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Posts Tagged ‘Automobile’

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 
I  sit here this morning in my favorite chair in Peter and Barrie’s house typing this while Naida sits at the table across the room reading the newspaper, her coffee cup at the ready by her right hand. Barrie has gone out into the misty morning to walk Ramsey. Peter has disappeared upstairs to prepare for the day. Boo-Boo the Barking Dog has just finished barking at imagined threats to the safety of the household and now lies quietly, head between paws, on the black sofa to my left. It is a good beginning to the day.

Naida and I arrived last night and today I intend to spend most of the day at the hospital for my immunotherapy infusion.

We agreed that Naida would spend the day here tending to the dog while I went to the hospital. I got into the car and had driven part of the way from Noe Valley to Mission Bay when I decided to check my wallet for my identification and credit card. I could not find either of them. In panic, I returned to pick up Naida so that at least I would have someone with me with the means to pay for whatever may be needed. Later I discovered the missing cards were in my wallet exactly where they were supposed to be. And so, another senior moment passed through my life.

The only interesting thing that transpired at the hospital was the doctor informing me that my previous CT scans seemed to show cancer spreading. Adding, however, that it was so small he could not hazard a guess at to what it may mean. So, he ordered new scans to be done before my next infusion and assured me that even if they do show some spreading of cancer he has me scheduled for participation in some clinical trials.

The next morning, after we left Peter and Barrie’s house, we stopped at Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero for breakfast with Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony asked me to tell some stories as he has begun to take an interest in family history. I told a few of them including my midnight knife fight in the dark alley’s of Istanbul in the early ’70s. We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 

B. THE SATURDAY MORNING COFFEE.

 
The following morning we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. It was our “dear leader” Gerry’s birthday and so a cake with candles brought out and we all sang happy birthday to her. Later Winnie came over to where I was sitting. We told each other a few stories. She mentioned that Ducky, the woman in the group whose white hair was always perfectly coiffed had some interesting stories also. Ducky lived and traveled in many places in the world with her husband who was in charge of a US submarine squadron. Winnie felt one of Ducky’s stories where she had been kidnapped at knifepoint in Japan, I would enjoy hearing. So, she called Ducky over and left. I asked about the kidnapping. Ducky, said “it was nothing as serious as a kidnapping. It was more like being taken hostage.”

She explained that they were living in Japan at the time and she had gone to the bank. As she approached the teller, a Japanese man rushed up behind her, grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and demanded the teller give him money or he would kill the American lady. Ducky was proud of the fact that somehow for some unknown reason she had the presence of mind to signal to the teller to call the embassy. The teller cleverly gave the thief two large bags heavily filled with coins to slow him down as he made nis getaway. The thief then dragged Ducky and the bags of coins across the floor of the bank and out into the street where he threw her down and tried to make his escape. Unfortunately for him, weighted down with the coins, he was quickly subdued by two policemen armed only with batons.

What happened later was the most interesting part of the story. Everyone, the thief, Ducky, the tellers, bystanders, and the two policemen were all taken to police headquarters, placed in a large room together where they sat around a table and each gave their account of the events. Then they were all taken back to the bank where they each, in turn, had to reprise their role and movements in the drama. They then were all returned to the station to review their statements once again. After about 12 hours of this, the embassy secured Ducky’s release. But wait there is more.

A few weeks later, Ducky received a visit from the parents of the thief. Apparently, following the trial, the parents were ordered to seek her forgiveness. Much to her embarrassment, they then crawled across the floor to lie at her feet and apologize for their son’s behavior.

Still later, she was ordered to appear at the prison to view the cell in which the miscreant was imprisoned. The cell she was shown was a small room. She was told that ten prisoners were kept there. The only things in the room were sleeping mats on the floor and a bucket by the wall. The jailer assigned to the room, she was told, checks the prisoners very closely every night because if one of them escaped the jailer himself would have to take his place. Finally, she was informed that when the thief in question was let out of prison he would be prohibited from appearing in public without a member of his family accompanying him.

 

 

C. SMOGY THINGS.

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Naida drives a white 1991 Mitsubishi sports car. It is the model that allows one to choose a touring or sports mode as they drive. In sports mode, the car can reach into the 180 mph range. Alas, while seeking to re-register the car for 2019 (yes, we are grossly late), it failed its smog test. As a result, we agreed to switch cars (she the Toyota Forerunner and I the Mitsubishi) while I set about doing whatever needs doing in order to secure the smog clearance. We first sought the opinion of something called a “smog referee.” That worthy, we were told, was supposed to assist people whose automobiles fail the smog test. “Not so,” he said. His job, he informed us, was to do the same smog inspection as had previously been done. And so he did with the same results. So, after that, in order to find someone who could to the proper repairs required to enable the car to pass the smog test, I enlisted the assistance of my grandson, who had worked for a few years in an auto repair shop, as well as Hayden and the Scooter Gang — they were at that age when adolescent boys obsess about all things automotive.

On Monday, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to confer with my automotive consultant, Hayden. He informed me that he and the gang reviewed the referee’s report and believed that the repairs to the engine required to bring it into compliance should not be too expensive. He agreed to seek out some estimates.

While driving back to the Enchanted Forest, I realized how much I enjoyed driving a sports car and decided to try to persuade Naida to make the switch of automobiles permanent.

 

 

D. AT NIGHT WITH NAIDA AND ANNABELL LEE.

 

 

One night, perhaps it was the same night, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills, Boo Boo the Barking Dog lay strangely quiet on the chair beside me. Naida sat at her computer happily pounding the keys in order to produce the words that will eventually make up volume two of her memoir. I, in my black vest over a red sweater, sat in my favorite reclining chair, my laptop set properly upon my lap, flipping through the poems in one of my favorite poetry sites (PoemHunter) when I happened to strike with the curser a tiny arrow and a somewhat reedy voice with what sounded like a British accent emerged and filled the room with a recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabell Lee.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

And so on.

The dog raised his head for a moment then returned to sleep. Naida suddenly stopped typing, turned from the computer and began reciting the poem word for word along with the narrator. When they both had finished, she sprang from her chair and exclaimed, “He said it all wrong. He sounded like he was selling aspirin. He is no poet or actor. To Poe, this was highly emotional. There were angels and demons and sadness and loss.” She then sat back down and returned to her typing. Shortly thereafter she got up and took the dog for a walk.

Later after Naida and I went to bed, the dog joined us, nestled in and quickly fell asleep knowing he would have to wake up early the next morning to begin barking in order to protect the house from the ravages on rebid squirrels and itinerant leaf-blowers.

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Yesterday, I drove to and returned safely from the mall. Just before braving the “real” Thai streets, I practiced driving around the subdivision in order to get my turns straight and condition myself for driving on the right side of the street that here is the left. That’s another problem. Not only do I have to remember the rules of the road but I have a semantic problem as well, so I do not know what I am talking about. Did you know the test for a driver’s license in Thailand, in most jurisdictions, consists solely of a depth perception test?

I learned yesterday that they (whoever “they” are) have prohibited the construction of new commercial structures in the subdivision. Turning part of your home into a shop or restaurant is apparently excepted.

The fundamentalist Christian missionaries, that I mentioned in a previous post, who were sent here to convert the little brown Buddhists to the pleasures of hellfire and brimstone, are being criticized for acting as though they are exempt from Thai law and treating the locals like they do not exist. The huge Christian high school, filled with tall blond blue-eyed teenagers and containing endless sports fields, has been willy-nilly throwing up three and four-story classroom and “dormitory” buildings in the subdivision. It also forces native Thais and not people of European descent to pay a fee if they want to attend their charity garage sales. In addition, the school charges the residents a fee for using the subdivision’s own health club because it is located on the School’s leased land. What this demonstrates to me is that the politics of HOA’s are the same everywhere.

On Friday I get to leave this island of western pretensions and travel to Mae Rim and see the elephants, tigers, monkeys, snakes and whatever.

Joe…

Today’s photo: the view from the covered patio towards the “Sala”. During the day when I am not napping, I can usually be found in either the patio or Sala.

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It was late, Meg had spent a few hours at private investigator Fat Al’s offices reviewing with him the chaotic and seemingly unconnected information he had assembled about Red Star, The Brethren, Vincent Biondi, Sam Coign and Coign’s his law firm. She was sure something in that mess of documents could help her clear up the cause of Stephanie Coign’s death. Later they had dinner together at a little restaurant near the office where they swapped cop stories.  A call from Ray interrupted them: Vince Biondi and someone else was involved in a shootout at a posh hotel in downtown.

They drove down to see for themselves. Fat Al’s retired cop badge and her uniform got them past the police lines. Fat Al spoke with a few of his old colleagues in homicide. It seems the police believed that it was a gangland shooting of some sort. Three people were dead. The hotel’s restaurant staff and four diners had been herded into the large freezer in the kitchen by five armed men. The three dead bodies had been identified as some of the intruders.

Apparently, their target had been some other diner or diners among whom were a middle-aged man and a quite beautiful woman seated by the maitre’d before he was hustled off into the freezer by the gunman. He told the police that he had recognized the man because he had eaten there a few weeks ago with a striking tall hawk nosed woman.

Unfortunately, when they checked they found the reservation book page had been torn out. Al was sure the police investigators would go through the prior reservation lists to try to identify the diner. Meg and he both agreed was probably Vince. It would take them a few days to identify him Al guessed.

After about an hour she decided there was nothing more to learn there. She got back into her cruiser and began the drive back to Half Moon Bay and home.

She approached the incline that rose to pass along the edge of the cliff called Devil’s Slide, where Stephanie’s automobile, like so many others, had slid off the road and crashed into the rocks and surf below. She now was convinced Stephanie’s death was not an accident. She also was sure that somehow it was connected to tonight’s events at the restaurant. Stephanie had begged Vince to meet with her. She said she wanted to share with him some information about her husband’s death. But, she died the night before they could meet. Now someone had tried to kill Vince, or was it the woman he was with? why?

Preoccupied with her thoughts, her car climbed the hill and entered the narrow winding and often impassable road that traversed Devil’s Slide itself. The fog had begun to creep across the road making it slick and the looming curves hard to see. But she had driven this road many times before and knew it like the back of her hand. She chuckled and wondered where that expression came from. Did anyone really know the back or their hand all that well? She raised her hand to look at it and glanced into her rearview mirror. She saw a car following her closely, too closely. Stupid for someone to follow a police patrol car that closely; just looking for a ticket she thought. Then she noticed the car speed up and felt the impact as it plowed into her rear bumper. Her vehicle skidded and went out of control.

Meg had not spent the greater part of her non-working, waking hours taking innumerable high-performance driving courses for no reason. It was her hobby. So, she called upon that expertise, quickly manipulated brake and steering wheel to regain control of her vehicle, even on the crumbling unstable verge along the unbarricaded edge of the cliff and soon found herself behind her attacker. She speeded up, drove to the outside close to the cliff-face and began to pass him. As she came abreast of the other driver, she could see him glance at her and hunch over the steering wheel. She guessed he intended to try to drive her against the escarpment that rose up alongside the road. Before he could act, she floored her cruiser’s accelerator to speed up. As the nose of her vehicle edged past his, she sharply pulled on her steering wheel, turning her wheels so it appeared the nose of her car would cross in front of his bumper and crash into him, forcing him toward the cliff edge. It was a bluff as she almost immediately righted the car again. As she expected her bluff worked. He panicked, swung the steering wheel hard to the right to try to avoid contact, broke into an uncontrolled skid and tumbled over the cliff edge and on to the rocks far below.

Meg slowed to a stop then backed up to where the other car left the road. She carefully parked on the shoulder, put on her blinking emergency lights, calmly reported the accident on her two-way. Then she got out opened the trunk, took out some emergency flares and reflectors and laid them out for about twenty feet along the edge of the road where the other car had gone over.

She then for the first time looked over the edge down to the mangled hunk of metal far below wondering why it had not burst in flame and muttered “Fuck you, asshole,” and slowly began the climb down the precipice to the wreckage.

By the time she arrived, she could hear the sirens of the police cars and ambulances from Pacifica to the north and Half Moon Bay to the south as they converged at the crash site.

The gas tank of the overturned automobile had ruptured. Escaping gasoline dripped on to the rocks and ran off into the surf a little way below. She was relieved it had not ignited.

The driver’s door had sprung open from the impact and the driver appeared still alive and moaning softly. She gingerly extracted him and dragged and carried him far enough from the wreck to be safe from any explosion.

He was in bad shape. He was bleeding from a nasty headroom and both his legs and one of his arms appeared broken. She figured several ribs also and his lungs punctured since he was spitting up blood. He did not look to her as though he would make it until the medical team arrived.

He was conscious though. She knelt leaned in close to him and said, “I will try to help keep you alive until the emergency team get’s here, but first tell me who sent you?”

His pain-wracked eyes hardened and he responded in a whisper through the blood, “Go to hell you fucking Dyke.”

“Wrong answer cock-sucker.”

She grabbed him by his shirt, dragged him back to the wreck and threw him back in, took out a plain Zippo lighter, stepped back a few steps, flicked on the flame and tossed it into a puddle of the leaked gasoline. She quickly retreated a safe distance and the gas flamed up and upon reaching the tank exploded.

She stood for a moment watching the flames devour the automobile then looked up. The emergency vehicles had arrived and the first of the medics were beginning their descent. She turned and began to climb to meet them.

Meg climbed the cliff face toward the road above while the wreck below still blazed. For a moment she wondered if killing a potential witness would make finding Stephanie’s killer more difficult. She dismissed that figuring he would have been dead anyway before he could be questioned and the automobile probably was a rental so it most likely had nothing helpful in it. Whatever there is to be gotten, she was confident the technical people will be able to extract it even from the burned scraps. Besides she thought, whoever killed Steph and tried to kill her made a big mistake, they got her pissed her off.

As she passed the emergency rescue team on the way down, she told them she was unable to get the driver out of the vehicle before it exploded and thought he was probably dead. She said she would send a technical investigation team down to sift through the wreckage.

Arriving at the top, she saw that no one from the Sheriff’s office had arrived yet. She recognized Mike Williams of the Pacifica PD who seemed in charge. She told him the same story she told the emergency rescue team and added that she believed that the automobile and driver may have been connected to a previous incident being investigated by the sheriff’s office. She promised to send a technical investigation team to assist the Pacifica group. She agreed to call Mike tomorrow and coördinate the investigation. As they walked back to her cruiser, Mike joked about the crushed bumper when he saw it.

“Yeah,” she said laconically, “got to get that fixed.” She then got into the car radioed her office to bring them up to date and get things rolling. Picking up her cell phone she called Ray.

She told him everything that happened including with the lighter. He remained silent.

She then said, “Ray, I want to talk to everyone on your list starting with that fucking minister in Blackhawk. About 10 AM OK with you? Can you get it started?”

Ray agreed but insisted he come along on the interviews. She assented. Then following some discussion about coördination she put down the phone, started the car and drove to her home in Half Moon Bay.

She did not go directly into her house but walked the block or so to the beach, sat on a driftwood log watching the foam of the waves shimmer in the moonlight. She allowed the roar of the breakers to drown out all thought. After a while, she got up, took a deep breath, returned to her home, went in and slept deeply and unperturbed.

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