A Day at the Beach / a Night on the Town
Random got out of the car and looked around in the early morning light. He knew the spot. They were just down the hill from the farm school. The image of the black bird faded into a feeling of anticipation for the day ahead. They could eat some bread and jam and have orange juice and go on up to the school and then down to the ocean at Half Moon Bay on the way to his place, spending the evening in San Francisco. He could take them out to Maye’s Oyster House or to the little Japanese place around the corner from his house with the perfect Unagi. He thought all this as he pushed his way through the 20 feet of underbrush to the little patch of ground where the tent was pitched, but as he approached the tent he heard the sounds of movement and quiet but heavy breath, and decided to go back to the car and fix a little breakfast for himself.
After about a half an hour, Steve and Lin appeared disheveled and pleasantly relaxed, tent and bags in hand.
“And now for the ocean!” boomed Steve taking a big breath of cool air.
“We’re pretty close to my old school. I wanted to go check it out. Then we could head down to the ocean. We could go to a beach I know by Half Moon Bay.”
“Well, OK, sounds like a plan,” said Steve making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “A Man with a plan. Your always the man with the plan.” He continued in a singsong mumble, chuckling to himself.
“I am interested to see this farm school. What was it like?”
“It would be hard to explain, but it was a working farm with houses where students and teachers lived. The students and teachers worked together to raise livestock and grow food, and generally keep the place running. There were a lot of musicians and artists as well.”
“It sounds very fascinating to have teachers and students living in the same houses.”
“Yeah, the horny old buggers after the pretty young thangs, I’m sure,” Steve laughed and took a bite of his sandwich.
“You had girls as well as boys.”
“Well yeah, it was the 70’s. Adults kinda went adolescent in the 70’s. It was a hippy school, founded and run by hippies. Do you know what hippies are?”
“I am not totally familiar with this term.”
“They were dope smokin’, free lovin’, easy goin’ wierdos with long hair,” Steve explained, “Kinda like myself somewhat.”
“Some of them were. Some of them were monogamous and didn’t do drugs. We even had college professors who came to teach upper level math and science, but they didn’t live there.”
“Well are we gonna jaw all day or are we gonna see this place and get to the ocean,” Steve said in his cheerful rumble.
Random packed up the supplies and threw them in the back of the car, and they were off up the hill. The turn off was 5 miles up, and it was another mile on a tortuous one and a half lane gravel road with deep potholes and chunks of rock that Random had to slalom around. Finally after a tooth-rattling ride they came to a gate. Above it, there was a large wooden sign supported tree trunk posts. The sign was a painting of a large golden brown eagle perched on a redwood tree.
Eagle Tree Ranch
Was painted in large dark blue letters in the sky of painting. And hanging on a chain underneath was a small wooden placard that read:
On the gate was a printed sign:
For Tours of the Ranch Call: 789-3553
Thank You for respecting our privacy.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to call and come back some other time,” said Random.
“Yep, you don’t wanna bug nice private people in their forest compound. You’re liable to get shot,” Steve added.
Random slammed the car into reverse and backed around and tore back toward the main road swerving madly around the potholes. He drove with confidence. It was a solid car and handled well even though it was over 10 years old and had many miles on it. Random trusted the car.
“I’ll call that number when I get back to my place.”
“Do you think it will be very different now to see this place after so many years?” Lin asked having to raise her voice over the sound of popping gravel and the rattling of loose items in the back.
“I’m sure it will be a lot different. I wonder who owns it, what they’ve done with it.”
They drove to the beach by Half Moon Bay, and spent the day building driftwood forts and playing in the sand and cold water. They got some beer and chips, went back and watched the waves and talked quietly.
Lin told them of her life in a Chinese city. She worked in a rope factory on a big twining machine 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 6 months and was paid very little and finally was not paid at all for a whole month.
Her brother was sick of that life and found someone who would help them escape to America. They were packed in separate containers and shipped. She did not know where her brother ended up and had no way to find out, as she had lost all of her papers and was shipped to the wrong port. Maybe he went to the port at Long Beach where family was watching for them.
Random told her that he could drive her down to Long Beach in a couple of weeks and help her look around for her folks. Steve said he’d be up for that.
“Let’s do it,” Random suddenly felt at home in world again like he had fallen into his body from a small infinite distance.
After their quiet time on the beach they headed up the coast and over into the City to Random’s apartment, where they stashed everything while Random made reservations at Maye’s. He insisted he could afford it and wanted to treat Lin to some great Italian food and fancy dining.
Random found some slacks that he had not hemmed yet for Steve and a nice shirt and skirt for Lin that Essie had left hanging among his gray shirts. They were a little on the big side but Lin was able to quickly make them usable with a needle and thread.
They took the trolley downtown to avoid parking problems and walked around until 8:00 when their reservations were ready. They went to Maye’s and had wonderful Italian food served by tuxedoed waiters. Random felt so generous and free and yet sad as he had done all of these things with Essie many years ago.
They rode the bus back, sleepy and worn from the sun and night walking in the cool city. They had done so much in a day. Life seemed full and limitless.
Random insisted that Steve and Lin take the bed. He did not mind sleeping on the couch. They talked a little more over the last of the beer and went bed. Agreeing that they should go first thing across the Golden Gate into Marin and at least make it to Point Reyes and maybe come back by way of Mount Diablo.
Random fell asleep in a confused state. He felt loose and shattered in his sudden freedom.