Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Man Eats Bunny

If you think this is bad you should see the rat I caught in my closet last night

Grateful Dead vocal harmonies plummeted from the car speakers dangling overhead the River Street Shelter’s aluminum roof, drops of condensation clung to the rusting cover screws. The notes dive-bombed the shivering audience like angry sparrows protecting their nest, but instead of protecting themselves the bleak children of the street peeked their noses from the damp blankets to find nourishment and motivation in the throbbing rites of spring. Now steel pan drums, no flute, now a set of hand drums, Spanish guitar…there were no rules and that’s how the fans liked it. Kerouac’s cool jazz dreams became a waking nightmare in the hectic poly-rhythms of the band from San Francisco. Why not two or three songs played at the same time?…better to stimulate the new generation. The groove locked a women’s hips into a grinding sway, impossible to ignore, every note attaching itself sympathetically to a vertebrae or pelvic component so that she was thrusting herself upon the air, fucking the distant voices with her own corporeal vibrations.
Some knew the words and these apostles of the faith sang them softly to the ghosts of lost lovers whose phone numbers written on wet skin dissolved metaphorically by morning as the sun burned off the fog and the wet blankets in the forest began to rise and fall with casual lover’s salutations. The feeling of brief intimacy and importance, the impression that this was important, these naked bodies in the forest, these tribal warriors all meeting before the stage returning with the blues melody, “Born in the desert… raised in a lion’s den.”

Oggy had broken ranks with the sheltered hoards and climbed on top of the bus lockers following Bella’s manic outburst the previous evening.
Oggy’s begging appeal, “I’m in so much pain…stop hitting me…” had done nothing to sway Bella’s attack. Her fury had been unstoppable, only Oggy’s adoption of Gandhi’s Satyagraha philosophy would justify his lack of defense or counterattack. Finally he had limped into the rain with his one remaining redwood branch crutch (Bella had broken the other) crackling on the gravel. At first the gate guard had refused to let him out, citing the rules and regulations of the lockdown camp, but seeing Oggy’s determination to climb the barbedwire fence to free himself and the potential to comfort Bella now that Oggy was gone, the guard had unlocked the gate, reiterating the policy that once out, Oggy was out for the evening. Oggy had not responded but had used his crutches to retrieve a milk crate to use as a step to climb on the bus lockers. In the dark and in his confusion at being pulverized by his girlfriend he inadvertently bumped against one of the men who slept on the bus lockers regularly. There were shouts and apologies followed by Oggy locating an open area and hauling his bones to the top between two concrete pillars. Of course the reason that area was empty was because there was a leak in the aluminum roof, but Oggy solved that with a flap of cardboard that diverted the leak to one side. Then he curled himself inside the shrink wrap tarp and moaned until he fell asleep. That was how Kim found him three days later.
“Oggy! Dear god!”
Kim brushed Oggy’s dirty hair out of his face and thought for a moment that the glassy look she saw was the look of a dead man, so defeated and distant was his gaze, so untouched by the reality of the heat and wind, the sounds of trucks on the highway, the cries of peasants and dogs chasing Frisbees on the weedy lawn. The distant pulses of The Dead on faded wings of harmony.
“Oggy! Can you hear me?”
Oggy heard her….and spoke…
“There was a girl…”
His tongue fumbled with the letters. Kim yelled for Robert to bring a glass of water. Immediately the water was delivered and Oggy sipped with his head cradled in Kim’s arms there on the damp bus lockers above the parking lot at the River Street Shelter.

“…she was in my fourth grade class. She had buck teeth…freckles. Why did we make fun of her? Why? She wasn’t a bad person…I was the bad person.”
Kim watched Oggy’s eyes fill with tears, his nose running, his chin, buried under dark brown hair with red tints, wobbled in emotional tremors.
“You're sorry. I know.”
She hugged Oggy and kissed his head, rocking him as he wept.
“I am sorry,” croaked Oggy through her plaid shirt breast. “I’m terrible.”
Kim asked him if he could move.
“I don’t want to move. Everything I do adds up to more resources lost. We all need to be still. I don’t see any other option. Stay with me for a few weeks and then I'll get up.”
“That won’t happen, Oggy. Please get up. Lean on me.”
Kim tried to lift Oggy’s dead weight but his clothes were soaked with urine and rainwater.
“Oggy, try…”
“My arms are asleep.”
Kim saw finally that the shrink wrap had been wrapped so tightly that they had stopped the circulation to his hands. Her reaction brought Robert quickly up the milk crate step and with his teeth he started to tear at the shrink wrap.  Then Oggy started to cough and stopped breathing for a moment. When his head drooped down so his slack brown hair, partially twisted into a sacred Indian braid, dipped into a puddle of rusty water Robert pounded the top of the locker.
“Kim, she’s going to kill him.”
“Robert, she won’t kill him.”
They looked at each other for a moment as their fingers struggled with the shrink wrap twisted around Oggy’s arms. It was like they did this regularly, freed imprisoned birds, and the mutual respect they for one another defused the crisis. “Work the problem” had always been their motto. Never escalate the problem and never digress. Work the problem.
They soon had Oggy’s arms free and Kim began to rub them while Robert held Oggy’s head out of the puddle.
"Is he breathing," asked Kim.
Robert leaned closer to Oggy's mouth and was repulsed by the reek of decaying wild scallions foraged from the forest.
"He's breathing..." said Robert.
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.