Going Home After All These Years

pier 14

Pier 14. (Photo: Curtis Simmons/Flickr)

“You embarrassed me this evening.” Myron was standing with Rachel outside the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco waiting for the valet to bring around the car.

“It was the truth. What are you complaining about?”

“Truth or not, you shouldn’t have said it.”

“It’s over and done with. Here comes the car now.”

He pulled out his wallet and extracted some bills. “Thank you,” he uttered softly as he tipped the young woman and then received the car keys.

“Here.” He tossed them at his wife, her unbidden reflexes deftly causing her to catch them.

“I’m driving?”

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Forlorn Rendezvous

goat island

Goat Island (now Yerba Buena Island) in San Francisco Bay.

“A child’s eyes light up when they see their Grandpa.” –Catherine Pulsifer

“Where is she? Are she and Leah well? Don’t just sit there man!” Isaiah was as frantic as Keisha had ever seen him during the short time they’d known each other. At the first mention of his Mom’s name, Josiah rushed over to his Dad. The teenager from another universe stood and waited.

The lighthouse keeper was rapidly writing on a pad and then put the pencil down. “She’s ceased transmitting. A moment, Isaiah.” Joachim began tapping at the telegraph key. Grandpa had taught Keisha Morse Code when she was little since one of the projects they’d worked on was building a working signaling system, but Rosenstein’s finger was moving too fast for her to understand the message. Then he stopped and listened.

“Sorry. I think she was cut off in the middle of her transmission. She’s not answering now.”

Isaiah put his arm around his son and took a deep breath. “Can you read out what you got?”

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Aerial Encounter

airship

© Vadim Voitekhovitch – Found at Deviant Art

“Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” –Alex Haley

Keisha guided, or so she thought, the ornately decorated airship “Graceful Delight” out of the gigantic hanger set upon a massive floating derrick just off of Alameda. However she was about to discover there’s a difference between reading and memorizing instructions, and real practical experience. She had never driven a car before, let alone piloted a fifteen-meter-long gondola suspended under a sixty-meter dirigible. When the propellers begin to drive the ship forward, they had spun up to a preset speed, dictating the Delight’s velocity, and whatever gas was inside the thin, metallic envelope above her head, was providing buoyancy and lift.

The Delight was accelerating upward and Keisha didn’t know how to stop it.

Frantically, she racked her memory for how to control the ship.

“Let’s see, these levers control engine speed, but how do I keep from going up?”

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Almost Home

fog

© Mara Eastern

Charlie and Betsy Shaw and their eight-year-old son Andy made their way through the fog toward their flat, still in a daze after a special Sunday evening service at their church. The Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was still so hard to believe. Betsy’s cousin Elwin was a Seaman First Class on the USS Arizona. Everybody was saying that Roosevelt and Congress weren’t going to keep us out of the war after this.

“I can hardly see where we’re going, Charlie.”

“We’re almost home, Hun. I know it’s been a hard day.”

Andy didn’t say anything, but he looked up at his parents searching for some kind of reassurance that his world hadn’t fallen apart. They both looked so lost.

“We’ve got to stop. I really can’t see though the fog. I think we’re lost.”

“How can we be lost?” Charlie didn’t want to admit he couldn’t see anything except fog and diffused light. “We’ve lived on this block for over ten years.”

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When David Met Ana

dutch windmill

© Fandango

“King’s Day, Ana?”

“King’s Day, David.”

The young couple was standing near the base of the Queen Wilhelmina Windmill at the western edge of Golden Gate Park. It was their third date and after brunch at the Cliff House, they decided to go for a walk. Ana Janssen was introducing David Silverstein to one of the City’s annual festivals.

“Every year in April the Dutch community has a celebration here just like in Holland in honor of the King. It’s a lot of fun. They always need volunteers. How about we do it together?”

“On one condition.”

“Name it.”

“You come with me to celebrate Purim next Sunday at the JCC.”

“What’s Purim?”

“Every year all over the world, Jewish communities celebrate our victory over a plot to destroy us in what is now Iran. It’s a lot of fun, probably a lot like King’s Day. Didn’t you ever read the Book of Esther?”

“No, but I’d love to learn. You teach me about it and I’ll tell you more about King’s Day.”

“Deal.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of February 27, 2018. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire authoring a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words. My word count is 174.

I cheated. I know where Fandango’s photo was taken. I used to live in San Francisco back when normal people could afford to and I’ve been past the windmills at the western edge of Golden Gate Park countless times. I looked them up and discovered that every April, the Dutch celebration of King’s Day is celebrated there. Sounds like a lot of fun, but is it a story?

I was sort of reminded of the Jewish celebration of Purim (which begins at sundown this coming Wednesday but was observed as a community event at San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center last Sunday) so I decided to talk about both of them through a young dating couple, with David being Jewish and Ana being of Dutch descent.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Sigil

shadow

Image: Business Insider

The Seventh Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The sigil left in his place made no sense.

Raquel was the first to see it amid the rubble. Even the firefighters and arson investigators hadn’t been able to get down to this level yet.

Clearly the carved sign had been substituted for the vampire Antonie, but it was in the shape of an inverted pentagram accompanied by a number of other symbols. She only recognized the “all-seeing eye” which is found on the dollar bill and she had no idea how to read the Latin.

The sigil was etched into the concrete floor below what Antonie had once called his throne. Raquel hadn’t known a time when he hadn’t been the cult leader of a group of vampires inhabiting the lowest level of what had once been an abandoned warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront.

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Nightfall

dracula's guest

Cover to the story “Dracula’s Guest.”

“T’was the night before Christmas and all through the church,
Sean the prideful had fallen a far way from his perch.”

The Third Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It hadn’t been Marishka. It hadn’t been her. Yes, he’d kissed Dol. He enjoyed kissing Dol. He wanted to have sex with Dol. But there hadn’t been anyone in the backseat of his car. He hadn’t seen or heard from Mariska in almost twenty years. What the hell was the matter with him?

Christmas Eve services. Like many other Christian families, the Beckers attended a very crowded First Baptist Church of Dublin for 10 a.m. worship, but for the sake of the children’s patience and the impending arrival of Santa, they would be staying home that evening.

Sean mouthed through the Advent hymns being sung, not paying any attention to the music or the lyrics but only to the demons in his mind. He wasn’t sure if he was more worried that he had hallucinated twice now or about his kiss of adultery.

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Sanctuary and the Death of Kate Steinle

sf sanctuary city

Banner found at OneNewsNow.com

I’m writing this as a companion piece to Jury Finds Garcia Zarate Not Guilty In Steinle Murder Trial: My Initial Reaction which I wrote and published rather impulsively yesterday.

Okay, I’ve done some reading since then. The New York Times makes a case for about 60 percent of the unauthorized population has been here for at least a decade and that the vast majority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. (89.9%) having never been convicted of a crime.

Of course there are organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform that say merely crossing the border into our nation without permission is indeed a crime, so by definition, 100% of undocumented immigrants are criminals. However, CNN states that under federal law, a person entering the country without permission for the first time is guilty of only a misdemeanor that is punishable by fines and no more than six months in prison.

It gets dicey if you are found to have entered our country illegally on multiple occasions, particularly after having been deported, but the waters get even more muddy since approximately 45% of undocumented immigrants actually entered the U.S. legally and then stayed after their visas expired.

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Jury Finds Garcia Zarate Not Guilty In Steinle Murder Trial: My Initial Reaction

zarate and steinle

Garcia Zarate (left) and his victim Kate Steinle (right)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF & AP) — Jurors Thursday afternoon acquitted the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle as she walked with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier of all charges except for felony possession of a firearm.

A spokesperson for the Superior Court of California made the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict shortly after 3 p.m. Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the shocking verdict was announced that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of all charges except for the gun possession charge.

Jurors have been deliberating on the case since Tuesday, November 21, after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their arguments whether Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident or a calculated murderer intent on playing a sick game.

CBS SF Bay Area

Jurors have found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of killing Kate Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco in July 2015 in the trial that sparked a national debate over illegal immigration.

Jurors reached the decision Thursday in the sixth day of deliberations after first receiving the case last week.

Zarate was found not guilty of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. He was also found not guilty of assault with a semi-auto weapon. He was found guilty of count two – possession of a felon with a firearm.

Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father’s arms. Zarate had been released from a San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.

Fox News

I started writing a story about this but I realized I was too angry and too heartbroken to concentrate. I have been following this story and it is just astonishing that the jury came to this verdict. This is exactly why I have “issues” with these so-called “sanctuary cities.” Garcia Zarate has seven felony convictions. Seven! He was in possession of a stolen handgun, which in and of itself is a crime for a convicted felon. The defense says the .40 caliber handgun “just went off.” I’ve been handling firearms for a long time and they don’t just “go off” spontaneously.

When I’m upset, I process by writing, but this one is over the top. A 32-year-old woman walking with her Dad on Pier 14 was gunned down and collapsed in her Father’s arms. As a Dad to a daughter and a Grandpa to a granddaughter, I am grief stricken and absolutely outraged. I’m going to need some time to process this before I write in order to process this. I’ve written on social issues here in the past with varying results, but like I said, this one is off the scale.

Our justice system says that the jury’s decision must be respected and I can only hope the prosecution files an appeal. If not, then in my opinion, Zarate gets away with murder and San Francisco is his sanctuary city protecting him from experiencing any consequences for his crime. Is this really the ideal we’re striving for here?

Addendum: Having had some time to mull over this issue, I have authored a more thoughtful response to this issue I present for your consideration: Sanctuary and the Death of Kate Steinle.

The Escape

 

bleak

© Sue Vincent

“Are you out of your mind, Jake? If we get caught here, they’ll add ten years to our sentences.”

“Relax, Hubie. We won’t get caught. Now get off your lazy butt and help me drag the raft higher on the rocks. We’ve got to get it in undercover.”

Jacob “Jake” Falco and Hubert “Hubie” Pavoni had both been sent up for twenty years to life for their part in the largest bank heist of the 20th century. Three guards and two hostages were killed during the shootout and only Jake and Hubie got away long enough to hide the $10 million in cash they’d made off with. That was six years ago, and they were still the only two men alive who knew where to find a fortune.

“Okay, Jake. We’ve got the raft and supplies under this outcropping, so it can’t be spotted from the air and sure as hell no one’s going to step foot in this place except crazy people like us.”

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