sketches of the citadel

I DIDN’T WANT TO GO swimming, but it did so happen that I had my swimsuit and a towel (and a bag) and no reasonable excuse not to. When I came out of the apartment complex, I noticed that I was on the other side of the town, far at the end of the lake toward the river delta. There was a long sandy beach, faced by colorful villas, a mix of the south and north. Toward the mouth of the delta was a small island, cut away from the shore by what looked to be a stream. As I ventured closer, I could see the current here was much stronger and few swam in it, except for some kids who had dipped their legs in the waters. I could see the stream wasn’t so deep, so I walked across it and hoisted myself up on the other bank. Here I encountered an abandoned guard outpost, made of weather-beaten logs, broken windows. There was another man there, and he told me he had thought of buying this island and developing it into a small summer restaurant, but that he no longer had faith in the project. “Everything here is wrong,” he said. Down along the coast, I could see there was a white citadel. I walked along the beach and came over the drawbridge. The citadel was maintained by a Chinese aristocratic family of ancient lineage. Their name was Lo. Out of politeness, I was invited to dinner, which included a rich bisque. After dinner, I was invited to a reception upstairs, where I was a guest of honor, alongside Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. I was surprised, not only because Paul is, at least as of this moment, deceased, but because Grace looked young and was dressed in black. She was kind and we got to talking. “But what am I doing here?” I asked. Grace grinned and said, “Don’t you know? You’re back in San Francisco with us, man. You’re back in San Francisco.”

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