The view from Santa Teresa Loop is pleasantness itself; a small village down below looks never more affable when seen from high above the bustling daily activities of everyday busybodies, a continual fugue of discordant voices, lies, schadenfreude, vitriolic criticisms, empty promises, false valuations, vain hopes, resident disappointments, and crushed dreams orchestrated by competing grand subjective narratives, all fragmented and adrift. Judy looks at the world below her feet as if she were one of the Olympian gods who used to get a kick out of looking at mortals and making fun of their lives as though to be seen in a great amphitheater. That’s how Judy is entertaining herself now, alone with her faithful canine companion Nena that is also entertaining itself now, for none other dogs than itself has a privilege to enjoy the view, as it were, because it’s the only dog in sight at the moment. The eyes have a feast of the spectacular world to themselves, and the bodies are imbibed with the fresh breath of unsullied beauty of rugged nature, which welcomes the divine duo with iridescent rays of sunshine and refreshing cool air from the West Wind. Readers, it’s a sight to behold, for they are gripped in a paroxysm of ecstasy. Thereby sit Judy and Nena on a rock like statues of Artemis and her wolf, smiling at the world below them.
Judy changes an object of her optical pleasure to a new stimulus from a different direction where the images of men suddenly materialize. She takes her antique binoculars belonging to her father, grandfather, and great grandfather, kept in her family’s cabinet of curiosities for two centuries. There are three men on horseback from the afternoon haze of the wild plains yonder approaching to the trail that leads to the loop, where the earthly Artemis and her canine companion are. Looking through the lens, the threesome look like they are doing a periodical reenactment of the Wild West Frontier; the one in Clint Eastwood-like western outfit with a cowboy hat, a long-haired hippy dressed in a ballroom attire, and a Sombrero-wearing avuncular man with a mustache. They look rather out-of-time, but nonetheless affable, attractive even because of the piquant charm emanating from this oddly quaint trio suddenly materializing before the very eyes of ever inquisitive Judy. It’s like a movie, thinks Judy, while still wrestling with her Reason to figure out this mirage out of nowhere, trying to grip a sense of reality, which she is not good at. For Judy lives in air, her mind forever flitting on the arc of imagination with a belief in magic, legends, faeries, and ghosts… She dwells in beauty of nature, drinks the sweet nectar of forgotten gods and goddess to protect herself from the weight of time that constantly threatens to stale her infinite variety and wither her beautiful spirit. Amid the tug-of-war between the Senses and Reason, Judy now sees the men in her iris coming real and decides to climb down the top of the world. Nena looks at Judy, but it isn’t as willing as her master. Don’t worry, Nena. They won’t hurt you. I am with you, and that’s all that matters. So off they go.
When Judy and Nena almost reach the entrance rail to the loop, however, Judy begins to doubt whether her decision to approach the trio is wise. What if they turn out to be bandits or serial killers in friendly hides? After all, people sometimes take false shadows for true substances. You know, sort of a killer’s instincts in my good neighbor Mr. Roger’s hide? Anyway, it’s too late now, and they also see her with her dog beside. A tall, slim girl looking like a salt pillar at the outskirts of burning Gomorrah is watching them, and the men think she’s either a mad girl deserted by her rich family ashamed of having a lunatic in the household or a dell, a young beggar girl, wandering anywhere for bed and bread, and thus oftentimes becoming a doxy of a highwayman who in turn exploits her beauty and gender for his own desire and avarice. We can’t let her stay alone here, said Ben, who prides himself of being something of a gentleman of society. Rufus thinks she is pretty and therefore wants to woo her. Raphael thinks she doesn’t look menacing, only lost, and takes a pity on her. So, they are all for one, and one for all, like the Three Musketeers in Western Style. They are going to rescue her, and then they will continue their journey to find the Aztec gold buried in California. Once more unto the breach, once more! With this motto of esprit de corps, Rufus, Ben, and Raphael dismount their well-spent Californian mustangs and walk toward the curious Judy – and even more curious Nena.