December 18, 2016


So anyway, after the recent dockwalloper here caused havoc in northern Marin and flooded a few streets here, a cold wind blew all the dark clouds away to leave frosty mornings. It was 30 or so down the peninsula and up in Marin it hovered in the valleys there around 31.

All of these numbers are in the plus digits above zero, so you folks up north can remain smug about it all. Still, for us coastal Californians this is pretty nippy, especially since most of us do not have insulation or central heating worth the name to warm up our rooms with their charming 14 foot high ceilings.

The seasonal break has begun for schools in the Bay Area and now parents everywhere have bouncing, energetic kids to handle when normally those kids would at least have homework to hold them in thrall. Andre took a walk with Little Adam looking for useful things left on the curb. Things that could be fixed up and sold again for a few dollars. They returned along the Strand, looking this time for driftwood and the elusive sand dollars, which had become smaller and smaller in recent years.

Once Andre had found sand dollars three inches in size and because they were so common he had lost them. Now, all you could find were the size of quarters.

The remains of the last Supermoon waned above as they returned. Andre commented "There's the Man in the Moon! He has been so clear lately."

"How did he get there," Little Adam said.

"He has always been there, looking down and with that mysterious face."

"O!" said Little Adam.

Back at the Household, they had bread soup to warm themselves up and they listened to the rats scurrying below the floorboards.

Because of the cold someone suggested they get Martini to go down there to see if he could fix the old heater unit.

"O I do not think that is such a good idea," Martini said. "Lets go out and steal an Xmas tree!"

condom wrappers, IUD's, sparkly C-rings, underwear

So a party was got together with mittens and scarves and the Flexible Flyer wagon and saws and Martini and Pahrump and Jose and Javier and a few others went in search of an holy tree and they found one in a lot that had been cast off and had lost most of its needles on one side and it was somewhat crooked and dirty but Martini thought it could be worked with and Pahrump felt it had soul so this sorry bedraggled thing that had been rejected was brought back to the Household and was soon ensconced in the Xmas washtub basin and decorated with all sorts of gaudy tinsel-like things, like condom wrappers, IUD's, sparkly C-rings, underwear, tinfoil, beer tabs, bottle tops, computer parts, and made-up ornaments and Filo crap. It did not look so horrible in the half light allowed in that bad abode and so even the cast offs of the world had their own cast off to celebrate the Solstice.

The usual crowd at The Old Same Place Bar was swelled by an influx of people come in to seek solace and companionship as Padraic turned on the TV above the bar to the channel covering the Electoral College events. The normally energetic bar was subdued as people nursed their Gaelic Coffees (so named because Padraic was certain no decent Irishman would sully the Water of Life with so many base ingredients as coffee, brown sugar and -- horrors! -- whipped cream.

Everyone was there to see if the Faithless Electors would rise up in rebellion, a rebellion reminiscent of that of 1776 and that there would be great protest and opera of all kinds with people shouting and history-making speeches and men dying on their swords out of honor, but they were sorely disappointed in the drama. The Electoral College possessed, collectively, no great honor and the candidate who had received far fewer votes than the opponent by some three million was appointed President.

Another appointed President. Not elected, but appointed.

That night the comet burned bright in the brief moment before its certain evaporation. But there in attendance were not only Papoon, the Slightly Mediocre Liberal Candidate, but also Babar, the Very Conservative Candidate who had actual and real ties to royalty, something for which the Conservatives have always salivated.

both of us and the Country are the losers

They were both sad and depressed and Babar said it best, "My friend, tonight, both of us and the Country are the losers here. Neither the reasonable nor the flippant have won anything. Instead we have gotten what some of my party have wished for all too much and without thinking about what it really meant."

"My slogan has always been, 'Not insane'," Papoon said. "It was the thing that made me different from all the other candidates. Lunacy has been chosen over me and not for any good reasons, and that is really depressing," Papoon added.

"Do you really think he will build a two thousand mile wall and make Mexico pay for it?" Babar said.

people will say how could you not have known

"Of course not," responded Papoon. "The wall will be far longer and higher than anything ever seen and built entirely within our own hearts." He paused. "And we will be the ones who will pay for it. In forty years time there will be another Man in The Glass Booth and another Nuremberg and people saying how could people who generated such civilized philosophy and intellect create such an evil and the fingers will point and people will say how could you not have known about the camps, the cattle trains, the extraordinary renditions, the extermination chambers?"

Both of them looked to the place where Old Schmidt used to sit. Someone had laid a wreath on his favorite barstool. His favorite expression had been, "I know nossink! Nossink! Nossingk!" So tragedy had descended to bad comedy. But Old Schmidt knew what was to happen; he had seen it take place before with a demagogue propelled by extremists seizing power and usurping the industry of any entire nation. He had tried to warn everybody, but now he was gone.

on to the Glory of the Flag's allegiance

Up on the frosty hill, Mr. Steif caressed his 1914 semiautomatic as he glared at the shut door to the Greek Orthodox temple where Wally's son, Joshua the whistleblower, had taken refuge. Soon, Mr. Steif, thought to himself, soon I will get a clear shot at him. The time is right now and I will be gone down the hill and vanish into the bureaucracy of paper and secrets, all my movements accounted for and alibis established and then it will be off to the next project in Russia. Soon, I will kill Joshua and we can move on to the Glory of the Flag's allegiance once again.

Soon, I will kill him.

Beneath the chilly waters of the Estuary the Captain of the El Chadoor observed all these things and wept. The First Mate queried him and he responded that he wept for America.

"Why do you weep for this infidel country," asked the First Mate.

"Because I had hoped that they would help free us from the iron grip of the mullahs," said the Captain. "Now, they are just the same as everybody else."

"I will pretend I did not hear that," said the First Mate.

And so the El Chadoor pulled down its periscope and dove down and glided out through the Golden Gate to the open sea, running silent, running deep on the waning night of the last Supermoon of the year 2016.

In the window of Marlene and Andre's Household a garbage tree glittered and sparkled for all the world to see, giving cheer to any passing by and saying simply, "Here against all odds doth hope and peace abide." The frost gathered on the car windows all up and down the block and the moon, the serene moon, gazed down upon the former Empire with equanimity.

From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park 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.