15:3 There Be Dragons

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA  |  1969

Back out on the curb, Bear’s thoughts had turned briefly toward wondering what he was going to do about dinner when the front door of the old house slammed open, straining the natural arc of its hinges. A totally nude and raving Devon Bentley took the wooden stairs three-at-a-time and took off down the middle of Webster, an enraged Karoline Rosenda in hot pursuit.

“Bear, just don’t sit, there,” she panted, her legs furiously pumping in her leather pumps in a futile attempt to overtake the flying Bentley. “Catch him!”

Bear took a second to take stock of the situation and then leapt into action. Stepping out of the Lincoln, it took several seconds for the uncharacteristically tall Irish-American to completely unfold his body, but when he did, he loomed in the throw of the streetlight like a pale, fire-topped menhir, or Celtic standing stone.

“Bentley!” he bellowed, his resonant baritone rattling the Navy glass in the loose window frames of the houses. “Not that way! There be dragons!”

The pinwheel-eyed rock star spun on his bleeding heels and headed straight for the driver who promptly clotheslined him, dropping him to the street.

“I didn’t say kill him!” Rosenda protested while catching up to both Bentley and her breath.

Bear quietly took stock of the situation and tossed the gasping woman the keys to the Lincoln’s vast trunk. “Get the rope.”

“What? You can’t … ”

“Look, Karoline, do you want this guy around or not? In about 60 seconds, he is going to be up and Johnny-on-the-go. I don’t feel like driving around all night looking for him. Get me the rope.”

Rosenda didn’t argue any further but retrieved the skein of yellow nylon cord. She began to ask why Bear carried rope, but immediately thought better of it. Besides, she was about to find out.

With a weary grunt, Bear knelt down next to the unconscious Bentley and placed one knee in his back while looping the rope around his wrists. With a deftness that suggested Bear might have had some 4-H Club in his past, he had the rock star hogtied so that no matter what superhuman strength he may temporarily possess; the man was going nowhere.

“Hey,” a voice called out from the Victorian’s porch where a ragtag crowd had spilled out. “You can’t do that, man! That man has rights!”

Bear chose to ignore the complaints and focused on wrestling the inert star into the backseat of the Lincoln.

“Fascist!”

That turned out to be the wrong tact to take with the former boxer. Although he had been just a hair too young to have been drawn into the War, Bear had brothers that risked their lives to beat back the tide of Fascism in Europe.

Without saying a word, Bear gently shut the rear suicide door and walked around the front of the car. Once on the sidewalk, the streetlight threw his shadow across the entire front of the house, casting a pall on whatever meager protests were forthcoming.

“Who said that?” He bellowed.

“Hey man, you can’t just … ,” one of the heads started an objection and quickly ran out of steam as Bear stepped up.

“So it was you?” Bear loomed.

The wispy-bearded young man couldn’t have been a hundred and forty pounds soaking wet, but answered the big man’s question without too much tremor in his voice.

“Yea, it was me.”

Bear took the young man’s measure as even the traffic on nearby Haight St. seemed to quiet down for once.

“Good for you,” Bear finally spoke. “You should always stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. That’s what my brothers went to Europe and got their asses shot full of Nazi lead for. I applaud that sentiment, but in this instance—I assure you—your concerns are misplaced.” His reassurances delivered, Bear turned and walked back to the car, leaving the group on the porch speechless.

“What are we going to do with him?” Rosenda asked, getting into the Lincoln’s passenger side.

“We are going to sit on him until he gets his shit together. I know just the place.”

“You really clocked him,” she said, peering at Bentley over the headrest.

“That’s why I get the big bucks,” Bear half-joked, while tied up on the backseat, an Englishman far from home dreamt of Elysian Fields.

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