Twenty-two days after the ceremony, Captain James T. Kirk (ret.) had
nothing to do. His Marin County residence was spotless and
provisioned with six months worth of everything imaginable.
roof garden was weeded and pruned with nary a leaf out of
The drive systems on his speeder had been tuned, overhauled and
upgraded; the whole thing sparkled inside and out--undercarriage
His financials had been reviewed and some decisions revised; he had
even updated his will. He'd visited Peter and his wife; he'd
approved the proof of his memoirs. His affairs were shipshape
ready for anything.
Therein lay the problem. He was rested, organized and ready
tackle anything, but he was expecting absolutely, positively nothing.
No red alerts were going to sound. No Priority Ones were
arrive. No more meals or showers or sleep periods were going
be so rudely interrupted. He would have all day tomorrow fix
sticky doors and the quirky appliances around the house. And
next day. And the next. And the next.
Just like every
other old retired guy on the block.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so Jim was taking a stab at the life
of leisure. Bones had suggested golf. He couldn't
his exact response to that, but it had involved the term
'tal-shaya.' Spock had suggested compiling a comparative
of military negotiation tactics. He couldn't remember his
response to that either, but he had decided that tal-shaya would not be
nearly a quick enough out.
Chekov had come up with this idea--well, sort of. Kirk had
out the idea of a vacation, but where was there to go when one had been
all around the galaxy and back again?
Russia, Chekov had said. See Red Square, St.
Basil's, the Kremlin, Lenin's memorial.
Why, Jim had asked. What was it like?
Chekov said he didn't know. He'd never been there himself,
but he'd heard it was unparalleled.
For 35 years--more than half his life--San Francisco had been his base
address, and yet he'd never 'done' the
city. Oh, he
could draw a map of the transit system free hand in his sleep and he'd
eaten his fair share of Ghirardelli, but he'd never been to the
factory, never rode the electric rail, never been to Alcatraz or lit
candle in a mission. He'd never crawled inside a Muir Woods
redwood or watched a street performer from start to finish and paid her
for his delight. He'd heard the harbor sea lions,
them, but never stood and watched them do--whatever it is that sea
lions do as the fish sellers tossed their catch across the counter and
the seagulls cackled from above.
So this morning he decided to be a tourist in his own
He headed out bright and early and did all of those things and
more. He strolled Haight-Ashbury and the Beatnik Hall of
Fame. He rode the lift to the top of Transamerica II and
up on cue with the rest of the balcony crowd to touch a
watched the reenactment vid of the construction of the Golden Gate, and
he walked across the real thing; it was seemed longer than it did from
the air. Spock said those perceived differences were in his
but it felt more like they were in his feet.
By 1500 his list was almost complete. Next item was Lombard
Street--once called the Crookedest Street in the World. Spock
had something to say about that, but it was on his to-do list, so he
He started up the hill. To his left he saw Coit Tower; he had
lived near there for a year or so while at the Academy. Well,
cadets had to live on grounds, so technically speaking he didn't really
'live' there, but this girl he knew had, so he had--sort of.
It was plain, small apartments--mostly state and student housing; at
the Academy they had called it living in the pubic hair of the
tower. Looking down at it now, he marveled; he'd been blind
them. That was some of the best real estate in the
His old rooftop could be seen on many a postcard sold around the city,
the country, the Earth--but he hadn't appreciated it at the
It was just the place where he had slept on his way to something
better. He didn't know what, but he'd been sure that
much, much better awaited him.
He turned his back on his old rooftop and started up the Lombard street
hill again. Wasn't it once called Russian
really was quite beautiful, this whole tourist district.
itself was lined with flower beds in a host of brilliant
colors--annuals probably--splendid in their glory but only for one
He came to the second corner, and then to the third; both at forty-five
degrees and leading him in almost opposite directions, first to one
side, then to the other, when the only way he really wanted to go was
up. He couldn't see the top of the hill from this
couldn't see the rest of the street--where it went--couldn't remember
from the postcards what it was supposed to look like at the
The flowerbeds were changing now from low, spreading creepers to tall,
waving stalks. Lupines? Or were they gladiolas?
know, but if he asked he would have to listen to the rest of the
lecture, so maybe he would just let it go.
The hill wasn't that long. It wasn't tiring; it was just
to let him stretch his muscles, feel the blood beat in his chest and to
remind his body how worthwhile it was to stay conditioned. He
quickened his pace. Hey, old men don't jog up Lombard
Street. He started to run.
He got to the top, not winded, but feeling pretty good. One
item checked off on his list. He turned around to head back
to the trolley stop, but stopped and caught his breath when he beheld
No postcard could do it justice. Not with the sun on his
the fog in the distance, the scent of the fresh flowers on the
capricious breeze. Below Lombard street wound down towards
square, the wharf and the bay. Now he could see the whole
thing--zipping left and right--leading exactly where it was supposed
to, to the very best, the very beating heart of old San Fran--even
though it took the long way around.
Moving at a more dignified pace, Spock had now made it to the top; like
always he followed not very far away. Jim took his hand and
it between their bodies. "Have you ever been here before?"
"Not like this."
"Me either. Let's not wait thirty years to come again."
Only a handful of passersby wandered around. Jim extracted
hand and slid it around Spock's waist, into his rear pocket.
Neither was much for public displays. He'd always thought it
little ridiculous for men of certain years, but what the hell, this was
their city and they had earned themselves a little freedom.
Gazing out at the sea, the hills, the sinking sun, he did what millions
of lovers before him had done. Quietly, he took a
Maybe retirement wasn't going to be so bad. One by one, ideas
began to flow of what else they could do now that he had the
The view from the top was wonderful, but they weren't doing anyone any
good standing here by themselves. Somewhere, by god surely
someone needed a little help from two men who had traveled the stars
Arm around waist, they wound their way back down Lombard and back to
the yet undiscovered future that awaited--somewhere down the road.