THE BAY by Davis MacDonald
Chapter 3 excerpt
7:00 AM Monday
He’d brought his favorite toy car down to drive on their working vacation. The Jag was a convertible, racing green, 1969, vintage. His tried and true toy since he bought it from the original owner back in 1989. He loved the car. Except for the Lucas electrical system, which he overlooked, the way a proud parent overlooks a club foot….
There had been a day when he’d felt swashbuckling in the car. Younger and slimmer then. It was hard to remember back. He had only faded shadows of memories of what it’d been like. Realistically the Judge had always been too tall for the car. And now he was too old and too fat as well. The convertible top was already down, by necessity. He unsnapped the tonneau over its cockpit on the driver’s side, then knelt down, squeezing his bulk in and under the wooden steering wheel, struggling with a two piece seat belt that both went around his waist and came down over his shoulder, a new innovation back in the day.
He stuck up above the windshield like a carrot top, his paunch pushing against the steering wheel, making driving difficult. He hated getting old.
The mist hadn’t lifted much. The trip up the Peninsula to the ferry was grey and cold, the fog misty, the road empty, colors muted, salt and moisture heavy in the air. A hint of yellow to the East suggested sun might eventually break through. But there was the chill that comes with fall. A warning that easy times were over, things were more serious now, winter was close. Or was it something else that sent the chill through his spine?
The little ferry creaked as the Judge drove the Jag down the sloping board ramp onto its flat deck. It was a drive-on drive-off ferry, both ends low to the water so vehicles could enter at the Balboa Peninsula end and exit off the other end on Balboa Island. It had been a fixture in Balboa Harbor forever, dutifully plying back and forth across the Bay all day and most of the night. Its old boards were stained with oil and seagull droppings, its brightly painted rails pockmarked from too many coats of paint over too many years. But it set off with a brave rumble matched by meshing of gears as it powered out of its dock, aiming toward the middle of the Bay.