Tuesday, April 27, 2010

As I Approach the Stage . . .

. . . the announcer's voice can be heard in the auditorium as the theme music plays from the pit. "This marks the third time that A.v.E's car was involved in a hit-and-run accident while he was blocks away."

Here's how it started.

The Girlfriend and I returned from Indiana to find that "supergroup" Angel's & Airwaves enthusiasts were already lined up outside the Aragon - a former 1920's ballroom that now operates as a live music venue. The place is several blocks from us, but the traffic it brings can be felt well beyond our neighborhood as parking becomes a murderfuck of aggravation known only to those who refuse to admit that a spot didn't just open up while circling the block.

I'd double-parked in front of our building to unload the freight we brought from the Hoosier State: Fancy beer, pizza from a chain I didn't know still existed, and mid-century furniture.

The unloading took the better part of a half-hour. When we first stationed, I heard the rattle of an off timing belt. Though a block away the rattle bounced off the cars and filled the street. Behind its wheel was a girl, cell phone to ear scanning in each direction for a gap between vehicles. Just like the other cars that we'd seen creeping through at a snail's pace.

When the last of the goods were secured in the apartment, I set out to park the car legally. I heard the sound of the timing belt. She'd been circling this entire time. I learned from her and decided to cross the nearest major street which was two blocks east of us. Major traffic ways, under/over passes and train tracks are natural barriers. People use these as dividers and as the borders which separate the here from the there.

So I crossed Ashland Avenue and immediately found a spot cross the alley from a small hospital. The road was wide in and removed from all but one residential complex - a vinyl sided two flat. I was comfortable leaving the car there. It was less than a five minute walk home so I felt myself ahead of the game. The sound of the timing belt still rang on my return.

The car remained at the spot until the following evening. We decided on indian from Hema's - one of the best restaurants along the international district of Devon that is Little India. We walked to the car and I noticed that the mirror was folded in, facing the window. This wasn't unusual as cyclists tend to clip them as they pass by. And my mirror is able to collapse in for safer parking on narrow streets. But the turn signal mounted beneath the neck of the mirror was hanging from its nylon harness like an eye dangling out from a socket. I cursed whatever prankster did this before looking down to see that the entire driver's side door was crashed in. And the first thing I wondered was if the person who hit my car then did this to the mirror to distract me or give himself a head start. (I'm assuming it's a him. Who else could it have been. A woman? There's no way. Their dainty hands could never grip a steering wheel.)

The rational person, upon seeing the damage or destruction of some personal property, will immediately begin calculating the total cost to replace/repair that tangible good. In his book Danse Macarbe, Stephen King explains why The Amityville Horror was a hit with older audiences and a dud with younger crowd. Blood dripping down the walls and into the floor is pretty tame to the seasoned teenager, but anyone who owns a home immediately equates this to the nightmare that is water damage. So the horror of the haunted house is that of a structure as an investment suddenly becoming a money pit. (I'd levy the same reasoning for thrill of the action movie where the $80,000 Aston Martin is driven right into a fucking wall. Fuck the poor!)

$2,400. That's what I keep repeating to myself as we're driving to the restaurant. Where did I get that number from? How could I possibly quantify such a cost? I don't know. It was a gut number and it felt right so I accepted it as so.

The next morning I take it to a garage. I tell the mechanic that someone hit the car then drove off. He follows me to the trailblazer (Hydra II) and gives his diagnosis. "That door is fucked." As we walk back in he asks who I'm insured through. I tell him I wanted to see if this could be done without going through the insurance company. He nods and retreats to his office where I hear him making several phone calls.

He returns with the numbers now crunched. He can get a used door for about $800, then with labor and paint, we'd be looking at $1,200 to make things right.

$1,200 is less than $2,400. I'm relieved.

It's telling when only having to pay $1,200 dollars to fix something makes it a good day.

I leave with the assurance that he'll check around to find the cheapest door he can.

I go back to the site of accident. I hope that he cracked a headlight or cracked his oil pan as he sped off.

Across the alley stands the hospital. I walk the perimeter of the building staring at it's roof. On a corner I see mounted three metal enclosures pointing in separate directions.

Inside, the front receptionist asks how she can help.

"This is an unusual question. My car was parked on the north side of your building over the weekend and was hit by someone who drove off. Now I noticed you have cameras watching this street and . . ."

"You'll need to take the hallway down to the end. Command center is on your right," she said.

I follow the hall down to a Puerto Rican woman in a guard's uniform. She has a rose tattooed on her wrist that looks like it was done with hot pen. I tell her about what happened and she leads me to a room where four monitors are split into four screen, each detailing a different view of the building.

Only one camera is near where I'm stationed. It stops short a few dozen feet from my bumper. I scan through the footage, looking for that moment where a white car enters the frame, then crosses back with a red streak across it's front.

The car never appears. The Puerto Rican tries to console me. "We've been meaning to upgrade those."

I return home and make a PB&J.

Last week, The Girlfriend found this antique kitchen cabinet on craigslist. The thing was cumbersome as all hell to pick up but when we finally got it in place, I was amazed at what it added to the kitchen.

Most furniture I've acquired in my life has been with the understanding that it's temporary. When I leave, most of it would end up on the sidewalk. There was nothing that couldn't be left behind. When I moved in with The Girlfriend it was different. She had furniture that she cared about and takes great pains to keep in good condition. But that was all hers. This cabinet is the first thing we brought through that door together. And in just looking at it you can feel it's weight. Like the monolith in 2001. Wherever we end up, this thing will come along. This is the base sum by which all else will be added to.

We have a home together. And with that, how bad can anything ever be?

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