Hotel California: Affordable Housing Odyssey In Marin.
By Stephen Simac
I had to walk out of town. I tried hitchhiking for a while, but I'd pissed off everyone in Bolinas. It's a little scary how good I am at that. Have to put Amazing People Skills on the resume, get into management.
A surfer finally gave me a ride the last half mile to the wye, but she was heading to the city. I was going over Bolinas Ridge to Fairfax. Still looking for affordable housing in Marin. I decided to take the back way to Fairfax. It's the scenic route, a little windy and slow, but traffic was a mess on Sir Francis Drake while royalty was visiting Pt. Reyes. The few drivers going my way just sneered at me. I would walk it, if I had to. Do the John Muir thing.
Walking is good medicine when your thoughts are in a whirl, emotions a fragile jumble, feeling trapped and alone inside a skintight wrap. Not that I was. I'm fine, believe me, but in general, walking is good for your health, as long as you watch out for traffic, eat your fruits and vegetables, stop smoking, get enough sleep and all that. It was time to go on a health kick, I told myself. This mountain trek would be a jump start. Sticking my thumb out if traffic came along is just a Chi Gong exercise.
We Haven't had that spirit here, since 1969
God, it was good to be sober, again. Not that a higher power was responsible for the cold remedy running out, or anything. Just used it all up. S'okay, haven't even had a sniffle since Ranger Rick pepper sprayed me.
I'm ready to turn over a new leaf, become a natural health care kind of guy, a new age Fairfax kind. Got to blend in with the locals. Herbs and flowers, mon. Fairfax is the epicenter of medical marijuana. I would need some by the time I walked to town over the Ridge and through the woods. I might have to camp for a few days, I thought, do a Natty Bummpo.
It'd been a while since I lived in Fairfax, during a grand tour of the Slums of Marin. Back then, I'd been the Boy in the Room. Renting out an extra bedroom from a very odd couple. Had to slip in and out when they weren't in the living room, listening to Right Wing Radio. It was barely affordable for a Marin service worker.
A definite step up from the underground garage in San Anselmo. Way better than the Mill Valley flophouse I'd spent a winter in. That one was packed with dudes, every room had it's own substance of abuse, and a junky slept on the couch. Three floors of guys sharing a bathroom. It was affordable for a Deli Slave, and I could walk to work.
Just another tenuous grip on a roof over their head for Marin service workers. That deli job slipped away when I throttled the Cheese Guy. Or was it when I slapped the Juice Girl on the ass? Who can keep track of all their firings?
It was starting to look like I'd have to find a job again. It's not like I'm in demand in my chosen field. I even tried going over to the Dark Side, but they said I wasn't their type. At least they responded to my resume.
He was a hotheaded man, he was brutally handsome
There's always work at subpar wages doing stuff no one else wants to do. Could I even get back into the food service industry once I'd stepped off that Tilt a Whirl? I doubted I could still compete with recent immigrants and twenty somethings. Not without some serious amounts of medical marijuana, if only to slow them down.
As a teenager I'd attended Dish Washers Institute, become Head Pot Scrubber and Floor Mopper. But my elbows are shot for that, now. I'd been a Fry Master, Burger Flipper, rose all the way up to Head Cook. That's when I could finally yell at people and not get fired. Everyone expects cooks to have a temper.
To tell you the truth I couldn't stand the heat or the grease of kitchens anymore. I wasn't fit for janitorial jobs for all the same reasons. Almost anyone will be hired to clean certain establishments. So naturally I'd been drawn to that career path. But the harsh chemicals really get to you. After a while I stopped using them. No one really noticed. Towards the end I stopped cleaning as well, but got fired before the filth got to the sustainable state I believed was possible, based on Intelligent Design and Chaos Theory. Like a forest floor.
That pretty much left one only job market anyone could get hired for. NO!, not Human Services. Barely paid for dealing with highly stressful people in tragic situations, and that was just the management. I tried helping people for a while, but ended up more depressed and irritable than they were. And a lot more homicidal. Starting with the management.
Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind
Better to be in a Helping Profession for something more abstract. Humans are ungrateful bastards, anyways. Saving the World is Hard Work, but it's rarely paid well, unless it's a front for the New World Order. I'd always thought of Saving the World as a hobby until this year, when I took a tilt at the windmill.
And look where that got me. Homeless in Marin. Still better than housed in Chicago. I'm so over Saving the World now. I'm not worried about the future, any more. I'm reasonably sure if the aliens are going to pick anyone up, I'll be one of them. At least as a museum oddity piece.
One thing about walking long distances, you get plenty of time to think, reflect back on your past. Man, I hate that. However, the view was great, looking down on the Lagoon, Duxbury Reef, out over Bolinas Bay, which shimmered in a million mirrors of the sun and chem trailed sky.
Time to stop for a breather, read the paper. I'd brought along the Coastal Post, strictly for entertainment purposes. Pondered the eternal question of why are there so many typos? A highly educated reader postulated that the mistakes are intelligently designed to make the CP less threatening to the powers that be, so we don't get rounded up and shipped off to some detention center in Kansas.
And here all this time I was under the impression that our government welcomed criticism, that the Coastal Post was evidence of a healthy democracy, publishing a wide variety of viewpoints, even ones that seriously pissed off certain sects, politicians and vested interests.
If the only thing keeping me off their enemies list was the typos, it was time to rethink my approach to journalism, before some grad student started proofreading the Coastal Post and got me interred in an undisclosed location.
Maybe change my name and write for the safe papers. Luckily I'd brought along the Pacific Slim, the Marin NotIndependent and the Pt. Reye's Lite for research into how to write safe stuff. Almost nodded off. Starting to crave some more cold remedy about then.
When you're out there alone where your memories can find you
Suddenly a long limousine stopped near me. The window rolled down. "I say old chap, could you tell me the way to Bolinas, we seem to have taken a wrong turn somewhere, missed the sign. We're looking for the bio-dynamic salad farm."
Prince Charles leaned out the window.
"I can show you," I said, "if you give me a ride." I had to think fast, I couldn't go back to Bolinas. There was no future for me there, except maybe as an alien landing site. I wasn't sure exactly where the designated location was, but there were clues.
I stalled for time, leaning on the car, looking into the plushly appointed interior of the limo. I'd have to convince the Prince that I was heading that way, 'Sure it seems rather long and windy, but it's just around the next couple corners'. Or sell him on visiting Fairfax instead. Killer coffee, medical mj, and plenty of ethnic shopping for the missus.
Camilla wasn't saying much, just changing in and out of dresses. She must have brought about 50 of them. That woman is fit, I'll say that, if rather homely. In fact I did say it. There's no point in having an opinion if you don't express it, is my motto, but I softened it a bit, "It's not your fault, ma'am. We can't all be beautiful, otherwise there'd be no great advantage in it."
The Prince was hemming and hawing about whether to give me a lift, or not. The driver was eyeing me suspiciously. Hey, he was the one that got 'em lost, not me. I assured Charlie that I was hip to royal protocol. Wouldn't ask questions about the conspiratorial evidence in the death of the mother of his children.
In fact, I was available for child care. I know Prince Harry is an adult now, but he could use someone to keep a close eye on him. Keep him out of his great uncle's Nazi uniform, show him the ropes on being more discreet about pot smoking when paparazzi and bobbies are about.
If need by, I can do a Mrs. Doubtfire nanny thing, a little hotter than dowdy, so he'd be onboard with having a minder. Call myself Valerie Flame. The Mystery Woman constantly seen with Prince Harry. The prince wasn't biting.
"All right, Charlie, forget about Harry. I don't like kids anyways. I read in the NY Times that you're a big fan of the Slow Food Movement. What you need a slow foods cook. Well, I originated Same Day Service when I was head cook at Ye Olde Shoppe of Nova Albionus." I used the name Drake gave the place, back when it was one of the colonies. "Why, when I worked at the Deli Museum, everything we sold was covered under the Antiquities Act."
You call someplace Paradise, kiss it goodbye
That definitely got his attention. I was feeling confident again, I'd talked my way into another job. I'd worry about the homosexual harassment later on.
I probably shouldn't have asked him about the Reptilian Alien thing. Not that I believe that the Royal Family and their consorts are actually shape shifting reptilian aliens.
It was just the way Camilla kept flicking her tongue at me. The prince politely thanked me for my help while rolling up the window. The driver almost drove over my feet as he pulled a U turn.
"Piss Off, You bloody royal toff!", I shouted after them. More for the drama than anything personal. A sort of Shakespeare in Stinson gesture. The ocean and the coast spread out below me, the redwoods up above. This health kick was already killing my feet.
So I was actually glad to see Harry Pothead going my way. driving a mini-van. He'd have to give me a ride, still owes me big time for turning me into a Bufus Marinus toad, so he could scrape off my psychedelic sweat. At least I gave him warts on his hands.
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