by Michael Davidson
It is after shuffleboard at the Cat that Locust suggests a ride in the Dolphin. He says that he’s going to drive it down to Ocean Beach regardless of whether Rob and I join him. He says that the Dolphin and him understand each other like that. I ask him what he means by this. He finishes his Maker’s Mark and says:
I’ll let you drive it. You’ll see what I mean once you get behind the wheel.
I live on top of a fairly steep hill off Voltaire Street, so I kick the Dolphin in neutral for the coast down. That’s right, the Dolphin is dressed with a manual transmission that, though not very responsive, does give the driver more control than if it were dolled up with an automatic gearbox.
The encumbered roll of the wheels gets me smiling wry. Never have I felt more like a turtle. I look at Rob sitting behind us in the living quarters and say:
So, this is what it’s like carrying your home on your back?
Someone laughs, but it sounds like its coming from the depths of the cabin. Must be an echo. Locust turns the wheel of his iPod and finds a tune that gets my thumbs keeping time. On Cable Street I hang a left. The Dolphin waddles into alignment, straightens its skirt. We pass Ocean Beach Books.
OB Books! OB Books!
That’s the Maker’s Mark keeping me enthusiastic, making me young, puerile. In my puerility, I remember Keith Finley, the owner of OB Books, talking about Ran, his favorite movie. The lights are off inside his bookstore, the shelves of secondhand books are asleep in the dark, waiting to be summoned by a curious hand, an eager mind.
Locust asks if we feel like going to the lifeguard tower on the beach. He says he has a few 24-ounce cans of Steel Reserve in the pocket fridge. Rob walks into the kitchen area and surveys the inventory. Stocked.
Apart from an orange and white VW Westfalia, the parking lot is vacant at this hour. I use a spot closest to the sand. With minimal effort on my part, the Dolphin pulls in like a dart finding its target.
We are beginning to understand each other, this machine and me.
I put the Dolphin in first with the clutch depressed. Then I turn the engine off. Rob uses the house door to exit. Locust and I use driver and passenger door respectively.
Ocean Beach. The temperature is brisk. The sand porous. The waves strike the pier beams mercilessly. Sometimes there is an explosion. Bass and mist fill the air.
My sweatshirt is back on after the embarrassment I suffered at the Cat. It will not be coming off again until I return to the privacy of home.