I slept in a bit the next morning as I was pretty beat, but Tosh had clearly gotten up for his morning surf, and when he shook my shoulder I saw he was wrapped in a towel, his hair was wet from the shower and still smelling of sand and seaweed.
“C'mon, dude; we have things to do downtown.”
“Huh?” I rolled over and looked at the clock. I saw that it was almost 11:30; I must have really been beat. Where Tosh got his energy I had no idea; maybe his terrible coffee had some kind of magic dust in it? ”Things to do?”
“Yeah, we need to get going. C'mon.” And without another word he disappeared into the closet for some clothes. I groaned a bit and winced at I rolled over. This morning it was the shoulder, dammit, although thank God my leg felt okay. I got to my feet and stumbled into the bathroom, taking a couple of Tylenol and using the toilet while listening to Tosh banging around and getting ready. Marine or not, I'm not at my best when I first get up, but slow as I was, Tosh's constant urgings got me going, and soon we were downstairs climbing back into the Rabbit.
As he jammed the car into gear and finessed the gas and clutch pedals to get the Rabbit going, I yelled at him over the roar of the engine, “What are we going to do downtown?”
“Get some pizza.”
He smiled like a kid that has just told a silly riddle that caught you unawares. ”Well, pizza, yeah; you said you've never been to Pizza My Heart.” He swung us up 30th Avenue and headed towards Portola—he never took the highway if he could avoid it. Tosh maintained that there were at least three equally viable ways to get from one place in Santa Cruz to another, and he varied them depending on some complicated scheme that involved the time of year, time of day, weather, number of tourists in town, and probably some other factors he clearly thought I could figure out on my own but didn't share. Phase of the moon and times of high tide, for all I knew. 30th Avenue, along with 41st, 17th, and 7th, was one of the main routes to get from the coast to some of the roads that took you from East to the West side of town. Being on the East Side as we were, we had to get west past the harbor, a small ravine, and the San Lorenzo to get to downtown. The route could be a bit circuitous, to put it mildly.
“You hustled me out of bed on a weekend so that you could force me to eat pizza?” I said.
“Pizza, and to talk to a couple of folks.”
“Uh huh,” I said. ”'Folks'.”
“Yeah. They're kind of my . . .” he searched for a word in that deliberate way of his, “Tinfoil hat network, I guess?”
“Tinfoil hat network?”
That impish grin again. ”You'll see. Pizza first, though.”
Coughing and growling, we drove down Portola past the lagoon to 17th, where Portola abruptly changed into East Cliff Drive. Down and around past where the ravine that cut through town dumped into Twin Lakes beach, up 7th, the a left to take us over the bridge through the harbor—I was completely lost, and only figured it all out later by looking at a map. Instead I just stared out the window at the people, the run-down houses in all kinds of styles, from Victorian to Craftsman to beach bungalow to things that were clearly dreamed up by some architect who had never clapped eyes on the town itself and thought that, say, a nice ranch-style stucco house might look good near the beach (it didn’t).
Despite my doubts about the route, we arrived downtown and, as usual, embarked on the typical 5-10 minute search for a parking space. A short walk and we were crammed into a tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza place near the transit center, steamy with heat off the ovens, cooks flipping pie crust behind the large picture window by the door. There were no tables; a narrow shelf lined the wall on one side, and a counter separated the kitchen area from the “restaurant”. Tosh and I ordered a couple of slices apiece—I got a Coke and he got something with the weird name of “Odwalla”. We grabbed a couple of stools against the wall, waiting while our slices got warmed and crisped.
YOU ARE READING
A Study with SlugsMystery / Thriller
It is the early 1980s, and women are disappearing from the university campus in Santa Cruz, California, home of the Fighting Banana Slugs. The local police and state investigators are baffled, and so solving these crimes is left to a dope-smoking...