Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homeless Manifest Destiny

When Bella admitted that she was pregnant and that her hands cradled not only her belly but the future Oggy Jr. that was a small fetus at the time, harbored from motherly instinct, Oggy was flattened to the redwood duff and twigs of their forest homestead.
"I'll deliver your baby here in the woods and we'll eat the placenta with a raging fire of ferns and Quezatlcoatlus bones," said Oggy, sincerely expressing his devotion to the baby growing in Bella's womb.
"No, you're going to get a job," announced Bella. Her eyes focused on some distant object in the forest.
"I don't understand. We're going to build a house in the forest with the crank tweakers and we'll grow corn and beans in buckets that we raise to the sky. And out child will be strong."
Oggy reached out to Bella's snow white neck, the neck he dreamed of in its long sincerity and delicate formation. Bella recoiled and slapped at Oggy's neck.
"Don't touch me. You have to go to work to make money so we can feed the baby."
Oggy stumbled into an ancient Ohlone Indian shit pit and cried out as his ankle turned.
"I love you and I will always protect you and the baby."
"Then you'll work at the supermarket or at a warehouse."
"I don't understand what that means," said Oggy. "The baby needs a father."
Oggy reached again for Bella's neck and she clawed at him.
"Don't want you to touch me. My baby needs food and you should work for money. "
"That makes no sense. Money is a fabrication of the conservative media that is an illusion the republicans chain our mothers to and break our backs with idealistic routine and clock punching in a circular insane cycle to spiritually deplete us. We're free here!"
Oggy waved his hands in the general direction of the redwood trees and Ohlone Indian burial grounds. He grinned through his giant mossy beard and his stained teeth shone like polished river stones in the stream of despair.
"MAKE SOME MONEY YOU FREELOADING SON OF A BITCH!" cried Bella as she held her belly.
"My love, don't despair. I'll always provide for you. I've planted corn seeds and tomatoes. We'll have a garden of eden in the spring. We'll eat off the fat of the land. We'll thrive and grow and our child will understand his connection to nature."
A crank tweaker's howl punctuated Oggy's declaration and Thunder pissed on the triangular tree brace that held up their shack made of plastic mattress covers.
"There is no time to wait for corn to grow," growled Bella. "We need food now! Don't touch me!"
Oggy pulled his hand back when Bella tried to claw his fingers. He was so hurt by her lack of sympathy. He looked at her beautiful strawberry blond hair that formed a short rug on her shaved head. She was his lover and the mother of her future child. They would be starting a family in the woods by the railroad track near the golf course and he would have to start to plant more food to trade with the tweakers who inhabited the deep realm.
"I love you. That's enough!" shouted Oggy.
"If you love me then you'll get a job in town moving boxes."
Oggy's spirit broke from the tone of Bella's voice. She was immobile and demanding. He would work for one of the warehouses moving wine supplies or artichokes or boutique skateboard clothing. In fact, there was newspaper in their collection of tinder. "NOW HIRING" This was a sign to Oggy. He would work and make money. He would make money and feed his child and that would make Bella happy and that would make Oggy a man.
"Truck Driver School. Affordable Tuition. OTR drivers earn $50,000 avg. pay."
He read this as Bella rocked back and forth in the plastic forest castle they had assembled from trash from the dumpster behind the mattress store. Storm clouds gathered to the west and soon a drenching rain would cascade through the canopy, ignored by squirrels and other animals except Oggy. He could drive. Once upon a time he had owned a car and driven from one place to another before the awful consequences of piston propelled crankshafts compelled him to renounce internal combustion engines. He had planted trees in Kentucky and that required driving back and forth to the coal mines. Yes, white trees and berry bushes to attract seed birds, blue spruce, Colorado Spruce, Locust, Alder...
"Home weekly. Health, dental & vision" promised the ad. What was home? The child would be on the breast and Oggy would be driving through the asphalt acreage of the midwest, the west, the mountains, riding brakes and double shifting clutches and banging orders on the CB. Could he do that when men died in Iraq to secure oil for the opportunity to move freights of paper and baby products form one state. How many gallons of gas would be spent to move diapers? The amount of tire tread that would end up in the pacific ocean manifested itself to Oggy in the form of a great angel with chicken wings flapping its anger in Oggy's face. The punishment that Oggy would inflict on the chicken angel would be so great that the angel would die and Oggy would be responsible. Diapers crossing the country, trespassing on Cherokee land and Kickapoo land and the prairies of the Sioux and Cree. What horses would need hay for this boxes of rattles that Oggy would need to collect his money and feed his baby in the plastic fortress he had built in the state park land? HE couldn't afford the tuition and the impact was too great on the environment.
"My love, I can't drive trucks because..."
"I don't want to hear your excuses, you toad, get a job and get out of my face."
"I love you. I love you so much. I'll do anything."
Oggy reached out for a thread of Bella's worn sweater but she recoiled from him.
"I hate you and don't want you to touch me. Make me money for the baby. That's all you can do for me."
Oggy's head spun from his devotion to this vessel of purity. She was so wise and practical. She understood what was needed from this demanding world while he, Oggy, was adrift in the sea of uncertainty.
"Of course. I'll do anything for the woman I love and the child that is mine."
Oggy looked on. Automotive Technician. Janitorial. Internet Sales Manager.. Service Writer/Advisor. Swiss Screw machine Operator.
"I could operate a swiss screw machine, my love! I think..."
"Shut your mouth!"
The dog shit near a bay tree and pawed at the redwood duff until he had buried the small turds.
Oggy was desperate.
"Can I be a structural engineer? Designing structures with concrete and steel, with integrated process equipment...maybe I can. What do you think?
Oggy waited hopefully while Bella gathered her anger into a balled fist aimed for Oggy's already bruised bicep. She punched him and he yelled so loud the dog yipped in fear and revulsion.
"No, please. Don't hit me anymore!"
Oggy leaned into the walls of the plastic curtain separating them from the storm outside, the droplets of rain collecting on the walls and soaking into the forest where they belong and not in a storm drain like Oggy had protested against in the preceding months.
"Then don't be stupid!" shouted Bella. "Get a real job that you can do. Our baby will die if you don't feed it and it will be all your fault."
She lay down with her belly in cradled in her hands, the hands of womanhood, thought Oggy, the hands of all the mothers of the world, wise and compassionate and practical. Not foolish like the dull Oggy and his idealistic insanity that lead to the broken toaster dead ends of Santa Cruz, the dumpsters and the broken crutches that bend and warp under the weight of expectations.
"Purchase manager. I'll manage optimal inventory quantity, improve inventory purchasing practices, and locate new vendors. I can do that! I can locate new vendors. My love! I love you! I love you and our baby so much that I'll locate new vendors. Where is this located?
"Fashion Beauty Supply" read Oggy in the stained advertisement next to the inside sales and restaurant franchise boxes. Fashion beauty supply? Could he find new vendors for hair nets and fake mustaches and nylons and lip gloss and suspenders made by Chinese slaves in factories along ancient polluted rivers washing the detritus of the centuries to the ocean and all the acid leached gold mining sluice? He might have highly proficient computer skills...did he?...he but the ocean and rivers would call back to his primitive nature and demand explanation for his pollution and disregard.
"What if the beauty supply factory supply is on a river," asked Oggy and for that he received a kick to the tender ribs under his undefended arm, Bella's tender toes, perfect and not crippled by arthritis like Oggy's root-like toes finding his brittle ribs. He cries out but Bella cried louder as her toes caught under one of Oggy's fractured ribs and injured some ligament within her joints.
"Are you alright," asked Oggy with tears in his eyes and the help wanted paper flapping in the breeze that blew through the curtain of plastic they had enveloped themselves in to protect their dog and drowning lives from the climate. The storm clouds thundered in response and rain fell through the redwood canopy onto the mattress covers, the moat around the future goat pen filling with cloudy water, the small area with Oggy's Buddha statue and guitar stand, his Nat King Cole songbook and union organizing broadside singles drowning in the stream of rainfall destined for the crack streets near the hotels on 2nd street and the shelters on Highway 1.
"Don't talk to me. Find a job. Make us money to feed the baby!" Bella answered through untainted lips, rosy like virgin cherries. Oggy held his breath against the throbbing pain in his ribs and admired his lover, the vessel of his future child. He would do it. He would be a materials manager or a medical assistant or even a program analyst/PLC programmer, whatever it took to feed his progeny and the love of his life.
"I love you. I will come through for you," said Oggy as a redwood branch crashed through the plastic curtain that no longer protected them from the rain. His Nat King Cole songbook becoming unrecognizable trash in the forest. The puppy curling up to hide its nose under its tail and Bella's eyes becoming fire red in the thunderous rage of the storm, the squirrels asleep in the tree apartments and the hawks patiently waiting for the mouse to make a fatal mistake. Bella aimed for Oggy's throat with her fist but found his bruised shoulder. Her hateful accusation was drowned out by the desperate moan of Oggy as the rain canopy dumped on their prone bodies. Hours would pass before they could be dry again and light a fire using the last of the help wanted ads and toilet paper and the drenched moss that Oggy insisted would make the fire cleanse all the hate that he felt was poisoning their relationship. He made sure that Bella had all the warm clothing before he plunged into the tumult to repair the plastic apartment. As he worked he chanted, "Sorting and Grading Used Clothing. Understanding South American Styles. I can do that because I'm smart and clever. I can be a textile Recycler because it's good for the environment. I can be a winner."
While Bella seethed in tense rage Oggy resolved that in the morning he would apply to a crew that slapped joint compound to recently installed sheet rock. He would conform and his conformity would facilitate his child's initiation into the world as it stood and not the fantasy that Oggy's tomato trellis predicted. Breathing halitosis and frozen steam, Oggy accidentally stepped on the puppy's tail and the dog's bark woke up the napping hawks in their dry Ponderosa branch crotch nests. Would they eat or would they go hungry? The question was not answered by the wind but died in the purple clouds, sucked into obscurity by the vacuum of the climate machine.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.