it wasn’t a bad place really. an old two story victorian that somewhere along the line had been converted into a two unit rental. jake lived on the second floor with a couple of other guys and the occasional girlfriend of one or more of them. the house sat in one of the better neighborhoods of oakland, ca. better neighborhoods were a dicey thing for oakland. you might think it were so but that didn’t make it true. not by any sane man’s standards.
not far from the old victorian was piedmont. a small burg tucked into the hills of oakland and in fact actually one in of the few decent neighborhoods for several miles in any direction. a sort of upscale village as it were. jake liked going there to hang out and maybe get a take out vanilla sundae with vanilla ice cream from the ice cream parlor on the main drag in piedmont.
jake would take the sundae to st mary’s cemetery which was where the main drag ended. he liked the peace and quiet of the cemetery and the beauty of the old family mausoleums. plus, the view from the hilly cemetery of san francisco, the bay, and berkeley was spectacular. it was a good place for reading, eating ice cream, taking photos, or just doing nothing. of them all, just doing nothing was his favorite in the quiet and peaceful place.
one warm and clear spring day jake was up in the cemetery taking photos. the clear blue sky and light were magnificent. the old mausoleums were stark against the deep blue sky. the miniature castles and cathedrals came to life that day in jake’s camera. as the light and colors danced through his head he thought maybe he could even try to sell some of the photos.
jake was so engrossed in his picture taking that he stumbled over a young lady as he was walking backwards lining up a shot. she had been kneeling down taking photographs of her own.
oh, i’m sorry i wasn’t paying attention. are you alright?
um, i think so.
here let me help you up. how’s your camera?
after jake had helped the young lady to her feet they chatted awkwardly a bit before jake decided to ask the young lady if she would care to join him for a vanilla sundae down in the village. amazingly she agreed.
the sundae was sublime as was the conversation once the awkwardness abated. the two seemed to hit it off. jake was more than pleased because since his return from vietnam he’d felt like he was on the outside of most things. the ladies for sure.
this is fantastic. who would have thought, a vanilla sundae. how did you come up with this?
thanks. but it’s not mine originally. a musician friend of mine came up with it a while back.
doesn’t matter, that sundae was great!
glad you enjoyed it. um, ah, hey…you wanna head back to my place and smoke a joint?
sure. sounds good.
jake and his new friend began to make their way back to the victorian just a few blocks away.
it’s funny but i haven’t asked you your name.
stephanie. it’s not that funny.
yeah, i know. sure it’s not…
doesn’t matter. you haven’t told me yours either.
jake. um, jake is my name.
shy jake. that’s what i’ll call you.
if you say so.
i say so.
once back at the victorian jake showed stephanie around the place. even the back porch which included a nice view of the bay bridge. once the tour was out of the way jake proceeded to roll a joint.
i think you’ll find this to be some pretty good shit.
oh? will i?
ahhh, yeah…i mean…
silly. see what i mean?
after jake was finished with rolling the doobie he lit it up and inhaled deeply. then he passed it to stephanie who did likewise. well, not the lighting up part.
ummm. yeah. very nice. you have good taste.
thanks. lucky me. sundaes and pot.
ummmm. yeah, sundaes and pot. sort of out of order but still…very nice.
jake took a chance and the two new friends fell into each others arms and kissed deeply. they paused only to finish the joint. when the joint got down to the roach jake tried to put it in the ashtray.
no you don’t.
give it to me.
jake handed stephanie the roach. she proceeded to swallow it. then chased it with some wine jake had found.
ah, sure. very cool.
as men and women were want to do they kissed again and the afternoon went from there. things took their normal course. soon jake was in love. there was no denying it. as for stephanie. it was up in the air. though they continued to see one another.
when jake wasn’t seeing stephanie he hung out with some musician friends he knew. hitting the music clubs or doing walking tours of downtown oakland on the weekend while drinking vodka from the bottle and smoking joints. afterwards hitting up some place for a late lunch or early dinner. downtown oakland was an amazing place on the weekend. few people equaled less crime and more freedom to roam about.
one of jake’s stranger evenings without stephanie was with another friend and a night of drinking. there was a restaurant and bar near the oakland/berkeley line. the food was ok and the drinks were cheap during happy hour. the food as well. the two friends started their evening there then proceeded to a near by bar after happy hour was over in the restaurant.
they spent the rest of the evening in the bar drinking and talking to the bartender and his buddy. they were the only four people in the place the entire night. they were also tossed out at closing time. and way too drunk to be driving. but that didn’t occur to them.
they immediately got lost and some how or another ended up driving on a an old abandoned railroad siding that traveled between some light industrial buildings. of course, they got stuck. the old pick up they were in came to a sudden stop high centered on a mound of dirt in the middle of the old tracks.
the friend said he’d go find a phone and call triple a. jake stayed behind and messed around with the car jack. which he somehow managed to break at some point. very loudly broke. jake was raising such a racket workers from several of the businesses were starting to come outside to see what was going on. this freaked jake out. he tossed the broken jack into the pick up bed and split to look for his friend.
after a friendly encounter with a berkeley cop jake somehow managed to find his way to a still busy downtown street and a phone booth. by this time it was well after 3am. he called a musician friend who had a car.
hey, jimmy, it’s jake.
what the fuck? ah, it’s after 3.
yeah, sorry. look i’m stuck in berkeley. can you give me a ride?
i know. look at it this way. you have to get up soon anyway for your new day gig.
man. jesus. ok. where are you?
shattuck and alcatraz.
alright i’ll be there as soon as i can. you owe me, man.
yeah, i know. i’ll cook you and bea dinner some night.
the only thing jake heard was a click and then dial tone. he stepped out of the phone booth and found a nearby bus bench sat down and waited for his friend. he must have dozed off because the next thing he heard was the loud exhaust pipes of his friend’s vw. then he heard his friend.
boy, do you looked fucked up. get in. i’m taking you back to my place. you can sleep on the couch for awhile then you can walk home later today.
ah, sure. whatever. thanks, man.