Saturday, April 10, 2010

They shoot prowlers, don't they?

An hour earlier we had driven over The Grapevine as darkness fell. Behind us, dusk was settling over the breadbasket of California and a dusty seven-hour drive had left us tired and hungry. Ahead of us, the lights of Los Angeles had spread out like a fireflies’ convention along 40 miles of Pacific coastline.

But that was then. Now it was fully dark, and we had just arrived in Newport Beach, our southern California stopover for the next four days. We had an address and a door entry code for a second floor condo and garage.

Betty (of GPS fame), had delivered us to the appropriate address, but try as we may, we couldn’t find a house with the right number on it. There were streetlights on the other side of the road, but our side was pooled in darkness.

I got out of the car and found myself prowling up dark alleyways, tapping the entry code into every door I could find. No luck. And all the time I could hear La Patronne calling from somewhere in the darkness in a loud stage whisper: Be careful! They have guns here!! They shoot prowlers!!!

Stomachs were growling. It was after ten, nine hours since we had eaten. And I had a pressing call of nature.

Finally, I found myself in a gloomy parking area behind what I thought might be the property, and fumbled my way along a narrow alleyway between pressing walls of clapboard siding. I tried one door. Then another. There were no lights and no sign of life anywhere. I came to the third, and last door, with an increasing sense of desperation (for more than one reason). And... BINGO! It unlocked.

Mad dash for the bathroom.

Then a chance to take in our surroundings. The apartment was a brand new conversion, with a TV like a cinema screen. A huuuge kitchen. Comfortable leather sofas. An internet connection. The ocean just two blocks away, and bikes in the garage (it was the following morning before I discovered how to get into it).

La Patronne, Susie, and I wearily unloaded our luggage, then spent the next half hour cruising the town for a pizza joint that was open. We finally settled for a stale-tasting offering from Pizza Hut, washed it over with several glasses of red wine, and fell into a deep sleep.

Today is my first real day off since the tour began. Washed, showered, feeling almost human again, and about to set off on one of the bikes in search of the ocean. I need to feel the sand between my toes, and the cold waters of the Pacific lapping around my ankles.


DJ Kirkby said...

Oooh what an adventure. One you do without a repeat of I'm sure. Hope you both enjoy the day off.

Carol said...

Eeek, I think I would have done exactly the same as Janice!! That does not sound like fun...still, at least you made it to the bathroom :-)

C x

mm said...

Why didn't your new iPad just take you there and unlock the door for you and uncork the bottle of wine?

Carol, did you get my email, if not send me your address:

peter_may said...

MM, I shall write to Carol and tell her to get in touch. And as for the new iPad... don't scoff!! You will have one before I can say Steve Jobs - I just know. And I also know that you will loooove it. It is MAGIC!

David said...


Congratulations on your book tour and upcoming premiere at Canne next summer. Your devotion and passion have paid off.

I too fell prey to the spell of Steve Jobs. Sending this from my iPad. Sorry to have missed you in Newport.