THE SAN DIEGO CENTAURS
Dreamed 1985/1/9 by Chris Wayan
I'm hovering above a coast. Steep canyons, but it's hard to see details in the haze. Luckily, I have a map; it says "Greater San Diego and Tijuana". A young woman flies by my side; we hover and consult, map flapping. Pointing at one of the many military bases, she yells "They'll have jobs down there!" and swoops down. I stutter "Do--do you really want a military--" and follow, uneasy. We skim a wiggly channel bristling with mothballed World War Two ships, lean and sinister charcoal gray. One's alive: easing down the channel. My friend dives, rears back, cupping air in her palsm, and stalls as her legs drop, to land deftly on the deck. I come down, not as elegantly. I need flight practice.
But the Captain doesn't care if we're angels or pigeons. The job market here is terribly tight, and the crew's shorthanded. He signs us up on the spot.
I lean on a bulkhead and a film of strange oil clings to my palm. I sniff--not a lubricant. My fears rush in: is this one of the ships storing old chemical weapons, nerve gas? My friend hears me out and laughs "You're always jumping to conclusions."
"Well, but the Pentagon lies, too. Did I tell you I tested my LAST fear--that the nuclear bombs at a local base weren't secure. I snuck on the base and just used my intuition to guess where the powerlines for the switches and controls were, and bit through them, and with no tech at all, I spliced into lines controlling two missiles. I could've fired them!"
My story scares her into quitting as soon as we can--find a safer job. By then we've settled into a bungalow on a cliff-slope with a harbor view. Just friends. Oh, we've had sex, but never romance--we're just not meant to be lovers.
I haven't felt that true romantic rush since... well, this centaur-girl I knew several years ago. Silky. But I was too shy, I could never tell her.
It's nice reading the Sunday paper with my friend though. Full-page ads scream "BUY A SEAL!" They're lying, though. Just want you to give a nonprofit some money to lobby for seals. Makes me mad. I WANTED a seal around the house, fish breath and all. Seals are fun. But they're as rare as good jobs. Damn.
We hear a strange game goes in the local park on Sundays. We walk down to see. The park, by the navy base, is so full of surplus shot-up ships tanks and planes it's like Godzilla's junkyard!
Little flying saucers hover between the scrap-steel towers. Mafia guys throw little balls of light out the UFO portholes. They bounce off the jagged scrap, skittering around the weird landscape, as people chase them like eager packs of dogs. I spot some cute women darting through the metal arroyos... but I don't want to try it. I hear the mob is trying to lure off students from the local college and recruit them with this game. I decide to fight back. Climb up on a tank and put forth my shamanic strength against the Mafia lures... and the light-ball chasers shake their heads as if waking up, and come cluster around me, silent, puzzled, but safe! The UFO men redouble their efforts and peel off some hunters. I feel alone in the fight...
And then a friend gallops by! A Centaur, with his ten year old son, still a skinny colt but much taller than I recall. I assume he came to play the UFO game, at first, but then realize he's on Park Cliff Trail, the most popular path for joggers in San Diego. Just running for health, not tempted by the lure. I don't think he saw me, so I jump down and leave these people to decide for themselves, and chase my friend down the path, calling. He waits up...
We catch up on the last few years. I warn him "You'll be shocked when you see what happened to "Uncle"... his body's been transforming. He's halfway between centaur and human right now... the guy looks like a huge satyr, with horse legs and human torso."
Ahead, round the cove, on the next point, I spot his wife, a palomino cantering back after a sprint. I blurt "My God, who's that other mare with her? Not..."
"Yep. Silky. Oh, that right, you always had a crush on her, didn't you? Well, now you can't run away. She's a good friend of ours. You'll have a thousand chances to ask her out."
So that's why I was drawn here! Not for work, or seals, or rusty old junk, or a fight, or UFOs. My instinct knew. I was drawn here by love.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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