Chapter 92

“Plumbing the sheer depths
of your emotional seas can
bring breadth and balance.”

“If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t.”

“If I could haven’t, wouldn’t…”

“But it is, so we are, OK?”

“Well I shouldn’t, but it looks like I will…”

Make that hell on wire wheels, or at least spoked wheel hubcaps. Cliffside’s overcast had thickened through this mid-November weekend, upper level activity lighting up Doppler radar screens, to where the fog and gloomy gray morning skies shrouded UC Med Center out above #8’s west-facing corner windows, Polytechnic High School and Kezar Stadium’s light standards below, obliterating Golden Gate Park and Sutro Tower altogether. That and the onset of guest room fever were reasons enough to flee in search of coffee and spatial comfort—room to spread out remaining Prism: California particulars, and rough up a half-dozen new copy drafts for Valerie’s Sacramento Street clients, just in case.

This I found in a little post-hippie cafe on 9thAvenue called the Owl & Monkey. Lots of barn wood, hanging planters and bedspread wrapped, rickety knot-holed furniture; Loggins & Messina, Jackson Browne, Joni, weak soup and awfully cheap coffee. But plenty of window and elbow room and time to commit these scribbled notes to minimally legible yellow ruled pad. The only other word slave working longer and harder in here was some starving regular living on free peanuts, showing such an obsession with the Zodiac case that I began conjecturing that he was the mysterious serial killer himself.

“Tell you one thing, this wasn’t my fuck-up.”

“Hey, what do I know about it?”

“No shit, caviar emperor, right?”

“Something like that…” What the devil is he talking about?

“They don’t have a leg to stand on, I tell you. I didn’t put no knife to his throat.”

Odd choice of words; then again, multiple deaths had been on the whole city’s radar of late, as breaking news bulletins from Guyana began peppering in. I’d hung at the O&M well into the storefront cafe’s Saturday night open-mike musicale—namely a Windham Hilly dishwater balladeer up from Ben Lomond, 12-string acoustically strumming ‘America’ style, then relinquishing the tiny riser stage to an itinerant bearded jugband down by way of Eugene. All along, UC pre-med students and inner Sunset longhairs shy of the Haight-Ashbury buzzed about low-volume house radio reports confirming earlier rumors that something even more peculiar was playing out in Jonestown, apparently involving gunfire.

For petitions notwithstanding, Leo Ryan’s Congressional crew had headed down to Jim Jones’ exalted Agricultural Experiment with an eye toward sniffing out any foul deeds and/or funny money—to wit, tax-exempt status and mishandling of Social Security checks. Though encountering Guyanan resistance in Georgetown, and outright stonewalling by Peoples Temple staffers in Lamaha Gardens and Port Kaituma, Ryan’s delegation had finally struck a deal with Jones’ lawyers Mark Lane and Charles Garry to visit the jungle cleared compound. A bleary, sunshaded Jim Jones had grudgingly agreed to allow select members of the Ryan party access to his Jonestown paradise for a Friday night reception/inspection. Only Friday’s faux festivities, stewy dinner and a staged soulful show, had disintegrated into today’s steamy chaos and showdown: amid chilling revelations, tortured explanations, plantation/slave labor conditions, sexual abuse, desperate defections, enforced thuggery and ‘Dad’s’ increasingly incoherent harangues.

Utopia had apparently gone dystopian come sunny Saturday, the reverend having gone from devout peacenik to deluded paranoiac with a death wish, conspiracies and CIA plots closing in and crossfiring in the corroded aluminum pavilion and around the steamy compound. Ryan crew’s panicked getaway flight had reportedly been grounded by a rusty tractor and dump truck, from which Jones’s loyalist goons had evidently taken out the delegation and select ‘traitorous’ defectors in a hailstorm of bullets, kicking up dirt and gravel amid the screams and groans. Further reports, battling a 5-hour time lag, confirmed that Congressman Ryan himself, who’d had a knife pressed to his throat earlier in the visit, was among the victims whose bodies were scattered about a twin-prop DeHavilland Otter on the rainy, mud-red runway. Among the other fatalities were accompanying newsmen, with Ryan staffer, Jackie Spier in critical condition: five dead so far, injury count continuing to rise.

That jugband played bluegrass sets through this update barrage, keeping the Owl & Monkey crowd afloat over these unfathomable developments, in a caffeinated sea of stomping feet and clapping hands. But I’d had my bottomless fill for the night, drifting off to more…efficacious climes—to do once again what I periodically did in these wee hours, under cover of darkness, if not the cover of Clifford…

“So, how’s the Marina Green lot these days,” I felt the need to digress some, subject wise, once the small talk had turned to blades.

“I’m gettin’ out of there, man,” Eric nibbled at his donut with his shifting hand. “Gettin’ too hot, cops rollin’ in and out, don’t know what to make of L.T. anymore…”

“Sooo, what’s the plan?”

“Got a line on this gig in the Mission, kinda like your deals, guy needing somebody to look after his crib for a month while he’s in Cabo. It’s down off 24th Street, above a chicken taqueria and a Mexican nick-knack shop—kinda frilly, but the price is right. No good place to park my cars though, that’s why I might have to store the red Porsche in my garage…the Iranian gas station guys are lookin’ after it right now.”

By Sunday morning, a fuller if not clear picture of the Jonestown massacre had been emerging, particularly via that Cliffside bathroom radio. I’d slept in some after another densely foggy night, and an aimless drive over to more familiar ground. Fortunately, a late start and some fervent Prism rewriting at Tassajara Bakery helped keep my mind off the hellacious details and staggering body counts emanating from Guyana.

Meanwhile, the vats and cadavers kept piling up in Jonestown, according to updates throughout the evening, by the hundreds and hundreds at this point, rainbow people drinking themselves to ‘sleep’ and death in zombie droves, too many at gunpoint. These absurdly grotesque body counts made most everyone wonder how this cultish annihilation could physically, much less spiritually occur, especially when it came out that Reverend Jones himself was history via a repeater gunshot wound to that crazy cabanza of his, clean through the temple, right there on his majestic pavilion throne. That was about when the cyanide Flavor Aid punch rumors were confirmed, and shocked disbelief was suspended all around. Guyanans who had welcomed Jonestown as a revenue source were now tripping over three-layered stacks of corpses that had faithfully stepped over to the ‘other side’.

This Peoples Temple demise had proven even more horrific than initially feared, and it was all San Francisco could do to pull covers over its head in revulsion and chagrin—which was precisely what I did back at Cliffside, hoping this whole suicidal weekend would blow over.

“Really, where’d you find this place, Millbury, or…”

“Bulletin board, at the Rainbow Cattle bar.”

“Rainbow, huh,” Was thinking I’d heard that was one of those…

“Down near DuBoce, real boss,” he sped around and between some lane hugging Subarus and and Celica sedans. “They got Lone Star on tap there, good honky tonk and pool. Place used to be called Saturnalia, Janis Joplin’d sing there for her Southern Comfort. Yeah, outta check it out, just for grins.”

Unfortunately, the fog hadn’t lifted come Monday morning; in fact a smattering of hard drizzle had actually set in. Who knew what to make of the rain-slick streets, I sure didn’t, instead hiking over to a Parnassus copy shop in search of a usable typewriter, barely able to read my rough drafts as it was. Being Thanksgiving week, UC’s med students were long gone, so I had Expert Copy to myself, the counter clerk availing me of a freebie Selectric, so long as I made any resulting copies therein. Took me the day and early evening to bang out more than a dozen clean sheets, Xeroxing the stack come closing time. All along, I was radio serenaded by further casualty counts and the sheer poisonous madness of the Guyana scene, broken only by fearful speculation on rampaging Temple death squads striking closer to home, across The City, all around the Bay.

Sprinkled in were updates that Dan White had caved to conservatives’ pressure to withdraw his resignation letter, notifying the Mayor that, never mind, he wanted his Supervisor’s seat back—and Moscone was currently taking it up with his cabinet and the Board. Over the weekend, however, counter pressure had erupted as White muscled into a ‘Dump Dan’ rally in his Visitacion Valley district, while the Mayor was catching major veto heat, from Supervisor Milk on down. Prism copies safely returned to Cliffside, I munched the damp evening away in #8 with a sack of organic food store granola, perplexed as to why these developments were so unnerving when they really had little or nothing to do with me.

So when Eric had honked into the Hill Point cul-de-sac Tuesday morning, I was almost relieved. I sank down into his white 912’s shotgun bucket, but before we even wheeled out onto Parnassus, the subject of breakfast came up, as did my vanilla-macaroon granola. He was thinking the Haight’s ‘I and Though’ Coffeehouse; I suggested the Drugstore Cafe on his dime, birthday nod to me: we settled on a couple of Superior maple nut donuts and styro joe, then were off like LeMans onto 19thAvenue south. Eric quickly nosed into the traffic flow, his Porsche of choice demonstrating a four-pot acceleration that gainsaid its road salt corroded externals and plastered me against the seatback, nearly blowing the lid off my double sugar and cream. No concern to him, as he had steadied his cup in a handy molded console installed around and in front of the floorshift, complete with little dividers for his smokes, stash and a brewski or two. I kept mine between my legs, plenty warm to the crotch on a frizzly gray morning like this.

“What’s with all these envelopes here,” I asked, noticing there was nowhere to put my cup anyway, as his console slots were stuffed with engraved letterhead mail.

“Found ’em piling up in my P.O. box, guess they just kept on comin’,” Eric shrugged, avoiding them like draft notices back in the day.

“They look pretty official, that a law firm?”

“I guess, shysters for the joker who bought my blue Porsche…”

Getaway day: Eric dodged and darted around more workaday wheels as we flew past San Francisco State’s compact campus and the more sprawling, remarkably green golf courses surrounding Lake Merced. He dialed on his radio through the 280 interchange at John Daly Boulevard, KCBS still stacking up the Jonestown body count, now inflating like Susan B. Anthony coinage—somewhere between and 800 and 900 largely black men, women and force-fed children. Just then the update turned to politics, and the city attorney’s determination that Supervisor White could not legally rescind his resignation, and that only the Mayor could fill the seat. Unmoved, Eric punched up KOME and a blast of Doobies’ ‘Steamer Lane Breakdown’ into a vault two-play of ‘Listen to the Music’ and ‘China Grove’.

That carried us through the crowded, tick-tacky little boxes of Daly City, carpet bombing the hills of South City and San Bruno into tract submission amid the post-war boom—little boxes on the hillsides, little boxes all the same—at least as Pete Seeger would have it. I finished off my donut and drifted away from Colma’s boneyards, rather upwards of Skyline Drive. I envisioned how it climbed so beautifully towards Crystal Springs and Castle Rock—through those magnificently misty redwood groves above Woodside, Neil Young in country-funky Alex’s B&G, the panoramic glimpses of the vast ocean below and beyond. While who could begin to imagine what was technologically brewing in that valley on the other, eastern side of Route 35’s spine?

All that washed away however, once Highway 1 dipped past pre-holiday packed Serramonte Center, sweeping breathtakingly down toward the coast like a hang glider landing at Sharp Park Beach. The 912 coasted, shotgun backfired—approaching as we were a socked-in Pacifica and Gray Whale Cove.

“Buyer’s remorse, or…”

“Got all hostile over the deal, claiming misrepresentation and fraud.”

“But his check cleared already?”

“Naw, cash on the trunk lid,” he said, scouting Cabrillo Highway for his turnoff. “They’re saying the engine started overheating right off. That he got some mechanic to magnaflux the block and spotted some hairline cracks. Hey, I don’t know from nuthin’ about magnafluxin’, ran fine for me. I just figure they’re tryin’ to scam me—startin’ to do it by registered mail, got the yellow slips there in my glove box.”

Eric’s storage garage was the right bay of a three door metal shed amid some modest, security fenced houses tucked in the lee shadow of coastal hills off Shoreside Drive, barely between the long, L-shaped Pacifica Pier and Point San Pedro. Past anuncharted landing of boatyards and makeshift drydocks, a choppy, sea-sickening gumbo of rotting hulls, rusting scuppers and teetering abandoned dreams, wepulled up close to the triple padlocked, corrugated door. Inside was a toxic waste dump, a flamin’ dumpster load of shop tools, car parts and cardboard boxes piled to the roofline, magic marked in crabbed code. But as foreboding and/or forbidding as this mess may have been, what soon appeared over our shoulders made it positively navigable by comparison.

“That you, Torskie?” The deep, churlish voice barked suddenly into the garage slot, the first of several locals who had rolled out of a nearby black Chevy van.

“What about it,” Eric snapped back, picking up a torque wrench from his stand-up red Craftsman case.

“Torskie,” I stood aside, between full U-Haul boxes of clothes and housewares that must have dated back to his Aspen days. “That’s your last name?”

“Yeah, so?”

“How do these guys know it,” I asked, to the dusty shuffle of driveway gravel, the gradual milling of mumbling voices.

Eric said he had rented the garage when he was still unable to choose between vegetating in Santa Cruz and grazing the greener pastures of the Marina Triangle. His was two over from the closest-to-seaside slot, with a bit of space between the triptych of garages and a trailered motorboat, where he could tinker with his Porsches’s timing light and cross-manifold carburetors. Barely larger than the stacked containers on cargo ships that steamed past our Marina Triangle beachhead, the space ran him $30 per month—supposedly the going rate hereabouts for buying time to recalibrate his personal gestalt. At the moment, Eric needed his money’s worth.

“Because Raley Fletcher’s our bud,” said a lead man, squaring up in doorway, a backlit shadow of himself, his crew filing up wet and sandy beside, all dripping with consternation. “And this scumbag here’s ripped him off…”

“We heard all about you, dude,”another closed in beside him, amid a swell of damp squeaking and sliding zippers.

“Yah, you’re the dork dealin’ bogus wheels,” said a third, kicking a flurry of ground stones toward us across the garage stall’s concrete slab floor.

“Uh, I’m not the…Eric?” I moved out behind the Porsche’s half-opened passenger door, looking his way for direction.

“Yep, that’s it,” the initial figure said, now looming like a middle linebacker in the doorway. “Eric—Eric who should be selling Jags—Eric the jag-off…”

“There it is—jag-off,” howled yet another silhouette, punctuating with a high five. “Totally bitchin’, Zak.”

“What’re you talkin’ about,” Eric shouted anxiously, from the darker recesses, by all the mildewed blanket, spoiled trail food, rusting camping gear and a crumpled right front fender, on his slow, uncertain way nearer the doorframe.

“We’re talkin’ about you anglin’ our partner, dude,” said the rather massive inverted pyramid, dripping and glistening against a slightly clearing sky. “See, Raley has a little chemical problem and you took advantage of him. We’re totally chapped by that.”

“So where’s Fletcher and the car,” Eric asked, exchanging his torque wrench for a body straightening tool. “And who are you guys, anyway?”

“Just consider us your neighbors, Torskie. And like a good neighbor, we’re there.”

By neighbor, these dudes meant that they maintained their cliffside clubhouse in a secluded surfer colony up around a gravel road near Shelter Cove, sea-battered beach shacks with a craggy but basically unobstructed drop to the shore.

Visions of laid back, bleached blond Malibu beach boys on fancy pants ‘Hawk’ Velzy glossed boards in Hobie baggies, washed away in the umbra of these wave rakers. This no-BS NORCAL breed was way beyond the Chantays or Dick Dale & the Del-Tones bangin’ spring reverb Fender Stratocasters; came even way stronger than the Bel-Airs and Eddie & the Showmen. The more vocal of these particular surfers could have passed for real Wise guys, straight from that fabled Sunset District board shop—brawny, tape-measure chests pumping ironlike beneath rugged zippers drawn halfway to their navels.

“Well I didn’t do shit, man,” Eric protested, standing his ground against the garage stall’s sheet metal side wall, about where his white Porsche’s low, tapered front fender met his driver’s side door. “That you, Fletcher? C’mon, show your damn face…”

“Raley’s at work, Torskie, honest work, up at Haole’s Surf Shop,” said Mongo, at Zak’s right hand, one eye fixed on Eric’s body tool. “But we’re here on his behalf, and we want your ass out here, squid lips, like now.”

“If you ain’t Fletcher, ain’t none of your goddamn business,” Eric spouted, casting about for something heavier, more pointed.

“By the way, Eric,” I muttered, as I dug in deeper behind the shotgun side door, feeling the need to fill in some blanks. “Who’s this Fletcher, the first deposit you got or number two?”

“What the diff…?! Was the second guy who bought my blue one…”

Lean, mean in neoprene: poured into onyx steamer full suits like stand-up Mako sharks, the crew were a meld of old nose walkers, squaring up to the breaking lip on on their longboards, crouch riding inside bars and troughs all the way into the thrashing, drubbing beach breaks. These speed-pumping atavists long caught, rode the chops and wave trains, trimmed the monster sets and swells. Their brethren were younger shortboard artists, who pulled their 7′ V-bottom single finners in closer to the breaking wave face, pulling deeper into the hollow tubes and barrels—cutback carving peeling lefts and rights, from the outer bars in, to gymnastically toppling, juking the water bombs come shallower troughs. Together, they were so bound and dedicated to the waves, it was like they were a missing link between sea and land species. Indeed, no mere abalone divers on a dare, they were serious North Coast surfers, big wave hangers, hard-core ruling from Stinson and Kelly’s Cove well down Pillar Point, and Ghost Trees in Monterey.

“Oh, Christ,” I wilted, as Eric seemed to plant and stiffen against a hellacious windsock gust that could easily have moved his garage stall several meters eastward, if not pressure load it with sand and gravel. “Maybe you shouldn’t have…”

“Fuck it, man,” he replied, in the long, lethal shadow of what might as well have been called Zuma Zak and his Zodiacs.“Their bluffin, ain’t darin’ to come any closer.”

These dedicated surf riders braved frigid, ferocious Pacific waters all year long—nasty Northwest swells, immense 20′ wave face sets and the shifty riptides of Ocean Beach—ever ready for the big wave call, sunshine or winter squalls. Summer never ended for these curl junkies because summer never actually began. They thrived on hanging tough, not just hanging ten, eschewed chrome-reversed metalflake woodies for wiped-out, padlocked vans; worshipped fog banks rather than beach blankets in these gnarlier latitudes of the California Dream. The rogue wave cravers felt cheated by even one day of glassy stillness. They’d gut shark heads for kicks, whittle fins and dorsals to knifeblade sharpness, offer geeky intruders up in beach fire rituals, ward off surfer moons with all-night hooters until the Steam or Pacifico kegs ran dry and pre-dawn swells turned tubular and bodacious. Here were their waters, these were their breaks, Neptune help any lamoids crashing in, making waves. And this time, that label apparently applied to inlander hodads like us.

“You’re really stokin’ me, Torskie,” Zak exploded, pounding down hard on the Porsche’s vented trunk lid. “And I’m really disliking you, personally…”

“Yeah, c’mon, dude,” sneered another, younger surfer in a dark blue XXX-large Rip Curl long sleeve rashguard. “Let’s talk damaged merch.”

“Hey, godammit, where’s the proof,” Eric grimaced as if suffering the blow himself. He stared sorely at the surface dent, white paint around it chipping and peeling away like heat stressed cellophane. “And ease up on my wheels while you’re at it!”

“Proof’s in safe keeping, Torskie,” Zak raised his hand, threatening to come down on the trunk lid again. “More than I can say for this piece of shit.”

“Yeah, sealed and tagged like state’s evidence,” Mongo snarled. “Till the trial, dude…till the trial…”

“That is, if you make it to the trial,” Zak added, firmly tapping the trunk lid.

So much the better; no telling where the scar tissue might lead. The only thing these sea horses were showing was beaucoup brut force, looking as they did like a recombinant gene slice between Iron Man and Creatures From the Black Lagoon. Thermal wetsuited from walker booties to hood caps and beanies, these were surfers over the edge, tubed out from hot-dogging too many killer lines, teasin’ too many monster swells, couching out on their sex-waxed sticks and gun boards, going one-on-one with Big Mama’s whitewash until the next bone crusher bonzai expressed on in. Seasons ebbed and flowed, reality froze over in eternally, mercilessly pounding waves. Still they had adrenalin and their O’Neills and Quicksilvers to keep them warm, not to mention the heat generated by some inlander geeks dealing ratty wheels.

“Hey, you wanna stop messin’ with my car?!”

“Just as soon as you cough up Raley’s cash,” Zak grinned, flashing chipped, discolored teeth hardly more ingratiating than the shark’s incisor he had chained around his neck.

“Shit, no way in hell,” Eric raised his own arm, now with a breaker bar in hand. “It was a legit deal, man, up and up. If Fletcher’s got a problem with that, let him tell me, man to man, not call in goons like you.”

“Uh, Eric,” I cautioned, with an ill-contrived clearing of my throat. “There’s four of them out there, at least…”

“Hey, what are we, chopped seaweed?”

“More like chopped dog meat,” said Zak. God only knew what they were feeding on back in that surfing colony of theirs, but they each had an ‘each shit and die’ look in their eyes.

“I got your dog meat right here, Fido,” Eric pointed to his fly.

“C’mon, Zak, let’s just waste these fuckers right here and now!”

“Yeah, well, count me out,” I cried, now recounting this fearsome foursome, as they closed in tighter to the door frame. “I don’t know anything about this!”

“Then nuthin’ against you, dude,” Zak quickly bought it. “Just that dirtbag you’re hangin’ with.”

“Get in,” Eric said, sidestepping suddenly to his Porsche’s driver door. It appeared he had glanced out toward the street, spotting a Pacifica squad car rolling slowly toward the garages.

He then reached into his open window, tripping a switch on his door panel’s armrest, and his car alarm went off like a Dresden alert. Startled as much as I, the surfers pulled back, while that policeman pulled over streetside, then approached us all.

“Boys,” he nodded toward the surfers, turning toward Eric with a pained expression. “So, what’s the problem here? And kill that blasted alarm, would you…”

“Suspected there was some tampering with my garage,” Eric reached in his car to do just that. “Just taking stock…”

“Anything amiss?” The cop did the same, from the #3 garage interior to the crew who had slid over toward door #1.

“So far, so good, officer,” Eric smiled, as he hastened to yank down the door and reset his three padlocks. “Thanks much for your help…”

“No problem,” said the patrolman, standing aside as Eric slipped in behind the wheel. “Anything else?”

“Not that I can see, sir,” Eric waved him off and looked my way. “C’mon, get your ass in.”

“But what about…” I stood stunned, frozen to the passenger side door handle.

“Get in, I said,” he turned over the 912 engine. “Or stay for the noose party…it’ll be your funeral, not mine.”

“This is totally nuts,” I shuddered, crawling back into the shotgun seat, hitting the doorlock, just in case, actually beginning to wonder who were the bad guys here.

He cranked and cranked the balky flat four, having nearly as much trouble with his misaligned driver door; it screamed metal against metal, howling like a gouged sea lion when he finally forced it closed—rubber against safety glass against body filler. Something to do with the timing, Eric muttered, bending his ignition key and burying the accelerator, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. The Porsche rocked leftward violently for every rightward torque thrust of the overgrinding starter, and as the Pacifica cop ebbed, the surfers flowed closer once more.

“Cumon, goddammit,” Eric grimaced, at the stubborn bump and grind. “Start!”

“Slow down there, sleazeball,” Zak growled, his posse arcing past door #2, what with the patrol cop back in manning his radio, easing away. “We’ll crack you open like that engine block you sold Raley!”

“There, go!” At last the Porsche backfired and caught. Eric revved like a fueler rail job, jamming, trying to grind it into reverse. “We’re getting’ the fuck outta here!!”

“Mongo, get his door,” Zak shouted, “Bones, flank the shithooks on the other side. Muscle those suckers, hang on tight as your leash.”

Just as Mongo reached Eric’s door, the Porsche slammed into reverse, the surfer leaving a fat stacked glove print on the driver’s side window, not to mention a stream of hairline cracks, stress testing its safety glass membrane.

“Give it up, Torskie,” Zak growled, himself squaring up on the coupe in a blur of 4/3 mm synthetic rubber. “It’s payday, dude, and you’re the window!”

“Christ, they’re damned near yanking off the doors,” I ducked, peering panic-stricken over my shoulder, feeling like so much bull shark bait.

“Val weasel fuckers,” Mongo shouted, prying the fluky door open with sheer upper body strength from hauling longboards and outpaddling killer Northwest swells. He shot the curl and reached in to nail Eric with a skull crusher to the temple, the snap seam in his glove drawing blood.

“Way bogus, mutherfucker,” Bones yelled over the sunroom top, my door holding strong. “So shut it down, we’re warning you…”

“Hold tight, will ya?!” Eric told me. He yanked back on his flapping door as best he could, then gunned rearward, wiping out the surfers off either sidelike anchors away. His side mirror caught Mongo’s wetsuit at the opened zipper, ripping the 2/3 mm neoprene, clean as gutting a striper. With the surfer waving his fist, searching for any projectiles, he found a beach rock, which smashed his fastback window just below center pane. Eric flipped him off, and nearly took him out, power shifting into first gear and popping the clutch. Meanwhile, Zak and his board mate, Loogie appeared to scramble for their black van.

The Porsche’s twin Solex carbs spit and coughed, then metered out a sufficient fuel-air mixture to propel us the hell out of the garage area, white smoke flooding out behind like a mosquito spray truck on a stinging summer night back…home.

Overcast had soldered back in along the southern end of Pacifica, as well it should have over a town that promotionally basked in such gloom. Denizens of the fog belt’s most heavily blanketed bedroom community crawled out of the sheetrock and masonite starter tracts and bungalows, now that the glaring twenty minutes of partial midday clearing had been shoved back over the 280 freeway, where it belonged.

Pacifica proper was about as civilized as 25-cent car washes and 24-hour superettes could get, which began in narrow frontage strips to either side of the Cabrillo Highway. Eric stormed two successive flashing yellows past starboard side Ram Tough truck dealers and drive-in liquors, a fragmented shopping mall of discount foodaramas and off-label rag shops, the donut chains, RV lots and five-bay service stations. All were east of Cabrillo, not to mention glazed over with feisty little bleached hair gum snappers and flowered baggy, scabby-kneed skateboarders getting wrecked against bus stop shelters and grassy traffic islands. Their sulky eyes fixed across the highway on splotchy Pacifica Beach, the surf anglers and seal skin longboarders—an ocean vista that if nothing else separated these wasted kids from those in nowherevilles like Manteca and Madera. But even the fresh-catch grottos and mousaka tavernas off Linda Mar Boulevard weren’t on our itinerary at the moment.

Fucker got me, man,” Eric screamed, wiping sweaty blood out of his hair and eyes as we shot up San Pedro Avenue, for better or worse headed in the other direction.

“Jesus, Eric, what was that,” I asked, alarmed at the blood splatter across the driver side window, its cracks now spreading like a Pan Am route map. “What the hell just happened there?!”

“That’s their problem, just look at my car,” he kept tracking his inside rearview mirror.

The look was one of mayhem, he throttled his 912, the Solex carbs lagging in response, the four-banger sagging overall, as if it were off top dead center by a quarter turn of the distributor. Then it caught up with the petrol rush and threw shoulder gravel like some big-wave tanker the turquoise foam, righting itself only when its rear tires hit an asphalt patch of resurfaced potholes.

“Listen to yourself, Eric,” I gazed back through the coupe’s fastback window, somewhat thumbing and tipping the villainous scales. “You make it sound like you couldn’t care less if you ran that surfer guy over!”

“Damn straight,” he replied, roaring through a yellow light, north of Linda Mar Shopping Center, catching up with Cabrillo Highway to Route 1 North. Blood still trickled down his left cheek. “With a little more luck, it might have been that asshole, Raley Fletcher. Then I wouldn’t have to see him in court.”

“Like you’re saying you might have to?” It was about at that bummer of a pointbreak that I surmised this bad boy wasn’t over…”

Care for more?

Chapter 93. The hasty scramble out
town triggers a chase that
severely tests some metal…