Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oak Leaves Fall on Deer Shit

Oggy reached down between his knees and found the old rusted bumper that was jamming into his atrophied ankle and scraping the skin off. He held it up to the sharp light of the California afternoon, blinding and revealing in its honest appraisal of the teeming land and folly of man.
"So this is what was..."
"I was gonna put that back on," screamed the pot dealer as he used his elbows to steer the rattling car around a sharp turn in the Mendocino oak hills, using his hands to light a glass pipe that had glowing skeleton eyes. "I'm gotta get my Mig welder back from my neighbor, that fucking pud-wacker."
The driver added, "I ought to put everything in here for sale and buy a new jeep! What you think, honey?"
The woman in the back seat ignored him as she tickled her child under the chin. Oggy placed the bumper remnant aside and scratched his bleeding ankle. The anxiety of the reckless driving and the baby wailing from the back seat combined with the constant bickering from the woman holding the infant and the man driving had made him numb and twitchy, out of sorts, as though the proximity to San Francisco elevated his nervous condition so every twisting mile equated bulging veins and dripping Oggy sweat. Was he grinding his teeth? Yes. When had he started? Hours or minutes ago? Drugs lead you to a precipice and shadows below a ravine, anonymous death at the hands of dealers with deadlines. Safer not to leave your bedroom, watch the world from the branches of a local tree, take notes but don't get involved. What was in San Francisco that he needed to make this arduous and deadly journey? He couldn't remember. It was the thrill...the adventure, a death wish, movement, the need to see what the world was up to...a quest to fill this emptiness in his codependent heart? All of that rolled like a spliff and ignited with the hellfire of sin.
"Go ahead! Talk to that neighbor of yours. And while you're at it you can tell him that if he trespasses one more time I will shoot him between the eyes."
Oggy chuckled uneasily, unsure of the resentful depth of the remark. "Shoot him between the eyes." It was something a nameless villain would say in a spaghetti western. His stomach grumbled with the hollowness of a wet kettle drum in the back of the orchestra being beaten with soaked newspaper. When would he be able to eat again? Was that sandwich shop in dusty Healdsburg or Santa Rosa? Oh, he prayed that he wouldn't get stuck in Santa Rosa again...the land of concrete and long sidewalks past tool rental shops and video stores. Neon windows with corporate edibles, banned by Oggy's strict values, were all that Santa Rosa offered along with crystal meth and career colleges stashed behind low level urban sprawl.
"I've always wanted to live on a farm and subsist," said Oggy as his eyes widened in alarm and helplessness at the widening maw of death awaiting them all in a woody chasm directly ahead. The driver was distracted by the lighter having fallen between the emergency brake handle and the broken stereo. Oggy reached out and held dug his fingers into the decaying plastic interior, the sun-baked foam deteriorating like dry tobacco in his hand.
"We're gonna die!"
The driver looked up at the last second and swerved to the left, the rear tires squealing an octave below the high pitched wail of the child. The woman lashed Oggy's ears with insults and vindictive resentments.
"You....told....grandmother....stuff...see..." was all he heard. Let me live, he thought. Let me live and I'll turn my life around and make something of my self. I'll be productive. I'll belly up to the neon bar, I'll shake hands with the one armed bandit of corporatized, broker/dealer America. I'll study harder on the piano and teach small children to appreciate music of Handel and Mozart. I'll be a beacon of light in their dark and rainy days. I'll rise above the madness.
Oggy also considered this: if he were to die with these three cannabis farmers in an epic car crash into a ravine with body parts of babies flying around the car interior with broken bumpers rusting from neglect and Oggy's ravaged belt and arm pits along with the driver's bad breath and the woman's milk-full breasts, that would be a noteworthy event, and since Oggy had not participated in many noteworthy events he felt the odds were against his death only because the event itself would be out of astral alignment with his otherwise dull life. This self-constructed theory did not soothe Oggy's nerves or loosen his grip on the decaying arm rest but it did distract him long enough for the uncontrolled skid to straighten out and become a fish tail and then a controlled serpentine down the steep grade, the car narrowly missing the upturned body of a possum in the breakdown lane. Had the possum been coming or going from his woodland home? Was it an allegory for all difficult journeys that end tragically? Oggy said a prayer for the animal, for himself and the family who had picked him up off the side of the highway an hour earlier because he "looked lost". Who wasn't lost in this uncertain world? Who wasn't a gypsy navigating the trials and perils of the unforgiving jungle?
Oggy looked ahead and saw the first flat oak plains and distant vineyards that welcomed him out of the redwood region. Beyond those plains was Santa Rosa and beyond that San Francisco rose out of the earth's trembling crust, the bridges, the spires, the harbor, the wharfs, the hookers on Market and the heavy-lidded dealers of Turk Street, and the Filipino gangs with their colors and stolen hub caps. Oggy couldn't see the demons of The City but he could hear their possessed song in the wail of the infant. They were like Pagan priests returning from the holy land with a child to sacrifice to the Tenderloin Gods.
"We gotta let you out here, Oggy. Need to pit stop in town."
Oggy nodded and reached for his backpack. He fingered his beaded necklace and cleared his throat.
"Thank you for the ride."
They let him out near an abandoned trailer that, according to a weathered wooden sign, once housed "Peace Cheese" a local dairy product business. The business and owners were long gone but Oggy stood in the shade of sign and inhaled the rich aroma of tilled soil. A line of cultivated fruit and nut trees were evidence of the passing phases of a utopian dream, here on the side of Highway 101 you could wait long enough and all your enemies would pass on the asphalt, slowly dissolving into dust for possum fertilizer. Nearby, the leaves of a stunted oak tree had made a blanket for deer and Oggy saw their shit in constellations of small pebbles. Oggy inhaled and closed his eyes. Tonight he would be walking among demons on Leavenworth and Golden Gate, eating stale donuts, listening to the roar of humanity, devouring sacrificed infants, but his head now floated on the stream of dreams while the waves of fantasy lapped the gunwales of time.
A horn evicted Oggy from his rented reverie. A pickup truck had stopped since Oggy's thumb automatically went up whenever an engine passed. Oggy jogged toward the truck, water dripping from the carbureted  tail pipe.
"Where you heading," asked the driver through a maze of mustache hair.
"The City."
Oggy couldn't hear the driver's detailed explanation but the tone was that he was permitted access to the truck. Oggy climbed in and tossed his backpack on the floor.
"We gotta make one stop before Santa Rosa," said the driver, and Oggy's fate hung in the balance like a leaf poised to fall into a river destined for demon land or the dry banks of deer habitat and possum playgrounds.

No comments:

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