They sat around the Formica table, nursing beers and riding out some slightly awkward spaces in the conversation. Steve’s face lit up suddenly.
“Say, I was just tellin’ Lin here about all the cool, wild places around. You know Mount Tam, Old Diablo, Point Reyes. Maybe we should take a little road trip. I would do it, but I don’t have wheels.”
“I have to work tomorrow. I could come over after work,” Random thought out loud. “we’d have the whole weekend. Yeah, that would be cool. Maybe just what I need.”
“Wow! Man just like those old days, except not hitch-hiking. Remember when we left the camp, man. That old 54 Ford that caught on fire on 101! Oh wow, that was somethin’!”
“Yeah! You didn’t even stop. We just opened the windows and hoped it would go out.”
They were both laughing hard now with Lin looking on confused.
“It went out dint it?” Steve gasped.
After their laughter subsided he turned to Lin and said, “Man here, is going to give us a tour of the greater bay area starting tomorrow. How does that sound?”
“Where is this bay aria?” Lin asked still confused.
“It’s around here south, north, east, west,” Steve explained in his gentle excitement pointing as he talked.
“We can start heading to Santa Cruz and come up around over the Golden Gate to Mount Tam and Point Reyes.” Random imagined a map as he spoke.
“Hey, we could stay at my apartment tomorrow night,” Random added warming to the idea.
“Now you’re talkin’. What do ya’ say, Lin?” Steve looked at Lin with childlike hope.
“It sounds good,” Lin said, “I would like to see more of your country than this little room, these streets and a graveyard.”
They talked a little more about the points of interest they might visit. Lin and Random talked about how well she spoke English and how China would at some point have more fluent English speakers than the US. Steve began staring up through the window over the table and peeling the label off of the empty beer bottle.
“Hey, I got gin in the car and tonic. I can’t get too drunk, but a drink or two will do me good if I can crash here tonight. “
“What about Essie?” Steve interrupted, “She usually don’t like this not coming home stuff.”
Random was snapped back into the realization that he had no one at the apartment waiting for him.
“Essie’s gone. She left this morning and took all her stuff.”
“Oh Wow, Man! That’s rough,” Steve erupted shaking his head. “Did you see it comin’ or was it total surprise?”
“I think I knew one of us had to go, but it was sudden. I’m still processing,” Random trailed off. “Thus the gin and tonic to clarify and tranquilize my spinning head.”
“Yeah! Right, well shoot yeah!,” Steve said as if waking from a short nap suddenly, “you can crash here any old time.”
Random went out to the car and grabbed the bag off the seat. As he turned back he caught a movement in the cemetery just on the other side of the chain link fence that divided it from Steve’s yard. It was a shadow taking off into the sky. He turned to look and caught the last of a large black shape disappearing over a gnarled ancient oak.
“Wow, that’s a big raven,” he said to himself. It really seemed more like an eagle. He had seen bald eagles around but not in the city, more out on the mountain or by the ocean.
He shrugged and walked down the steps to the basement door which was the color of old blood.