February 25 , 2018
So anyway, to recap what has happened over the past few weeks, should you, Dear Reader, just be returning to these pages now, inhabitants of Marlene and Andre's Household had to flee for their lives when the old furnace beneath the house, aging and decaying for years, wiring gnawed by rats, suddenly exploded on the night that the Angry Elf gang accidentally blew up their warehouse when a gang member lit a cigarette inside the building packed with incendiary material intended for arson attacks.
The ensuing conflagration spread to several other buildings, including the Offices of Island-Life, forcing the Editor to flee with his laptop and a few items tossed into a haversack and slung over the oar given him as a present on his birthday a few years ago. With him went Rachel, the AA, and Festus, the hamster. They took refuge in Mr. Howitzer's dry docked yacht, not knowing that it had been the incompetent Depuglia brothers who had built the support trestle. The explosions of propane tanks along the shore shook the structure so much the drydock gates opened up and the boat slid back, powerless, into the water and drifted out into the Bay where they encountered Jose and Javier, and Pahrump in a dingy which had lost its power by way of running out of gas.
Denby, seeking to escape murderous members of the Angry Elf gang, first hit in the reeds by the shore, then poled out on a raft, intending to keep to the area that remained three feet deep for about one hundred yards, but he could not control the raft and so he, too drifted into the Bay until, caught by the same currents that had snagged the other two craft he came upon Mr. Howitzer's yacht adrift and sculled over to climb on board with the others.
We last left Mr. Howitzer's Indomitable drifting in a storm directly for the reefs at Sir Francis Drake Estuary when the keel of the doomed ship breaks upon the rocks and the cabin windows shatter.
The Editor trudged with his haversack and oar. He felt, in retrospect, that had he known what was to come, he would have done many things differently, but still wound up in the same place, the same time, the same situation. He was a man who had traveled far after the fall of Saigon. He had seen the cities of man and learned their ways and had many adventures. He had suffered much, due to the sadistic intransigence of the Angry Elf, and he had tried to save his companions, but he could not. They had devoured the cattle of the son of a Californian King who owned the Hyperion Ranch. Now they were kept in thrall under his harsh domain and prevented from going home.
Now begins this new story of a man who was never at a loss and the story of his people who became wanderers far from their Island home.
The morning after The Indomitable foundered on the reef, they were amazed to find each other alive, sodden and bedraggled on the shore of Drake's Estuary where once a thriving oyster farm had existed, but now was no more, so no sign of human life was there, but themselves as they pulled out of the sand, the Editor heaving up like Manannán, rising with rivulets of seagreen water pouring down.
Many were the ships that had foundered there on those reefs during the Spanish Colonial days. Drake, a more practiced and astute seaman than most, had escaped such a fate by deliberately careening his ship on the sand during known high tide. Others who followed, like Cermeno and Vizcaino had not been so practiced.
The main thing was that they survived. The next thing was how to proceed in an apparent un-peopled wilderness to continue to survive. Although none of them were thinking philosophically about this, but their condition was a classic California problem: you have encountered disaster and lost everything. What next?
This experience, among all others, unites Californians with something in common.
The mouth of Drake Estuary sits far out to the west, emitting tidal flow from various sloughs that congregate into a narrow inlet bounded by high rocky cliffs and a sort of gentle admittance on the east end where the oyster beds used to drape long strings of seed oysters into the brackish water.
The land is owned by the US Government as part of the National Park system, but a family had retained a 100 year lease to operate private industry there and the lease had recently expired, so now there remained only the country road paved with oyster shells and abandoned wood-frame buildings slated for either demolition or preservation as a museum, for the ways of the USNPS were mysterious and deep ever since the days of the Water Wars.
The Water Wars: that is another story told at another time.
So any way, it was up that dusty shellmound road the émigrés trudged, led by the Editor.
Eventually, after many adventures, they arrived at Point Reyes Station where they all boarded the bus. All seemed to bode well for returning home until a woman with a shi tzu began to yap about the Editor's oar threatening her wiffle wuffle dingus schweetie.
Dogs have always held a special place in Island-Life, but the crew found themselves in foreign parts where the attitudes of self-deception towards some dogs overwhelm the dictates of common decency and common sense.
The entire crew was put off in what seemed the middle of a forested nowhere, surrounded by tall trees and lush overgrowth and were told they were "fairly near Lagunitas", which meant nothing to any of them as the bus with its entitled rider with her shi tzu continued onward undisturbed.
"Go back to where you came from you hippies!" shouted the woman through the window.
The Editor, normally well dressed in button-down shirt, vest, slacks and docksiders, felt aggrieved by the state of their bedraggled, shipwrecked dress, but nothing was to be done. The troupe soldiered on
Along they marched until they came to a field on the right and, footsore and hungry and tired, they fanned out in that glade and two girls came upon them. One, with the biggest brown eyes you had ever seen looked at the Editor with his burden and said, "What is that?"
The Editor set down his rucksack. "Hello Missy. What is your name?"
As it turned out her name was Jasmine and her sister's name was Aisling.
"So what is that thing you carrying?" repeated Jasmine.
"So you really do not know what this is?" asked the Editor.
"We never seen nothing like that in Silvan Acres," Jasmine said.
"Then this must be the place," the Editor said. And with that he lifted the ship's oar high and brought it down to drive deep into the earth.
The trees trembled and the ground shook and the oar swelled with a cracking and sprouted branches and leaves and took root there and the branches enveloped the Editor as he stood until his body could not be seen anymore and where there had been a man and an oar suddenly stood there a tree.
They all stood there in shock.
"For Pete's sake," Javier said. "Now what do we do?"
Far from the sea, in a land where some people did not know the purpose of an oar, the sound of the ghost train that had once travelled the length of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard echoed in a wavery note as the train cut up the hill through unincorporated Silvan Acres, riding over the crest of the fog shrouded hills as it headed to a mysterious unknown destination in the dense forests of the north, leaving behind only the sound of nightbirds, farmyard dogs, and coyotes