A Slow Drive in the Hills
Jered and Essie took back Rick’s car and left the keys in it as the rusted bug did not seem a likely target for a car thief. She wrote a nice note to Rick thanking him and telling him to check the headlights.
Rick’s old man came out with a shotgun and pointed it at them and said, “Whatchoo want with that ol’ piece a crap. git outta here for I blow a hole in ya.”
“I’m jes’ leaving a note for Reek.”
“Well, he’s down at the market affer school. You can jus’ stop in an’ tell him, now git afore my patience give out.”
Jered was already in the car and starting it up when Essie jumped in.
“Hey, thanks for the support back there.”
“I thought I otta just get the car going just in case he started shooting.”
They decided to go up and find the ranch and come back for Maddie later.
They drove up along the golden grass hills and forest winding up onto the ridge of mountains that is the spine of the peninsula on one side the rocky coast of the Pacific on the other the mud flats of the south bay and silicon valley. The terrain is wild and rugged covered with thick scrub and crumbling outcrops of dark gray stone. It is the end of the range of the coast redwood more spreading pines, cedar, and cyprus, bay laurel, and madrone as well as scrubby oaks, birches and aspen trees all tangled with berries, manzanita, and poison oak with large plush green leaves. It was a pleasant drive, and Essie was beginning to relax into old easy friendship with Jered. They found the turnoff to the gravel road and the Porsche clunked and chunked over the rocks. Jered winced with every rattle and clunk, but nothing broke. He creeped the car along caustiously, and it took them quite a while to reach the gate with the sign.
“Yep, this looks to be the place I saw. I guess we should go back and find that wild girl photographer of yours and come back. It won’t hurt to be a little early back in town. We could get something to eat and make a few plans.”
‘Sounds right to me. You have really changed honey. No more crazy boy in you that used to drive me crazy.”
“Yeah, I guess I have matured a little. I actually make plans and attend meetings. Kinda weird. Random was the one I expected to go this way not me.”
They talked as they drove back into town, Two old friends who used to be lovers.
A Winding Road into Afternoon
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. 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 The 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. she wants some lunch. That girl is always hungry.”
“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,” Random said climbing into the driver’s seat.
“And I am always up for a good weird road trip, and this was no slouch, no sir.” Steve finished off the commentary as they 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 I jam down the 280. He was moving out the door toward the car. Bianca would have to wait.