Standing on the median strip of the highway, washed intermittently in light, he chooses his name. He has had his old one for three months, and that is long enough. He has been in California for three days, and that is far too long.
He is on the coastal highway, one abrupt drop away from the ocean. Before sunset, he'd seen the water—rocks flung out like ponderous accidents into the glass-calm of the tide, pelicans and cormorants circling down to land on them with a lazy lack of intent. There were so many birds, roosting even on near-vertical faces, that the skins of the rocks looked black and boiling.
The driver who brought him to this point had bought him a drink at a bar just off the highway, right by the water. It was a nicer bar than the ones he'd been to in the Rockies or the Midwest: carpets rather than gap-toothed floorboards, jazz rather than country. Michael—the driver—hadn't offered him money, but he'd given him a clean bandanna and a word of advice: Get the hell out of California, son.
That's what I'm planning, he'd told Michael, who slapped him, a fraction too hard, on the back.
Why do people do that? he wonders. Everything was cool and then Michael goes and does that shit. He looks down at the inky water. And now they're gonna blame me, when they find him and his car tomorrow. If only the damn thing hadn't hung up on those rocks.
Opening: Juliet.....Continuation: ManyAndVaried