All The Sparkling Fishes In the Stream
That night in Essie’s room a forest grew and became the world all around. It was a forest like the one on the Orinoco. She went down to get water from the stream behind the thatch topped house. In the water silver fishes gleamed and crisscrossing over the smooth round stones, faces into the current. She looked at the stones on the bank and found a perfect skipping rock and flung it sidearm spinning across the surface of the water. The stone glided kissing the water many times before landing on the other side with an echoing thunk which scattered the fish. They disappeared to shadows on the edges of the stream.
She was looking by the edge of the water in the singing reeds for someone, but could not remember his name. He had something to do with the fishes and a mission that had something to do with a great tree and a turtle. It was all so unclear.
She parted some cattails and saw a face reflected in the black stagnant water at the swampy brink of the stream. There was the reflection of a man with golden glowing eyes the rest of him was silhouette. She jumped back and looked behind her and there were the walls of a fortress and when she looked back there was a bridge. She knew she could wait no longer and started crossing the bridge which was a pipe about 10 feet in diameter and rope at either hand to steady her. The pipe was slippery and after slipping to one side and the other and just clinging to the ropes she decided that going backwards she could get more traction. As she reached the other side a man in white came along the wall searching and leaning this way and that.
She tried to call out but no sound came from her mouth she jumped and thumped on the pipe, but he could not see or hear her.
He came to the pipe and went down into the foliage and did not come up again. Essie waited and woke up waiting.
Maddie ran home hooting and leaping, skipping and singing. She came charging in. Debbie and Matt were once again parked amid snack foods and beer on the sofa with a movie on.
“What’s got inta you, Missy.” Debbie with attitude.
“Nothin’ jes’ happy ta be home were I am loved and respected,” Maddie sent the attitude right back.
“Don’choo talka me at way, missy,” Debbie slurred a little around the edges.
“I’m goin’ up ta do my homework. Any calls?”
“No we jus’ got back, Hey were you been all this time.”
“I left you a note. Dincha read it,” Maddie said handing her the note.
“You was out at the ol’ piss hole hunh. I din’t think nobody went there no more,” Matt said reading the note over Debbie’s shoulder.
“They don’t. I do. That’s why I go there.”
“I don’t know why you are so antisocial alla time.”
“I am not antisocial. I jus’ choose my friends in stead of lettin’ them choose me.”
“Well you better get outa my face with at attitude, Missy less you want me all up in yo face with some attitude of my own.”
“I’ll be up here studying my attitude.”
As Maddie stomped up the stairs, she heard Matt say.
“That girl gotta mouth on her. You should put her in her place,”
“Whatchoo know about raisin’ girls. I don’ need no sidelines coach.”
“Awright I’m jus’ sayin’.” Matt finished then silence.
Maddie was too wired to settle down with her schoolwork so she put on some headphones and turned on her boom box. She had it set to the classic rock station out of San Jose. It came in crackly but good enough to dance to.
It was Led Zeppelin “It’s Been A Long Time” and she began a stompy dance to Bonzo Bonham’s baseball bat beats. She always made up her own words and the moves were all hers too.
Random had studied the map before he left and knew the roads he wanted to take. They retraced their drive from Mendocino through Booneville to Cloverdale. The last 10 miles of that road was curving up and over a ridge and down into Sonoma county. They stopped for milk shakes and French fries at the Frosty Freeze in Cloverdale it was 10 O’clock am, and Random was ready to go so they ate and drank in the car. Lin loved milk shakes, wasn’t as fond of French fries greasiness and kept wiping her hands and wrinkling her doll-like nose. Random drove south to Geyserville and cut off onto 128 through the heart of wine country. They blew threw Calistoga and ST. Helena. Random had not said much and Lin and Steve dozed.
“Jack London lived around here and died about 5 miles east of here.”
“White Fang that was a great book, and Call of the Wild, I loved that one when I was kid.” Steve said.
“Did you know he was a socialist?” Random said.
“There you go bringing politics into it again,” Steve said shaking his head. “Tha man could write. Yeah, he could write.”
“He wrote a book about being a hobo and riding the rails, before Woody Guthrie and Kerouac were born.”
“Yeah, and he worked a Yukon claim too. He lived a life, Man!”
They headed on south through Napa and Vallejo and over the bridge to Martinez and Concord and up to a little town called Clayton and up a gravel road onto the mountain.
“This is Mount Diablo. When we get to the top you should be able to see at least 100 miles in every direction.” Random said as they bounced and rumbled up the rough road.
When they reached the top. They looked out over the great valley and Sacramento River delta to the north and the patchwork hills fading into flat valley to the east and south and to west hills and then City in a shroud of fog.
“On a clear day you can see the Sierras off that way, and the Pacific Ocean on the west,” Random sat down on the hood of the car and moped a little remembering the fine blue day, though the wind was bitterly cold for their summer clothes, They could see what seemed like the whole state. It was a great feeling to be alone in such vastness with someone who filled your soul and emptied it with simple gestures of her hands, movements of her lips, they way her body showed him how she felt.
“Lin’s cold, Man and she wants some lunch. That girl is always hungry, I tell you.”
“Thank you for taking me here. This whole trip has been quite interesting.” Lin said as she came back to the car.
”Your welcome, I kinda found it enlightening too.”
“And I am always up for a good weird road trip, and this was no slouch no sir.” Steve finished off the commentary as the all climbed into the car. And headed back to Steve’s place.
Random dropped them and headed back over the bridge. He walked into to his apartment at 2:15 in the afternoon and hit his message machine on his way to the fridge for a beer.
There was Emmylou’s message and a message from Bianca. He was so unraveled by the first message he did not hear what Bianca said.
3:30, thought Random I might make it if jam down the 280. He was moving out the door toward the car. Bianca would have to wait.
Ominous black clouds loomed in the southern sky and a chill wind blew. Random went to the back of the car and pulled our his jacket. He got in and roared off for the freeway south. He found an apple in the jacket pocket and realized he had hardly eaten. He ate the apple while negotiating the freeway onramp and on around past Daly City. A feeling of panic was rising in him little by little. He tried to examine it, but he could not get too close without it vanishing like smoke, drifting away staying just out of reach. As he passed Millbrae he began going through all that had happened in the past four days and trying to make some sense of the dreams and real life weirdness. By the time he reached Burlingame he had figured out it all had to do with the black bird and symbols on the cards, and then as he passed the off ramp east to San Mateo, he knew he was being manipulated by some power, but his love for Essie was more important than the feeling of annoyance at being used like a pawn in some game of spiritual chess. He passed the City reservoir, Crystal Springs, and realized he was driving along the San Andreas fault. Golf courses sprang up to the left and he was passing Stanford University and a sign for The Veterans Memorial Cemetary and Page-Mill Rd. He realized the engine was straining and looked at the speedometer. He was doing 90 and coming up on cars very fast. He slowed to 60 as he started to hit the afternoon traffic around Sunnyvale and silicon valley. It was 3 on the dot.