March 4 , 2018

Rachel and Henry

 

In a glade on the edge of the tiny hamlet that turned out to be called Silvan Acres, various members of Marlene and Andre's Household made their goodbyes. Not far was an infrequently visited bus stop, which the girls Aisling and Jasmine told them would take one or all of them to San Rafael.

To their great astonishment, when the bus arrived, out stepped Marlene, Andre, Rolf, Suan and Snuffles, who told the shipwreck survivors that there was no going back as the old house had been entirely destroyed by fire when the old furnace had exploded. Destroyed, too, was the pink eviction notice sent by the greedy Mr. Howitzer, which had propelled Rolf and Suan to go looking for a new place over the past few weeks.

Mr. Howitzer had thought to capitalize upon the Air BnB craze and turn the place into a sort of high-priced hotel, but of course that plan would have to wait for some sort of reconstruction, so all this time Suan and Rolf had been canvassing the Bay Area for any place likely to take in and at least tolerate a household of 15 pathetic, somewhat crazy, idiosyncratic ne'er do wells. It is not so easy as one might think.

"Howsh go BOOM!" said Snuffles. "All gone! Eben my wiiiiiiine!" He looked disconsolate about that last fact.

Pahrump wanted to know the fate of his scooter which had been parked on the other side of the jalousie.

"Scooter okay, but wine all gone," Snuffles said sadly.

The crew told Rolf and Suan all about how they had gotten on board Mr. Howitzer's dry-docked yacht with The Editor and how the boat had broken away from its moorings because Mr. Howitzer had gone cheap with N.Eptitude Construction and the hopelessly incompetant Depuglia Brothers and how the ship had drifted until it foundered and it was a miracle they had all survived.

Rolf and Suan had found a sort of ramshackle place in the woods rented by a squat man named Walter Nachhall. It leaked, it creaked, and it was infested with mice and scorpions lived in the attic, but it was something.

Rachel, who still had her apartment on the third floor of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, decided to return on the bus with Pahrump, who wanted to fetch his scooter. So they all hugged each other and said goodbye and Rachel climbed aboard and the little bus took off down the road to disappear down a long avenue of trees, perhaps never to see The Editor or her friends again.

"Speaking of whom", asked Marlene. "Where is the Editor?"

The castaways all looked at a tree growing in the middle of the glade.

"Tell you later," Javier said. "Let's go look at the house."

They all trooped up there over the warped boards of the porch and Rolph shoved the creaky door open with his shoulder.

A startled pigeon flew through the exposed rafters, allowing a fair amount of dusk to descend. Some kind of animal skittered in the fireplace chimney.

"It does need some fixup," Suan said. "But it's all we could afford."

Meanwhile, far away and across the Bay, Mr. Howitzer snarled to Dodd as he chauffeured the magnate from the ashes of his former rental property on Otis to the Marina, "I'll be damned if they get one penny from the security deposit! If there are any survivors that is!"

When they got to the marina where Mr. Howitzer went to check on the status of the yacht repainting, Mr. Howitzer was further incensed to discover instead of a freshly painted yacht a forest of broken timbers that had been the drydock frame. By then, the Harbormaster had restored the drydock gates to the facility.

"Where the hell is my boat?" shouted Mr. Howitzer.

Back at the former Household Martini and Tipitina stared in disbelief at the place where they had lived for years. The ironmongery garden still stood there and there stood Pahrump's scooter, a bit worse for wear with scorch marks on its frame, but the house was gone save for a pile of charred rubble.

"Where IS everybody?" Martini said.

As evening drew on and the air became chill, a solitary figure, somewhat bedraggled but yet walking with the statuesque stride of a dancer, descended the OX bus on Santa Clara to make her way down the street and up the steps of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, and then climbed the weary three flights of stairs to the top floor and down the hall where someone had been waiting impatiently for dinner many hours.

The sound of heavy cat feet landing on the floor thumped through the apartment and there came the sound next of a hungry mewing.

"Hello Henry," said Rachel. "Back home again!"

"Meowrlrr!"

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

 

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