The goddess winked

Molina looked as much worse for wear as his oily, fuming scooter.

Milo glared, scanned for any customs inspectors, saw none, and resignedly swung himself and his duffel onto the back saddle. The Levantine, smiling an insouciant gap-fanged grin, twisted the throttle hard. Spluttering and jerking, they gained speed through the docklands until Molina, with magnificent disregard for traffic signals, breasted the Embarcadero and threaded his way into downtown San Francisco.

"Where the hell," Milo finally spoke sourly into the ear in front of his mouth, "are we going?"

"I thought a little sightseeing," Molina shouted over his shoulder. "Welcome to the Summer of Love!"

"Just ditched one of those in Peru," Milo shouted back. "Not interested!"

"Trust me! This is exactly what you need. People coming here from all over the country, dressed all kindsa ways, smoking and dropping all kindsa shit!" Molina gestured enthusiastically, and the scooter lurched. "I assume you are looking for all kindsa shit to smoke and drop, are you not?"

Molina kept up a stream-of-consciousness yap. Milo half-ignored it and considered. He was actually clean and sober, and hadn't seen Furlonger or Callie for weeks. So his need to stock mind-altering substances was not truly urgent. If not getting those things got him out of Molina's clutches faster, he could stand sobriety. Just a little longer.

They'd transited what Molina's running commentary had labelled the Mission District and grazed along the edges of Haight-Ashbury, where, indeed, there were all kinds of people dressed all kinds of ways. Milo automatically noted them, and decided it would be a good place to disappear.

He remembered all the big black cars staking out his apartment just after the fractal singularity back in Chicago, and decided that diving back under the official radar - ASAP - would be truly excellent policy.

He hadn't paid real attention to where he was until now, but when he saw a street sign that said "Columbus", he took it as an omen that this new world was his to discover. Yup!

He prodded the back of Molina's filthy trench coat, in the region of his kidneys: "Seen enough. Pull over. I'll get off here."

Molina's nod came so quickly it was as if he'd anticipated the order, and he pulled to the curb under a street sign at Columbus and Broadway.

As Milo climbed to the sidewalk, he spotted a bookstore with a window-filling psychedelic poster advertising A Grand Acid Test. The poster's freakish twists twined the names of Wavy Gravy, The Merry Pranksters, Neal Cassady, Alan Ginsberg and The Grateful Dead around a gorgeous, blue eight-armed goddess.

Milo was transfixed. The Dead? The freakin' DEAD?

The printed goddess suddenly winked one dark-almond doe eye straight at him. The tip of her pink tongue licked her lips seductively.

Milo's stomach lurched. He lurched. Past the poster, and into the City Lights Bookstore.