Errant Angels

Errant was the word I thought I heard the woman say. Errant Angels. It was intriguing and amusing, equally. Clever. I had to know why she used the word. Errant.

I had misheard. I was painting a small house (it would qualify as a cottage) in Port Townsend that had previously belonged to Keith Darrock and his wife. Keith, a pivotal member of the local PT surf crew, had substantially remodeled the cottage a few years ago before selling it to the current owner, Michelle.

Michelle wanted her cottage painted. It needed it. A year or two older than me, Michelle told me about her days at Height-Asbury, in 1967 or so, before the San Francisco Hippie scene was discovered and publicized and sanitized and splattered on weekly magazines.

“Have you heard about the ‘Diggers?’” I had, but I got that wrong, also. No, Michelle said, they weren’t fools who worked so others could hang out, take existential trips, find themselves; in exchange for food and lodging, the Diggers found odd jobs; sweeping, cleaning, pulling weeds; work for a teenage runaway like Michelle from Modesto.   

What Michelle had said, what I had misheard, was that; having found herself, a few years later, in the mid- 1970s, in Port Townsend; before it was discovered by yet another wave of speculators, by pensioned retirees and trust babies and refugees from the supposed ‘casual California lifestyle;’ with a child and without a regular job, she started a little service company that did, yes, odd jobs. “Errand Angels.”

I like Errant Angels better.

It creates a different image, probably based on the only other time I recall hearing the word. Errant. Errant Knights, out looking for adventures. Don Quixote. Sure. I can imagine it: On their own Angels performing little miracles here and there, perhaps looking up, wondering if the Boss would approve.

This is a work by my late sister, Melissa. While she claimed I, her oldest brother, was part of the reason she chose to pursue the lofty goal of actually creating art, Melissa, my youngest sister became my inspiration the first time I watched her sit down, sketch Trisha’s Uncle Fred with a number 2 pencil, and capture him… perfectly. Melissa Joanna Maria Marlena Dence (nickname given Melissa Jo by our mother, who never met Melissa’s husband, Jerome Lynch) started out drawing horses, I started out drawing waves and surfers. Always striving for perfection, brutally and unnecessarily hard on herself (generous with my work, apologetically honest) I never really understood Melissa’s leaning toward images such as this one. Dark. Frightening. She was way braver than I am. I do think of her when I’m trying to be… better.


Angels, ghosts, images; I have pretty much completed a way-too-detailed ‘outline’ of “Swamis.” I cut the shit out of the second unexpurgated version, purposefully not even trying to write the flowery setting/descriptive stuff. I was striving to make every move clear. I did include all the dialogue that I feel is needed. Love the dialogue. So, it’s probably dry, definitely cut, possibly not cut quite cruelly enough.

Illustration copyright Melissa Lynch. Erwin Dence asserts all rights and protections under copyright laws for original content on realsurfers.net (I was informed I should add this).

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