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    Grumpy Bear
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Worlds Apart - 7. Open Your Golden Gate

Siku checked in with Gunnar to make sure that the house was going to be ready and vacant when he arrived in San Francisco.

“The last renters are leaving today, and the cleaning crew is coming tomorrow morning. By noon, the place will be all yours.”

“Okay,” Siku replied. “I’m nearly to the California border now. I had a most unpleasant night yesterday in a little desert town called Winnemucca. They advertised a campground, but when I got there the entire place was paved, and not a tree in sight! I was surrounded by old white humans in giant RVs. It was like sleeping in a parking lot. Charlie did not care for it one bit, either.”

“Charlie?” Gunnar asked in surprise, “Have you found your Mate already on the road?”

“Well, Charlie is not my Mate by the standard definition,” Siku replied. “But apparently, I’m her soulmate, so I’ve brought her with me since she can’t stand being away from my side for a minute!”

“Wait, wait,” Gunnar said. “Back it up. Charlie is a woman? And you’re her soulmate?”

“Not exactly a woman,” Siku said, laughing. “Charlie is an orange cat, she was a resident of the Yellowstone National Park campground, and she has chosen me as her person. I don’t understand feline psychology that well, but apparently once a cat has decided that you’re their person, there’s not a lot you can do except roll with it.”

Gunnar laughed.

“Okay, that makes much more sense, and I know what you mean about cats. When I worked security in DC, there was a long-haired gray cat who fell in love with one of the diplomats. She sat outside the embassy doors every day, yowling for him until he finally let her inside. From that day on, he was never seen without that cat tucked under his arm, and when his term as ambassador was over, she went back to Norway with him.”

“I’m glad someone else understands my predicament,” Siku said. “But she has let me know in no uncertain terms that I need to find a campground tonight with actual trees and dirt in which she can dig and defecate, or else there will be consequences.”

“Look, Siku, you’re almost to Lake Tahoe, and there will be real campgrounds with trees and dirt everywhere you look. Have a relaxing evening, go for a run in the woods in your fur after dark, and then finish the last four hours of driving tomorrow and get to your new home in the afternoon.”

“You know best,” Siku said with a chuckle. “Any news from Atikokan in the last week?”

“A bit,” Gunnar replied, his voice becoming serious. “Erik and Max have encountered no further discriminatory behavior from the newcomers, but they’ve mostly still been giving the polar bears a wide berth around the village. Axel and Joel have been working on getting chummy with a few of them, and Axel called me yesterday to say that he’s pretty sure now that they were lying when they first arrived. They knew of the existence of polar werebears back on Ellesmere Island. When they met you on the arrival day, they weren’t surprised by your existence, they were shocked that Atikokan allowed polar bears to live there.”

“We need to get the thirty brothers who went to Ellesmere Island in the loop on this,” Siku said with a touch of aggravation. Charlie detected the change in her person’s mood and crawled over onto his lap as he drove, staring up at his face in concern.

“Already on it,” Gunnar replied. “But not all thirty of them. That would have been too conspicuous. Axel has reached out covertly to three couples who he trusts implicitly. If they notice any activity involving either wild polar bears or polar werebears in a negative way, no matter how minor it may seem, they’re to report the incident back to Axel at once.”

“Thank you, Gunnar,” Siku said, relaxing a bit and scratching Charlie on top of her head, “This almost makes me want to turn around and run back home to Atikokan again, but that won’t really solve anything. I’ll stay on course and leave this situation in the capable hands of the bears on the Council.”

“I want you to focus on yourself,” Gunnar said. “Have a good night tonight, and then get settled into your new home tomorrow. I’ve set up the new-hire interview for you next week with the captain of one of the fishing boats for California Coastal Seafood. You already have the job; this is just a formality and to get you to fill out the paperwork.”

“Thanks brother,” Siku said. “Text me the details and I promise to make Papa Bear’s Fisheries proud of their little greenhorn.”

“Will do, brother,” Gunnar replied. “Good luck! I hope you find everything you need.”

Siku tapped the phone to end the call and scratched Charlie under her chin. She jumped back up onto her perch on the armrest and purred, seeming to enjoy the scenery through the windshield.

They drove past a sign stating, “Welcome to California” and soon after Siku spied several billboard advertisements for Lake Tahoe area campgrounds at the next three exits. He chose one based purely on its promising name.

“Lake Forest Campground, Charlie,” Siku said. “If that place is a paved RV lot, then there’s just no hope left for humanity.”

****

The office manager at Lake Forest Campground did a double-take when a seven-foot-tall man with a thick white beard wearing a blue and green plaid flannel shirt walked in with an orange-striped cat perched on his shoulder.

“Good afternoon, sir,” he said to the giant with the cat, “Do you need an RV site with full hookups?”

“Nope,” Siku replied with a grin, “Just a basic tent site will do.”

“You’re tent camping… with a cat?” the manager asked in disbelief.

“Sure am,” Siku confirmed, reaching up and scratching Charlie underneath her chin. “She won’t cause any trouble.”

“Oookay then,” the manager said, “How many nights will you be staying with us?”

“Just one,” Siku replied, “We’re just passing through and we’ll be home tomorrow.”

“Oh? Where do you live, sir?”

“San Francisco.”

“Ah, of course.” the office manager replied. Now it all made sense. He was one of those weirdos.

****

Siku took his time in the morning to make sure he gave the cleaning crew at the house enough time to finish before his arrival. He got packed and on the road at ten o’clock and drove the last four hours at a leisurely pace, enjoying the scenery of Tahoe National Forest before skirting around Sacramento and finally approaching the Bay area from the north on Highway 101.

When he began driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, Charlie left her perch on the center armrest for the first time in hours, and leapt up to the dashboard, running back and forth, looking out at the water on either side of the bridge intently.

“First time seeing the ocean, eh Charlie?” Siku asked. “I’d imagine a so for a Yellowstone cat. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?”

Charlie meowed, and leapt from the dashboard to Siku’s shoulder, using the vantage point to stare out of the driver’s side window.

Reaching the shore on the other side of the bridge, Siku followed the GPS directions and turned right onto Lincoln Boulevard, navigating his truck down a winding road surrounded by trees and parks, with occasional views of the ocean on the right.

“Doesn’t look much like a big city from here,” Siku commented to the cat, who retained her perch upon his shoulders as he drove.

Soon they entered the neighborhood of Sea Cliff, with its large mansions packed closely together. Making a right, and a quick left, he pulled up in front of the address that Gunnar had provided.

“Hmm,” Siku said to the cat. “That’s… an unusual looking house. What do you think, Charlie?”

The cat meowed in his ear, curious as to why they were stopping here.

Gunnar’s house in Sea Cliff was a Spanish Mission-style home with adobe walls and a terra cotta tile roof. It was a multi-story home, Siku counting three floors from his view in the driveway, and he noticed outdoor terraces on both the second and third levels. The shocking thing, however, was the color. The entire adobe façade, including the wall surrounding the property on the sides was painted a bright salmon pink.

Siku turned off the engine and rooted through the paperwork that Gunnar had given him until he found the envelope containing the house keys. They were labeled. Garage, Second Floor Deck, Third Floor Deck, Basement Terrace, Butler’s Quarters, Main Entry.

Taking the Main Entry key in hand, he stepped out of the truck, grabbing his duffel bag from behind the driver’s seat. Charlie remained perched on his shoulder, looking at the new surroundings with interest, but not yet ready to explore on her own. He walked up the side of the house until he reached the main door, and opened it up, walking into an octagonal foyer.

Siku’s mouth hung open in amazement as he closed the door behind him. The house was large and impressive. He noted the grand staircase on one side of the foyer but turned left instead and walked into the formal living room. There was a massive fireplace along one wall, opposite the bay window overlooking the ocean. Siku stepped up to the window and saw that the house was literally sitting on the edge of a cliff. Below him, a twisting and winding staircase bordered with adobe walls the same shocking pink as the rest of the house descended the face of the cliff to a small cove at sea level. In the distance to the right, he saw the Golden Gate Bridge that he had just driven across a short time earlier.

Charlie was less impressed with the view than Siku, and she jumped down from his shoulder, running back into the foyer and up the stairs.

Siku continued his tour of the main floor, walking through a dining room, butler’s pantry, and gourmet kitchen. He found a doorway leading to the garage, and a small bedroom, bathroom and sitting room with their own private entrance that he assumed was probably intended for a live-in maid or butler at one point. He also found a small door that he assumed was a closet, until he opened it up, revealing that it was a very small and cramped elevator.

“Nope,” Siku replied, closing the door again.

After walking the full circle through the main floor, he ascended the stairs to the second. At the front of the house facing the street were two bedrooms with French doors opening to a large terrace over the garage. The east side of the second floor had a laundry room, and another door to the elevator, while the west side had another bedroom and a large guest bathroom.

Walking to the rear of the house, Siku found the master suite, a massive bedroom with a California king-sized bed opposite a wall of windows looking out on the view of the ocean and the bridge. He looked at the bed, and found Charlie, curled up in the middle of a white goose-down comforter, purring contentedly.

“Have you called dibs on this bedroom already?” Siku asked the cat. “Well, the bed is big enough for the two of us to share, I suppose.”

To one side of the bedroom was the master bath, a room that itself was nearly as large as Siku’s entire cabin back in Atikokan. In addition to the marble vanity, the private water closet containing both a toilet and a bidet, and the massive tiled walk-in shower, the back wall featured a huge, deep bathtub positioned along another wall of windows facing the ocean.

Siku chuckled at the opulence and walked across the bedroom again into the walk-in closet. To his surprise, he found a second, smaller, half-bathroom built in as a closet within the closet.

“I suppose if you’re getting dressed and really have to go,” Siku mused, “And don’t have time to make it all the way across the bedroom, this would really come in handy.”

He walked through another door off the closet and found himself back out into the second-floor foyer once again, so he ascended the stairs to the third floor.

This level was smaller than the rest and had been set up as a less-formal living space. There was another smaller bathroom, a storage closet, and a door to the elevator. The main room had a cozy fireplace with a large flat-screen TV mounted above it, another wall of windows overlooking the ocean, and sets of French doors on the other two walls leading to two separate outdoor terrace spaces.

Siku descended the stairs back to the main floor and tried to remember which way led to the door to the garage. He wanted to get his truck parked inside before the snooty neighbors questioned the dubious quality of his vehicle, and get his things unloaded. He walked around a corner into the kitchen and through to the butler’s pantry. He opened a door and found that it was not the door to the garage, but instead another staircase leading down.

Shrugging his shoulders he followed the staircase down, and found the basement level, containing a game room with pool and poker tables and a bar set up in the corner. There were more storage closets, yet another bedroom with its own bathroom, and after walking through to the next room, he found what appeared to be another elegant dining room attached to a wine cellar containing over a thousand slightly dusty bottles. He suspected that the dining area was a tasting room for the wine. Very fancy.

There were a set of French doors in the back wall of the game room, and from here, Siku walked out onto a sprawling terrace from which the winding pink staircase led down the side of the cliff to the small sandy cove.

“I’ll save that for tomorrow, Charlie,” Siku said, forgetting that the cat wasn’t currently with him for the first time all week, and he went back into the basement. Returning to the kitchen, he found both his bearings and the door to the garage, so he pulled his truck inside and began the work of unpacking.

****

Siku stood in front of the full-length mirror in the master walk-in-closet scrutinizing his outfit. He was going to celebrate his first night in town by going to the Castro district and hanging out in one of the bars for the evening to rub elbows with some of the locals.

He had selected a long-sleeved plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up on his muscular forearms, well-worn jeans that hugged and accentuated his legs, ass, and basket in all the right ways, a brown leather belt, and brown leather harness boots.

He wasn’t sure that his outfit was sophisticated enough for the big-city types, but then he remembered that he was here to find a Mate, and whoever that was would need to fall for him as-is, so it was best to be himself.

“What do you think, Charlie?” he asked, walking back out into the bedroom to address the cat sleeping in the middle of the big bed.

Charlie stretched and sat up, looking at the big man standing next to the bed.

“Meow,” she said in approval, and leapt up onto his shoulder.

“Good,” Siku replied. “I’m glad you agree. Ready to go?”

Charlie purred and settled down into her traveling position, wrapped around the back of his neck.

Siku had briefly consulted the public transportation map earlier that evening, but was only confused by the different colored lines, looking like a bowl of rainbow spaghetti. He thought of driving his own truck, but with so many people in the city, finding a place to park would likely be a problem.

Finally, he remembered the app that Gunnar had installed on his phone before he left Sturgeon Bay and pulled it up now.

“Uber,” he said, reading the name of it curiously as it loaded. He followed the instructions, and within ten minutes, a car was pulled up into his driveway.

Siku walked out to the car and reached for the front passenger door handle, but it was locked. He looked sheepishly through the window, and the driver made a motion for him to sit in the back seat instead.

“This must be your first Uber ride,” the driver said after Siku had gotten in, “Everyone sits in the back seat, but I see how you could be confused if it’s your first time.”

“I’ve been having a lot of confusing first times lately,” Siku replied, “Thanks for being patient with me.”

After pulling onto the road, the driver looked in his rearview to get a good look at Siku, and noticed that the orange fur collar the giant man had been wearing around his neck when he got into the car was moving, and it now was sitting upright on his shoulder.

“Um, is that a cat?” the driver asked.

“Yes,” Siku replied, “This is Charlie. She goes everywhere with me.”

“Huh,” the driver said, eyeing the cat who started back at him in the rearview mirror with emerald green eyes. “Have you been living here in the city very long?”

“I just moved here today,” Siku replied. “I’m from Canada.”

“Canada… Interesting,” the driver said, while thinking to himself that he never knew Canada produced smoking-hot weirdos like this one. “Well, I think you’re going to fit into life here in San Francisco just fine. What do you do?”

“Do?” Siku repeated, not understanding the question.

“What’s your profession? Your job?” the driver asked.

“Oh,” Siku replied, “I’m a commercial fisherman. I’m starting work for California Coastal Seafood later this month.”

“Shit,” the driver said, “Fishing must pull in the big bucks if you can afford a place like that in Sea Cliff. I picked the wrong line of work.”

He consulted the destination on the trip map on his phone.

“You have me dropping you off at the corner of Castro and Market,” he commented. “Is there a specific bar or club you’re planning on going to tonight, or are you just starting at one end doing a bar crawl?”

“It’s my first night here, and I don’t know any of the bars yet, so I just punched in what I figured was the main intersection for the gayest neighborhood in town,” Siku explained. “Do you have a bar you could recommend?”

The driver scrutinized Siku again as he pondered an answer. If he picked the wrong bar for this guy’s personality, his whole night and his first impression of the city could be a disaster. He’s super-tall, muscular, bearded, and gray-haired but not old enough to be considered a Senior. Middle-aged. Definitely a lumbersexual, and absolutely 100% Daddy Bear. Plus, he’s got the whole eccentric weirdo thing going on with the cat on his shoulder. He knew where to go.

“I’m going to drop you off at 440 Castro,” the driver replied, “That crowd should be right up your alley.”

“You’re the expert,” Siku said with a smile, and Charlie the cat uttered a “meow” of thanks as well.

The driver pulled up in front of the bar and Siku reached for his wallet to pay.

“No, no, dude,” the driver explained, “Check your phone. It gets paid automatically on your credit card, but you can add a tip, and give me a star rating of one to five. Everyone almost always gives the driver a five-star rating unless they were a total asshole.”

“Gotcha,” Siku replied, looking at his phone. He gave the man five stars and added a very generous tip onto the fare.

“Thanks buddy,” the driver said as Siku prepared to leave. “One last word of advice… I don’t know what the other guys look like wherever you come from in Canada, but here in SF, you’re super fucking hot. Be careful or else the bitchy queens in this town will eat you alive. I think you’ll like the crowd here at 440 Castro, though.”

“Thank you,” Siku replied, remembering the experience in Minneapolis at the Brass Rail Lounge when Jake also warned him that the queens would eat him alive. “I’ll be careful.”

He got out of the car and looked around the street. There were several people hanging out on the sidewalks talking and smoking cigarettes, and all heads and eyes turned to stare at the seven-foot beefcake bear in the plaid shirt, bulging jeans and biker boots with the orange cat sitting on his shoulder.

“Evening,” Siku said with a smile. “Nice night.”

“Excuse me! Excuse me sir!” a loud female voice called from behind him. He turned to see four plump middle-aged ladies running up to him with perfectly permed and coiffed hair, wearing San Francisco t-shirts and nylon track pants with matching track jackets tied around their ample waists.

“Yes?” Siku asked looking down at the ladies. Charlie, too, peered down at them from her perch and scrutinized them through narrowed eyes.

“We’re here on a girls-trip vacation from Nebraska!” the leader of the group exclaimed, “Are you one of the famous San Francisco gays?”

“Uh, maybe,” Siku replied. “I live here in San Francisco now, and I am gay, but I don’t think I’m famous.”

“Close enough!” the woman said, “Can we get a picture with you?”

“Uh, sure,” Siku replied as the four ladies gathered around. One of them had a phone on the end of a long selfie-stick and she snapped several pictures of her and her friends posing with the giant, muscular gay man, and his unusual cat.

“We traveled all this way to come to Castro Street to hang out and see all the gays with our very own eyes!” the leader exclaimed, “This picture is going right up on the wall in my living room! Right in between the pictures of Karen’s Senior Prom and David’s graduation!”

“Well… good,” Siku said, remaining polite but trying to end the interaction. “If you’ll excuse me, I…”

“Ooh! Are you going into one of the famous gay bars?” the lady asked, keeping the conversation going.

“What goes on in there?” she asked in a loud whisper.

“Well, I can’t speak for everyone,” Siku replied, leaning down, and whispering back so just the four of them could hear, “But I’m here in search of a Mate or maybe a Cub that I can bite and breed.”

He stood back up to his full height.

“Good evening, ladies! Enjoy the rest of your trip!”

The four women from Nebraska stood with their mouths hanging open as the big gay man with the orange cat on his shoulder gave them a smile and a wave and opened the door to 440 Castro, disappearing inside.

“Well,” the leader of the group of Nebraskans muttered, “I always imagined that gay sex was a bit different, but I never realized it involved so much biting. You learn something new every day!”

Copyright © 2021 Grumpy Bear; All Rights Reserved.
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That house sounds amazing. It looks like Siku and Charlie are gonna fit right in. I think everyone will want a piece of Siku, if they get past Charlie.

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Damn maybe we were wrong about Charlie, i mean even if she's not a bear siku would smell it on her right? There goes that theory lol

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This chapter was just too funny.  

Unfortunately, way to many of the campgrounds have become home to parking lots filled with RV's and very little actual camping; rather annoying for those that actually like the idea of camping out in a tent.

Never thought about how people that don't take or have never used Uber would react or deal with it.  And always take the driver's advice on where to eat or go, the drivers really know what's what; or do if they are any good at all.

I am surprised that his truck wasn't towed immediately; have been in that neighborhood and street parking is basically non existent and towing abounds.

Can't wait for the next chapter to see what happens in the club.

And the ladies from Nebraska truly got a special treat; and what a story to tell...

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Okay! I got several things to unpack...

This line made me CACKLE!

Quote

He also found a small door that he assumed was a closet, until he opened it up, revealing that it was a very small and cramped elevator.

“Nope,” Siku replied, closing the door again.

The Uber driver is the first to give some suss on Siku's new house/profession pairing. I imagine this won't be the last.

I'm hoping Siku and Charlie have seen the last of these ladies. I hate tourists. I really hate tourists. These ladies don't sit right with me. Siku is a man, not a zoo attraction.

 

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7 minutes ago, astone2292 said:

I'm hoping Siku and Charlie have seen the last of these ladies. I hate tourists. I really hate tourists. These ladies don't sit right with me. Siku is a man, not a zoo attraction.

That interaction was based on a real-life experience of my own.  I don't live in SF, but I live in the Keys, near Key West.  One Saturday my hubby and I were hanging out in our usual bar when a bunch of women who had disembarked from a cruise ship for the day came in, and they kept going on about how famously gay Key West was, and they were so excited to have a drink in a real Key West gay bar and see the famous Key West gays!   I managed to stay polite the whole time they were in the bar, but it was pretty exhausting.

I ended up posing for pictures with the group, but I think our bartender photobombed at least one picture by climbing up on the bar behind us and pulling out his junk.

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That's an amazing house that Siku gets to live in!  Thanks for the great picture in such high resolution that you can zoom in to just the remarkable staircase and small private beach.  It looks like it was quite a construction project.

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