“Random events often come like the raisins in a cereal box – in groups, streaks and clusters. And although fortune is fair in potentialities, it’s not fair in outcomes.” ~ Leonard Mlodinnow
Douglas Basco stood out in front of the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company in the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz. He had his Walkman headset snugly around his head with REM’s “Stand” playing into his ears. He was a plump, 22-year-old with a small potbelly hanging over his ragged Levi’s, Hang-Ten, black T-shirt, and ratty, old checkered Vans. Dougie, as most people called him, was a total stoner. He never held a job a day in his life. He liked to play Nintendo with his stoner friends, sell just enough weed to pay the bills, and mostly did nothing but skateboard down Pacific Avenue.
He loved irritating the stupid tourists who frequented the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. He made it the highlight of his day to rile up some average “douche bag” from Iowa who showed up in khaki shorts, plaid, button-up shirts, and any kind of dumb straw hat. He particularly loved terrorizing little kids at the beach by pulling them under water. A good crying and yowling later and few “Mommies,” screamed in protest – and his job was done. Dougie was a good, old-fashioned loser, and he didn’t care. Living his days with a joint tucked between his lips, riding his long board up and down hills, worked just fine for him.
In the days long before a Starbuck’s had popped up along every corner in every city, Dougie got his brew from the Roasting Company. His favorite daily habit was to ride his skateboard down the mall and park it in front of the company. It had a dark-colored front with a maroon-colored, short, round awning hanging over the entrance.
Today though Dougie was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk, smoking a “doobie”, which no one in Santa Cruz cared about whether it was illegal or not. He was pissed. His long-time enemy Bobby Lewes stood at the counter and talked to a fine babe named Andrea. Dougie had a major crush on the tall brunette with long, cascading hair down her back. She didn’t shave her armpits. She wore no makeup, glided around in flowing, flowering, gauzy dresses, and wore Birkenstocks. Dougie wanted to fuck her so bad he could taste her smell in his mouth.
He glowered through the glass window at his pudgy nemesis that bantered with the girl, leaned on the counter, and every so often took a nonchalant swig of coffee. The only thing Bobby had over Dougie was his pretentious oil paintings he displayed at the 7th Street Gallery. Dougie would certainly never admit this aloud, but he had to say ole Bobby was a pretty darned talented son of a bitch. He knew Andrea studied art at UC Santa Cruz, and Dougie assumed these bourgeois bullshitting sessions turned her on.
Dougie took one last inhale on his joint, let out the smoke, licked the tips of his fingers, and put it out. He knew smoking in the actual coffee cafe would likely piss off the manager. She didn’t tolerate that sort of nonsense. Dougie looked up and was just about to step in when Bobby trotted out.
“Dude, you’re wastin’ your time, man,” said Bobby with a smirk. “She ain’t going to fuck that pinprick dick of yours.”
“Fuck you man,” spit back Dougie. “You’re an arty fag anyway.”
“Yeah, and you’re a homophobic asshole!”
“What you doing here?” asked Dougie. “She ain’t going to date your fat ass either.”
Bobby snickered, “Really? You certain about that?”
“Yeah, fat fuck!” postured Dougie with his fists pulled back and chest puffed up.
Bobby gave him a gloating look. Just then the air seemed to go silent. All that could be heard was a motorbike way off in the distance. Dougie stopped and looked around. This weird sensation came over him, and he felt this odd vibration throughout his body. Then out of nowhere a car alarm went off, and then another and another. The sidewalk beneath their ratty tennis shoes morphed into this kind of living thing. It shifted and moved with a rapid shaking. Bobby and Dougie looked around – wide-eyed and scared. The two posturing guys were now frightened and at the mercy of some unknown force that seemed to push, jolt, and shake them.
Off to the right, a building that had been shaken like a rag doll began to shoot off pieces of itself into the street. Then right behind them, they heard this enormous, thundering, cracking sound. Dougie grabbed Bobby’s upper arm and pulled him forward out into the center of the street. Just as they got across the way, the front of the Roasting Company’s glass shattered followed by the roar of the building just collapsing down into a heaping mess of smoke and debris.
As the shaking slowly subsided, Bobby and Dougie stood side-by-side staring at what remained of the Roasting Company. People screamed, alarms sounded, and chaos erupted all around them. People began rushing forward and pulling out bricks and cement slabs and wood.
Dougie and Bobby met eyes and all at once cried, “Andrea!”
They rushed toward what had been the front entrance, but it was piled high with rubble and debris. The two enemies quickly became forced friends as they made a bid to rescue their heart’s desire. They both stopped and stared. The entrance was impenetrable. A huge, unmovable slab of concrete covered it.
The enemies stood back with their eyes wide and mouths open. Dougie, the slovenly, tourist harasser, suddenly burst into tears and cried like one of the children he had pulled under water.