JULY 30 , 2017

SUBMARINE CONTRETEMPS

 

So anyway they held a birthday party for the Editor, although nobody knew how old he was and his birthdate was guestimated based on an old presskit somebody found in the files a while ago.

some folks lash onto birthdays like drowning sailors

The Editor has always kept personal details close to the vest and most sane men in the Bay Area shuffle the birthday thing aside in favor of getting work done, but the Bay Area is nuts for birthdays, especially Islanders, as everyone is overworked, underpaid, and generally rendered powerless and there are far too few holidays to take off, so some folks lash onto birthdays like drowning sailors will grab onto any old sort of flotsam to prop themselves up above waterline. There is always someone in the Office who takes it upon themselves to get a card and stick it in a manila envelope with a checklist so that everyone can see who has signed the card and who has not.

This applies to everyone indiscriminately save for Jehovah's Witnesses, who abjure things like birthdays, which may be a very fine advantage to being a member of that august Assembly of Saints.

Some folks around here glom onto birthdays as a way to exercise power they otherwise do not have and so for a birthday they get to order everyone around with great zeal. This is especially valid for those birthdays that happen to belong to someone other than themselves.

the Team gave the Editor the start of a boat builders kit...

So everyone got together and there was tossing of confetti and "Surprise!" when the Editor came in and Festus pulled the string that popped the cork that made a great noise and a tremendous confusion of flashbulbs and whatnot and a cake arrived without hardly any damage to it at all. And there was all sorts of happy jumping up and down and the Team gave the Editor the start of a boat builders kit, for none of them could afford any sort of boat as a gift, not even a kayak, so what the Editor got for his birthday gift was an oar with a ribbon on it.

"This here is the start of your boat," Festus said on behalf of the Team. "We don't have enough money to get you an entire boat, but . . . well, one could consider this a start. Y'know, start adding parts here and there."

"Well," said the Editor. "This is a find beginning for something that leads to god knows what. But it is a fine oar and well packaged and so I thank you. Now everyone get back to work right now!"

So all the underlings scampered and the Administrative Assistants took up their shackles and whips and memoranda and soon the Island-life agency was humming again and the oar went up on the wall above the Editor's desk.

While parts of the Bay Area continued to bake under a heat wave, the Island enjoyed moderate temps due to our prevailing ocean breezes.

Offshore the colorful parasails of wind surfers danced above the sparkling smooth water. Families gathered for bar-b-que parties.

Speaking of Bar-B-Que Panties, Pimenta Strife dropped into the Lucky 13 to see if she could grab a pair of pants or pull a train this evening for it was High Summer and she felt sultry. Pimenta pretty much always felt sultry.

Minnie Peering walked back and forth on Regent Street in the late afternoon to see if she could look past the curtains of the Rochester house. The Rochesters had been holding parties at their place with all kinds of curious people, many of whom wore feathers, and Minnie was certain there would be something to talk about at Jacqueline's Salon if she could just get a glimpse. Minnie's great love in life was to find information all about her neighbors and then talk about it. If there was nothing to talk about -- and goodness when was there ever a time when there was nothing about which to talk! -- then she made things happen. For Minnie all of life was made significant at the manicure tables of Jackie's.

Jackie herself, a veteran of many gossip wars, couldn't be bothered any more to pass on the juicy stuff. Not that she was not adverse to keeping her ears open. After all, the scuttlebutt could involve her business.

The Captain of the El Chadoor began cussing

A disastrous international incident was averted beneath the surface of the Bay when the Iranian spy submarine was nearly sunk by the Eugenie Oneigin, the Russian spy submarine which came barreling along with all its electronics dark like some blind aquabear of a beast. The Captain of the El Chadoor began cussing at Captain Piotr Yevgeny for being such an incompetent unseaworthy skipper, proving a torrent of Russian expletives over the radio, which caused the eavesdropping Coast Guard much amusement, for they imagined they were hearing two excursion boat skippers duke it out.

"This is US Coast Guard. Is anyone in need of assistance?"

"Yes!" Shouted the Chadoor's captain. "This Boris or Ivan guy needs a brain with a fishing license!"

"Moego Ad' you Raskolniki!" Piotr shouted. "Go find an ocean for your tin can to swim in. We have water coming in now! Nyeta spassibo to you!"

"You go join your carrot-top toupee friend in White House!"

And so on.

Eventually the Chadoor's captain clapped up the periscope handles and ordered the ship to depart and so it was the Chadoor traveled back under the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

It is true that when people invite foreign powers to interfere, the field of spies can get crowded. Up on Grizzley Peak, Mr. Terse still waits for an opportunity to pop a cap in the head of the whistleblower named Joshua. Joshua alerted the press as to the clandestine bugging of the municipal council chambers chamberpots some years ago. Now that the Russians have gotten involved, Joshua has been spied through the windows of the Russian orthodox church miles from the Greek Orthodox church up there beside the Mormon Temple, which has gotten Mr. Terse to thinking about secret tunnels.

there is a labyrinth of tunnels linking the Mormon church and various sanctuaries

Of course there is a labyrinth of tunnels linking the Mormon church and various sanctuaries and secret society chambers, built long ago when the separation of Church and State meant something enough for people to get murderous about the Latter Day Saints. There is one going to the Mason's Hall of course and another to the Rotarians. The Saints and others like Joshua have traversed these tunnels honeycombing Oaktown for hundreds of years without too much trouble other than the occasional encounter with the fearsome Taetzelwurm, a nasty Ripley Scott sort of slavering creature encountered fortunately only seldom in the pages of certain densely packed adventure-tale authors and beneath Oaktown's innocent streets.

For the Taetzelwurm, Joshua carries Wally's 50 cal pistol, which is just about enough to dispatch one of these critters, given sufficient warning, enough distance between, a steady hand while a thousand razor claws slash at you, and about five or six well-placed shots.

Life on the Island, seen by many has bucolic and peaceful, does carry along with it some moments of excitement. Most mothers ushering children at the playground here pack nothing less than a 1911 style .45 caliber pistol while demurely observing the Innocents idly swinging on the bars.

Ravenous poodles let loose by insane owners will roam in packs and these need to be dispatched or penned in for the next Thanksgiving BBQ event. And of course there are the members of the Angry Elf gang, wandering around in open top sportscars, causing mayhem and destruction as they go, clearing the way so that more realtors can come to build yet another gated community with high-priced homes and pricier rents.

As the sun sets on another bucolic day, the horizon flames horizontally in striations of gold, vermilion, and azure. Cool breezes ease the heat. The splendid crescent moon rises and the fogs advance in a solid front through the Golden Gate and over the hills. Stars appear overhead and Mr. Sanchez taking a walk with Ms. Morales and their child in a pram pause to comment on the cold pile of carbon that was a house at one time.

"Was that not the Cribbage mansion?" Ms. Morales asked.

"Yes." said Mr. Sanchez. "Something happened last fourth of July and it burned down."

"O dear! I hope no one was hurt."

"The Cribbages," Mr. Sanchez said, "Have never been very neighborly." He left much unsaid.

Soon, all was still along the Strand, save for Pahrump and Jose and Snuffles and Javier sharing a jug of 99 cent wine while Javier signaled UFO's with his lighter.

It was a quiet, peaceful summer night with no Taetzelwurms running amok and no sirens tearing up the music of the wind and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

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.

 

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