JULY 16, 2017




So anyway. Once again the Island got speared by another heat wave. These things used to happen end of August, but times have changed. As Denby recovered from his narrow escape via the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, which was not so spiritedly high tech that it did not involve trains and a bus depot, Jose got his bandages and stitches removed from Javier's last birthday celebration.

Javier's birthday is a known quantity...

Javier's birthday is a known quantity, an established threat with definitive dates in June, but nevertheless, some poor sucker always winds up in the hospital as another winds up in jail. All the Trauma staff at Highland have Javier's birthday marked out on their calendars. Those desiring peace and quiet always take the day and the evening off. Those adrenaline junkies who love excitement always sign up. Many police postpone family vacations until after Javier's birthday has passed, for that red letter day usually means lots of easy overtime and maybe a chance to use their firearms. Maybe even bring in the K-9 unit as they did one year.

It is not like Javier is a bad person; he is just a boy from Mexico City who has a flair for controversy. He was not his mama's only boy, but her favorite -- or so it seems. She began to cry when he said good-bye, and sank into his dreams . Well, that is the way the story goes. At least as Townes van Zandt used to tell it. . . .

In any case Javier spent the hot days lolling in the Piedmont air conditioned rooms and swimming pool of Miranda Escobar, one of the brightest and most beautify stars out of Columbia which nevertheless desired neither her nor any of her family to return, for her family had been allegedly involved with kidnapping most of the Nation's Supreme Court at one time, in an escapade which had ended as badly as it had been sanguine.

"Javier, you must stop being such a bad boy," Miranda said from a poolchair. "There is no profit in it for you."

"If I were something else, I would not be enjoying both your lovely pool and your lovely culo," Javier said.

A bodyguard stepped out from the shadows. "Should I shoot him now or cut him up with a corvo," said the man.

"Santiago, you Chileans are so impetuous. Please do not cut up Javier as it would spoil the pool water."

"Why do you tolerate this malo hombre?" said Santiago.

"Well . . . I like the way he does the cha-cha."

Yes, Javier did like to court dangerous women.

Jose, it must be said was quite a different sort of man altogether

Jose, it must be said was quite a different sort of man altogether. Honest, faithful to a fault, devout, dedicated to the honor of his abuelita, he strove in every way to be a decent citizen and an excellent ambassador from Sonora, for he felt that every man represents the place from which he comes. He worked hard, saved his money, sent some of it home, and otherwise remained an upstanding member of the community. It was not his fault that he got tangled up in Javier's escapades, but often he found himself powerless in the face of overwhelming foolishness.

While there is a nasty canker, a criminal rot that infects the Island in some places, by and large, Islanders are decent, good people, crazy in some good ways and sometimes inane, sometimes cruel, but unlike other parts of the Bay Area, never can be accused of being without a clue.

Latterly, because of the heat and because of rumors passing over the transom, the Editor has been taking walks down by the Strand. After all, 1967 was a banner year for many people, with the current anniversary being celebrated by all sorts of idiots who do not have the faintest idea of what it was like.

Maybe he should write a book about it, about how it really was back then. A book for average, everyday people -- not hippies or squares or media wonks or celebrities -- but decent people caught up in events of the time, living the best way they knew how while the world changed all around them. Everyone had a choice in how to live their lives going forward -- pretend nothing had changed or flow with the flow.

The world is now in an uproar.

Which, come to think of it, is just like what it is today. The world is now in an uproar. A nonsense baby had taken the reins of power and without the majority having anything to do with it. Wars were being fought for no reason and wars were being fought for very good reasons. Police were being arrested for killing people -- imagine that! All the old order was being swept away.

Back in the Offices the Editor had a meeting with Jose about the upcoming Holiday CD. "Time for another Flyabout," said the Editor. "We need someone to spin the prop again for the Machine."

"Does this prop spin very fast," Jose asked. "Just like the last time."

"Yes, of course."

"Is it dangerous?" Jose asked reasonably.

"Of course."

"I broke both legs last time," Jose said.

"That is a small price to pay," said his boss.

"Can you not get someone else to do it?" Jose asked. "Perhaps Festus."

"That is ridiculous. Festus stands six inches tall at his utmost and weighs barely ten ounces. He is an hamster. The prop is five feet above the earth at its lowest declination and weighs hundreds of pounds -- I do not know exactly but it is something like that."

"Boss, maybe Denby can do it."

"Denby has to play the music," said the Editor, a bit impatiently. "Offer it up to the Virgin. Yes do that. Offer it up to the Virgin."

"Okay boss," Jose said reluctantly. "If mi padre allows it."

"That is good. I know the man; he is in my pocket. Fourth and Fifth Estates and all that. Very good."

"Oy," Jose said. "Weh iss mir. . .".

"You have many months to prepare a parachute. I suggest you get cracking now."

In a dark warehouse, the members of the Angry Elf gang were stacking boxes. Nitro. Gunpowder. C4. All kinds of good stuff to use later on in the year. The gang had great plans. Many of the old Escobar gang were among them and they had brought with them a kind of delicious savagery which had been lacking. These Islanders; they were soon to wake up.

the lower denizens scampered around

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre the simple souls who had taken refuge there collected after the Bay breeze had dispelled the heat. Beneath the floorboards of the old house, the lower denizens scampered around the carcass of the old furnace with its sparking wires even as one door down the Angry Elf gang ferried in box after box of highly incendiary explosives intended for enforcing any number of extortion schemes.

The fog advanced across the Bay and soon all was enveloped. Somewhere a siren wailed. Somewhere someone got stabbed. Somewhere else someone got shot. It was a fitful, and unrestful night on the Island as the full moon waned.

Up in their rented garret off Santa Clara Avenue, Ms. Morales lay on the bed wearing her thin shift next to Mr. Sanchez while the baby dozed in the crib, blessedly silent for now. The open window admitted a cool breeze.

"Please God," whispered Ms. Morales. "Keep my baby safe in these times."

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 mysterious parts unknown.