So anyway. Wally's son is still holed up in the sanctuary of the Greek Orthodox Church way up in the Oaktown hills while the TSA, the NSA, the IRA and the NRA all are looking to nab him. Mr. Stark has been sitting out there on that slope for weeks now, drinking bad coffee from styrofoam cups and eating bagels he collects from the Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy before driving over the bridge and up that hill to post himself religiously in place of Cmdr. Stark who has sat there watching the door all night in his 1977 Volvo, the only car ever made that can seriously intimidate and do damage to an SUV or a Hummer. Its compact body fashioned of solid rolled steel for the American Market caused freeway weight scales to groan from two lanes distance. Once Stark cut a stationwagon in half without noticing when he drifted through a stopsign while texting his buddies at Soldier of Fortune Magazine, and only realized what had happened when he noticed the poodle impaled on the radio antenna. That and all the screaming.
Mr. Stark eased his modest Eldorado into the space vacated by Stark and got out his binoculars and camera.
Wally's Son, Joshua, got into a bit of a pickle after releasing top secret documents about the Mayor's clandestine Predator program in which New Mexico chilies were being smuggled over the border by some gay cowboy named Oliver South to pay radical fundamentalist dognappers to secretly spy upon the Schnauzer network that was working to destabilize the municipal government of Newark, itself an hotbed of terrierist activity.
It might sound rough having to sleep in the pews of a rough hewn church up in the fog belt of Oaktown, but the Greeks had long ago worked out deals with their neighbors the Church of Latter Day Saints, which featured as spectacular an underground network of tunnels and chapels and grottos as the gold-plated ediface that had stood there since about 1839. Well, not the exact same building, but a steadily improved model that began about the time a shipload of Mormons arrived in California looking to get away from the hated American flag so as to start a New Zion. Begun in liberty and dedicated to the principle all men are, more or less, equal, the American Republic had stomped on the toes of
Well it took six months in those days to sail around the Horn from Boston to San Francisco, and what had been solidly Mexico when those boys started, turned out to be solidly something else by the time they arrived, much to their consternation, for when the Mormon battalion of 1000 faithful sailed into San Francisco Bay, they looked up to see not the Mexican flag flying at the Presidio, but the detested American flag, put there by Commodore Stockton.
The Mormon battalion found it too much trouble to go to Utah from there and so they stayed and built on the Oaktown hills their splendid temple above the earth, and their splendid subterranean city below. This city had its secret passages, known only to the Elect, the Illuminati, and select members of the Order of Masons.
In this manner, Joshua was able to sneak underneath Mr. Stark's Eldorado into the Mormon Complex by means of a door behind the Tabernacle and so get some refreshment other than souvlaki and dolmas and that atrocious retsina wine and then sneak back again to peer out and give Mr. Stark a jolt now and then.
All Governments spy on one another of course, and so do one's neighbors. Everyone knows that, but Joshua really cooked the bacon when he outed the papers that detailed all the shenanigans and the hot tubbing.
He really did not think some people would get so angry -- after all, no one seriously considers the government of Newark to be worth the slightest notice, not even itself, for they do not even have a hall for the city council to meet, preferring to gather informally in livingrooms for taxation and tea with crumpets. After all, what kind of place has such low self esteem that it names itself "Newark"?
In any case, Pahrump has been driving up from the lowlands on his scooter to bring little care packages for the famous whistleblower.
Joshua even had an equally famous visitor who made his way through the clandestine tunnels. Gobetweens arranged the meeting in a non-descript passageway of dripping brick and moody backlit shots done in blue tones with lots of shadow. He appeared wearing a cape in an archway. Touch of fog, wisps . . .
Julian, it is you.
Oui, Mssr. C'est moi.
Julian, you have brought the power of the State to heel with your revelations! Now they are after you!
Ah, Monsieur. I am nothing. The State is Nothing. L'Etat? C'est moi. But you are admirable!
Me? Humble me? Why is that?
Me? I am but L'etranger. Even the pseudo-crimes they charge me with are strange and somehow foreign. But you. You are American.
Man I aint nobody but Wally's son livin' in the damn church pews I gotta watch out if I even order pizza delivery . . . .
America, America, Julian said. Look at yourselves. You now surround your greatest monuments with concrete barriers like they are so important. You surround your fabled White House and your Congress with concertina wire. You hound your best journalists and you keep concentration camps, you practice murder, and you have even gone to the furthest extreme no despotic regime in history, not even Nazi Germany, ever did, you publicly excuse the practice of torture. My god, what have you people done to yourselves? You are not a Democracy. You are not even a sadass Republic!
You have become a nation of fools.
A Nation selling its freedoms for false security. A security that always will remain conveniently aloof, just out of reach. Save for just a little more concertina wire. A few higher walls -- along the border no doubt, yes? -- a little more torture and you will be fine, just fine.
But you, my friend, have shown that L'Etat c'est ne pas moi -- c'est nous. The State is Us! Yes? Me, they can always deride as one of those cheese-eating frogs. But not you, my friend. You have the red blood in you and you must fight now for your country and your life. Me, I now only fight for my life and . . . certain abstractions. Don't waste your time protecting cold monuments to what used to be; they are just rocks. The Nation is its people and you can never be totally destroyed.
But Julian, what can I do? Who am I?
Never forget who you are in reality, Julian said. You are a rebel. And that is what you always must be. Now I must go. . . .
Down on Central the Central Baptist Church held its Rock of Ages festival which featured a large Bounce House, a novelty that had gained some popularity at big parties. A Bounce House featured a huge inflatable structure in which over-amped kids could jump and slam themselves around to their heart's content and so weary themselves out to their parents ever grateful admiration. \
Nobody was exactly sure what this all had to do with the Gospel and so forth but unlike the Gospel, this was hella fun.
Down at the Old Same Place Bar all the regulars are discussing the various qualities of the In-N-Out Burger.
"The thing about the place is that they do one thing and they do it well. Because they do only one thing. They make burgers. No frilly and no sauce. I like that," Padraic said.
"Yeah but the one over on Hegenberger serves up junk," the Man from Minot said. "It's not like the place in Fremont."
Everyone there had to agree. The Hegenberger place really stunk; the burgers there were just too pedestrian with no effort put into them. They all hoped the new one on the Island would take a different direction. Better burger. Better fries.
Someone else recalled a joint in Escondido that was the pits while someone else recalled a joint in either Pittsburg or Petaluma where the burgers were pure heaven, especially at two in the morning.
Then there is the place on Grand Lake someone said, which has come and gone and returned in quality, and someone else said, well that is not an In-N-Out Burger so shaddup.
It was generally agreed that not all In-N-Out Burgers were the same and the jury would remain out on this one until the grill was fired up and all was said and done.
Suzie sat behind the bar and read her anthropology text for the next exam. "The Bonobo are a jovial group, averse to the internecine warfare that decimates other populations. For this reason, the Bonobo have thrived in their native habitat for many thousands of years in peace and harmony with neighboring tribes . . . .
The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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