotchkes.

The Silversmith had closed, and Pagano's had moved while across the street Ivy had retired with Ray, closing up the Vine's Garden Nursery and coffeeshop. Gary stood on Webster and looked at the storefront that used to house Joe's Barbershop where he had gotten his first haircut and seen his first nudie magazine.

He was afraid that after returning from the East that the Island would not be quite the same any more. Luke, coming out of the new Chinese restaurant there noticed Gary standing there and walked on over to greet him.

"We never really hung together much," Gary said.

"We never hung together at all," Luke said. "But I saw you around sometimes. You're East End."

"I don't think that matters any more," Gary said. "Now we are both leaving."

"You went with that Masse girl a while," Luke said.

"O, Heather? We just sorta worked together. Performance stuff."

"Well, she's a fox," Luke said.

"Wouldn't mind chaining her up, if you know what I mean, but I am sorta committed," Gary said.

"Yeah. Way it goes. I had a thing for her for a while, but you know . . .".

"Think you will hook up with that O'Donovan girl while you're in Ireland?"

"O . . . nah. She's too smart for me. And she'll be in the West while I'm gonna be busy in Dublin. Besides I am sorta committed as well."

"She's pretty too, in her own way. That whole gang of them. Smart as hell too."

"They each of them are gonna do well wherever they end up, that's for sure. And still bein' foxy."

The two young men watched the desultory traffic and pondered the foxiness of young women, their desirability and their attributes and their unattainability, much as young men will do while standing on the street corner. Much as young men have done since time immemorial.

"Well, I gotta be moving. Best of luck to you man."

"Same to you. Take care."

The two of them separated, each to pursue his personal destiny as the light began to fade and the red star Aldebaran began to shine.

Aldebaran is now a red giant

Which star was observed by the Editor from the deck behind the Island-Life offices who consulted his electronic device. "Aldebaran is classified as a type K5 III star, which indicates it is an orange-hued giant star that has evolved . . . after exhausting the hydrogen at its core. The collapse of the centre of the star into a degenerate helium core has ignited a shell of hydrogen outside the core and Aldebaran is now a red giant. This has caused it to expand to 44.2 times the diameter of the Sun . . .".

"It is believed that in about 5.4 billion years, the sun will become just like Aldebaran. It is calculated that the expanding Sun will grow large enough to encompass the orbits of Mercury, Venus, and maybe even Earth. Even if the Earth were to survive being consumed, its new proximity to the intense heat of this red sun would scorch our planet and make it completely impossible for life to survive. . . ".

The Editor closed the cover of his device thoughtfully and a moth fluttered by to bang into the bushes.

Denby paused on his way out the door after working late on assignment.

"Wussup Boss?"

"Everything is fated to mutation," said the Editor. "Even the sun itself. So! In that case I am going to have my scotch on the rocks now instead of later, for it is hot at the moment."

"Whatever you say, boss," said Denby.

Out beyond the Golden Gate, Pedro reached over and switched off the radio and sighed. His favorite variety program hosted by Pastor Rotschue had just ended its final broadcast. The televangelist was retiring from radio and there would be no more sermons to keep him company during the dark hours returning from the fishing grounds.

"It's just you and me, Ferryboat," said Pedro to his cabinmate.

"Wuff!" said Ferryboat.

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 multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the moonlit grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to an unknown future.