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February 19, 2024

Bohemian Morning 17

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Seventeen

His choices for degrees were impressive but rather useless until he either caved and took up teaching or bothered to write a novel. Both are options, he spilled to me right after we'd first met. He was horrified that for the most part, all his carefully learned and earned knowledge was useless in the present-day world. He said he had always wanted to know why things happened and how they were viewed in the past and possibly in the future. Once he graduated, he found out those bits didn't matter, and he hated stuffy classrooms, so he went back for more. I enjoyed his wide-eyed enthusiasm about the past. He didn't know I was a piece of -- well, not-so-living history. I wasn't going to tell him if I could avoid it but life was funny so I didn't know if I'd be able to keep my secrets; only time would tell. Besides enforcers would cut his human life short fast if I leaked anything, I'd seen it happen many times.

Keeping my thoughts buried, I finished my musings and went back to my preparations for my evening dinner date. Time flew and soon I was ready to go meet up with Caleb and maybe the unknown pirate calling himself Davy. The fog had crept back into the streets just as weather forecasts had predicted. I'd decided to Uber up to Del Mar. I used the handy Uber app on my new replacement cell phone and after some consideration I had elected to meet my ride up the street, near the bar from the little incident the night before.

As I approached the corner where I'd told my Uber driver to find me, I observed there was a lack of any patrons lingering around the entrance to the bar and from the bright lights on inside I could see directly into the tavern area -- it was almost completely empty. The rapist crew and my 'friend' Bob the sociopathic murderer had all fished out of that spot and I gathered from currently the empty business that the cops had swung by earlier and been asking all sorts of nasty and informatively leading questions. Funny how fast the word went out on social media networks -- turning the former 'hot spot' ice cold in mere hours.

In answering to my unspoken guesses, I saw that a local television station had sent one of their 'around town' news vans -- no, I wasn't using some exotic vampiric senses but reading the wrap on the van with all the newsy information needed. A very pretty lady -- just missing stunning by a nose, so to speak -- with a microphone in hand was bossing around a large man with a professional quality camera on his shoulder. His ballcap was on backwards and he nodded at her shrill directions while framing the shot as she wanted. My Uber had arrived, and I made a mental note to check that stations newscast later in the evening, that is if everything went well, and find out what was being reported. I didn't have time to fish through the news cycles online at the moment.

My driver was waxing on about the bad traffic and overpriced everything without a single word from me. His monologue was obviously part of his 'local charm' but I tuned him out and waited to get into Del Mar. I had made my destination the corner of Camino Del Mar and Fifteenth Street. I'd given Caleb the same location to meet me. Once I was out of the car, I looked around the deserted street for my other 'date'. Pirate Davy had asked/demanded to meet me, but he hadn't specified that I needed to be alone. I took that as permission. There were a number of cars racing through the small town fairly ignorant of basic driving in fog rules. Camino Del Mar was actually a major highway in other sections of the state. The town liked the pretentious notion that they were above state and federal funding and pretty much did whatever the mayor of the week proposed. That included their own little traffic narrows along with arbitrary stop signs that were only enforced near quarter budget end from the angry stories I'd seen online about Del Mar. They were one of the remaining towns that still had the speed trap motion-sensored traffic lights. I found it ridiculous given ten miles in either direction the road was called something totally different like Pacific Coast Highway -- hell if I knew anymore as they were constantly renaming stuff it seemed like every time I bothered to buy or print a damn map. Either way just a block or so west of Camino Del Mar was the Coast Boulevard that ran alongside the ocean.

The Pacific Ocean danced in the fog down the hill west of me from where I was waiting. As I stood in the arch of a closed shop, I saw Caleb bounce out of a smaller car and wave off what appeared to be one of his many surfing buddies. Caleb had tons of surfers he relied on for transportation -- I wasn't even sure that he even had a car after all this time -- much less a viable driver's license. It didn't matter, he always seemed to show up when I needed. I noticed he had a small dark backpack slung over his shoulder. He was dressed well enough for either of the Del Mar beachside restaurants indicated by Davy as our meet and greet joint. The choices to me were clearly either The Poseidon Restaurant or Jake's Del Mar from my quick scan of local places actually physically on the beach in old Del Mar. The Poseidon had been renamed a few times and was the location I remember having easy beach access along with easily bribable staff. Some things really never changed, I'd long discovered. Caleb's eyes met mine as he walked towards me.

"Bethany, you look wicked tonight. What's up?" He gave me a half-armed hug while we turned towards the intersection. I regarded my occasional 'date' and bit back a sigh. I should've anticipated his current state. It was definitely my fault for not asking him to be sober -- it wasn't my first time using him as a date.

"Thanks, Caleb. And you look semi-stoned. You sure you up for my type of fun?" I well knew that he did embrace the casual drug use common amongst college students and surfers of all ages. The legal use of recreational drugs in California made it so adults didn't even bother to try to hide their formerly illicit habits. I wouldn't have normally commented but I could possibly need his back up and stoned Caleb wasn't always smart. At least he wasn't driving.

"Dude ... oh, sorry!!" At my pointed glare he quickly mumbled, "Bethany, I like totally forgot you hate being called Dude. No disrespect meant, girl. I haven't seen you in forever." He literally shook his head in an awkward attempt to shake loose the smoke. We both knew it didn't work that way but hopefully we had enough time to feed him and we'd be able to 'harsh his buzz' to use the surfer vernacular.

Looking around and seeing we were alone he said, "No, seriously I am totally fine. Long day but I picked up some real clean smoke -- primo not laced with anything -- so I won't screw up your life." His eyes met mine and I could see he was really trying to focus. Trying again not to audibly sigh, instead I shrugged his arm off my shoulders and nodded. I don't know why I didn't figure out karma was a vicious, capricious bitch on a good day. I should've known Caleb would show up in an altered state. Nothing I could do, so I began to walk down towards Seagrove Park at the end of Fifteenth Street. The incline was not too steep, but I was glad to be wearing boots without heels. The wet pavement didn't exactly leave much in the way of purchase, but Caleb trotted after me in his Sperry Topsiders -- sans socks useful when on the boats and wanting to look dressed up -- he was still trying to figure out if I was pissed off or what. I wasn't sure either so I couldn't help him much. I left him to his fuzzy musings as we walked.

We strolled in silence past the post office and old apartments probably called condos now. The Seagrove Park was a nice grassy park with area for weddings, concerts and outdoor events but when it was covered in fog the Torrey Pine trees took on an ominous appearance. The twining pathways meandered north to the sidewalk that crossed the coastal railroad tracks. Just then the bar came down across Coast Boulevard with all the necessary bells and whistles. We waited just a bit south of the restaurants in silence. The rumble of the massive engine ate through the heavy fog and the conductor pulled heavily on the whistle to allow any of the local drunken suicidal fools to get off the track. Sadly, even all the noise and barriers didn't prevent determined humans from being flattened now and then. I couldn't see anyone standing on the path of the train so soon it went south onto San Diego without interruption. The loud cars rattled past us and we waited for the bars to raise and be able to continue down the sidewalk. The loud sound seemed to sober up my companion a bit and we headed towards the Powerhouse, a large structure on the beach side of the street. Over the decades the cylindrical building had been rebuilt from the original Stratford Inn's actual powerhouse. Hot water was provided for the hotel, cottages, pool and laundry service in one incarnation. The building had been a nightclub and even desalinization plant for a time. Finally, it had been revamped by the city for parties, meetings and other events. Framed by lush plants and large palm trees it was easily visible even through the dense fog.

I'd decided we were going to The Poseidon and duly informed Caleb -- not that he seemed to care one way or the other -- he was very easy going.

"Like so what's the game plan?" he ventured into the foggy, wet air.

"I am buying you dinner and we may have some guy or two come sit next to us. Not sure if he's friend or foe." I said quietly knowing fog carried voices in the night -- vampire hearing or not.

Nodding -- either understanding what I'd just said or not -- he replied, "Cool."

I still wasn't sure how foggy his brain was but we were short of time and other than possibly a good meal I didn't see how to change that fact. I didn't like to dig into the brains of acquaintances without good reasons. Too much vampire tracks could easily damage who he was in the long run. That said, if need be, I could slip into his head and sober his damn ass up fast -- reluctantly. I bit back another sigh. Really poor planning on my part, not telling him to show up sober, but that was on me.

We continued our sauntering towards the restaurant without talking. His brain was fairly well full with THC and the associated chemicals he'd smoked prior to meeting up with me. Primo weed didn't exactly come with an ingredients and additives list from Caleb's buddies from what I knew. Legal issues aside he'd always 'partaken' in his lifetime -- claimed it mellowed his edges and helped him study. I wasn't his mom or girlfriend so didn't see any need to lecture the man. I was still working mentally through my past encounters trying quickly to figure out who was Davy Martin. The e-mail had been sent to Lana, not my usual addresses adding in the weird reference to me as Bethany who'd vouch for him. Confusing but I had to admit my brain wasn't focused quite right yet. My slaughtering of Bob and his boys had taken a bit from me. Add in the note from Jason telling me that new enforcers were heading out West wasn't precisely giving me warm and fuzzy feelings.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-03-08
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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