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North Coast Tales

a dectet of short stories

by Mike Bozart

© 2018 Mike Bozart

Table of Contents

i Eureka!

ii Trinidad Head

iii Mad River Madman

iv Al on Arcata

v Fortunate in Fortuna

vi Lolita of Loleta (adults only)

vii The Other Manila

viii Samoa Sam

ix Moonstone Moonchild

x The Vision

another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

Eureka! by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | DECEMBER 2016


by Mike Bozart

Copyright © 2016 Mike Bozart 

Manuel Oscar Ortiz, a 26-year-old, struggling Hispanic American actor, opened the coffee-stained, crumpled, dingy, return-address-less envelope in his cramped and cluttered East Hollywood (California, USA) studio apartment. The three o’clock December sunlight slithered through the old Venetian blinds into his kitchenette and illuminated the sheet of notebook paper. He read softly aloud:

Man, oh Manuel! Yes, finally, ‘Daring’ has successfully formulated Mysterium! [sic] And boy does it enhance neurotransmission inside our 3-pound [1.36 kg] intracranial jelly lobes – our brains. Dude, I inhaled a big blast last week, and let me tell you, I’ll never be the same. No, I haven’t become a homicidal rapist, but I have become painfully aware of humankind’s fate. I won’t spoil it for you; I’ll let you ‘see’ for yourself. You won’t believe it! Anyway, since I no longer trust USPS, [United States Postal Service] I hid a small container for you in Eureka. [California, USA] Let me close with these clues for discovery:

  • from the Canadian Atlantic he came

  • easier to fell trees than find gold

  • Queen Anne would be proud

  • waterfront is worth the walk

  • where the rain trickles out, I put it in

  • on a line between turret and sign

Manuel then carefully folded the note back into thirds and re-inserted it into the right-edge-torn-off envelope. As he held it in his right hand, his mind began to race. I wonder who sent this. Probably Charles. Yeah, it has to be Charles. He’s too paranoid to own or even use a cell phone. That’s why he sent this letter anonymously. I wonder if there’s anything to this Mysterium stuff. Charles claims that he’s seen the fate of humankind. What an outlandish remark! But, that’s just like Charles. Well, I probably won’t have any work this weekend. Maybe jump a flight up to Arcata. Yeah, why not?

Next Saturday morning found Manuel at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), boarding an Alaska Airlines flight with just a backpack. Once in his window seat in the middle of the coach section of the Boeing 737, he looked at the cracks in the tarmac. His mind meandered. Have to go to PDX [Portland International Airport] first. A nonstop would have been nice, but it’s just too expensive on short notice. Well, the extra time can be used to start deciphering the clues in that letter. Oh crap! Where is the letter?! [It was in his left hand.] Oh, there it is. Gosh, that letter has got me so hyped-up that I’m losing my mind. Need to relax. I wonder how impressive that Mysterium mist is. Hope I can find it. Clue 1: ‘from the Canadian Atlantic he came’. That could be any one of a hundred thousand gents. Hmmm …. Let’s start with the third clue, a proper noun – Queen Anne. Let’s do a Google search on Queen Anne and Eureka, California together. Bingo! The old Carson Mansion. The first two clues further confirm this. But, what does the fourth clue – ‘waterfront is worth the walk’ – happen to mean? I’ll just get a hotel room near that Victorian mansion and find out this afternoon.

The flight to Portland was relaxingly uneventful, save for a small boy who lost his tiny toy under his seat. Once inside the south terminal, Manuel went to a newsstand that proudly stated that they sold ‘everything from porn to granola bars’. He drifted over to the map section as Nick Lowe’s Christmas at the Airport suffused the dusty air from a ceiling-tile speaker. A cute, petite, raven-haired Latina in her early 20s looked at Manuel and smiled. Well, there’s an opening. Should I talk to her? I’m single once again. Hell, why not?

He walked up to her, feeling insouciantly assure of himself. “Did you find something to read?” he asked prosaically, sounding a bit tired.

“No, they don’t have the romance novel that I’m looking for,” she said, sensing his interest in her … or her body.

“Which novel is that?” Manuel asked, and then realized that he might be prying. Romance novels can be like porn for women. Why am I asking her for the title? I wouldn’t know it anyway. Would she ask me for the title of my favorite porn site? Let’s wake up, boy. / He sure is feeling bold.

“The title is Kathy’s Barbarian. It’s girly stuff.” I am sure that it is. / I wonder if he’s a speedy pumper.

“Would the barbarian in that novel happen to be named Ingomar?” Huh? Ingomar? What a name!

“No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“Oh, it’s a long story,” Manuel said with a slight sigh. I need to hear it.

“Tell me this long story over a tall cup of coffee, mister. I’ve got twenty minutes to kill. There’s a coffee shop next door.” Hard to pass up an offer like this. She’s very cute and incredibly sexy. Just don’t tell her about the Mysterium.

“Ok, sure. Why not?”

“Exactly! Why not? There’s no harm in it.” I hope not.

They then moseyed over to the espresso stand, ordered and took opposing seats at a 4-top table.

“Oh, by the way, my name is Lucia.” She then put her large brown handbag down in the chair beside her.

“I’m Manuel. Do you speak Spanish?” I guess that I look more Hispanic than I thought.

“Hardly any. I’m second generation. My family came to San Diego [California, USA] from Guatemala back in the 1980s.”

“I see. My roots go back to Costa Rica. I attended Humboldt State University in Arcata – studied acting. I’m headed back to Eureka now.” Another movie-star wannabe.

“Going to link up with the old college gang and burn a few blunts?” [hollowed-out cigars filled with marijuana]

“Uh, no, just going back for old time’s sake.” That’s a lie. He would suck as a politician.

“Oh, stop with the coyness, hombre. [man in Spanish] You’re going back there to bang your old girlfriend. Am I right?” Wow! Why did I have to start talking to this woman? Must not be like that David character in ‘Gold, a summer story’. [the 2013 novel by yours truly] Should have never struck up a conversation with her. Need to watch my tongue.

“No, nothing like that. So, where are you off to?” He’s quite evasive. Something is up. It’s obvious. I should track his sly ass. I’ll drop a GPS [Global Positioning System] chip on him.

“Actually, I’m flying down to Santa Rosa to visit a college friend. She graduated from San Diego State last May.”

“I see.” Is she lesbian? If so, she’s definitely the femme.

“Flying to Portland saved me $300.”

“Same with me. I’m just here for the price break. I like Portland, though. Last time I was here, things got pretty wild.” I’m sure.

“You were going to tell me about Ingomar.” Be vague.

“A brutish fellow, I’m afraid.” It’s useless.

“Well, I’ve got to go now. Nice talking with you, Manuel. Safe travels.” I’d love to see her again.

“Likewise, Lucia. Take care.”

She then got up and walked behind him. His bright yellow backpack was almost completely zipped. Almost.

They both got on their respective flights without incident. Lucia landed in northwest Santa Rosa at 2:39 PM. Manuel had already landed at ACV (Arcata-Eureka Airport) in McKinleyville at 1:43 PM. The weather was much nicer in Santa Rosa: mostly cloudy and 59º (Fahrenheit; 15º Celsius); it was nonstop drizzle and 48º (Fahrenheit; 9º Celsius) on the Humboldt County coast.

Manuel took an uber (ride-sharing car) to the Town House Motel, a modest inn at 4th and K. He and the 30-something, red-bearded, brown-haired driver were silent the whole way until he stepped out of the car. That’s when the uber driver solemnly announced: “Good luck going forward.” Do I really look down on my luck?

Manuel got a room on the upper floor of the two-story building. He quickly settled on the queen-size bed and took a nap. When he awoke an hour later, it was still raining and quite gray. I’ll search for that Mysterium first thing in the morning. The rain will have moved out by then.

At 7:05 AM, Manuel jumped out of bed feeling refreshed. He actually had a good night’s sleep on the budget-motel bed. After a quick shower and coffee, he was out the door. The sun was rising over the southeastern ridges at 7:31. This is going to be a life-changing day. I just know it.

Manuel started walking north on K Street. The sidewalks were vacant. When he crossed Opera Alley, K Street became a brick walkway. And when he emerged at 2nd Street, he looked right and saw it: the impressive Carson Mansion towering just two blocks away. Wow! What an edifice. That dude was the kingpin of the village. I wonder how he treated his workers.

He walked up to the short, black, wrought-iron fence that ran along the property’s perimeter. He stopped to read the letter from Charles again. Clue 4: ‘waterfront is worth the walk’. Well, the waterfront side is that way. The street down there is even named Waterfront Drive. Yeah, I need to go this way.

Manuel turned left and walked to the end of M Street. There he stepped over the barricade and waded through a sea of shrubbery. Then he came to the top of a concrete retaining wall that was six to seven feet (two meters) high. He leapt down successfully. The soft earth prevented an ankle sprain. He looked at the slatted, yard-tall (about a meter high) beach fence just in front of him that ran along Waterfront Drive. I’ve got myself into some kind of no-man’s land. Hope a cop doesn’t drive by. Where to go now? Clue 5: ‘where the rain trickles out, I put it in’.

Manuel looked back at the Victorian-on-steroids manor. He could only see the rooftop peaks and spires. Then his eyes drifted down to the seepage outlets in the retaining wall, from where water oozed out and dripped down. Ah, these holes in this wall allow the rainwater to leak out. I bet that Mysterium container is in one of them. But, which one? Clue 6: ‘on a line between turret and sign’. Hmmm … Which sign?

He continued walking in the lush, grassy strip until he saw a green sign to the left that read: KEEP DOGS ON LEASH

Manuel then looked back at Carson Mansion. He saw the main turret. Maybe this is the line. Maybe it’s in the hole right up there. Hope it didn’t get washed away by yesterday’s deluge. I guess it might be on the ground now.

He slowly walked up to the suspected seepage hole, searching the overgrown grass as he advanced. Once at the rectangular hole in the wall, he ducked down and looked in. There was a small, black, plastic spray bottle inside. Eureka! I’ve found it.

Manuel gently extricated it from the soggy earth and fine gravels. The spray bottle had a security-sealed clear cap. On the bottom, the word Mysterium was in raised, thin-font letters in a spiral pattern. Wow! This is it! I have actually found it. Can’t wait to take a mighty blast. Should I do it right here? No, just do it in the safety of the hotel room, you fool. Who knows how long it lasts? You don’t want to become discombobulated in this private planting strip. Don’t want to alight in the town jail.

He then turned back to face the channel known as Inner Reach and Woodley Island beyond it. A red sedan was stopped on the curb of Waterfront Drive. An unmistakable Latina was staring right at him. Oh, gosh! It’s her – Lucia. Holy crap! How in the world did she follow me here? Did she see me grab the bottle? How long has she been there?

“Come on, Manuel; get in,” Lucia entreated.

Manuel walked up to the passenger-side window. “How did you tail me?”

“Never mind. That’s not important right now. Just get in and we’ll go back to your motel room and get properly reacquainted. I couldn’t let you get away. We’re going places, baby.” She winked at him and salaciously licked her lips. She knows where I’m staying? Baby? Is she psycho?

Manuel slowly opened the car door and crawled in. “So, you planted a tracking bug on me. Is this your usual dating technique? How long have you been doing this, Lucia?”

“We’ll discuss it at the motel,” she said sans emotion.

They remained silent for the final three blocks. She’s nuts.

Lucia parked the rental car under the second floor. She then walked with Manuel up to his room. When Manuel opened the door, he was instantly conked by a long-handled rubber mallet and rendered unconscious.

He awoke 28 minutes later with a splitting headache. Both the Mysterium and Lucia were long gone. However, his wallet was untouched. Ouch! What train hit me?

Five weeks later, back at his humble East Hollywood abode, Manuel was scanning the in-state articles on a weird news website. A familiar photo was next to this shocking headline:

San Diego Woman Claims Humans Extinct by 3000

another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

Trinidad Head by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | JUNE 2017

Trinidad Head

by Mike Bozart

© 2017 Mike Bozart 

The date was June 4, 2017 and the temperature was 50º (Fahrenheit; 10º Celsius). After walking just .4 miles (.64 km) under an overcast sky from the Trinidad (CA, USA) RTS (Redwood Transit System) bus stop on Main Street (next to a Chevron gasoline station), Monique (Agent 32) and I (Agent 33) arrived at a 5-star panorama of Trinidad Bay on Edwards Street (at Hector Street) that was postcard material to the max. Anchored fishing boats and erosion-defying sea stacks speckled the harbor. Yes, it was a Humboldt County Chamber of Commerce enticement all the way to Pilot Rock. Beyond that, well, it was hard to see. We savored this breathtaking scene for a few minutes, availing the wooden bench between two restaurant signs.

“It’s like a living nautical oil painting,” I told Monique. Hubby loves this place.

“It’s magnificent,” she replied. Indeed.

We then made our descent to the middle-aged-female-Eurekan-recommended Seascape Restaurant for a Sunday brunch. The mixed-race hostess seated us at a table that had a view of Little Head, a towering angular chunk of metamorphosed gabbro.

Monique noticed me studying the monolith as we waited for our waiter. “You want to climb that, don’t you, Parkaar?” [my ailing alias] I just know he does. He’s almost 53, but thinks he’s 23.

“Well, it does look tempting, Agent 32.” He’s recording. / Frank [deceased Agent 107] would do it. I know he would.

“I wouldn’t advise it,” our short-blonde-haired, left-earringed, early-20-something, assumed college student, wry-grinning waiter suddenly said as he approached on my right. “It’s even steeper and more dangerous than it looks, guys. That old rock stays damp; it’s always slippery. A dude fell off it last year and got cracked-up pretty bad. If you want to do some hiking with spectacular views, do Trinidad Head, instead. It has an awesome looping trail that is much safer.” Trinidad? Hmmm … That’s Spanish for Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And, this holey toast. Sure could go for a pint of 8 Ball Stout. Wholly Lost Coast. Ah, yes, they’ve got it! Boss begs to boast. They have seafood chowder, too. Gus got the ghost. Looks like a largely liquid early lunch for me. Mark marked the most. Wonder what Monique wants. / Yey! They have fried shrimp and scallops.

“Thanks for the warning and sage advice,” I said as I put my menu down. Ground or rubbed? Round or grubbed?

“No problem,” he replied. “So, where are you guys from?”

“Charlotte,” Monique blurted.

“Woah!” he exclaimed. “North Carolina. You guys are far, far away from home.”

“Twenty-nine hundred miles,” [4,667 km] I affirmed. “We’ve been staying in Eureka for the past two nights.”

“Ah, Tweakerville,” [sic] he announced. Huh?

Monique looked puzzled. “What is a tweaker?”

“A meth-head,” [methamphetamine addict] the knit-shirted waiter answered. “Speed freaks.”

“Oh, yes, we saw plenty of them in Old Town,” I added.

“They’re like cockroaches – so creepy and so freaking annoying,” Monique opined.

“But, unlike cockroaches, they come at you instead of fleeing,” I clarified.

“Yeah, the nonstop bummerama [sic] can be quite a drag,” he synopsized. Bummerama? / Nice neologism. A writer?

“Bummerama – that’s funny,” Monique chimed. Bummerazzi.

“Most of them are opioid addicts as well,” he disclosed. “They usually just harm each other. They’re always getting into stupid arguments and fights with themselves. This is why I haven’t gone to Old Town in years.”

“It sure seems to have potential, though,” I suggested.

“My Native American friend’s dad grew up in Eureka,” [23 miles (37 km) south of Trinidad] he stated as he gazed at my UNCC (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) 49ers patch on my green polyester shirt. “He said that Old Town has sucked for four decades. ‘Maybe it gets better next year’ is the semi-official mantra.” Semi-official mantra? Yeah, he’s a writer, too. Choose your words wisely.

We finally ordered our drinks and food. While waiting for our waiter’s return, I slipped a Gold card (a cardstock coupon for a free download of my risqué, noir-esque, 2013 e-novel Gold, a summer story) through a slit in the wooden wall planks. Wonder when someone discovers it. A decade from now? Two? Will this place still even be here? Will a tsunami have washed it away? Will I be dead? Fifty-fifty odds. R-I-P, Mr. Zappa.

Monique looked at me and shook her head. “Delayed discovery may be fine if you have time, but you don’t, Parkaaroni Wankeroni.” [sic] She’s already on her game.

“I know, I know, I know. I’ll leave the waiter one with the tip, asawa.” [wife in Tagalog and Cebuano]

Our drinks soon arrived. Monique had her now-becoming-customary Sprite® with ice. My chilled porter was almost as good as off the tap at the brewpub on 4th Street (US 101 South) between H and G Streets in downtown Eureka.

“This is really nice, isn’t it, mahal?” [love in Tagalog] I asked my raven-haired pinay (Filipina) wife.

“I really love this cool weather with no scorching sun, bana. [husband in Cebuano] Great pick, 33!”

“Yeah, I like it, too. Nice castle weather – the kind we crave.”

A Latino family of four were sitting at the table across the aisle. Their exuberant young boy squirmed up to the window sill to see something. He then pointed and muttered something in Spanish. Then his dad plucked him from the table and reseated him. Wonder what he saw. Was it that column of seagulls? / Bana is spacing out.

Our food arrived nine minutes later. The creamy soup was tasty. Monique devoured her breaded seafood.

The energetic waiter returned just as we finished eating. “Anything else? Maybe some dessert?”

“All good here,” I answered.

“No more for me,” Monique replied.

“Well, enjoy your day. You guys just up here for pleasure?”

“We’re on a mission – a nebular mission,” I told him.

“Have you heard of psecret psociety?” Monique asked him. “It’s spelled with silent p’s. I’m Agent 32 and he’s Agent 33.” Announcing Ernie the electronic earwig would be too much. Yeah, let it go.

The 5’-8” (172.72 cm) waiter looked confused. “No, I haven’t.”

“Trust me, man; it’s not important,” I said with a half-laugh.

He smiled and walked away with an uncertain-about-these-two look. Leave no coast unscathed. / Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned psecret psociety and agent numbers. Maybe he now thinks that we’re part of something unsavory.

Once outside the modest restaurant, we ventured out on the almost-vacant concrete fishing pier known as Trinidad Wharf. Monique took some pics of the slate-blue bay, capturing Prisoner Rock and the more distant Flat Rock. Then she wanted to position me for a snapshot.

“Move to your right a little, Parkaar. I want to get one of you in front of Little Head.” Avoid thinking with the little head.

After she snapped the photo, I pointed to the verdant Trinidad Head, which was only 200 feet (61 meters) across a small cove. “Well, mahal, that’s the waiter-suggested hiking area.” Kind of looks like a piece of Ireland. / Looks very strenuous.

“We’re going to the top of that?!” Monique looked horrified.

“No, the very top is off-limits to interloping interlocutors like us. The tossed-down-belt trail winds around at mid-girth.” He said that for the recorder.

“Ok then, lead the way, Art Z. Sportzee.” She said that for the recorder.

We walked back up Bay Street to Lighthouse Road. There we made a left onto a narrow, vehicle-restricted, paved lane that passed by a loose-sand parking lot in front of a sparsely occupied, northwest-facing, finely ground, gray beach. After walking 700 feet (213 meters) and rising about a hundred feet (30 meters), there was a sharp turn to the left. To the right a hiking trail began. We took it. Well, here goes. Hope we don’t have any health issues. / Are there poisonous snakes on this rock? Sure hope not.

The flora was mostly maritime chaparral. The often dense, hedge-like, mainly manzanita shrubbery was up to eight feet (2.56 meters) tall. We soon rounded the northeast corner of the massive domed prominence. And then, boy oh boy, the NNW wind was howling. It must have been about 30 MPH (48 km/h).

We took a break. Soon we were being passed by a late-50-something couple. The Amerasian-appearing man was in jeans and sweatshirt. The Caucasian woman was in a pink jogging outfit. We exchanged nods and waves. Wonder what their story is. Probably won’t see them ever again. / They seem nice.

Two minutes later we started scaling the first switchback. We took another short break in the upper hairpin bend. Whew! Haven’t hiked like this in ages, and my body is letting me know. / Hope Monique doesn’t faint. Don’t rush her. We’re on no schedule. The whole day is open. At least until the last bus to Arcata. [15 miles (24 km) south] 4:29? Darn! Forgot to bring a water bottle for her.

The well-worn trail leveled out after that. We then came upon a spur trail. However, Monique wasn’t interested in making the hike longer. Thus, we continued on the loop trail, passing under an arch in the lush canopy.

The next flora feature was what can best be described as a cave in the thicket. It was off to our left. I peered inside, half expecting to see a homeless person in the dark chamber. But, no one was in there. This would be an interesting place to throw down a sleeping bag and spend a night. Some surreal thoughts would surely ensue. / I bet he’s thinking of sleeping in there. No freaking way!

I looked back at Monique.

“The answer is No!” She read my mind.

“Not even a nap, mahal?”

“No. Final answer.”

I grinned at her. Why does he want to sleep in there? Who knows what dangerous animals live in there? Kano loko. [‘crazy American’ in Filipino]

In a few minutes we were looking at a carved-into-a-square-wooden-post sign for another spur off to the right. Eleven seconds later a husky, ball-capped, navy-blue-jacket-clad, caramel-brown-mustachioed Caucasian guy in his mid-40s came marching up the branch trail towards us.

“How long is this trail?” I asked as he passed.

“Maybe seventy-five feet [23 meters] at most,” he replied. “It goes to a craggy overlook with an incredible view.” Craggy? Is everyone a writer up here?

“Ok, thanks,” I said.

He then resumed his hike on the loop trail.

“Well, asawa, want to check it out?”

“Sure, honey. I can tack on another 150 feet.” 150? Huh? Oh, 75 x 2. Forgot the return distance. Wake up!

The spur trail was an easy walk. Well, until the last twenty feet (six meters). We were glad to be hands-free. Slip not.

After safely negotiating a four-point scramble, we were there. And, there was it. The view wasn’t incredible; it was beyond incredible. We could see the waves below crashing into the flocks of rocks. Nearest and notably, Blank Rock was getting blanketed by marshmallow-cream seafoam, which streamed southward like Portuguese man o’ war tentacles, blown by the fierce Aleutian wind. To starboard, Flatiron Rock was frenetically fending off the attacking sea and had no time for heat-transfer LFC (Liverpool Football Club) crest badges. And, way over in College Cove, Pewetole Island was getting a full facial to ease last September’s forehead burn, whether desired or not. Moreover, all of their stoned-in-place cousins were getting a jolly cold splash. Then the fog bell abruptly clanged. If an 8.0-magnitude seismic jolt toppled this rock and ended it all right here and now, I’d call it a bargain – a way-more-than-fair deal for me. Actually I’d be way ahead. So very lucky to have experienced so much with my shunted hydrocephalic bean. Wonderful wife. Sly son. Yet, all those tragic lives shortened by fatal diseases. Or birth defects. And, all those accidental deaths. All those innocents murdered. How does it figure into the grand equation? So many early exits. Why? How does it fit into the cosmic scheme? Is there one? Way beyond my faulty neural circuitry. There’s something about this existence. Something not to be fully trusted. An amoral merciless process. But, wow! So marvelously majestic. Yeah, this is the pictorial definition. What a place in time. The scene will look about the same tomorrow. Most likely. What does it mean to see it today – right now? What if we were here yesterday? Ok, so what? The weather was similar. It would be about the same. But, the people encountered would be different. Oh, why do I think such nonsense? Maybe I’m going mad. Ha! One sure must make a lot of loot to live in coastal California. And, wouldn’t you know it, that’s only where the cool, foggy, overcast castle weather is. Maybe retire somewhere on the Oregon coast. It’s cheaper up there. Cheaper? Just less exorbitantly expensive. Stop kidding yourself. You’ll never have that kind of money. But, what if some well-off person liked my weird ramblings enough to pay me to write just for him/her? They could have the publishing rights. What if they then paid me to write while seated on Pilot Rock? Yeah, while up in a ridiculously high chair with a seawater-resistant laptop computer. A boat shuttle. Four-hour sessions. Eight in the morning until noon. Typing in the great gray gloom. Oh yeah! That would be sublime. Piloting a pliable plot to knowhere. [sic]

“Earth to Agent 33. Hello! Anyone home?” I hope he’s not thinking of diving off here.

It was Monique’s voice. I had become totally immersed in my reverie. “Yeah, still here, 32. Just got lost in my thoughts.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“Oh, just my usual meandering nonsense. You’ll be able to read it in a week or so. I’ll write it up when we get back to Charlotte.” I’m sure he will.

“Ok, ready to head back to the main trail?”

“Yeah, sure, mahal.”

We retreated back to the loop trail. Just before we turned right to continue our counterclockwise trek, the couple that we had seen earlier appeared. Wow! That was quick. They must be in great physical shape.

“Are you guys already on lap two?” I asked.

“Oh, no; we took the first spur.” I knew it. My bana assumes the unlikeliest things.

“Oh, I see,” I said with a grin. “I was going to say that you two may want to go out for the Olympics.” I guffawed.

The couple laughed.

“No, we’re not in that good of shape,” the woman said.

Off they went. We let them open a nice gap before proceeding, so as to not crowd them. Soon they were out of sight.

We recommenced our hike. The path began to ascend again. And then, we were trudging up another switchback. Once out of the zig-zag, the trail leveled out and the wind died down, as we were now on the south side of the nearly-an-island. We then came to a sharp left turn. A few paces later, and we were staring at a granite cross. 1913. Wow! That cross was put up before World War I.

“I didn’t know that there was a cross up here,” I admitted.

Monique got her smartphone out and went to “This isn’t the original cross, bana. The first cross went up 242 years ago. See the 1775 engraving? That’s when two Spanish naval explorers landed here.” Wow! Before the United States officially began.

“It was probably even more scenic back then, asawa.”

“What do you mean, 33?”

“Oh, the coastal forest was still intact. The redwoods hadn’t been felled left and right. And, no seaside towns or cities.”

“Oh, yes. A pristine natural scene, I’m sure.”

“I wonder what thoughts went through their minds, Monique.”

“I wonder what thoughts went through the Yuroks’ minds, Parkaar.” Grim thoughts.

“Probably, ‘oh, shit – they’re already here’, I would venture. A dour attitude most likely suffused the tribe.” He’s playing for the recorder again. I just know it’s still on.

We then had a few minutes of silence, seated on a bench near the stone cross. The Spanish and Christianity arrive on the North Coast. I’m sure that the Yuroks were overjoyed. / I just know that my bana is having negative religious thoughts. He’s always fighting with God. He should just accept the Lord’s blessings and stop questioning everything.

I stood up, looked around, and started walking back down the path. Monique followed me. We soon came to a faint, very narrow, overgrown footpath on the left. Nope.

“This can’t be the right path, bana.” This little trail looks dangerous. No way am I walking on it.

“You’re right, asawa. I guess the main path continues up past the cross.”

We then marched up the hillside. Soon we had reached the junction with an old, one-lane, crumbling-asphalt service road. We turned right and began our descent back to the sandy spit, some three hundred feet (91 meters) below.

“It’s all easy walking now, asawa. All downhill on pavement from here. A gentle decline.” A gentle decline: my current life story. / So glad that the inclines are over.

“Yey!” Monique exclaimed. “My calves are aching, bana. This has been an intense hikerazzi [sic] for me. My legs are not used to it anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I hiked.”

“I hear you, sweetie. You have some Icy Hot®, right?”

“Yes, I brought the new tube.”

“Good deal. I’ll work it into your legs tonight.”

“You mean between my legs, Agent 33?”

“Naughty-naughty-naughty, Agent 32.”

We both laughed as we made a sharp right turn. The eastern view was just as splendid. Trinidad Harbor and the overall bay could now be seen, as the fog had completely dissipated. Even the low cloud deck was breaking up; sunlight was filtering through. Darn it! The blasted sun is now out. Was hoping that it would stay gray all day. / I thought that he said that there wouldn’t be any sun here today. Drats! I don’t have my sunscreen.

“Asawa, we’re losing our castle weather – unfortunately.”

“I hate the sun!” Monique rejoined.

“I know. We both do. It’s strange how some people settle here and then complain about the gray skies and fog. They should move inland or to SoCal.” [Southern California]

“No doubt, Parkaar.”

At a sharp left turn, Monique stopped and pointed at a slanted sea stack. “What rock is that, my geographicator?” [sic]

“That’s Prisoner Rock, 32. Legend has it that an escaped convict hid on it.” What?!

“That’s too far to swim without a wetsuit, 33.”

“An accomplice’s skiff probably let him off there, Monique.”

“I sure hope that they left him some food and drink, Parkaarstarveroni.” [sic]

“Maybe he just stayed on it until the heat subsided, 32.” Let me check.

“Or, until he sobered up.”

“Surrounded by thirty-three feet [10 meters] of chilly water.”

“Thirty-three feet, 33?” He’s just plucking his agent number.

“It’s approximately ten meters. Good for a guestimate.” Huh?

“Oh, why did I have to ask? And, please don’t say ‘I don’t know – why?’, silly bana.”

“Deal.” Deal me an ace. / I wonder if he slipped some of those ‘granules de grandeur’ in his oolong tea back there.

We ambled down the remainder of the looping path, now back on the northeastern face. Trinidad Wharf was clearly visible below. Fisherman were moving to and fro. And then, I spied Seascape Restaurant.

“Well, that’s where we ate about an hour ago, asawa.”

“Oh, yes. The pier looks fairly new, 33. Notice how the concrete is still white.”

“Good observation, 32.”

We soon arrived at the beginning of the loop. We turned right and descended towards the beach. A stepped footpath appeared on the left. We took it down to the unmetered parking area. There were only eight vehicles in the sandy lot.

I looked back at Trinidad Head. “There’s a short story emerging from that domical rock, Monique.”

“A tall tale, I’m sure, Parkaar.”

“No, I’ll stick to the recording. Just a few minor embellishments.”

“Just a few, huh?”

I nodded. I’m really going to enjoy writing this day up. / He’s already outlining the story, I can tell.

We then walked back to the Trinidad RTS bus stop. We had some time to kill, so we moseyed into the Bergeron Winery for a vintage tasting. I ordered us a flight of nine. (They were actually pretty good, especially the Cabernets.)

While sipping a 2010, oak-casked, medium-sediment, gluten-free (smart-ass adjectival insert) Merlot, I overheard a conversation at an adjacent table.

Caucasian brunette (probably 34 to 37 years old): “Oh, by the way, I’m writing again! There’s just something about this area that brings out the literary juices.”

Caucasian strawberry blonde (perhaps 31 to 34 years old): “Ah, that’s so great to hear! You know, I’m so glad that the sun has come out. They were predicting a gloomy afternoon. The spring sun makes me feel so alive.”

I looked at Monique. She had overheard the dialogue, too. We both shook our heads.

“Check, please.”

another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

Mad River Madman by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | June 2017

Mad River Madman

by Mike Bozart

© 2017 Mike Bozart 

Bill Monziweuk, a balding, 47-year-old, Caucasian, divorced, childless Gulf War veteran who took part in Operation Desert Storm (January – February 1991), had an old 5th-wheel camper on Airstream Avenue near the spare playground in Town & Country Mobile Villa, a neater-than-most mobile home and RV park in the Korblex area of Arcata (CA, USA). He would often watch the children playing while downing his after-dinner Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and think, sometimes aloud. Hope none of these kids has to experience what I did in Kuwait and Iraq. My God, that has to be the most forlorn slide in America. Is it even safe? What is safe? Where is safe? Hope that little girl doesn’t fall off that merry-go-round. World keeps spinning. Keep your hands on the railing, young lady. And, keep your head down. And, keep your fear to yourself. And, keep yourself free from the keep. Doug. Yes, it was Doug who said that ‘keep’ can mean jail. Where is Doug now? In some small-town Texas keep? Maybe try to track him down later.

It was a drizzly March (2014) Monday morning. Bill was getting ready to head out the door to his electrical company’s work van when his cell phone buzzed in his jacket pocket.

“Hello boss, where do you need me to start today?”

“Bill, I’ve got some bad news. We’re going to have to lay you off, effective immediately. We have lost too many lucrative accounts. We just don’t have the money right now. We’re laying off Larry, too.” Wonderful. Let go with lazy Larry.

“Wow! Right in the gut with a quarter twist. Mince no words, Marty. Though, thanks for not sugar-coating it.”

“Listen, I’m sorry, Bill. I hate being the bearer of bad news. Your work performance has been exceptional. We may be able to hire you back in a couple of months when our cash flow improves.” And, until then … exactly what? Just tell the park manager to chill out, and that I’ll have the lot rent in two or three months? That should go over really well. Not!

“What about the van?” Hope Bill doesn’t flip out and take it on a joyride to Crescent City [75 miles (121 km) north] to see that tramp again.

“You can drop it off today or tomorrow. No rush. Someone will be here to drive you back home.” No thanks, ex-boss. I’ll just take the bus.

“Ok, Marty. Will do.” Bill then terminated the call. Some days it doesn’t pay to wake up. Yeah, some mornings you envy the deceased.

On April 10th, while returning from a morning walk, Bill saw a white envelope taped to his front door. It was from the park office. The form letter was giving him official notice that if he didn’t have the full rent payment by April 15th, he would be evicted. Oh, crap! What to do now? Can’t hit up the bank of mom and pop anymore. [They died in 2013 and 2012, respectively.] Should I hit up Steve [his five-years-younger brother in Flagstaff, Arizona] for a loan? Or, maybe Sylvia? [his three-years-older sister in New York City] No. This is my problem to deal with. Just figure something out.

Bill glanced out the main window. A small Hispanic boy in the playground was trying to carry two red kickballs, but kept dropping them, as his arms just weren’t long enough yet to cradle both. Then the boy left one ball on the ground and ran off gleefully with the other one. That’s it! I’ll sell the old pickup truck and keep the camper right here. [Kelley] Blue Book value is $3,400 for a private-party sale. Price it much lower. Maybe $2,500. Yeah, that’s it; that should move it fast. A quick cash-only sale. Yes! That’s the ticket. Anyway, the grocery store and fast-food restaurants are only a short walk away. Plus, both orange and gold [route] bus stops are right there on Giuntoli. [Lane] Yeah, let’s list that truck online right now.

Three anxious, nearly sleepless, gray days later, Bill got lucky: His burgundy, high mileage, 2001 Dodge Ram pickup was bought by a middle-aged Caucasian man from Blue Lake (5.6 miles – 9 km – east) for the asking price. After being dropped off by the new owner on Boyd Road, he walked to the park office and paid his outstanding balance. Bill breathed a sigh of relief as he ambled down Oasis Street towards his camper. Mission accomplished. Wonder when Marty will call? Sure hope he calls by May 1st.

April turned into May with no word from Marty. Bill then began calling around for work. However, there was no electrician work to be had, except for a small company in Fortuna (28 miles – 45 km – south). But, he thought it was just too far away, and ruled it out.

And then, with hours of free time on his hands, Bill started drinking. Heavier. And heavier. By June 1st he was up to a 12-pack a day. And by July 1st, he was up another 25%. Yet, his savings were down 75%. Time was running down. But, his stress was running up. Way up.

On Friday evening, July 4th, a nine-year-old boy lit off a firecracker in the playground. It triggered a PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) episode, Bill’s first since 1997. Bill immediately had a vision of a charred, still smoldering, blown-off left arm – his army buddy’s – on the kitchen floor. He ran outside, somewhat drunk, and began yelling: “Get down! Incoming! Everyone, get down now! And, stay down.”

The kids stopped and looked at him, all mouths agape. Time froze. A passing vireo almost forgot to flap her wings.

Then, about ten seconds later, he realized that he had suffered another PTSD event. He turned around, lowered his head, and slowly stumbled back inside his camper. It’s over. I’m cracking up. I’m almost broke. What to do now? Ah, yes, I know. It’s mini-storage time.

The next Monday he walked to the park office. He told the sandy-blonde-haired, 40-ish, slightly overweight Caucasian lady the truth: He was just about out of money. Bill also told her that he was willing to sell his camper for only $3,500, just 70% of its current value. She agreed to give him one month to sell it.

Bill put a For Sale sign on his camper and advertised it on a local buy-sell-trade website. In the last week of July, a prospective buyer showed up and offered him $3,200. Bill accepted the bid, provided that the 50-something, thin-mustached Honduran drive him and his belongings to Mad River Storage Center in Glendale (3.7 miles – 6 km – east). The man then replied: “Deal, señor.” [mister in Spanish] And, off they went in the man’s shiny, blue, 2012 Ford F-250 pickup, camper in tow. So much for this place. It’s been mostly nice.

At the mini-storage facility in Glendale, the smiling, denim-clad Latino helped Bill unload the contents of his former camper into a 6’ x 8’ (1.83 x 2.44 meters) exterior-access storage space at the back of the property in the shadow of a tall evergreen. Perfect. Joe [an old friend of Bill] gave me the 24-hour gate code. Murphy’s [a grocery store] is just across the street. That will also be my bathroom. Sponge baths here we come. Great! There’s an electrical outlet for the fridge and microwave. A space heater should be enough for the winter. Living on the margins now – on the edge of homelessness. I should probably start a journal. Maybe turn it into a novel someday.

Bill thanked the Hispanic man. Then he watched his camper being pulled away. There she goes. Bye-bye, humble abode. / [English translation] Is that man going to live in that mini-storage unit? I think he is.

From August to November, Bill’s 400-foot-radius (244-meter-wide) world was just three places: his mini-storage loft, Murphy’s, and the adjacent bowling alley (E & O Lanes), or more specifically, the D & L Lounge.

It was at this no-frills D & L Lounge at 5:05 PM on the Friday after Thanksgiving that Bill started talking to a svelte, red-dressed, mid-40-something brunette. She had seen better times, too.

“So, what’s your story?” he brazenly asked her as she took a seat at the bar, two stools to his right. She’s quite attractive. Almost too attractive for this place. / Woah! When was the last time this guy shaved?

She raised her penciled eyebrows. “Oh, nothing that unusual. Got married. Had two healthy kids. They grew up and left home. Husband failed to grow up. So, I left home, too. Got divorced. Took a financial beating. And, now I’m here. Now, what’s your story? Oh, by the way, my name is Charlene.” Charlene, Charlene. Where is that Charlene from my army unit now?

“Nice to meet you, Charlene. My name is Bill. I’m a Desert Storm vet. Now an out-of-work electrician. Divorced, too. But, never had any kids. My living arrangement at the moment is quite unique.”

“You still live with your ex, don’t you?” Huh?!

“Oh, God, no! Nothing like that.”

“Hmmm … Let me guess. Hold on. It’s coming to me. You’re renting a garage apartment in Arcata.” Probably from a successful sibling.

“Ha! I wish.”

“You’re renting a backyard shed near the airport [ACV] in McKinleyville.”

“Warmer.” I wonder if he can still get it up.

“You’re living in an unfinished basement.” That sure would be nice.


“Bill, I think you have me stumped.” Man, I’d love to stump-hump her.

“Drumroll, please. Dah-dah-dah-dum. Ok, prepare for shock, Charlene. I’m living in a mini-storage unit across the street. I plan on turning the experience into a novel someday.” Whew! The wacky ones always seem to find me.

“Oh, my … Well, I’m sorry to hear that, Bill.”

“It’s really not that bad. It’s quiet. Never any loud neighbors. The space heater is more than adequate on chilly nights.”

“But, it’s cramped, right?”

“Space is at a premium.” I’m sure.

“Excuse my bluntness, but where do you use the bathroom, brush your teeth, and take a shower?”

“Over at Murphy’s.” No wonder he looks – and smells – the way he does. Need to get him cleaned up. Seems like a decent guy just down on his luck. Maybe he doesn’t have a family. Plus, he’s a vet. I owe it to him.

“Hey Bill, the small house that I’m renting has a large, insulated shed with electricity and indoor plumbing. Could you afford $200 a month, all utilities included?” Sure could use some help on my rent. He looks trustworthy. I don’t think he would rape me, or harm me in any way. Might even add some safety. That house is way out by itself. I’m an easy target out there all alone.

“Sure. When can I move in?” Bill grinned. He almost looked like Jack Nicholson from ‘The Shining’ when he said that. Should I really do this? / I bet she’s wild in the sack.

“Well, I live out in the country. Do you have a car?”

“I had a pickup truck, but not anymore. Sold it. Are you near a bus stop?”

“No, I’m not anywhere near a bus stop. However, I have a motor scooter than you are welcome to use.”

Two days later, an overcast Sunday (November 30th) afternoon with drizzle, Bill was loading his stuff into Charlene’s silver minivan. They then drove three miles (about 5 km) up Fieldbrook Road to a small one-bedroom cottage off in the woods.

Charlene backed down to the outbuilding, about twenty meters (65.6 feet) behind her redwood-sided, one-level residence. She then helped Bill load his stuff into the finished shed, which was almost as big as her cabin. Eighteen wet minutes later, Bill prepaid the rent with ten $20 bills. Nice to get the money up front. He’s a good guy.

Charlene then walked back to her 2007 Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Dusk was already mixing with the silent, almost-hovering mist. She stopped and looked back at Bill. “You should have hot water in about thirty minutes. Have a restful night, Bill. Please call me if you need anything, or if something isn’t working. Oh, the motor scooter has some gas in it. Feel free to use it. I think tomorrow will be less rainy.” She trusts me. / I hope that I haven’t made a terrible decision.

Bill and Charlene would have a wild sexual romp after a wine-saturated dinner the next night in the cozy cottage. It had been a long time without for both of them. They, however, would still maintain their separate domiciles. It made the sexual forays more exciting.

But then on Thursday, the 18th of December, Bill disappeared. Charlene wondered what had happened to him, as his belongings and cell phone were still in the shed. She considered calling the police, but for some reason never went through with it. She just assumed that he was wandering around somewhere, perhaps on a long hike.

Two days later, a dank Saturday, she saw his picture on a local news website while sipping herbal tea. He looked crazy, frightened and bewildered. Apparently a McKinleyville policeman had arrested Bill on Friday for cutting out sections of fence along the Mad River. The article stated that seven dogs, five goats and three horses were now missing.

Bill, who was apprehended in the frigid Mad River while standing with a staff in his right hand and a German Shepherd at his left side (on a point bar), died of hypothermia later that day. The dog survived.

Note: The idea for this story arrived when Monique (Agent 32) and I (Agent 33) saw a disheveled man and dog burst out from a wooded tract along the Mad River.

another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

AL on ARCATA by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | June 2017

Al on Arcata

by Mike Bozart

© 2017 Mike Bozart 

On a showery-from-remnants-of-Tropical-Storm-Cindy June (2017) morning in near-uptown Charlotte (NC, USA), I texted my late-40-something, dark-haired with some salty patches, suave, always-quick-with-a-quip Caucasian pal, Al Niño (Agent A~O). I wasn’t sure of where he was on the globe at the moment.

Are you awake?

Fifty-nine minutes later, at 11:10 AM EDT, he replied.

Hey buddy! I’m awake now.

I tried to reply to his text with a call, but for some odd reason it just would not go through. Thus, I decided to send him a terse imperative-mood text.

Call me.

He rang me three minutes later. His slightly modified name came up on my phone’s tiny screen.

“Hello, is this the amazing one?”

“Al Niño here – live – not a recording.”

“Well, how lucky can we be?”

“You tell me, Mike van Tryke.” [my art-name]

“Well, Al, maybe not so lucky. We’re off by a minute.”

“What do you mean, Michael?” Oh boy, he’s already on with that darn Michael shtick. He knows how it grates on me, and he relishes it.

“Al, I texted you at 10:11, and you replied at 11:10.”

“Yeah, so what? I was asleep. I was up late last night, thinking about my next life-changing invention, which I certainly won’t share with you at this juncture, when I realized that of the seven days of the week, only Tuesday has seven letters.” Wow! I thought the same thing three nights ago, but I won’t tell him. He would never believe me.

“Woah! You’re getting as bad as me, Al. Anyway, the texting times could have been 10:10 and 11:11 if I were quicker and you were slower by sixty seconds.” What in the world is he talking about now? / Zeros and ones: binary, too.

“Yeah, well, there are pills for that, Michael. Please tell me that you are not still sweeping leaves off the back deck, raking them up, bagging them, then dumping them back on the deck, and – ” Oh, brother.

“No, no. That High Peak [near Etowah, NC, USA] daze is over and done. So, where are you?”

“Back home.” [a posh penthouse condo in lower Manhattan, New York City]

“So, how was Italy?”

“Nice. We had a fantastic fortnight in old Italia. [sic] We stayed mostly in the north, in the Lombardy region.”

“Ah, Al Milano.” [sic]

Al chuckled. “We did a day in Rome, and trust me, that was enough.” Probably suffered a gaffe.

“You weren’t a roamin’ Roman?” How cheeseball.

“No, just a-roamin’ with ramen. Cup in hand, mon.” [sic] Al’s already in not-so-rare form.

“Did you get canaled in Venice?” Tryke’s so corny.

“No, we passed on Venice this go-round. Too many tourists this time of year.”

“How was the weather?”

“Splendid. It was your classic Mediterranean dry-season weather. Sunny, but not too hot. Low humidity. Nothing like Charlotte or New York City in June. How was the weather in coastal Humboldt?” [County, CA, USA]

“Great! Pleasantly cool and overcast for the most part. Misty mornings, but no rain. Castle weather, as we call it. Oh, speaking of Humboldt, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about your time in Arcata.” He’s recording for another short story. I’m sure his graphic depiction of me will be quite bizarre.

“Sure, fire away, 33. [my psecret psociety agent no.] You’ve got ten minutes. I have a conference call at noon and must organize some notes beforehand.” Organize some notes? On what? Maybe he’s already baked.

“Ok, excellent. I have ten questions, A-tilde-Oh.”

“One minute per question. Hope you don’t have any three-parters.” Free farters.

“No, they’re all single-sentence-answer questions, Al.” Good.

“Go! The clock has started, Michael.” Ughhh.

“Question one: Why did you pick HSU [Humboldt State University] for your junior and senior years of college?” [Al took his first two years at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.]

“My best friend’s – well, at the time – brother was going there. He said that it was pretty cool. And, it being in the weed [marijuana] capital of the United States was a big plus.” I’m sure it was.

“Ok, question two: When did you start at HSU in Arcata?”

“Oh, it must have been August of 1999 or 2000.” He forgot the year? Yeah, he’s stoned.

“Ok, moving right along. Question three: Where did you live?”

“I lived on campus the first semester. However, being an older student, I didn’t really like it. Thus, I moved to an off-campus apartment at Sunset [Avenue] & Western. [Avenue] It was only a seven-minute pedal-pumper on the bike.” Pedal-pumper? Perhaps Al knows that I’m recording.

“Very good. Question four: How long did you live out there?”

“Let’s see … I graduated in December of 2002. So, two and a half years, I guess.” He guesses? Yeah, he sparked up a bowl for breakfast.

“Ok, question five: Where did you hang out mostly?”

“I mostly hung out around Arcata Plaza.”

“Oh, we stayed next to it.”

“Really? Where?”

“Hotel Arcata.”

“Oh, yes. Good pick. Very convenient.”

“It was. We walked to Humboldt Brewing one evening. It was a cool scene.”

“Ah, yes, Humbrews. Been there many times.”

“Ok, question six: Did you ever go to Trinidad?” [15 miles (24 km) north of Arcata]

“Dude, I went all the way up the coastal highway to Vancouver, Canada. Trinidad Bay is very scenic. Sea stacks aplenty.”

“Did you hike Trinidad Head?”

“Many times.”

“I wrote a short story about our hike on Trinidad Head, Al.”

“Oh, what’s the title, Michael?”

“The title is – are you ready for this? – Trinidad Head. It’s about 3,500 words. The tale lopes and loops.” Lopes and loops? Tryke’s been sniffing glue in the office again.

“You’re wasting time, 33.”

“Question seven: Did you ever go to Old Town in Eureka?” [8 miles (13 km) south]

“I endured it a few times. Too many spangers.” [sic]


“Bums asking for spare change. Not sure who coined that portmanteau.” Portmanteau?

“We stayed in a two-star motel [Town House] on the edge of Old Town for two nights. Monique [Agent 32, my wife] was thoroughly freaked-out by all of the tweakers [methamphetamine addicts] on the sidewalks.”

“The new mayor of Eureka is a tweaker.” Wow!

“Really, Al?”

“Yeah, there are now so many of them that they were able to vote one of their own into office.”

“Unbelievable!” It’s just too easy to fool him.

“Not! Jesus Christ, Tryke! You are still as gullible as ever.” He’s right.

“Question eight: How are the winters in Arcata?”

“One hundred and twenty-one – if it’s not a Leap Year – consecutive, sunless, chilly-ass, agonizing, rainy days: December, January, February, March.” Nice quick math. Maybe Al’s not totally toasted.

“Exaggerating a bit, aren’t you?”

“Maybe a hair. But, it’s almost as bad as Seattle. Mold would grow on the walls if I didn’t run the dehumidifier. It was the only place that I ever got jock itch.” Lovely.

“I think I could deal with it, Al. I’m not a sun person like you. I’ll take a damp, gray winter in exchange for mild year-round temperatures.”

“It’s only mild if you’re within four miles [6.4 km] of the coast. Even Blue Lake, which is just six miles [9.7 km] as a crow flies from the ocean, is much colder in the winter and warmer – and much sunnier – in the summer. The marine-layered coastline is dank all year.”

“But remember, Al, we like that castle weather.”

“I like some, too. But, trust me, Tryke; the winters in Arcata will try your mind. People go batty. Everything has to be inside. It gets claustrophobic. Therefore, lots of over-medication. New addicts every May. There’s a saying that I will never forget: ‘Arcata winters are so drab that atheists begin to pray.’ Yeah, it’s that bad, bud. Believe me.” I bet that he just made that up.

“Ok, question nine; it’s a bit personal: Any girlfriends while at HSU? You can hit the Skip button if you like.”

“I only got laid twice in twenty-nine months.”

“No way! Not a hip hepcat like you. Don’t underreport now.”

“It’s the cold, hard-on truth. Most of the women out there weren’t my type. The stripper in Eureka was almost a relief. At least she shaved her legs and underarms … and, yes, her pubes.” What candor!

“Ok, Al, we’ve somehow made it to question ten, which is: Would you ever move back?”

“I go back to visit every year. But, only in mid-summer. The place pulls at your heart and mind when you leave.”

“Yeah, I hear ya, Al. I already want to go back.”

“But, as for living out there year-round again … No, can’t say that I would. I certainly would love to buy a small pad out there. It’s a cool summer place. I just can’t four-season it.”

“I think that Monique and I could do the winters just fine.”

“A lot of easterners say that before they actually live inside a cold, waterlogged sponge. And, hiking in 39-degree [Fahrenheit; 4º Celsius] rain is not much fun.”

“I guess that my tolerance for cool, wet weather is higher than yours, Al. I’ll take those kind of days over 97-degree, [Fahrenheit; 36º Celsius] sun-scorching sauna-steamers.”

“Whatever, Tryke. Those limited-to-the-interior winters drive people incrementally insane.” What a ridiculous remark. Oh, just let it go.

“Ok, that’s it, Al. Thanks for your time, jetsetter.”

“I have one question for you, Michael.”

“Sure. Shoot.”

“What did you think of Arcata Bay?”

“Underwhelming to be honest. I like rocky shorelines. So, how’s that screenplay going?”


another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

Fortunate in Fortuna by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | July 2017

Fortunate in Fortuna

by Mike Bozart

© 2017 Mike Bozart 

Fortuna. Spanish for fortune. A place with a name like that surely invites a psecret psociety visit when in the vicinity. And we, Monique (Agent 32, my wife) and I (Agent 33), very much were on Saturday, June 3rd (2017).

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(Pages 1-41 show above.)