Friday, June 05, 2009


I was driving on Highway 1 nearing the 41st Street Exit. My brain was wobbling between stopping at the Best Buy or just going home.

The traffic suddenly slowed to a crawl, and I could see the smoke in my near future. I couldn't change out of the fast lane. The patterns of traffic were locked. I was going to have to go all the way to the Soquel exit.

Then I finally rolled up on the wreckage.

A 2006 Ford truck was on its side, driver's side down. The pavement was scored for 20 feet behind it, and the guard-rail cement had stopped the slide. Chunks of ripped plastic, metal and nondescript truck parts littered the vicinity. The truck's passenger side wheels hung in the air, limp and unsure of themselves. The windshield of the truck had impact-radius cracks working from the ground in a jagged, mathematically circular pattern to the top. I couldn't tell if the airbag had deployed.

Four cop cars were out, and their winky-blinky lights spattered my eyes with percussive blasts of color. A firetruck with all of its extreme boxiness was parked nearby. The wrecked truck had obviously been sprayed, and the ground around it had been fire-retarded. An ambulance was making its way to the scene against the traffic on the shoulder across the sluggish lanes. The traffic had slowed out of curiosity because the truck was off the road.

How this truck had popped up onto its side and slid was a mystery. There was just the truck. There was no other vehicle apparent.

The driver of the truck was talking to a battery of officers. He'd obviously climbed up out of the passenger window of his truck and then dropped down to the pavement. There was no other possible way out. The officers stood oppressive, with their hands on their hips.

It was apparent that the driver didn't like all of the attention he was getting. He looked stressed. His arms were folded, pulled in tight across his chest. The tendons and filaments of his forearms pronounced themselves. The driver appeared to be in his 20s. His hair was short. He wasn't a tall man. His face was clean-shaven. His skin was light brown.

The man was well dressed, wearing baggy jeans and black boots. He looked as though he could have been going to pick up his girlfriend, out to dinner, or to a job interview.

For some reason in my slow crawl past him, out of all the people rubber-necking, he looked over and followed me with his gaze. I looked into his eyes. His brow was furrowed. I couldn't tell if it was anger or sadness that was about to break over his face. I tried to find his pupils in this gaze. We seemed to have an intense moment together. It was as if I had forged a strange, spiritual bond with him in the half-minute it took me to pass him. He seemed to be telling me something human with his stare. He seemed to be saying that what I was seeing was the worst day of his life.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Torn Up

I forgot Ivan's lunch today.

I asked him if there was any way for him to get some food at school. He assured me that he misses his lunch regularly. He assured me that it was no big deal.

I thought nothing of letting him make it through the day. It has to do with how I was raised. I felt bad, but I understood his manning up.

On the phone, Susannah suggested I go to a store and buy him something. It was completely novel. I hadn't considered such a thing.

I went to the Quick Mart and picked up roasted peanuts, string cheese, a turkey club sandwich and a bag of Whoppers. It was a lunch I would have killed for if I was just barely 10.

In the line up for the register were two people. One mumbled his gas pump number. The attendent asked if it was pump 4 or pump 1. There was another mumble.

"I guess he means pump 1." The attendent said to himself as the man left.

The next customer had my eye. She was wearing her silk red pajamas, had a white, polyester robe half-open and was wearing furry slippers. Her hair was completely destroyed and medusalike. Several dye jobs were apparent from the exposure of her roots. She was hefty and she was buxom, yet there was nothing pleasant about her spilling breasts.

I stepped to the right slightly to opserve her profile from behind. Her make-up was caked and worn. Her mascara was blackened. I would suspect that she was in her mid-forties.

She purchased an energy drink and a pack of Newports.

As the clerk scanned Ivan's substitute lunch with a wand that looked like a broken stapler I watched her get into a spotless 2008 Lexus.

Sick Dog

So I forgot to get milk the last time I went shopping. On Saturday morning, it was apparent that I would have to bomb down to the 7-11 to pick up a quick gallon for the babies and their cereals.

As I was stepping out, I saw a thin, older, blond woman wearing stained jeans and clutching a worn sweatshirt around her. She was making her way to the entrance. A younger man came up behind her. He had a beard, wore a jean jacket and had a ball cap on that looked like it was ordered from an Eddie Bauer catalog. I continued to pace towards where I was parked, but I shifted in my walk to observe them.

"Where are the keys?" He asked.
"Leave me alone." She said.

The guy then grabbed her by the shoulder and whirled her around to face him.

"Leave me alone!" She yelled.

There were people around. We were all watching this. In retrospect, I realize that his manhandling of this woman was illegal. But I needed a bit more to spring into action and disturb my milk mission.

As I continued to my car, the scene was obscured by one of those big potato chip trucks.

I stood there for a moment and heard nothing from thr area of the conflict. The traffic on Soquel was blasting by and there was a general patina of noise in the air.

Then I saw the younger man walking back in the direction that he had come from, jingling keys in his hand.

"Sick dog." He said. He said it loud enough for all people in his audience.