Drama in the church parking lot, one man woke another sleeping in a car, and then they got into an argument. You’d think the man sleeping in the car would be a kid or a teenager but this was a grown man, balding, sweating,
arguing with an elderly man, his father, yes, his father woke him up from a deep sleep inside a black Lincoln Town Car large enough to be a limousine. The limousine was parked next to a double deck motor coach which never moves, a fixture in the church parking lot.
Sorry, not a limousine, the Town Car always parks right next to the elongated bus, in the shadow of the bus, to take advantage of the shadow cast by the tall bus. Almost everyone else parks out front. The vast parking lot is perfect for practice and skateboarding.
The old man throws up his hands and walks away but now two women get a hold of the man, by both arms, the two women on either side of the man lead him away by the arms towards the middle of the otherwise empty parking lot.
His sister, yes, his sister wears a big black angular hat on the side of her head, like a flying saucer landed on the side of her head. The hat has attached a small white mesh veil about the size of a lunch pail napkin, waves slightly in the breeze,
and because of the angle of the hat, waves about a half inch above her forehead, in the breeze. The hat also has what looks like green grapes attached to the crown, and ivy, and a band like a roller coaster circumvents the hat.
She pulls the man towards one side of the parking lot, “what’s wrong, Howard?” She pulls. “Why won’t you tell us what’s wrong?” Howard’s mom, yes, his mother tugs Howard the other way, “You shouldn’t talk to your father that way,
Howie, your father only wants what’s best for you.” Howie stumbles along between them, stammering, stuttering, “Mother! I was having a nervous breakdown inside the car, Mother! But I was having a nervous breakdown in my dream! In my dream,
I completely broke down and I was crying. The whole thing is very nerve wracking!” “In your dream?” The mother scoffs, “well, I’ve never!” Howie stops and points directly at her double row of pearls, “No Mother, you’ve never! And you know why?
Because you are a Jew and a jewel. You’ve always had good work as a jeweler!” Extra disdain in his voice, his mother’s panty hose seem to wrinkle up more at the ankles. I peek to confirm we were indeed all standing at the First United Methodist Church of North Hollywood
in the parking lot off Tujunga. Howard crying, he sobs with his face in his hands. His sister holds on to her hat with her free hand and leans on him. “That’s ridiculous, Howard, you can’t physically have a nervous breakdown while sleeping.”
Howard drops his arms and screams towards the sky, “I’m fully awake now!” Awake and hiding, I climbed inside the cubby space of their lime green vintage ‘76 Volkswagen, I offer no explanation.
Well, okay, Ben and Emanuel are gay. Gay and live in the condominium right next to mine and are always making my life a living hell. They complain about everything. I need to water my plants on the balcony because they wither
and look brown, an eyesore. Move the grill to the other side of the patio, they are vegan, and the smell of meat is nauseating. Their latest grouse is the oil stain on our shared driveway. They told our HOA that I need to clean out the hoarded junk in my garage
because my car leaks and the oil has created a huge stain on my side of the driveway, an eyesore, and in any case, they are certain I am the one feeding the stray cats. I am now stuck with the cost of resurfacing over the stain and I am pissed off so
where do they go every night? I know they do something nefarious every night. Gay bars or sucking dicks somewhere, faggots piss me off so much, I can’t sleep at night thinking about them and their petty complaints. Two buck fifty per square foot, the resurfacing,
so tonight when I saw they left their car door open, while both went briefly back inside their condo, I climbed into the back of their oh-so-cute vintage lime green piece of shit VW Beetle and hid under a blanket. One of them, Ben I believe, bitches with a lisp
about kids and an ex-wife. I didn’t know he’d been married. And Emanuel encourages Ben to reread some passage in the Bible. Their conversation is very strange and almost normal. We bump over some train tracks, probably the orange line on Chandler, and I
scrunch myself smaller under the blanket and begin wondering what the hell was I thinking? What if I get caught? These impulses I get. Once I broke back into a mall and urinated into a fountain after hours because a security guard gave me grief about taking quarters
to play arcade games, “hey, those are people’s wishes,” the guard said and chased me and I hid between some cars in the parking lot and the guard stood at the entrance of J.C. Penney’s and yelled out to nobody, “if I see you inside the mall again I will handcuff you,”
he yelled and rattled the cuffs on his belt, “don’t you walk in here again, don’t you dare walk back into the James Cash Penney store,” he pronounced each word, “James,” “Cash,” and “Penney” and that was how I found out what the J.C. in J.C. Penney meant.
These two dickheads will certainly arrest me. I might lose my job if I get caught, fucking morals clause. I make up my mind to try to slip out quietly first opportunity I get and find my way back home no matter where I end up in the city. They parallel park
and the driver slams his door. The car sits idling. I can hear the other one texting in the driver’s seat. He makes a call, “I saw you on Grindr.” Pause. “Bi-curious my ass. That one is about as gay as Stephen Fry and probably smells like he looks.” Pause.
“Don’t get involved, he works six floors below me in the commissary, I think.” Pause. “In H.R.? Really? Even worse. I’m telling you, I saw your sexy little avatar moving around on Grindr.” Pause. “Nope. Just doing the daily run with the kids. In fact,
here he comes, I gotta go.” The road is bumpy, we pass over the train tracks again. Ben lisps something about carpet runners, fussy, and something about a heavy marble table. Emanuel wants to eat somewhere, oysters, “the white solé fillet plate
at the Oyster House Saloon sounds good, no?” He pronounces solé like Cirque Du Soleil. He rhymes solé and fillet. “With their house Sauvignon, no?” Ben calls Emanuel a gourmand, a “goor mantht,” lisping out the “ntht.” Somebody’s phone rings,
nobody answers, somebody swipes off the ringing phone and then silence, chilled silence. Second stop, car idles again, the passenger click-clacks on his phone. What feels like a ton of kids pile into the backseat but I know, from eavesdropping, only three kids. They throw
inflatable and foamy things on top of me or, rather, on top of my cowering blanket. I smell chlorine. “Did Nana let you swim?” The kids squeal “yes, she did.” The older kid, a boy, offers up this gem, “Pop-up shit his diaper and shit squirted all out the side of his wheelchair.”
“Really stinky in the kitchen when we tried to eat fish sticks, so we got to eat in the TV room,” says the girl. “We could still smell Pop-up when we tried to watch Sam and Cat!” added the boy. The kids laugh. “Really stinky” says the girl. “That’s cool,”
said Ben, “Did Lydia talk?” “Lydia doesn’t talk” one said with an echo after the other and the girl repeats softly, “Lydia never talks.” I can smell the faint odor of shit under the chlorine. “Lydia, did you smell Pop-up’s shit?” asks Ben with a chuckle and
this made Emanuel say, “stop it.” One of the kids or all of them kick around, the backseat shakes, I have to readjust myself and the blanket slips down a bit, my hair exposed. “Is mom at the gym?” asks the girl. “Yes, I’m dropping you off at the gym.”
“I hate the gym, we have to wait in the lobby and the magazines suck.” The kids kick around and were jumping or something. “The gym sucks ass.” Ben laughs but chides them, “Language! People! I just heard you guys say shit and ass, what’s going on?!”
I felt a small hand grabbing at my hair, feeling my hair. “You just said shit, you said shit!” said one and the other chimes in, “Yeah, you said shit. You said shit just now and ass!” The little hand is now pulling at my hair, smacking me on top of the head.
“Don’t get them worked up,” says Emanuel, “we still need to drop them off.” “Fuck her,” lisps Ben over his kids‘ increasing volume, “Let them get worked up. Hilarious. Serves her right.” In his excitement or residual anger, Ben “thts” his “esses.”
“Drama in the parking lot. Avoid at all costs.” Emanuel sounds like a lawyer with his sensible counsel. I am convinced I will be going to jail. My head is being pummeled by what feels like a foam pool noodle. The kids are shrill, screeching, jumping, they
ricochet all over the back seat. The bug swerves. I bury myself under the moving bedlam, close my eyes, forget myself, forget my sins. My prate is over. I am spent. I’ve been disavowed of all rectitude of judgment. I’ve ruminated on the Pater Noster and prayed
for the Noblesse Oblige. I see the young dissidents laughing. They pass each other on their skateboards, high-five in greeting and oblivious, prodomal to the vacuities of life. Some will become homeless, live out of backpacks and sleeping bags, cluster and
obstruct handicap access ramps, panhandling. Some will turn into rent boys and work out of a proscribed hierarchy: Top boys to jockeys to bottom dwellers to diseased junkies. And still others will move beyond the gestalt, survive being Monday’s child,
graduate into the parallax, afford to pay the mill rate. Their Selfies and Instagrams are modern digital carte-de-visite with perfect smiles. Their shame unknown with no endless pain. Their cabinets varnished and protected. I see them now in slow motion as they seek their place,
traversing asphalt and the painted lines on parking lots. I consider them by most accounts. I take advise. I speak my mind. I feel the slaughter and the consumption and all I ask of the weaving spiders is that they don’t scratch my Town Car nor follow me to my fallout shelter.