A white house overlooked the car-filled street near the beaches in Santa Monica. A ranch-style house, it was home to Travis and Rebecca Bentley, a husband and wife team whose lives had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Travis pulled into the driveway of the home. A record engineer in his mid-30s, he married his wife 11 years prior, after graduating from Cal State Fullerton and getting his first job at Capitol Records’ famous underground studios.
He got out of the car, pulling a briefcase and a pair of headphones out of the passenger seat. As he walked up the walkway to the front of the house, Rebecca opened the door and held the door open. He walked to the door and bent his head down to give her a kiss on the cheek. She sighed at this and walked in behind him.
“Everything okay, Rebecca? You don’t normally greet me at the door,” he asked, placing his bag and headphones on the table. He turned around to look at her and give her his full attention.
“We’ve been married for 11 years, Travis. I figured it was a time for a little spontaneity,” she said, turning her face away.
He looked at her and blinked for just a few seconds.
“You’re not usually bashful like this,” he said, trying to figure out things like she was a jigsaw puzzle, “Are you sure everything is going okay?”
She looked back at him with fake offense.
“I can’t greet my husband at the door? What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t do that once in a while?”
Travis smiled and shook his head. He walked to the kitchen and grabbed a glass bottle of Mountain Dew. He popped the top with his thumbs, shooting the cap into the air in an arc. The cap pirouetted across the room and into a giant highball glass full of bottle caps. He smiled with pride and walked to his wife. He led her to the living room, and sat her down on the couch.
“Now, Rebecca, what’s going on? I feel like I haven’t been observant of something.”
Rebecca looked down in her lap and smiled.
“Have you ever been to Australia?”
“No, I don’t think I ever have been.”
“Would you ever think about living there, or doing your work down there?”
“If I was offered a job down there, and the record company was willing to pay for our relocation, I think I would. Australia is a burgeoning musical market.”
Rebecca smiled at this revelation.
“Well, what if I told you that there were possible opportunities for both of us down there?”
Travis let his eyes drift into hers, and he tried to read her.
“You always knew that I wanted to put my degree to good use. I applied to an opening at Monash University in Melbourne a few months ago, and had an interview with one of their folks when they were in town last month. They contacted me today, and they are interested in offering me an adjunct position that pays about the same as what you make right now.”
Travis face went from anticipation, to shock, and then spread to a grin.
“Why didn’t you tell me this last month?”
“I didn’t really think about it that much. I figured it would be a possible opportunity.”
“Do you want the job?”
“Honestly? Yeah. I would love to teach students the art of finances.”
“Would they pay to relocate both of us?”
“They said that they may be able to do that, but they would want you to find work down there within a year of arrival.”
The Santa Monica Freeway was known for traffic. And especially going into Santa Monica proper, it was always going to have some congestion. For some reason, this Saturday evening had very little traffic. And as Dennis drove down the freeway in his BMW z3 Roadster, he smiled happily at this development.
He passed under La Cienega Boulevard as the sun started to dip in the horizon, and turned on his radio. As per typical, his keen sense of musical timing allowed him the pleasure of listening to one of his songs from his time in college. As the opening strains of America’s 1984 hit, “Can’t Fall Asleep To A Lullaby” started wafting from the four speakers, he looked at the horizon in front of him. It wasn’t totally clear, but he saw the bright orange skyline, an indication that the sun was in the process of setting.
The winds that blasted past the vehicle whipped his hair as he traveled down the freeway.
He thought about the road ahead, and about how much he loved to drive. This was the way that he decompressed from the daily stresses of his job and from his past. He recounted the things that happened over the past week, and mused about how much they were going to change his life.
As the chorus of the old song played through, he passed under the 405. By this time, his thoughts moved back to the beautiful orange sky and the sparse number of taillights in front of him. It seemed even this night would not have the cops bothering him on this road. The picture in front of him was exactly like a dream he had in college, and he was going to relish it as much as he could.
His thoughts were interrupted by a thought about his charge, the one who he was helping at this time. He knew that she was going to have a rough road ahead of her, and she had so much to work through. He only hoped that he would be able to help her properly, and give her the freedom to do great things for the people of Los Angeles and the Basin.
The second run of the chorus started to play as he blasted under Cloverfield Boulevard. His favorite part was coming up, and he looked again at the horizon in front of him. The wind in his hair, the beauty of the landscape, all of it brought a grin to his face again. It was, for all he knew, the most awesome experience he had up to this point in time. And he loved it.
The saxophone solo sounded out from the speakers, and he kicked down the accelerator as he approached 14th Street in Santa Monica. He drove his engine as hard as he could until the solo ended. By the time he ended, he was right at the curve where the Santa Monica Freeway became Pacific Coast Highway.
He slowed down as the roadway became a four-way with very few stoplights. He prayed and hoped that he would be able to continue without stopping. As he progressed up the road, he looked out at the ocean and the beach. The sun was just starting to disappear under the horizon. About 3/4 of it was still above, and he was entranced by it, as he drove. With luck, he was able to keep going as the stoplights all appeared to be green and happy.It seems that his drive was, in fact, a blessed event for him.
As the last chorus blasted through, he punched the accelerator again and blazed his way up the PCH through Santa Monica. The chorus ended as he streaked a turn onto Chautauqua Boulevard. He went up the hill a little slower this time, and made a turn towards the ocean onto Corona Del Mar. The song just ended as he pulled into his house, and turned off the key. He was home, and the night was absolutely awesome. This was a blessed night, and he would spend the rest of it listening to America’s Greatest Hits, and watching the sky darken from his patio overlooking the ocean.