It is a long road from Amarillo to San Francisco. From Tucson to Flagstaff, and we smell the smoke of burning pine for miles outside of town. It’s hours, or a blink, when we finally hit the coastal highway. At Santa Cruz we stop and swim. All we know is a house on Waller Street. Look for the pointy one with gargoyles guarding the porch, is what a friend of Henri’s told us before we headed north. If you don’t find me there, you’ll find someone.
We drive aimlessly first, circle the city, from Golden Gate to North Beach, out to Hunter’s Point The evening comes and we head to the center of town. The streets were thick with music, and everyone seemed to be in a costume.
There were people everywhere but almost no cars. A group with two guitars and a jug sitting on crates watched us park in front of the pink house. “You guys looking for shelter? If so, you’ve come to the right place.”
“We’re looking for…” I start.
“I’m friends with Jesse…”
“No, man, you’re not,” Bow Tie says. “You’re friends with all of us. Go in and find yourself a cup.”
Inside the house, we saw Lawrence of Arabia, Queen Elizabeth, Napoleon… the costumes were unlike anything we had seen during Halloween in Texas.
“We’ll head to the Avalon,” a man said said, “and we can grab a cone on the way.”
The crowd wasn’t holding cups of beer but cones of ice cream.
“What kind of party is this?”
“You’ll see,” the man said.
Two men were handing out cones from a red and white striped van. There was a line, but no money was being exchanged. We were handed our small candy cones with bulbous white sweet cream already dripping down the sides.
There was a stage, but was there a show?
We saw the crowd moving to make way for the mimes. Then we heard it, the low synthesizer, tones that signaled when the mimes would move, and the crowd would part—that’s when we realized it—
Everything was moving as one…
“They don’t have ice cream here anymore, man. Bummer. They’re giving out flowers…”
I looked at the hands of the people turning and leaving the lines, tulips, daisies and lady slippers falling over their cones and cascading down their hands. I had never seen the colors like this, illuminated in the dark.
“It’s okay, Henri, I told him, putting my hand on his shoulder. The flowers will taste very good, I’m sure.”