Not A Wrinkle Left
I drove to Napa this morning, the first time in so long I don't remember the last time. A year? A year and a half? Long enough so that most of the road construction I remember passing in the old days, road construction they've been doing since the beginning of time, was actually finished. Whole sections looked only vaguely familiar, off ramps where there were once road dividers and construction crews, additional lanes for traffic. The same people, though, making the same exact progress. Spend a nickel, spend a billion, it's still an hour plus commute and I don't miss it a bit.
Napa didn't look any different, not that it should. I found the County Recorder's office after realizing finally it was the office at which I'd registered my old North Bay Business Computers dba located in an alley behind a parking garage. $22 to release two tax liens I'd paid in full over three years ago. If I'm going to buy a car this year I'm going to need these things taken off my credit report, a what, three month project? Optimist.
I noticed how much I'd forgotten, some of the places I'd frequented for years were now a little fuzzy as if I were seeing them in a dream, where exactly did this street lead, where was Nation's (The Napa Valley is the home of great food and better wine, but Napa itself at the mouth of the valley is still pretty much a blue collar town and my idea of a nostalgic lunch is a ham and cheese omelette at Nation's hamburger stand. But then you knew that, didn't you.).
Ronn was working in his office. Thinner, a pair of aluminum crutches propped against the
desk, shifting, then shifting again in his chair in search of a more comfortable position. They'd been driving home to Napa from San Francisco on a two lane road near the Napa county border when a Ryder rental truck travelling too fast came around the corner in front of them, the rear end of the truck sliding onto their side of the road. They were driving a standard American sedan and not one of their small Toyotas or they would have been killed. An older sedan without air bags. Broken bones. Jaw three weeks wired shut. We traded jaw wired shut stories. Did he carry a pair of wire cutters just in case? Oh, yes. A major hip operation, hence the crutches. Brenda still in the convalescent hospital near Queen of the Valley so I drove over. I was feeling better after seeing Ronn. The stories had been unsettling, but I was still worried about Brenda.
Two months ago on November 7th they had the accident and Brenda was still in the hospital recuperating. She looks a little drawn, but she looks good and she's walking and getting around fine. She's ready to get out of this god damned hospital, thank you very much, but she's not able to eat solid food and I can tell it has her freaked. Still not able to drink anything much other than water. She's lost 25% of her small intestine and colon and although she's pretty much healed, nothing is really quite working yet. I remember the section of small intestine I had removed and how long it took before I could eat again, so two months doesn't seem unusual to me with the much greater damage she's suffered. Still the old Brenda, though. She's had enough. Time to get on with it and put this behind her. There was a very light scar across her forehead. "I got a free face lift", she said. "Not a wrinkle left." Shit, Brenda.