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Seeing the Dragon (standard:Psychological fiction, 6844 words)
Author: Joe E.Added: Jul 27 2003Views/Reads: 2002/1567Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Jack takes his teenage son to a concert and reafirms the beliefs that he began to develop in the coffee house days of the early sixties. As he is blown into a different reality, we see that time and space are illusions of thought.
 



"Seeing the Dragon" 

I had a long string a dat bad luck... And I pray it's gone at last. Gone
at last... Gone at last...  I sang to myself though I knew I was 
pushing it driving all the way to Santa Cruz before I even had a chance 
to road test the junkyard carburetor that I put on the day before. In 
fact, going to the concert in Santa Cruz was the very last thing I 
wanted to do right in the middle of our Christmas vacation. For at 
least two weeks, I had tried to talk Stoke out of it; saying that we 
couldn't afford it after all the expense of the holidays, that we could 
wait until the group came to Oakland later in January, that the car 
wasn't running right, that I was right in the middle of my cab driving 
novel. 

"Donny's dad took us to the Coliseum. Eddie's dad already took us twice.
You never take us any place," Stoke argued. 

To make matters worse, Anne wouldn't think of going. I couldn't talk
Alex into it. Just me and the kids, I told myself thinking I'd have a 
really great time... 

The second we hit that first long up grade south of San Jose, I knew I
was right. The engine began to cough and sputter. I made my way to the 
inside lane and geared down. The hill got steeper. Creeping along at 
twenty miles an hour and holding up a long line of Sunday afternoon 
traffic, I was telling myself, I knew it... I knew it; we're not even 
going to make it to Santa Cruz. 

Why do I always give in to them? I wondered as I glanced across to where
Stoke sat long legs stretched out in front of him. There he was just as 
tall as me, a little less than six feet, at a hundred and sixty pounds 
a bit heavier. Like yesterday, I remember teaching him to play catch... 
Even back then, I always let him have his own way. When will I ever 
learn? When will I learn? I was asking myself. 

When we cleared the last up grade, the engine seemed to run a little
better, but I knew we'd never make it home. I pictured us on the way 
back some time after midnight, breaking down on the Nimitez, fighting 
the wind and cold and dark. I thought how embarrassing it would be if I 
had to call Donny's father to come pick us up, how we wouldn't get home 
'til three or four A.M., how I'd lose another day's writing... 

In Santa Cruz, there was a long line at the only open gas station, an
off brand where I couldn't use my credit card. I counted the change 
from my last twenty and tried to figure out just how much the whole 
thing was costing me. Twelve fifty a ticket, and Anne insists that I 
buy one for Stoke's tenth grade pal, Donny. "It will make a nice 
Christmas gift," she told me.  A tank of gas. They'll wanna eat after. 
And, Christ, if I have to get a tow... I told myself and wondered if we 
shouldn't start home while it was still daylight. 

Yet, even back then, in seventy-nine, there was a little part of me that
took the whole thing as a small adventure, a part of me that identified 
with Henry Miller and Castaneda and wanted to experience the concert as 
a writer might. 

To my surprise, there were parking spaces just a couple blocks from the
civic center. As we walked by the empty government buildings, Donny was 
telling me about the time Ed's dad took them to a Kiss concert in 
Oakland. "He had these little bottles, you know, the kind they serve on 
the airlines. Driving over he was just sipping. But, when we got on the 
Nimitz, he started chugging 'em. I guess he didn't want to get caught 
with no alcohol going into the Coliseum. He was chugging and throwing 
the empties out the window." 

"Right on the freeway? " I asked and told myself, God damm. Santa Cruz
in the wintertime! My eyes opened wide as I got into the feel of that 
early December evening. A damp chilled breeze blowing off the Pacific. 
Streets lights blinking on. Stone civic buildings standing sentinel 
behind trimmed evergreen hedges. Strangers and Blue Oyster Cult fans 
funneling in the same direction. A touch of excitement sparking off the 
sidewalk and bringing to mind the old Trivia Coffee House days. 

How long has it been? I wondered as an image from the winter of
fifty-nine flashed through my mind. It's after closing, around two A. 


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