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#embracing youth


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Motorbiking

One Saturday afternoon in Indonesia I went for a joy ride on my motorbike.  I’d been working as a governess in Bali for the last month, and this was one of my first days off. It was a beautiful day in late June, and I wore a sundress, and flip-flops. Katye Perry was blasting on my ipod, and a smile was on my lips as I shot up into the mountains.   In a word, I was being an asshole.  A lazy, day-dreamer of an asshole, coasting through the beautiful landscape.  One second I was rounding a bend at 50 km an hour, humming into the sunlight.  The next second, the motorbike was launching into orbit, over a garganteun pothole.

I had a moment of clarity before hitting the ground.  I thought to myself:  ‘keep it straight.  Keep it even. You can land this shit.

Surprisingly, it turns out that I am not actually a BMX biker.  Katye Perry continued to sing, as the bike crashed, and ground me into the pavement.  My first thought was that my top had come down, and that there were scrapes all over my tits.  My second thought, was that an entire village of onlookers were racing towards me, and could see my tits.  My third thought, was that the front wheel of my bike seemed to still be turning . . . on my foot.   I pulled up my top, and gasped in pain.

“Okay? You okay?”

“Gadis.”

“Motorbike.’

“Terluka.”

“Bule.”

One man spoke English, and began to lecture me on how much I’d fucked up my scooter.  “Dude, it’s still running.  Get it off of me,” I begged.

The villagers pulled the bike off, and carried me to my feet.  I turned this way and that, searching for my flip flops.  Then I shrugged and hobbled barefoot across the road, leaving a glistening trail of blood in my wake.  The men ushered me into their compound, then motioned for me to stand on the steps of their family temple.  An old woman came forward with a cup of coffee.  I sipped the coffee, as I watched blood pour from my foot.  I was bewildered that there was so much fluid inside of me.

Meanwhile, the resident English speaker was going on and on about his art business.  I wanted to tell him ‘Buddy, now is NOT the time.  You’ve gotta up your game somewhere else.’  But instead he continued to prattle on about genres of art, and a recent exhibition.  As he spoke, another woman came by, this one bearing a bucket of water.  “Hot,” she murmured, and poured it on my foot.

Pain went everywhere.  My mind went black.

I dreamt briefly that I was in a hospital, laying in a comfortable bed. When I came to, I was depressed to discover otherwise. I was crumpled on the steps of the temple, with the coffee cup fallen to its side, and its contents mixing with my own blood.  The family was looking at me me with fear and concern.  Men were conversing, shaking their heads.  The English speaker hurried up, and helped me to my feet.

Here is a good place to note:  if there is one thing that the Balinese are scared of– it is weird white people. Now, if there is another thing that the Balinese fear– it is possession.  As a highly superstitious community they fear contamination from the darker entities of the world.  That being said- having a weird white person writhing on their temple steps, exhbiting signs of potential possession was just about as scary as it get’s for the Balinese.  I was unsurprised when the artist stepped forward and said, “You must go.”

“Umm . . . ” I looked down at my mangled foot, then back at him.  “Where?”

“Hospital.  6 kilometer from here.”

“How?” I asked.  Taking a single step was daunting, and traveling 6 km downright impossible.

“Drive,” came the succinct answer.

“Sorry, I don’t think that’s gonna work,” I said, then blacked out again.

I came to on the back of my own motorbike, with my arms clutched around the waist of a stranger.  Blood splattered onto the ground racing beneath me.

We pulled up outside of an office of some sort, and the man helped me inside of the thatched bamboo building.  He lifted me onto a padded table, then handed me the key to my scooter.  “Thank you,” I said and the stranger left.  In his wake came an old man in a polo shirt, who had a doctor vibe.  “Thank God,” I moaned and stretched.  Pain coursed through my body.

“Still.  Be still,” the doctor purred.  His voice was soothing.  He scrutinized my wounds, then withdrew a small, dark brown bottle.  He regarded me with a sad expression as he uncorked it.  “This may hurt,” he said, pouring its contents over my foot.

The pain I’d experience earlier that day paled in comparison.  Actually, scratch that.  All the pain I’d ever felt was dwarfed by the feeling that enveloped my flesh.  I felt as if my foot was being consumed with flame, submerged in ice, and ravaged by wild dogs, all at once. The doctor opened a package, and withdrew a sterilized scrap of gauze.  He began rubbing it in the gaping hole that was my left foot.  I bit into my arm, to keep from screaming.

“Kuat,” the man looked at me with a surprised smile.  “That is Indonesian for ‘strong.’”

I nodded, my teeth still wrapped around my arm.

Half an hour later, my foot was wrapped in gauze.  “Can you put a big bandage around it?” I asked, pointing towards the ugly monster, that was the terminal point of my leg.

“No bandage,” the doctor said, shaking his head.

“You don’t have bandages?!?” I asked in shock.  “What kind of doctor are you?”

The man laughed.  “I am not doctor. I am acupuncturist,” he said proudly.

“Oohh,” I considered biting my arm again.


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Wet and Reckless

“Your sentence was reduced to a Wet and Reckless,” says the man behind the mahogany desk.  We are in a swanky high rise on the Westside of Los Angeles, and I’m trying so hard not to giggle.  Wet and reckless.  It sounds like the title of a porno.

“Thanks Kendrick,” I stand and approach his desk.  “You’ve done such a great job handling my DUI.”

“I wanted to do the best for you, Anna.  You remind me of my daughter,” Kendrick says with a fatherly smile.

Pleasantries continue.  I pay him the remaining $2300 for his services.  We sign a few papers, and I leave.

As I head East on Sunset Boulevard I sing along with the radio.  I may be ‘wet and reckless,’ but I am finally square with the state of California.  $4500 later and I’m on top of the world.  Which is an appropriately jubilant place to be– seeing as tonight is the closing of the play I’ve been working on for four months.  The rush hour traffic seems endearing.  The smoggy haze seems picturesque.   The sirens sound sublime.

A  police car pulls me out of my daydreams, and to the side of the road.  I look around wildly. There must be any number of traffic violations occurring on packed Sunset Boulevard, and yet seem fixed on my Toyota Corolla.  I pull into a CVS parking lot, and roll down my window.  “Hey, there’s gotta be some sort of a mistake.”

The female cop outside my window consults a note-pad.  “There is no mistake,” she says coldly.   “We ran your plates and found a bench warrent for your arrest.  You never appeared in court for your DUI.”

Flash to: Kendrick Rollins, leaning back in his leather desk chair.  What if it wasn’t solemnity playing across features- but smugness?  Had he just royally fucked me over?  “My lawyer appeared in court for me,” I protest.  “I have his receipt right here.”  I find the receipt, still sitting on my passenger seat, and wave it at the police-woman.

“No one appeared for your final court date,” she says.  “And the judge would really like to see you.”

Next I’m outside of the car, and the lady cop is feeling through my sundress for concealed weapons.  I can’t help but think what a great scene this would make in Wet and Reckless the porno.

But unfortunately, this is not a porno.  And this lady-cop isn’t grabbing my shoulders, turning me around, and saying ‘you’ve been a very bad girl.‘  Rather, she is making notations on her paperwork and reaching towards her handcuffs.

“Oh shoot,” I murmur.  “Are you like taking me to jail?”

“It’s not ‘like‘ jail,” she says with a withering glance.

“Fuck, just let me get my purse.” Before she can protest I’m in my car, grabbing my purse and makeup bag.  I hesitate over my curling iron.  Is this going to take all night?  I really need to curl my hair before our performance.

 

“Dude,” I protest as we drive through Hollywood. “I’m supposed to be in a performance tonight of Romeo and Juliet!” I say, trying to appeal to the cops’ artistic sensibilities.

 

“Please,” I continue to whine, as they take my finger prints in the police station.  “It’s closing night.  Is there any way we could hurry this up?”

 

“Oh you’re in Romeo and Juliet,” says the man taking my mug shot.  I congratulate myself.  Finally, a cop who cares!  “What a great play.  Too bad you’re going to spend the weekend in jail.”

My mouth falls open.  “Wait! What?”

“You have a bench warrant,” he says, adjusting his camera.  “You won’t be seen by the judge ‘till Monday.  You’re going to spend the weekend in lock-up.”

Tears begin to build.  “But- my lawyer said he’d taken care of everything.”

The mug-shot photographer gives me a maybe-it’s-time-to-get-a-new-lawyer look.  “Please stand still for the picture.”

The mug-shot is a pathetic mess.  I attempt a smile, despite the tears streaming down my face.  They splatter across my sundress.  It’s hard to wipe them away in my handcuffs.  Behind me is a computer with a screen saver that says:  “Hollywood Jail.”  It bounces from one side of the screen to the next.  I feel like an advertisement:  This is what happens to young women who come to hollywood.  Youth gone bad.

 

The cops hurry me back into their car- then shoot up the 101 and into the Valley.  “We’re taking you to Van Nuys,” explains the same female cop.  “To ‘Ladies’ jail.”

 

My damsel in distress act wins a few hearts in Van Nuys.  One attendant lets me take down three numbers from my cell phone instead of just one, then leaves me unattended in an empty cell with a pay phone.  I dial my lawyer’s cell repeatedly, then try a girlfriend.  “Anna,” Nikki whispers into the phone.  She must be in the dressing room right now.

“Nikki, I”m not going to make it tonight,” I say.

“Why?”

“Can you keep a secret?” I ask.

“No.”

I tell her anyways.

“Fuck,” she murmurs.  “Does anyone have your lines memorized?”

“You,” I say.

She’s silent, but I sense her nodding on the other side of the phone.   “Ok I can probably figure it out.”

I sit down on threadbare mattress and stare hopelessly at the pay phone.  My bail is set at $20,000 dollars, which seems a little excessive.  Who should I call?  Is there anyone to call?  My dad didn’t mind that much when I charged a shopping excursion to his Amex. . . .  But I had an inkling that a $20,000 dollar charge might push the limits of his generosity.

I run through my list of friends.  Are any of them rich?  Are any of them rich and stupid?  Are any of them rich, stupid, and enamored with me?  After an exhaustive meditation on my social circle, I conclude that there’s no one around with that kind of dough.  So I square my shoulders, and give Kendrick Rollins one last shot.

“Hello?” In the background I hear loud music, and giggles.  Is he at a strip club?  I imagine Kendrick sitting in his boxers with a bottle of Dom in one hand, and a hooker in the other.  That would be another good scene for Wet and Reckless- the porno.

“Hi Kendrick.  This is Anna Healy.”

There is a pause on the other side of the phone, punctuated by a distinctly female giggle.  My imagination continues to conjure up images of Wet and Reckless.  “Anna, what’s up?” Kendrick asks.  He sounds suspicious.  Suspicious and drunk.  He must have taken my life savings and gone to town.

“Well, if you failed to notice I’m calling you collect.”

Kendrick gives a fake laugh.  “I did notice, it’s very retro-”

“I’m in jail Kendrick.  There was a warrant for my arrest because you never appeared for me in court.”  Reminds him of his daughter my ass.

“Shit,” is his eloquent response.  “I’m so sorry.  I’ve been so busy.  Please give me the details.  Anna baby, I’m getting you out of there.”

“Don’t call me baby,” I respond.

 

I’m moved from my secluded chamber, to a larger room with two flat screens playing Lifetime movies.  The jail cell has five occupants.  One is a skinny white girl, huddled in a corner.  Stringy blond hair hangs down across her face, as she fidgets with the laces of her converse sneakers.  She looks up at me for a moment, with sullen, blood-shot eyes.  The second inhabitant is an overweight, middle aged hispanic woman.  She stares up at the television enthralled.  The remaining, three prisoners, are all black women in their mid-twenties.    One munches on a peanut butter sandwich, while the other two laugh at the tv screen.  None of the three wear shirts.  Only faded sports bras.  I wonder if they were picked up on their way from the gym.

“So . . . what are you in here for?” I say, thrilled that I finally get to use that sentence.

The sullen blond wanders over to a toilet in the corner of the room.  The overweight middle-aged lady remains focused on the television screen.  Only the three work-out-enthusiasts seem to hear me.  One winks at me and says:  “Loitering.”

“Loitering!  What an obscure offense,” I say, laughing.

The three ladies nod their heads in assent.  “It is pretty fucking obscure,” one says.

“You should be able to loiter if you want,” I continue.

An attendant approached the holding cell.  “Anna Keely?” she reads from a clip board.

“Healy,” I correct her.

“Your bail is here,” she says.  “Please follow me.”

I say goodbye and follow the attendant as she leads me out of the cell, and down a brightly lit corridor.  Standing before a desk is a short blonde woman.  “I am your bail bondsman,” she said to me, with a deep Russian accent.

“Thanks so much,” I respond.  Relieved, delighted, and also a little disappointed that Kendrick got his act together so fast.  I’d finally been starting to enjoy myself.

One policeman hands me my purse while another passes me several forms.  Next thing the Russian is leading me to  an old pick up truck with the words “Angel City Bonds” printed on either door.  Below the words is an image of a stack of hundred dollar bills with angel wings.  She opens the door on the passenger side of the truck, then gets in on the drivers side.  I sit on her worn burgundy upholstery and try to gather myself.  “Where to?” she asks.

I flip open my cell phone.  9 pm on a Friday night.  The options are endless.  I could go out and get drunk.  I could try to locate my car from whatever impound lot it had ended up at.  I could eat pasta in bed and cry.  “Take me to the theater,” I say gallantly.

 

The door to the theater is locked.  I pound and pound until someone comes to open it for me.  It’s Mercutio- who died in Act 1, and is now wearing track pants, and a pink T-shirt.  As he pulls back the door he says, “Look what the cat dragged in.”  Then he looks me up and down, as a smile curls across his lips.  “Darling, you look delicious!”

I laugh.  4 months of rehearsals, and this man has never hit on me.  Now that I’m covered in jail grime and he suddenly finds me attractive?

I hurry up the back staircase to the women’s dressing room, where I find Nikki listening to her ipod.  She eyes me with a mix of concern, shock, and respect, then says “You can still make your last scene.”

I hurry into my costume, then touch up my makeup.  “Hey,” I ask, rubbing blush across my cheeks.  “Why would three women be in jail for loitering?”

Nikki grins at me.  “Prostitution,” she says.  “I think that is what the kids are calling it now-a-days.

 

Afterward:

Our cast party ended in a hot tub at 4 a.m., where I related my story to my fellow thespians.  I’d never felt so hard-core.  I was glad that I was drunk in the water.  Wet and reckless was the only way to end this

Kendric Rollins went from horrified, to terrified, to apologetic, to grovelling.  He took me to the DMV to try and get my car out of the impound.  When they refused to release the vehicle (turns out it was in my Dad’s name- and I seemed suspicious) Kendrick took me shoe shopping as an apology.

The car was released 5 weeks later.  It cost me about $2000 if I remember correctly.  The DMV turned a blind eye when I showed up with Nikki early one Saturday morning, with each of us in our sweetest + sexiest dresses.  The man in charge said ‘I really shouldn’t be doing this without your Dad here,’ but released the car anyways.

I was not asked back to the theater company.

 


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Things A Fish Can Teach You

                  When I first moved in it made me nervous.  I actively avoided it- which is hard to do with something in your living room.  The algae clinging to its walls reeked.  The water inside was the green of nuclear waste.  The castle inside it looked like it had suffered an earthquake.
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                    “What’s in that aquarium anyways?” We were on the rooftop sunbathing, and I’d finally worked up the courage to ask my roommate Dawn.  The aquarium was five feet long, and putrid.  I’d seen porter potties at music festivals cleaner than that fish tank.  Which is cool, I guess.  Except you don’t normally have a porter potty in your living room.
                  “Oh!  My fish!” Dawn exclaimed with delight.  “Isn’t he just great?”
               I conceded that I had not, in fact seen her fish.  That I actually tried to steer clear of the aquarium.
                 “Oh I know, cleaning is so intensive– sometimes the tank can get a bit nasty,” Dawn responded.  I nodded, amazed by her gift at understatement.  “When I first moved into this house- the aquarium was just sitting there.  No one cared for it. The water was almost gone, with just a puddle left in the corner.  One day I cleaned it– and that’s when I found him.” Dawn face took on an angelic hue.  Her eyes were bright, and her lips were smiling.  It was as if she was telling a story about her first love- and not about the monster lurking in that Bermuda-triangle fish tank in our living room.
                “What was it?” I asked, curious despite myself.
                  Dawn leaned in.  “A catfish!” she exclaimed.  “He hadn’t been cared for in months.  No one knew how old he was!   No one even knew he was still alive.  His will to live is absolutely inspiring . . . ” she paused and smiled at me.  She had crazy-eye like whoa. “So I named him ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Alive.’”
                  First I laughed, then I saw the look of hurt brush across her features and realized she wasn’t joking.  “That’s a great name, Dawn,” I finally said.
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                Luckily, I wasn’t the only one weirded out by the catfish.  One night, out at a bar, another roommate confessed her feelings to me.  “I hate it,” said Luliana, a beautiful, Brazilian girl.  “I hate that disgusting fucking aquarium.  I hate that disgusting fucking fish.  I hate the whole thing.  It makes me feel like I’m living in a fucking swamp.”
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                  One Saturday afternoon Lu and I went to Home Depot.  As we walked down the rat-poison aisle Lu paused, mid-step.  “Anna,” she murmured.  I turned- there was a gleam of crazy in her eye on-par with Dawn’s.  “What if we buy poison and put it in the water.  We’d never have to see that ugly tank again!”  She paused to inspect the shelves behind her.  “Will you do it?” she said turning back to me.  “Will you help me kill the cat-fish?”
                    Lu was nothing if not persuasive.  Also, she was terrifying.  I stood in Home Depot and weighed my options:  Kill the fish, or suffer Lu’s wrath. I took the moral high ground and said , “You know, it’s Dawn’s fish.  I’m just not sure it would be the right thing to do.”
                    Lu looked deeply into my eyes then started to laugh.  “Joking!” she exclaimed. “Duh! You should have seen your face!” She wheeled off and hurried down the aisle.  “Come on Anna, let’s go buy some orchids!”
                    As we wandered through flowering tropical plants, I kept my eyes trained on Lu.  I didn’t trust her.
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                     Over the months that followed Lu ‘joked’ on several occasions.  Sometimes she would bully me, other times she would try to appeal to my aesthetic sense.  Each time I shook my head and changed the subject.
                    So it was, that when I returned home from work one afternoon, with six missed calls on my cellphone- I was not surprised to find the house in chaos.  The living room was flooded.  Water was everywhere.  Also- it smelled damp and fishy.  The aquarium was nowhere to be seen, and neither was Dawn.  I found Lu  laying in her bed sobbing, with a glass of red wine in her right hand.
                    “Look at me!” she wailed when I ventured into her room.  “Look at what that fucking fish has done to me!” She held up her left hand accusingly.  Her thumb was swaddled in bandages, and more bandages travelled across the length of her palm.  “Why didn’t you pick up my calls?  You abandoned me too!”
                  “Dude, I was at work,” I said.  “What happened?’
                 “Well,” Lu took a sip of her wine, and began her story.
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                What I’ve been able to deduce, from hearing three interpretation of the events that occurred that Saturday afternoon in February- is this:
                    Lu was in the living room fucking around with the fish tank.  What she was up to, we will never know.  Perhaps she was trying to move it.  Or perhaps she was fiddling with it in an assassination attempt.  Regardless, one moment she was seen standing with the fish tank, the next moment, the five foot fish tank was shattered across the ground, Lu was screaming, and ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Alive,’ was flipping and flopping across the hard-wood floor with his cat-fish whiskers flailing.  Dawn came, drawn to the commotion, then ran towards her fish.  Another roommate also ran across the flooded living room in the direction of the bottom-feeder.  Meanwhile, Lu stood in the center of the mayhem she had just caused, and screamed:  ‘Isn’t anyone going to help me!’  No one responded.  Blood dripped down from her upraised hand, to splash into the aquarium water covering the ground.  She stood for a long moment taking it in, watching Dawn sobbing, and the other roommate trying to console her, and screamed again.  She stomped out of the living-room tsunami, and over to her room to get her car keys.  She then walked to her car and drove to the hospital, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
                      Meanwhile, Dawn was inconsolable.  She knelt in the swampy water, cradling ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Alive,’ attempting to will the life back into him.  However, as her tears streaked down her face, the bottom feeder sucked its last breath.
                       When I returned home that evening the living room was still damp, but the aquarium had been cleared away.  Dawn was in mourning in her bedroom, and Lu in indignation in hers.  “They care more about a FISH than a HUMAN BEING,” Lu shouted. I shook my head and went to the kitchen to make dinner.  I began cooking pasta, then pulled open the freezer door for some frozen artichokes.  As I reached in, I gasped.  ‘I Can’t Believe I”m Alive’ was laying there, on-top of a bag of frozen peas.  His skin was the same grayish tan of my memories.  His lifeless eyes looked into the freezer with an expression of surprise.
I quickly closed the freezer door.  Fuck the frozen artichokes.
                   During the weeks that followed Dawn and Lu remained in a standoff.  Dawn went through what I could only describe as a period of mourning.  As an independently wealthy introvert she hadn’t gotten out all that much to begin with, but now that her pet had died, she sequestered herself into her bedroom.
                     One morning I woke early to discover Dawn in the front yard, with a shovel.  Atop of the freshly turned earth she placed a flower and a hand-made tile mosaic- in the shape of  a heart.  I had to hand it to her, best fish-grave-stone ever.
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                     As winter gave way to spring, Dawn pulled herself out of her fishy depression.  I saw her in the living room often, scribbling into a dog-eared journal. Eventually, I asked what it was she’d been up to.  “Oh thanks for noticing!” she said brightly.  “I’ve been working on a collection of poetry, based on my experience with ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Alive,”s death.  Poetry is such a fantastic medium for expressing grief.”
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                    Dawn’s poetry anthology was titled ‘Things A Fish Can Teach You.’  It was never published.


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Sexy Swan

It was 3 am, I was dressed as a sexy swan, and google maps was bringing me down. Quite literally

“Chris, it can’t be that way,” I frowned into his I-phone.   Feathers swished back and forth as I shook my head.

“But Anna- I trust Google,” Chris responded with a laugh.  “I trust Google more than me, certainly more than you, and probably more than anyone else too.  If it tells me to go somewhere- I’m going to fucking follow its advice.”

The advice in question, was a turn off of a winding road in the Hollywood Hills, into a decidedly smaller, dirt road, which bore a striking resemblance to a hiking trail.  Gnarled trees yawned towards us from the beckoning turn off.  The space beyond was dark and menacing.

“Get a clue, it takes us right up to their house,” Chris leaned over to outline the twisting road.  “We have to turn here.”

So turn I did.  Against my better judgement.  I swung the wheel, turned on my high-beams, and began to drive.  Beside me, Chris whooped.  He was dressed as Linus from the peanuts cartoons, red shirt, blue blanket, lost expression and all.  Chris Yarnell was a tall, gawky jew from the wealthy suburbs of Chicago.  The kind of boy who said he was in Los Angeles “to write,” but didn’t do much writing, or much of anything else for that matter.  His parents supported an irresponsible lifestyle, which had included myself for the past few weeks.  We’d spent a lot of time painting late at night, laughing awkwardly, and tepidly making out.  The making out had never progressed.  Now it was Halloween, we were mildly intoxicated (or at least I was), and he was leading me towards a ‘raging’ party in the Hills.

As I drove down the suspect road, I began to get excited.  We were headed to a mansion so strange and secluded- that it could only be reached by dirt path.  I’d hit the big time.

The suspect road grew suddenly smaller,  I rounded a bend, and it closed in around me like a girdle.  There was no extra space beyond my car. I slowed my roll, and looked towards Chris, who was texting furiously into his phone.  I sighed and hit the breaks.  About five feet ahead of us were two large stones. “We’ve come to an impasse,” I said, drawing his attention away from his texts.  “We can’t go forward, and frankly, I’m not sure I can even reverse down this crazy road.  Thanks Yarnell.”

Chris opened his mouth to protest then unbuckled his seat belt.  “Fine, if that’s how you want to play, get out of the drivers seat . . . bitch,” he murmurred.  “I’m taking the wheel from here.” He opened his door, walked around the car, and opened my door as well.  “Scoot,” he said, motioning for me to get out of the drivers seat.

I unbuckled my seat belt and climbed over to the passenger seat.  “Ok Yarnell, if you think that you can do this, then go right ahead.”

Chris hit the gas and my car began speeding down the dissapearing road.  We drove over the two large rocks, tilting precariously to the side.  I began to scream.  “Stop!  Stop the car!” I yelled at Chris who smiled at me and hit the gas.  Finally I hit his arm.  “Chris, stop, I want to get out,” I said.

“Ok then, get the hell out, Swany,” he said and pumped the brakes.

I opened the car door and looked down- the car was hanging off of the side of the road.  I would have stepped into thin air.  “Shit! Shit! Shit!” I said and closed the car door.  I looked over at shaun, who was smiling into his iphone screen again.  “Chris!  Wake-up!  We’re on the side of a cliff!” I punched his arm again, then peered out of the window.  We were deffinitely ON a cliff- or rather, hanging off of it.  Beneath us, was a slight slope, then a thirty foot drop.  At the bottom of the drop was a house.  The lights were off.  The people in there had no idea what  loomed over them as they slept.  “Ok, I’m climbing out over you,” I said and made my way across Chris’s lap to the driver side door.  He giggled as I went past- my feathers must have tickled.  I opened the door, crawled out of it.

“I’m going to fix this Anna,” Chris said, closing the door after me.  Then he put the car back into drive, and began inching forward.

I squealed and ran to the side of the car.  One wheel was already hanging off.  But as Chris drove the other wheel inched closer to the side of the cliff.

“Chris! Nooooo!” I screamed,.  He continued driving.  “Dude! STOP!” I ran forward and pounded against the door.  He hit the brakes and rolled down the window.

“What’s up sugarplum?”

“It’s my car Chris.  Get. Out.”

He looked at me in shock.  “But I was fixing it.”

“You were making it worse.  Get out of the car, and look at what you’ve done.”

Chris turned off the car, pocketed the keys, and climbed out.  He began to laugh as he regarded the now two tires, hanging off the side of the road.  “Oh shit!” he laughed even harder.  “What a mess!”

I stood there in my short, feathered dress, and swan head hanging down into my cleavage.  “What are we going to do!” I moaned.

He grinned at me.  “Call Triple, A, duh.”  He looked down at his phone and smiled even more broadly.  “Oh!  Google maps says we’re only about 50 feet from the party!  How great!”  He turned and continued walking down the dirt path, in the direction we had been headed.  Sure enough, the dirt path ended in about twenty feet, and connected to a large, actual road.  There we saw a large white house, where a party was going on.

“Ok Anna, have fun, I’m going to take care of this,” Chris pulled his triple A card out of his wallet and motioned for me to continue inside.

In the party I heard whispers:  “That’s the girl,” one person said, and   “car off a cliff” murmured another.  I wound my way into the depths of the party, unable to think about anything besides my Toyota Corolla.  Wandering into one room I saw Chris taking shots from a bottle of run,  grinning widely.  I considered walking up  and slapping him.  I’d always thought rum was disgusting.  Now Chris was inspiring a similar feeling of revulsion .

Tow Truck #1

“Anna! Anna!  It’s here!” Chris grabbed my elbow and hurried me out of the house.   Outside was a massive tow truck.  I looked at it and shook my head.  There was no way it would ever fit down that road.

We got inside anyways though, and took the tow truck to the beginning of the dirt road.  The tow truck driver took one look at the road.  Shook his head, and said “I know a guy.”

Tow Truck #2

The “guy” in question arrived about thirty minutes later.  He was in a smaller tow truck.  Smaller- but still not small enough for this road.  He grinned at the prospect of it though, and took a machete out from underneath his seat.  “Now its time for some real fun!” he said as he began hacking down small trees and overhanging branches which would have barred his path.  There was a devilish, potentially insane glimmer in his eyes as he hacked away.  Finally he put away the machette, got into his tow truck, and began to drive.

Tow Truck #2 stopped at the two rocks- where I had also thrown in the towel.  There was no way his tow truck could fit around that corner.  So we walked with him down the remainder of the road to the car.  He stopped and looked at the car, then began to laugh.   “No way am I touching that!” he said.  “One wrong move and that car is going over!” He continued to laugh as he turned away.

“But-” I interrupted.

“But nothing.  No one is going to be able to pull that car off of that cliff for you, girl.  You need to begin thinking of alternatives.”

“Alternatives,” I repeated.  The word had a menacing sound to it.

“Yes.  Leave that car as it is now, and in a few days time, its going to go sailing right on down that hillside, into the house beneath it.  As I see it, there are really only two solutions to this problem.”

“And they are . . . ” Chris prompted him.  As usual, he was wearing his shit-eating grin.

“Well, you can either have the police bring a crane, up to the road above,” Tow Truck Driver #2 pointed towards an overhang of road, I would estimate about 30 feet above us.   “That will be hella expensive though.  And deffinitely destroy the car.”

“And solution #2,” I asked.

“You have someone come here and cut the car in half, then have a team of men pull the two halves back to the road.”

I burst into tears.  Beside me, Chris began to laugh.  “Right, cut the car in half, that sounds like a GREAT solution,” he said sarcastically.

“The best I can offer,” the tow truck driver said, and shook his head.  “This car is too heavy to pull back to the road in one peice.”

Tow Truck Driver #3

Come 5:30 am the party was over, the owners of the house had all retired, and Chris and I were sitting outside glumly.

“What I don’t understand, is why you even thought you could drive down that road,” Chris said, laughing.  “It’s retarded!”

I looked at him for a moment. “You can’t be serious.  You were the one who said I should drive down the road.  And YOU are the one who was driving the car when it went over.”

Chris looked at me in shock.  “No!”

“Yes!  don’t go getting selective memory on me!”

Chris shook his head, then rested it in his hands.  “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he murmured to his lap.  Then he looked up at me, with a sheepish expression.  “I’ve been blacking out tonight,” he said finally.

Just then Triple A arrived.

This third tow truck was also of a larger size.  He took us in, sitting there on the curb, and smiled at us.  “I’ve been hearing about you guys all night,” he said as we climbed in through the passenger side door.

As before, we took him down the road a little ways, then continued on foot.  He looked at the car, shook his head sadly, and said, “You kids really need to call the police.  This isn’t a job for a towing company.  This is far more serious.”

“But what if-” I interrupted.

“Nope,” came his fast response.  “You know what, even if someone was able to pull that car off of the cliff, they’ed still have to reverse it down that road.  I don’t think that’s even a possibility.”

Tow Truck #3 offered us a ride home.  I gave him my address, and he shuttled us through the hills back to my house.

“Anna, I will fix this,” Chris said.

I looked at him sadly.  “How?  My car is gone.”

“I’ll get you a new car,” he responded.

“How?” I asked again.

“With my parents credit card,” Chris grinned, and pulled it from his wallet.

When we got back to my house Chris stripped and presented himself to me.  What I saw, reminded me of the too-big car and the too-little road.  There was no way the logistics would work.  Also- getting someone’s car cut in half isn’t really the best way to get them in the mood.  Instead I changed into pajamas and went to sleep on the couch.

At 8 am I was wide awake.  First I called the police, and reported the car hanging off of the cliff.  The police said they would be there shortly.  Then I called Triple A one last time.   “So you need a tow-truck?” the girl on the line asked brightly.

“Well actually, no,” I said after a moment of thought.  “I think what I really need, is someone who knows how to deal with disasters.”

There was a pause on the other line.  “Excuse me?” the girl said slowly.

“I need a disaster specialist,” I said slowly, enjoying the way those sounds felt on my tongue.  “Do you have anyone like that?”

I ordered a cab, dragged Chris out of bed, then hurried back to the scene of the crime.  As the cab pulled up I hopped out, so Chris would have to pay the bill.  The hillside looked very different in the daylight.  There was a bench at the end of the hiking trail, which had once been so sereen.  As I approached it, a small crowd of neighbors looked at me.   They had congregated on the hiking trail- clearly to eye the car.

“Oh my god, it’s them,” one woman said, and the crowd hushed.

Chris and I walked through the crowd with our heads hanging.  I felt like such a deuche.

At the car, I found a group of policemen, surveying the scene.  One man looked at me and smiled good-naturedly.  “This your car?” he asked.

“Yep,” I responded.

“Well, I want you to know that you left the windows open,” he said with concern.  “Thats very dangerous.”

I looked at him and laughed.  “Seriously!  The car is hanging off of a cliff, and you think I’m concerned about open windows?!?”

The Disaster Specialist  

A massive tow truck pulled up at the end of the road.  Out climbed a small hispanic man, with a wide smile.  “Hi,” he said.  “Please show me the problem.”

He walked with us down the road, where he spent several long minutes taking in our predicament.  He eyed the car from one end, to another end, and then climbed over the edge of the cliff, to perch on a small under-hang, and look up at the bottom of the car.

“You in for a gamble?” He said, climbing back onto the trail.

“Yes,” Chris and I nodded our heads up and down vehemently.

“Alright then. Ok you both climb down to that little under hang, and push up underneath the car.  I’m going to try driving it back onto the trail.”

I gave the man my keys, the climbed down beneath the car.  Chris and I both pushed with gritted teeth, as the man turned on the car, and began to gently maneuver it back onto land.  Tires spun overhead.  A minute later, Chris and I were both dusty, dirty, dripping with sweat, and looking at my car, which was back on its hiking trail.

“Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!” I hugged the Disaster Specialist.  “Thank you, thank you thank you!” I said, and hugged him even harder.

“Come on, lets go for a ride,” he said.  Chris and I climbed into the back seat. and the Disaster Specialist expertly reversed down the road.  Climbing back over the rocks, around corners, through bushes, and back, until we were finally on pavement.

I found Chris’s Linus blanket in the car about a week later.  I didn’t call him.

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