another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory
Samoa Sam by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | July 2017
by Mike Bozart
© 2017 Mike Bozart
Samantha Wevanski, a 25-year-old, Polynesian-Caucasian, athletically fit, dark-brown-haired, tan-skinned, avid bicyclist, who now just liked to be called Sam, began her Saturday trek on a mostly cloudy, misty yet mild, May morning in 2016. Her starting point was her adoptive Caucasian parents’ home on Vance Avenue in the small North Coast community of Samoa (CA, USA). Per her usual semi-weekly regimen, she was wearing no makeup, but still looked patently feminine in her elastane cycling attire.
As Sam passed forlorn Cutten Street on her left and began a short climb up a large sand mound, she thought about the dilapidated storefronts. Wonder when someone can make a go of it down there. Should I try to open a shop? Call it ‘Boutique Nautique’? Just sell ocean-themed souvenirs? Nah, I’m sure that it would end up underwater. Tourists just don’t come over to this part of the northern spit that much. Only the fire station seems to do well. That almost sounds like a comedy line. This corner place must have been a thriving garage and fuel station eons ago. A much different time back then. Maybe a tougher time. In so many ways.
She mounted the rise with ease. Soon Sam was passing by barren sandy terrain where it appeared that structures had been razed. Still looks the same as when we moved here.  Wonder why everything was scraped off this former dirigible mooring site. Because airship use by the [United States] Navy declined after World War II? Are they planning to sell this parcel? Some great ocean-view real estate. Probably would fetch a pretty penny. Should ask dad about it later. Oh, I’ll probably forget.
Then, just before a bend to the right in the old asphalt road, she glanced at the tall stacks of de-limbed tree trunks in the lumber mill yard. Sam quickly looked back at the pavement, a second before she crossed over some old railroad tracks at a 45-degree angle on her three-speed. When did I crash on these tracks? Was it 2012? Or, was it that wet morning in 2013? No, it was way back in October of 2011. 2011, 2012, 2013 – all now just quickly-passed-over four-digit numbers, sunk in the quicksand of the past. A whole year of human doings – and undoings [sic] – whispered away in a second. Like 1916. A hundred years ago. World War I was going at full throttle, but no American involvement yet. Phosgene. Chlorine. Mustard gas. Such a ‘fragrant’ flagrant trio. Wonder if any of those entrenched soldiers wondered about life in 2016. Wonder if any of them thought that the best thing about life is that it ends – hopefully painlessly and quickly. Whew! I sure seem to have the darkest thoughts now. Enough of war. Think about something else, girl.
Soon Sam was passing a large, metal-sided, teal-painted industrial building on her right. A mid-30-ish, somewhat husky, dirty-blonde-haired, flannel-shirted white guy inside the perimeter fence waved to her, just like he did whenever he saw her approaching. He then winked. She just stoically half-smiled. [_ I’d love to nail Miss Fitness some fine day. Ram it right through her Spandex. Have her screaming in ecstasy. Oh, hell yeah! / I can tell that big boy would like to date me. I bet that he fantasizes about having sex with me. He wants to do me right there in the warehouse yard and unload all over my boobs, just like he sees on his porn sites. Sex. It sure leads to a lot of division, suspicion, double-talk, fear, shame and hostility. Sex. So craved. So desired. And yet, so derided. Please specify your sex. Please state how you sex. Are you an untamed – and completely unrestrained – wild animal during sex? If not, why not? If so, how dare you! Sex. Why are there even two sexes? I bet that sex one hundred years from now would freak out 80% of the adults of today – these neo-Victorians. I would bet that it will be normal for couples to have sex robots in the future. [the focus of the short story ‘A Novella Idea’] Probably marriage savers. I bet bisexuality will be quite commonplace. Though, I myself seem to be sinking into asexuality. I’m done with dating, male and female. I guess I was cut from a different cloth – a solitary fabric. A lonely life awaits. Well, maybe just alone, but not so lonely. I wonder how my biological parents met in American Samoa. Was my real dad a higher-up in the United States government? Was my real mom just a menial laborer in his office who bent over to dust his desk? Or, was she in some higher position herself? Was it a situation in which keeping me would have brought untold embarrassment onto both of them? Or, maybe worse – divorce(s)? Do they ever think of me? Do they think I’m still alive? Do they ever wonder whom I became? What have I become? Just a clerk at a vegan grocery store in Eureka [4 miles (6.4 km) southeast] with a useless associate degree in history. And, still living with my folks. Yeah, I really became something alright. Should I have just stayed in Shelter Cove [90 miles (145 km) south] with that living-in-a-rusting-shipping-container poet? No way! That dude was genuinely nuts, and getting nuttier with each rainy winter day. Also, his inheritance was quickly dwindling away. Though, I’ll always be thankful to flipped-out Phillip for introducing me to Sara Teasdale. [a famous American poet of the 1920s.] Ah, if only I could go back in time and meet her. Say, 1915 – the year that poignantly defiant poem [‘I Shall Not Care’] was published. What a fearless poet she was. I need to start writing poetry again. It just may be therapeutic. Need an outlet for these starved-for-expression thoughts. Maybe something worthwhile becomes of it. Maybe. _]
Sam pedaled past LP Drive on her right, a short paved connector to New Navy Base Road, a highway that was best avoided, as she was almost run over by a not-paying-attention/too-busy-texting semi driver in 2015. No, not taking that road again.
Soon she was passing a sea salt factory on her left. Sea salt is all the rage now. It must be quite profitable. Just let the seawater evaporate. Another nice crop. Bag it. Box it. Cha-ching! Maybe oversimplified.
She kept pedaling, passing the old pipeline docking facility and a deserted Bay Street. At the T-intersection with Comet Street (on her left), the road changed names; Sam was now on Bendixsen Street. It looked about the same: still an old asphalt road splitting the swells of sand covered by short vegetation, interspersed with assorted tangible-product businesses.
When a soft right emerged, she took it. Sam was now on Lincoln Avenue, passing through another residential area known as Fairhaven. There was no traffic, though. Another pleasant northern peninsula Saturday, here in non-status-symbol land. Yes, this is definitely not a place that is about putting on airs. I do like that about this elongated sand bar. So atypical of coastal California. Nothing like Venice. [CA]
Lincoln Avenue soon came to an intersection with the no-longer-avoidable New Navy Base Road; though, traffic was virtually nonexistent here. Sam turned left at the STOP sign, as she didn’t want to go to the Samoa Drag Strip or Samoa Field Airport. Dad sure loves those NHRA [National Hot Rod Association] drag races.
Soon Sam was pedaling away with the North Bay Channel on her immediate left. Good, no whitecaps.
Next, she would pass the Samoa Boat Ramp, which only had one vehicle and boat trailer in the lot. Wonder where the usual crowd of fishermen are today. Is it a bad tide?
Then the road got rougher with more potholes to watch out for. Sam then forked to the right, leaving New Navy Base Road, which led directly to a gated entrance to the Humboldt Bay Coast Guard Station. Wonder how long dad will work today. I bet he’s home by noon.
The unnamed paved road looped around the Coast Guard property, and then tied back into New Navy Base Road. At a just-up-ahead wooded picnic area on her left, Sam stopped and dismounted her bike. She then walked over to a thin slab of concrete next to a pool of rainwater. She slid the 28” x 28” (.5-square-meter) top off of a void. Yes! It’s still here!
Sam extracted the deflated rubber lifeboat that her father had given her. It had become an expendable asset to the Coast Guard. Though the smallest size, it was still plenty big for her and her folding bike.
She then walked her bike, with the lifesaving raft and related apparatus on the seat, over to the north jetty. Sam noticed her bicycle’s trip odometer hit 5.05 miles (8.13 km) as she maneuvered it up and over the riprap seawall. She looked across the channel towards the south spit. Water looks pretty calm. 9:38. [AM] Just six minutes before slack tide. Not much – if any – current now. Maybe a slight current coming in when I return. Better than an ebb tide going out to sea. I should be ok. Hopefully not infamous last thoughts.
Sam then deployed the canister of carbon dioxide (CO2); the vulcanized rubber vessel was filled in just four seconds. The plastic oars easily snapped together. After removing a cotter pin in the hinged frame, lowering her seat and turning her handlebars 90 degrees, her bike was compacted to one-fourth of its normal size. She carefully placed it in the craft with the CO2 canister and stepped aboard. Here we go.
Sam quickly got a good rowing cadence going. She would make the 1,900-foot-long (579 meters) transit in 11 minutes. The crossing was surprising uneventful. A large fishing boat passed her midway, but the wake wasn’t that bad; no water got in her salvaged life raft.
Once on the other side of the channel, she deflated her boat. Using an oar as a shovel, she buried it and the CO2 canister in a patch of vegetation-less sand behind the restroom building. There were two vehicles in the picnic area’s parking lot, but not a soul was seen. Guess they must be hiking on, or fishing from, the jetty. Got lucky. So far, so good. Now, the adventure continues. Back to cycling.
Sam unfolded and reset her bicycle. After drinking an electrolyte-rich beverage, she was pedaling south on South Jetty Road, which started out as gravel and sand. Humboldt Hill on her left caught her eye. Up there sure would be a safe place, tsunami-wise. Though, this area hasn’t been hit by a significant tsunami in ages. Silly West Coast paranoia.
After 77 seconds of cautious riding, the road became paved in old asphalt. Ah, so much better. Glad that’s over.
A 25 MPH (40 km/h) speed limit sign appeared on her right. Let’s see if I can get this bike up to 25 MPH. It’s flat. There’s virtually no headwind. Let’s do this. Burn those calories.
In 220 feet (67 meters), Sam had her bike rolling at her target speed and then backed off to 17 MPH (27.4 km/h), as an old pickup truck was approaching and she didn’t want to look manic.
The low-lying maritime chaparral reminded her of Scotland, which she had seen on TV while watching The (British) Open with her dad some fifteen years ago. She remembered her mom coming in the living room and saying, “Samantha, you’re not old enough to watch golf. Only old farts like your dad watch such uptight lunacy.” Uptight lunacy? How did my mom come up with that? Wonder if she quit teaching English at CR [College of the Redwoods, Eureka Campus] because I enrolled. Did I effectively end her career? Gosh, I hope she really quit for the reasons that she said. Yeah, my adoptive parents have been great. I’m really quite lucky, I guess. A sibling would have been nice, though. A lot of lonely times with just me and my imagination.
Sam kept pedaling, but now at a more modest pace of 13 MPH (21 km/h). Humboldt Bay was an ever so slightly rippling bed of slate on her left. No one else was on the road. Sam’s mind meandered as the slight breeze brushed the shrubs. If you don’t have a partner in life, you have to create your own singular goals. And, your own solitary happiness. Will I be able to do that for 50 or more years? Will it be enough? Will I crack up and go insane? Am I really now that relationship-averse? Or, am I just kidding myself? Who am I? Still not sure. And, still unsure of what I really want. Wish it would all fall into place and become crystal-clear. An epiphany or unambiguous sign by the end of this workout would be wonderful.
Sam passed a gravel parking area on her right. There was a lone vehicle: a bronze-colored Jeep. However, no person was in view. Such an incredibly desolate road. This would make a good setting for a horror movie. A young lady on a bike being chased by a madman. Why do I think such things? Must stay self-entertained, dear. Keep practicing.
After passing another parking area on her right, which was completely vacant, a white work van ripped past her, only 20 inches (51 cm) from her left handlebar grip. Woah! That was close. Way too effing close! That jerk has the whole road. So unnecessary. This world is chock full of annoying assholes now. And, they are the ones who are multiplying like rats!
She mellowed after a few minutes. Then Sam noticed a brown Hunter Access Corridor sign on her left. They allow hunters out here? What are they hunting? Cyclists like me? Ha-ha. I guess water fowl in, or at the edge of, the bay.
Fifty-two seconds later, a tidal flat on Sam’s left almost met the road. It reeked of dead crabs and rotting marsh grass. Looks like low tide. Did I gaze at the wrong tide table?
After passing another vacant parking area on her right, Sam knew that she was on the homestretch. She honed in on the dark hill just to the left of dead-ahead. Almost there. This has been easier than I imagined. It’s the flatness, almost like in Clearwater. [FL]
Then Sam passed another parking area on her right. This one had a pastel-blue motor scooter parked in it. Nice ride. Looks like a Vespa knockoff.
The now-green, semi-wooded hill at 11 o’clock grew closer. Then a pair of tan-colored portable toilets appeared on her right. Sam pulled over. She had to pee. Just what I needed.
She hovered over the typically nasty opening in the foul-smelling tank. While urinating she read the graffiti that was scratched into the fiberglass wall. Between the political barbs and crude sexual quips was a line that very much intrigued Sam; she mouthed the question:
What does April 6, 2014 mean now?
Sam pulled up her cycling pants and thought about it. Did something significant happen on that date? I was in Samoa that day. The big earthquake was on March 9^th^ of that year. There was damage, but nothing catastrophic. No tsunami. No big fires. Don’t think there was a single fatality.
While astride her bike, she pulled out her smartphone and researched that date in world news. Nothing really jumped out at her. Maybe it was something personal. An anniversary? The date the lover/spouse left? Maybe a loved one died that day. Yeah, probably something like that.
Sam continued her biathlon (cycling + rowing) workout. She soon reached a hard left turn. To her right was a beach-access parking area. She saw the white foam of the breaking waves. How many waves have broken on that shore? What counts as a wave? What counts as ‘that’ shore? What maddening thoughts I have as of late.
Then a steep climb began in earnest in the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area. Sam shifted to first gear and stood on the pedals. She wasn’t going to walk her bike up the incline; she was determined to scale it on two wheels. Hope the crest isn’t much farther. What a heart-pumper!
After a hairpin turn to the right, Sam closed in on her finish line: an observation turnout on South Jetty Road at Table Bluff County Park. Two minutes later she was sitting – catching her breath – on the small bench, looking northward. Whew! What a majestic ocean view. There’s where I was – the south spit. And, there’s the bay. I thinks that’s Fields Landing over there below Humboldt Hill. And, there’s King Salmon jutting out way down there. Wonder if Lucy is awake yet. I bet she partied all night. She’ll be hungover all day. Yeah, I’m sure. No use in calling her today.
After a ten-minute rest, she walked over to her bike and looked at the trip odometer. Wow! 10.10 miles. [16.25 km] The second cycling leg was exactly the same distance as the first: 5.05 miles. Just like out of a crazy work of fiction.
Then a raindrop landed on her nose. She looked over her left shoulder. Dark clouds were moving in from the west-southwest. I better get going. Don’t want to get soaked.
Sam charged down the bluff. Her rear tire slid about an inch (2.54 cm) in the hairpin turn, but she quickly had it under control. After making the hard right turn at the bottom of the descent, she lowered her head and pedaled ferociously. She had a rising tailwind to help propel her. Less than five miles until the water crossing. If I maintain 16 MPH (25.75 km/h), how long? About 18 to 19 minutes? Darn! Another raindrop.
The northern sky ahead and the eastern sky over the bay on her right darkened significantly. To her left, a curtain of rain slowly advanced over a now-whitecap-strewn sea. Vehicles going the opposite direction passed her with their headlights on. Must hurry. Let’s try to move up to 18 MPH. [29 km/h]
Sam would arrive at the terminus of South Jetty Road 17 minutes and 17 seconds later. She was nearly out of breath as she dismounted her bike at the restrooms. No vehicles or people were present. She guzzled the remainder of her energy drink. Not too bad. Just a few leading-edge raindrops got me. Now to safely – and quickly – get across the channel. Time to find the oars and start digging.
Her oar segments were quickly uncovered and reconnected. The flattened and folded boat was still there. Sam had it unearthed in 93 seconds. She brushed the sand off and hooked up the CO2 canister. However, her rubber craft only partially inflated – to about 75% – before the gas ran out. Darn it! Well, it still has enough buoyancy to float.
At a previously unrecognized sandy spot on the channel’s shoreline, Sam refolded her bike and loaded it into the rubber boat with the empty CO2 canister. She then got in and pushed off with an oar. Strange. The tide is so unusually low. Is this a spring tide? Need to row fast. Must beat the rain.
Off Sam went. The now-brisk breeze was still at her back; it noticeably helped. Glad the wind is blowing my way. A headwind would make this transit much slower. And wetter.
Just as Sam neared the halfway mark, she heard a roar to her left. A five-foot-high (1.52 meters) wall of seawater was charging towards her. Before she could react, her boat was literally surfing on the fast-moving wave. A rogue wave? No it’s a tsunami! Holy shit!
Sam would crash into the rocky southern King Salmon jetty, flip over, get ensnared by the bicycle chain, valiantly attempt to free herself in the cold water …
An adopted, active, mixed-race lady in her mid-20s goes on an epic weekend cycling and rowing excursion to help maintain her slim physique. Yet, the outing is also for psychological reasons, as her mind soon goes into overdrive. Sam is wondering about her sexuality and her future on the North Coast of California. As the skies start to darken, will it all become clear? Approx. 3,300 words. If this tale were a movie, it would most likely be rated PG-13 (racy thoughts, fruity language).