Up early, Sylvie off with quick cup to her conference, and I down to the sea in flip flops and swim trunks, beach towel tied around my waist, sweatshirt and an offshore breeze on my back, the beginning of a seasonal Santa Ana wind, air hot and dry and devilish flowing down hills and through canyons, the desert and basin air we’d just driven through now following us, blowing through the beach cities and across the beaches and out over the waters. Superstitious, noir ideas whirled around in these winds, some often true, said to increase anxieties, stoke wild fears and wildfires, redress phobias, reduce inhibitions, pull the Hyde out of the Jekyll. So I was not surprised when I spotted what appeared to be Cagetan’s van parked aside the beach frontage road. I walked up to the van: it was his, the curtains drawn, he was probably in there sleeping, and I banged on the side door. Nothing stirred. I walked on, beachcombing down at the tide line, circled around at Dog Beach and walked up to Smiley Lagoon, heading back now toward the bungalow. When I came near Cagetan’s van again, there he was, climbing out and stretching in the wind, his long hair blowing like beach grass. I stopped and watched him watching a few California brown pelicans diving into the water just outside the surf break. And still I was not surprised when I saw Sot now climb out of Cagetan’s van, followed by a squall of Santa Ana wind shaking the van, and I spread my legs to anchor against the gust, Beelzebub himself now spitting dryly, and I turned sharply down an alley and hurried into the wind away from the beach, deciding all at once against a Cagetan and Sot reunion.
“A Demon Wind” is episode 63 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.