Gomer ascended the steps out of the Embarcadero BART Station onto Market St. He peered down to the waterfront and saw the clock tower. He hoisted his sack onto his good shoulder, the other one was still a little sore from when he hit the ground when the rope unraveled during the reenactment of Sheriff Hawthorne's staged hanging, at the fall festival. At least the sun burned maple didn't drop a branch on him in the process. The rope simply let go and he was sent tumbling.
He looked around and took a deep breath. He loved San Francisco. He had a few days to kill so he decided to stay in town, after all, life shouldn't just be centered around work. He eyeballed someone across the street who caught his eye. How weird, It was the kid who was frantically dancing in front of him at the show last night. The Hook Nosed Satans played on a double bill in a warehouse in Oakland, the previous night. There were about 2,000 people there. And from the sounds of it many were there to see him. The party was hosted by a bunch of Burning Man folks who had some of their large contraptions on hand for additional entertainment.
The kid was wearing the same clothes as he had been the night before. Gomer doubted he had slept at all, considering how on the edge the kid seemed during the show. Gomer kept an eye on the kid from the side of the stage during the intermission between the opening band and the Satans and decided he was harmless. He sure as shit was into the music. Still, Gomer hoped he was not to be recognized now that it was daylight and he was in his civvies.
He looked drastically different from the guy who would stand on stage in all black with a long black cloak, combat boots and a porkie pie hat. His stage persona, Gomer Shabbos, looked as hard and ethnic as the music he presented. His long, dark, wavy hair was often unrestrained and he wore dark, half moon spectacles as he stepped and gyrated his way through the set often waving his clarinet around as if it were a baton, as he was directing the band. The Hook Nosed Satans kept the groove, thumping along beside him as he growled out some of the crowd's favorite tunes. Now, as he traversed the foggy streets of San Francisco, he was simply Gomer.
He did some shopping at the farmer's market, and headed back to the Embarcadero station to hop on the Muni. As he was walking along Market street, he envisioned fleeting glimpses of what the Barbary coast looked like back in the day when Sheriff Hawthorne made his way out west to wine and dine his idol, Mark Twain.
Shortly after he hopped the train, he was on Mission St. He was humming the Jerry Garcia song, Mission in the Rain as he strolled in a light down pour, taking it all in. To his left was a brick wall which was colorfully adorned with a Mexican mural.
He found the spot he was looking for, a coffee shop he and his father had been to many times before. He stepped out of the cool foggy drizzle and into the heady warmth of the shop. He looked at the pastry case as he ordered his brew, a dark roast which was so strong and rich which no amount of cream was capable of lightening up. As he poured over the pastries he heard his father saying in his head,
"The look good, but they are nothing like Iva's Blueberry Muffins."
Gomer missed his dad, he hoped he was doing well. Gomer found a seat in the crowded shop. He was powering up his his laptop as an unmistakable sitar riff, courtesy of George Harrison filled his ears. He heard the opening lyric for the song. "Each day rolls on by ..." He looked up as he waited for the computer to fire up, and waited and waited while contemplating what if he put a klezemer twist on the song. It would be a good cover he thought. a good song for the middle of the second set, one where they could stretch out a bit.
He sipped his coffee. Whew! Rocket fuel, not like they make the coffee at the Oddfellow's, that's for sure. He gazed over the rim of his cup, shifting in his seat as a cute blonde, perhaps a few years older than he, made michievous eye contact and smiled in his direction. He nodded and smiled back. There was progress on the screen.
He opened up his word processing program and began to read something he had been working on. It was a semi auto biographical account of the circumstances leading up to his arrest and eventual surrender to the lifestyle of recovery.
"We were in the South end of Dana, it was about three o'clock in the afternoon. My nose was starting to run, my stomach ached and I was having difficulty keeping my eyes open. The dope sickness was getting worse. I began to drift away when I was startled by my companion, a Puerto Rican chick named Iris. She shouted loudly in Spanish into the phone and then switched to English,
"Hold on, hold on .... JOSE! Hold on." She nudged me and motioned for me to take what was in her hand.
"You're falling alseep, you need a hit." She handed me a glass tube opaquely clouded with brownish funky resin, her thumb over one end concealing the precious cargo. I slightly stumbled. She pulled back.
"Don't drop this brick, motherfucker!" She said as she motioned once more for me to take the pipe. I took a deep hit and held it in.
I felt the crack searing through my brain. it sounded like a fleet of helicopters were heading in my direction. I began to float a little bit. I exhaled and felt the rush overcome me.
Iris went back to her conversation. I began to feel a little nauseated. The copter blades kept whirring, then began to subside, I wasn't going to puke, not this time. I was startled again as Iris held the phone in front of her and barked.
"Jose, JOSE ... Escuchame! I'M SICK, MOTHERFUCKER! I NEED TO GET OFF E! She then simmered her tone down pleading.
"Jose, por favor. What? Five minutes, bless you." She hung up.
"Fucking Dominican fuck ... the niggah sez he wants to go to the gym first. Give me the stem ..." I didn't realize I was still gripping it in my hand. Her phone rang again. She looked at the screen, rolled her eyes and flipped it open, muttering,
"I am not, motherfucking well ...WHAT?!" She listened.
"Where you is?" She waited for a response. She began shaking her head.
"NO, no ... we were there twenty minutes ago. Where were you? ... Huh? I told you to meet us outside the house." She listened again, shaking her head.
"Smoking a brick ... save you a hit? Shit. If you was where you s'posed to be at you be smokin' a brick, too." She listened.
"Yeah, I've got more ... what you mean you don't have any money, well, go get some." I looked over at Iris and she was handing me the pipe back. She pointed to the phone and whirled her finger around her ear doing the international crazy symbol.
"What do you mean what are you gonna do? Go out and suck a dick, get $40 dollars." there was more silence.
"You don't have to do anything just go stand outside on the street, someone will pick you up. We'll be there in 25 minutes." As she hung up the phone she was unrolling her window and guy in a sweat suit rolled up to the car, she hopped out and was back in seconds.
"Let's get go ... Give me your needle, we need to get off E ..."
Gomer heard someone clear their throat. He looked up, it was the woman who had smiled at him a few minutes ago. She was holding a poster which advertised the show last night.
"You're Gomer, right?"
"Yes." He flipped the laptop down, slightly embarrassed by what he was just reading.
She handed Gomer the poster with a sharpie.
"You're from Muskrat Flats, huh?"
"Yeah, have you ever been there?"
"No, but I'd like to. You guys totally rocked last night."
"Wow, this is one of the posters from the show last night? I've never seen it!"
"I know, I made it, I'm an artist."
"Very nice, can we use this, uh ..."
"Miranda, my name is Miranda. Of Course you can Gomer, I'd be honored."
He signed the poster.
"I've got to go, maybe we will meet again when I come to the Flats?"
"Yes, that would be great, my friends run the Farm museum, we can show you around."
"Yeah, I'll email you ... I love blueberry muffins. I want to try the ones you are always writing about."
She smiled and walked away, looking over her shoulder for one last glance as she did so. Gomer simply sat there stunned, even speechless.
He was amazed at the experience he just had. He thanked his higher power and he thanked Jerry. Why else other than his affection for that song would he be in the Mission, in the Rain?
He let out a deep sigh of satisfaction and smiled. San Francisco, great music, beautiful women, love at first sight. Can there ever be a better reason for ...
Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats?