October 6th, 2021
Crime Doesn’t Pay, Drunk Drivers Do . . . Eventually
He was sitting with his back against the white wall of the parking garage. Red and blue lights flashed across his face.
Cars passed in hesitation. Confused. Afraid. A horn clamored around the place. Wailing in an echo chamber, sounding alarm. Four officers stood around him, questioning looks of reproach on their faces. Scolding blue uniforms. Authority with a badge. His mouth ran a marathon. Words sprinted from his tongue. Adrenalin kicking on all cylinders. Pumping. I bet he couldn’t feel a thing. How could he after what he’d done.
Friday was the day and I woke up with a migraine like the ones I’d had before. Electric pressure shocking my temples. Throbbing. My hands numb. Half my face, too. I looked around me. At my nephew, Brixton, that blonde youth of imagination. I look at Guff. At her face. I know it. Her bangs and grey eyes. The eyebrows parted by her little crooked nose. Lips thin and sincere. I see them both though their names won’t come to mind. The feeling of the words are recognizable like trying to spell out mumblings in my mind. But there’s nothing, really. Only distortion. White noise and that damn pressure pounding into the side of my head.
My mouth moves.
“It’s happening again. My head hurts. My hands are numb. I can’t think.”
Guff sits at my side. Says soothing words.
“Relax. Drink water. Lay down”
I take her prescription and soon I’m asleep on the couch again.
When I wake the pain is still there. My brother drops three pills in my hand. Colorful capsules of purpose. Remedial tic-tacs. I look at them in the palm of my hand. Something in me cringes. I don’t like that I have to rely on them, that this is the solution. Temporal panaceas in place of neurological pathologies. But what can I do. I’m out of sorts. It’s the only way I’m going to operate for the day. I throw one back. Then another. Take a sip of water. Swallow.
More people enter the condo. The bride’s father. Her brother-in-law. His soon-to-be son-in-law. Light follows them in and slashes a blinding flash over my eyes. I feel like vomiting. I don’t. They sit around and make gestures. Move their bodies. Say words. I’m on the couch working my way up and they’re talking to me. Being cordial. I tell them I’m out of it. Can’t function properly. The brother-in-law hands me some edibles. A package of sour rainbow belts. 100mg.
“This’ll do the trick,” he guarantees me.
I take a strip out and chew it. Swallow that too. Then half the Big Mac he hands to me. Whatever works. I take the third pill my brother gave me. Drink more water.
Finally I’m up moving around the place. Getting dressed: socks and slacks and shoes and dress shirt. Two-day old boxers. There’s someplace to be. The clock is ticking. Everyone starts loading my brother’s truck with decorations and decor. Golden accents. Pampas in vases. Candles. Details of a celebration. Their union. Then we’re off. Into the day. Reality slurring past me.
I drink more water in hopes that either the pills or THC or greasy meat work their magic.
By two in the afternoon we’re at The Red Horse Barn in Huntington Beach. The setting. A red L shaped building with stables all around. In one of the rooms the groomsmen sat around a square table, drinking beer and old fashions, talking about work and their youth. Somewhere the bride and her maids put on make-up. Get their hair done. Put on beautiful gowns. Then there’s pictures of the families and the ceremony with the sun falling behind the trees and flowers as a canopy. The vows of love and commitment.
And when it’s over, after tears of joy and the rings and the first kiss as newly weds there’s more pictures with the bride in her dress and the two families now one. There was food and drinks and dancing and a photo booth. There were speeches and the cutting of the cake. I drank enough while this was happening in hopes to kill the pain, to distract me from my headache so I could be present and enjoy my brother’s day becoming a husband, of celebrating with Guff and my family. We danced and I got to watch Guff work the place over with her affections and curiosity.
She was everywhere while I sat there or while I danced and I saw her win over the hearts of those closest to me and those I’ve never met before.
At one point I realized I could still feel the affects of the migraine. My hands tingled. My head throb occasionally. The drink wasn’t helping so I tapered off. Drank water. Sobered up. After the wedding and the goodbyes and the clean-up the wedding party and friends went out on the town. The Bungalow at Pacific City. A club on the beach made to feel like a frat party or spring break every night of the week.
I felt disconnected from the scene. Out of place. Guff did her thing. Asked questions. Listened. Her curiosity bridging understanding and connectivity. Hearing peoples stories. I sat and watched it all happening. My brother’s new wife on the table, dancing. Flashes from the crowd. Social media content. I got tired and sat there, spaced out. I wasn’t interested. I was partied-out. Exhausted. I leaned in and told Guff and then we were out of there.
On the way back to my brother’s, after we picked Millie-dog from her sitters and we’re on the 55 headed for Newport CRASH a flash of white smashed against the side of the Volvo. A brand new white Range Rover blindsided us then sped off.
“What the hell was that?!”
“Oh my god.”
We looked at each other. Looked around us. Made sure we were still in one piece.
“It’s an old car anyway.”
She was right but it didn’t change the fact that this asshole was already zooming off into the night, through a yellow light, cutting across three lanes into a parking garage at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa without regard that he’d just sideswiped a vehicle at nearly 80 miles an hour.
Suddenly I’m wide awake and I pressed on the gas to go after him. Guff got on the phone. Called 911. Gives them our coordinates. Another white SUV gets between us. I keep an eye on him. Try to snap a picture of his license plate. He speeds around a turn. The car in front of me throws on its brakes. The Range Rover disappears out of sight. I make the turn, see his taillights cut around another turn, going deep into the earth. Finally he’s there, in front of me, backing up into a parking spot. I pass him then whip around and block him in. I shoot out of the Volvo fired up.
“What the fuck are you thinking?! You fucking hit us you asshole!”
“Calm down, bro. You swerved into me.”
The guy in the other white SUV comes out of nowhere. Apparently they’re buddies.
“What’s goin on?”
“Your friend hit us and then tried to get away.”
“I was right behind him the whole time. I didn’t see anything.”
I scream at him. It does nothing.
“Bro, I’m smarter than that. I’m not going to incriminate myself by saying it was my fault.”
I wanted to put a fist in his face. This asshole. Guff puts a hand on my arm.
I relax. In no time five patrol units arrive and immediately they’re on him. They surround him. Question him. An officer separates us. Asks us our story. We tell him. Meanwhile I see his mind whirling. His tongue gets tripped up.
“How much did you have to drink before you left?”
I hear him say a number, incriminating himself, but I can’t remember how many. They make him walk the line and he can barely stand. His steps are like an old man with rheumatoid arthritis in his knees. They set him against the wall. Sit him down.
“Do you feel bad?” Guff asked considering I’d been in his position before.
“Not at all. I wasn’t as reckless when I got my DUI,” though I knew I had been reckless before in other ways and suffered the consequences.
I’d been stupid and knew I had to learn my lesson one way or the other.
When I got my DUI I had left the bar in a state of bliss with the windows down, cruising along Riverside Drive in Lake Elsinore with Van Morrison singing Into the Mystic through the speakers without a care in the world.
I had been pulled over, not for my recklessness, but for a license plate light gone out. I’d been pulled over with an excuse, not behavior. The conditions were different, though I realize it was necessary for me to go through it. I had been reckless. I’d thrown caution to the wind many times before and did whatever I wanted. There had been times I could’ve hurt someone, or myself.
After two hours of the ordeal they put cuffs on the kid with Gucci shoes and rose tattoo on his neck and put him in the back of the patrol car. The next morning we left California for a twenty-five hour drive straight through all the way home to Omaha and Porch Fest and a Lumberjack party and the morning after that I sat at my desk and stared out the window, the morning light falling on the autumn leaves of the ash tree outside. It felt good to sit down and do nothing at all.
October 27th, 2021
It was on the corner of 50th and Radial Highway at the gas station there. He was standing outside the white van screaming at the top of his lungs to the woman behind the wheel…
October 20th, 2021
Sometimes there’s nothing to say. Sure, there’s the want and need, perhaps, but nothing comes all the same. There is silence. A great torrent of nothingness sweeping through the mind. Why not…
October 12th, 2021
The last time I saw her they were wheeling her down the white corridor to cut her open. Moments before that she was writing out her will…