Paul Blake has a show in The Attic Gallery. He’s an artist from Albion. Lives with his partner ruth weiss, a Beat poet who is friends with Ferlinghetti, Kerouac and other famous people Mac has never heard of. The boss buys one of Paul’s paintings that he likes. It’s called Morning Dawn but the boss says it reminds him of a Greek myth, Leda and the Swan. The boss says he thinks Kelley’s large redwood carving in the bar might be inspired by the same myth. The boss tells Mac James Sandberg, a sculptor in Albion, made a bronze casting of Leda and the Swan. The boss is intrigued by Leda because she represents Nemesis, the Attic god that punishes arrogance and privilege. Attic meaning Greek, thinks Mac, not the Attic Gallery. Or maybe the Attic Gallery. He’s not sure.
The boss’s friends, Terry and Judy, move back to the City. Paul and Ruth buy Terry and Judy’s house. Terry and Judy worked in the restaurant for Hawley. Now they’re accountants. The boss asks Mac to deliver some of Paul’s artwork to Terry and Judy. Mac doesn’t want to drive alone so he asks Myrna to go with him. Paul wants to ride along with them to deliver his paintings. Ruth makes Mac promise to bring Paul back safely. “He has a tendency to go off his meds and get into trouble,” Ruth says. She smiles as she gives Mac a joint. “If he gives you any trouble just have him smoke this. It’s the real Mendocino shit!”
Myrna says everyone at Roy’s knows about Paul. Paul has psychological issues and is unpredictable when off his meds or on his non-prescribed meds. Ruth says he has a habit of bringing truckloads of junk home from the dump that he wants to make into a sculpture. The junk pile gets bigger and bigger but the sculpture never gets made. He’s been known to raid Roy’s late at night and leave cryptic messages painted all over the buildings. One of Paul’s friends says when Paul doesn’t take his meds he goes on dangerous, self-destructive missions like showing up at the Tip-Top Bar in Fort Bragg in drag and asking the local boys to dance. Myrna doesn’t want Paul to go with them but Mac says he’ll handle it, not to worry.
In the City, Mac’s memories return. He doesn’t tell Myrna. He wants to give it time to sink in. Terry and Judy thank them for delivering the paintings and after a celebratory glass of wine (a few glasses for Paul), Mac, Myrna and Paul get back on the road.
On the way out of town, Mac wants to go by his family home. The house is empty. Mac says his father is probably at the corner bar down the street. Paul suggests they join him. Mac doesn’t want to see his father. A clay sculpture of Ganesh is the only thing Mac wants. It’s from his great great grandfather. That’s what he came for. It’s been passed down through the generations. His father doesn’t care about the family history. Mac doesn’t believe in gods but the sculpture is his only connection with his past. He doesn’t want to lose that. “My dad won’t even miss it,” he says.
As they get in the car to leave, Billy and Louie show up with Mac’s dad who is passed out drunk in the backseat. Billy says “We’re done with that bullshit treasure. Your dad signed over the house to pay his debt to us. So, get out and don’t come back.”
“Fine,” says Mac. “We’re out of here.”
Paul wants to hang in the City for awhile with Billy and Louie. “They look like fun,’ he says. “I’ll find my own way home when I’m ready.”
“No,” says Mac. “I promised Ruth I’d bring you back safely. You’re coming with me.” He hands Paul a joint. “Smoke this and the trip home will be a breeze.” Paul smiles and doesn’t put up a fight.
Mac and Myrna return to Mendocino. Mac goes back to washing dishes. The bar has changed dramatically, the restaurant hasn’t. The coffee shop, dining room and kitchen are located in the same spaces as before. The kitchen is reorganized and more efficient but Mac’s dishwashing area is just as it was. The same old reliable dishwasher hums along like an old friend.
Mac goes home to the apartment after work. Myrna looks at Ganesh on the wall where Mac placed him.
“I guess we don’t have to worry about those two guys anymore,” says Myrna.
“Nope,” says Mac. “They won’t be coming back.”
“Tell me about this Ganesh thing on the wall,” says Myrna. “It looks a little freaky to me.”
“Ganesh is the Hindu god that removes obstacles and brings good fortune,” says Mac.
“I thought you didn’t believe in that stuff,” says Myrna.
“I don’t,” says Mac. “I don’t know anything. All the explanations you get—religion, science, fate—sooner or later they are all replaced with some other quirky idea. The only thing we might have some control over is our own actions. Maybe it’s an illusion but it’s what I think. If anyone asks me what I did when the shit hit the fan, I want to be able to say I did the right thing. Ganesh has nothing to do with it. I wanted the sculpture since it’s been in the family from the beginning. That’s all.”
“How do you know what’s the right thing?” asks Myrna.
“I don’t,” says Mac. “It’s just a feeling, I guess. I do what seems right. What else can anyone do?”
The boss asks Mac to help him pick up a safe that’s stored in a house up in the Sierras.
“It used to be in my father’s hotel,” says the boss. “It’s been stored for years. I want it for the new restaurant. It must weigh a ton, maybe more.”
Mac asks the boss why he needs a safe.
“Well, I’ve been robbed a couple of times,” says the boss. “Someone broke into the file cabinet where I keep the cash drawer for the register. It was probably an employee. You know what they say, opportunity creates the thief. The safe removes the opportunity.”
“Do you really think an employee would steal from the Frolic?” asks Mac.
“I don’t like to think so,” says the boss, “but a lot of people work here and you never know. Do you remember Wiley who got stuck in the spiral staircase?”
“Sure,” says Mac. “Big burly guy. He and his wife Joy eat at the Frolic all the time.”
“He told me a story about a meat company he owned,” says the boss. “Seems like steaks were disappearing from the walk-in freezer. So, one night he put on his long underwear and a thick coat and sat in the freezer with his shotgun. Sure enough one of his employees showed up to take some steaks. Looking down the barrel of a shotgun cured that fellow of the habit. A safe saves me a lot of trouble. I don’t want to sit around all night with my shotgun.”
Mac thinks about Ernest the skunk and chuckles to himself.
“I see what you mean,” says Mac, “but how are we gonna get something that big?”
“I have Norman from Comptche and two of his friends in the timber business lined up. They have a heavy duty flatbed truck they say will do it.”
The next day the boss and Mac drive up to Nyack in the boss’s car. Norman, Tommy and Bobbie drive up in the truck. Norman and Tommy are big guys who look like they could muscle a safe into a truck. Bobbie is a sawed off shrimp. Mac wonders why he’s coming along.
The snow line is lower than they thought. Not a good sign. The safe is in a room on the bottom floor of a house on Nyack Road close to Nyack Garage at Emigrant Gap. This is where the boss’s dad owned a hotel called Nyack Lodge. That’s where the boss grew up and learned about the restaurant business. Norman pulls the truck up as close as possible to the outside door but there’s a few feet of snow between the door and the truck.
The first step is to get the safe to the door. As big and strong as they are, Norman and Tommy can’t budge it.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do,” says Bobbie who’s small but smart. “I brought my come along just for this. Wrap a chain around the safe and I’ll pull to the door.”
Mac is impressed with how easily the come along works. Norman and Tommy remove part of the door frame and soon the safe is on the landing. The problem now is how to navigate the heavy safe through the snow to the truck.
“No problem,” says Bobbie. “You got any shovels in the garage?” he asks the boss.
“Sure,” says the boss.
“Good,” says Bobbie. “Pile up the snow between the door and the back of the truck as high as you can. We’ll tip the safe over, push it onto the snow and gravity will cause it to slide right into the truck.”
The boss is skeptical. “What if it just sinks into the snow?”
“It won’t,” says Bobbie.
The shrimpy little guy is right. Mac is amazed. The safe slides into the truck like a hand into a glove. They lock the house up and head back to Mendocino.
Once they get back to the Frolic, Norman’s cousin Rolfe loads the safe into the restaurant using his self loading logging truck. Mission accomplished.
Mac learns more about the Frolic, more about business, when he spends these one on one times with the boss. He doesn’t know what he’ll do with all the information he gets but he’ll do something. Right now it’s time to go back to washing dishes. He needs some R and R.