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Chapter Thirty

They rented a car in Los Angeles from one of the places that rents out cars that other people have thrown away.

``Getting it to go round corners is a bit of a problem,'' said the guy behind the sunglasses as he handed them the keys, ``sometimes it's simpler just to get out and find a car that's going in that direction.''

They stayed for one night in a hotel on Sunset Boulevard which someone had told them they would enjoy being puzzled by.

``Everyone there is either English or odd or both. They've got a swimming pool where you can go and watch English rock stars reading Language, Truth and Logic for the photographers.''

It was true. There was one and that was exactly what he was doing.

The garage attendant didn't think much of their car, but that was fine because they didn't either.

Late in the evening they drove through the Hollywood hills along Mulholland Drive and stopped to look out first over the dazzling sea of floating light that is Los Angeles, and later stopped to look across the dazzling sea of floating light that is the San Fernando Valley. They agreed that the sense of dazzle stopped immediately at the back of their eyes and didn't touch any other part of them and came away strangely unsatisfied by the spectacle. As dramatic seas of light went, it was fine, but light is meant to illuminate something, and having driven through what this particularly dramatic sea of light was illuminating they didn't think much of it.

They slept late and restlessly and awoke at lunchtime when it was stupidly hot.

They drove out along the freeway to Santa Monica for their first look at the Pacific Ocean, the ocean which Wonko the Sane spent all his days and a good deal of his nights looking at.

``Someone told me,'' said Fenchurch, ``that they once overheard two old ladies on this beach, doing what we're doing, looking at the Pacific Ocean for the first time in their lives. And apparently, after a long pause, one of them said to the other, `You know, it's not as big as I expected.'''

Their mood lifted further as the sun began to move down the western half of the sky, and by the time they were back in their rattling car and driving towards a sunset that no one of any sensibility would dream of building a city like Los Angeles on front of, they were suddenly feeling astonishingly and irrationally happy and didn't even mind that the terrible old car radio would only play two stations, and those simultaneously. So what, they were both playing good rock and roll.

``I know he will be able to help us,'' said Fenchurch determinedly. ``I know he will. What's his name again, that he likes to be called?''

``Wonko the Sane.''

``I know that he will be able to help us.''

Arthur wondered if he would and hoped that he would, and hoped that what Fenchurch had lost could be found here, on this Earth, whatever this Earth might prove to be.

He hoped, as he had hoped continually and fervently since the time they had talked together on the banks of the Serpentine, that he would not be called upon to try to remember something that he had very firmly and deliberately buried in the furthest recesses of his memory, where he hoped it would cease to nag at him.

In Santa Barbara they stopped at a fish restaurant in what seemed to be a converted warehouse.

Fenchurch had red mullet and said it was delicious.

Arthur had a swordfish steak and said it made him angry.

He grabbed a passing waitress by the arm and berated her.

``Why's this fish so bloody good?'' he demanded, angrily.

``Please excuse my friend,'' said Fenchurch to the startled waitress. ``I think he's having a nice day at last.''


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