ON HE RODE — Chapter 14

So the way this works is you slip this GM Key to Greater Value into this chrome slot here to the right of the steering column, then you turn it so it’s exactly straight up and down and the dashboard lights, needles, and gauges are alive and talking to you. Then you push the clutch pedal all the way down with your left foot, push the chrome starter button with your left index finger, and hope for the best.

The best doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. Dalliance with Sigrid and King made me forget I was commander of a ship whose less-than-perfect state needs constant attention and governance. Basically, it needs to be started every three or four hours. Or be parked on a hill.

Parked at flat sea level for over five hours, it’s the starter or nothing. No hills here. Eventually, several teasing “almosts” later, it’s the starter. Whew! Do I believe in miracles? Why not?

To be sure, it’s not all smooth sailing. Something there is inside this balky, babbit-bearinged six-banger that does not love briny oil and tries to decontaminate itself in the same way a steam calliope tries to make music — not very damned well. Eventually they settle into an arhythmic compromise with their original intention and the parade stumbles forward.

So I’m stumbling along behind the wheel, thinking well maybe Sigrid and King decided to come back via the road and we’ll all just pile into the car together and wend our way toward ever more exciting adventures. Sigrid was right about one thing — I’m kinda nutty sometimes. Gee, thanks for telling me. I never woulda noticed. Is there a name for my condition? How about nut job? Too many possible meanings. But maybe that’s what makes it good? Nut job: Is one? (Aren’t we all?) Or needs one? (Don’t we all?) You choose.

There are more roads than you might guess on the California coast, and, as you might guess, they all connect to Highway 101. Somewhere. The quiet one I’m on has appealing as well as forbidding qualities and possibilities. On the one hand, it’s rustic and peaceful. And quiet. Too quiet?

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow? Really? This whole woods is shadow. Do I chance spending the night banked up inside some arterial wide spot? Or just keep keeping on? Any chance of running across Sigrid and King? Not unless they want to be run across. No chance. In other words.

So here I am out in the middle of the night in the middle of a car and a corporeal body that both need servicing. At least that’s how I imagine it. But what if I imagine that my car, my body, my very existence on this good Earth, fall under the jurisdiction of the same God who made us and put us here for . . . what? His amusement? Ours? Do we find ourselves amusing? Well, why not, absurd aberrations that we are? But of course we find ourselves wonderfully entertaining. Talk about your Trees of Mystery, how about your Blockheads of Mystery or History or Hysterectomy or whatever we are meant to be? God’s court jesters, is that it? Do you think we’re funny, God? Is that why You made us, toys for a rainy day?

Do You ever check us out to see how we’re doing, or are we one of those scientific experiments designed to be so long-term we’re kind of overlooked in the daily running of things? Are we on our own? Or are we in this together? You and us? I and Thou? Do we have a choice? Let’s assume that we do.

Let’s say we’re in this together and that I accept Your authority over me in all things. Let my prayers affirm our contract and commitment to its tenets, of which there will be only one, The Golden Rule. I trust that You will let me know when I am in violation and provide corrective restraint and assistance. Prayer One: Please guide me to a good place to spend this night. Amen.

It pleases me to report that that is exactly what happens. After a remarkably invigorating night’s sleep, I wake up to the rumbling of big, yellow heavy haulers, a convoy of county road maintainers out doing their best to keep us all on the level. And also to a sort of internal messaging service telling me should I get moving now I figure to land square on the beachfront bar, the NO NAME, specializing in Anchor Steam Beer, a proud brew of local, Sausalito, CA. origin. Orson Welles once set a major film there. My internal messaging service

tells me to go there.

The itinerary is obliquely specific. Don’t worry about the car’s lube job. It’ll be fine. Sausalito, a waterfront neighborhood of San Francisco, offers temporary respite and a more definite sense of long-term direction. It may offer weed. Don’t ask how I know these things. They come to me sometimes when I least expect them. Like now, when I’ve got absolutely nothing else on tap or in bottles. Anchor Steam down the road. Why not?

Let’s say we arrive thirsty at the NO NAME late in the afternoon, quaff an Anchor Steam or two, and read the signs. What signs? We’ll know when we see them. And what to make of them? We’ll see. Won’t we?

Now that I’ve decided not to service my Chevy and just let Nature Take Its Course, a huge burden has been lifted. Instead of trying to predict or control the future, chancy at best, I’ll just ride on into it, follow its suggestions, bask in its revelations. It’s really quite a lovely morning to be driving down the Coast of California. I mean.

Rolling along at an easy 45-50, windows open to cool, salty air, the saline solution to all life’s problems — their acceptance. Really? Really nutty? Yeah, well.

Talk story

Leave one comment for ON HE RODE — Chapter 14

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to its use of cookies.