We sped down the road after hitting the taqueria. The Mission has all kinds of “world famous” places that let the tinga sizzle before it hits your checkered basket. It was like a Hawaiian night, the non-romantic parts after the sunset when it’s foggy and hot and enveloping.
His car was a dart in the black. He wore a sky blue buttoned shirt with a swanky smartwatch. There was no one who could dress sharper than him.
“I miss New York,” he said. “I had time between work and play back there. I’m glad we’re doing something Kerouac-y anyways, sorry I ran late.”
“I am really excited to get out of the city at all. Don’t worry. I’m glad you took a chance on doing something at all!”
“For sure, thanks.”
I popped more of the cayenne-slapped meat, fingers oily byproducts of my hand, in my mouth, and watched Pacifica skate by. My mom lived here in the 1980s. It was a different Bay. Things are always different, so that comment is pretty non-essential. I hate the way I think.
“How did you find this place, Will?”
“I saw it as I drove to Half Moon Bay one time,” he said. “I thought I’d share it with my new buddy.”
“I’m honored,” I smiled. “I like getting a chance to hear the ocean so clearly.”
“Oh yeah, big time,” he grinned a Buzz Lightyear grin, a single dimple concave on his right cheek.
A perfectly molded tunnel sucked the Volkswagen inside and Will punched it. He was the type of man who loved the roar of a car with not much roar, the type of man who created his own speedway. Or so I decided.
“I really appreciate you wanting to hang out,” I said. “To be frank, it seems hard to make friends down here. People are lazy, but live in their bubbles. Bad combo.”
“I pretty much agree,” he laughed. “It’s weird. I’m glad you were down!”
He parked the car in an empty lot with one working street light. Everything was draped under a dim quilt, some murky gaze.
“I think they’ll tow my car if I leave it here,” he said.
“Oh no way,” I swiped at the air with an empty hand. “There’s no one out here.”
“I don’t think so. It’s like thirty minutes from anything, guy.”
He got out of the car and pushed the door shut, so I did the same. It was windy and I tucked myself deeper in the Woolrich I picked up at a vintage store on Haight. It was a walking blanket and I was a fog-bound child.
NO HIKING OR CLIMBING screamed from a yellow sign strapped to a broken chain fence. We disregarded it, toeing our way onto a sodden dirt path. It could have been Washington if there had been more trees. It could have been Mexico were it warmer. It couldn’t have been any place because it was so unmade.
The cliff was a catacomb. There once had been some type of military radar tower, proud and oblique perched on the edge of the Pacific. Now it was a graffiti-d ruin for hooligans and tourists.
“This is so Scooby-Doo,” Will joked. “I don’t want to go in.”
“I’ll go in!”
“Yeah, we’ve only got one life to live!”
Will was quiet as I scrambled up the front of the ziggurat. I only saw Tecate cans and strange paper refuse. I came back down and we circled to the rear of the old bunker, the edge of the cliff. Echo birds flapped overhead before notching straight down in a craze. I thought about cliff jumpers. I thought about total darkness. I imagined Will’s car flying from the edge of the road and into the sea. I hate the way I think.
“What do you miss about New York?”
Will was quiet. I looked back at him and took in his enormous frame. His Midwest jaw was cast to the sky and his baby blue eyes were half-closed. His hands lived in his pockets. I felt my heart skip on a beat.
I looked again to the ocean. Far away a blinking light told me that someone was sailing, their adventure never ending and always expanding, and I was envious. I am never content. I hate the way I think.
“I don’t know,” Will said.
The sound of shambling rocks hit the sides of my head. A suddenness was involved. I looked over my shoulder and Will’s baby blue eyes were close to me like the pressure of an earthquake. His butcher’s hands were in between my shoulder blades.
“Hey,” I said.
My right foot lifted and then my left. The red and black flannel whipped around me like a light-lost moth. I sunk forward like a fishing line. Stars moved like a mobile overhead, and when I would rotate they would appear again, and again, and again.
His eyes were cast away the last time I saw his face, the edge of the world.
I hate the way I think.
Paolo Bicchieri is a Chicano author, poet, and journalist who writes for folks on the margins. His work has been published in Headway Literary, From Bellingham With Love, OutdoorsNW, and his debut book “Eight Gods: Green Dragons” can be found in a number of West Coast bookstores. He is often taking things either far too seriously or not nearly seriously enough.