Saturday, February 26, 2011

Delivering A Car Battery To A Demented Gypsy

IM000422.jpgImage by James Jarvis via Flickr

by James Jarvis
excerpt from Tales of An Urban Nomad

     Delivered a brand new car battery to the old man, my homeless attorney, this morning at 5:30 a.m. The RV he's living in, my old El Dorado, was parked in a dark spot on 86th street near Watts. It's a quiet side street in a residential neighborhood. I pulled up in my loud diesel pickup, parked in front of someone's house and crossed over to the weather-beaten RV with its stack of gypsy caravan boxes, rugs and spare propane tanks tied to the rear bumper. I banged on the side of the camper.

     "Battery delivery! Battery for a Mr. Donald Steinberg!" I shouted. The dogs came to the window, the Pit Bull and the German Shepherd. They didn't bark. They know me. I got them out of doggy jail once. They owe me the courtesy of not barking.

     I had just gotten off my shift as a security guard in Culver City. I was still in my guard uniform, including the police jacket with the big, shiny badge pinned on. I shined my big Maglite flashlight, which doubles as a night stick, into the rear window.

     The El Dorado has the look of an abandoned vehicle. At best, it looks like the kind of RV people use for storage space only. It really doesn't look as if it can move and it hasn't moved for over a month. Leaves are piled up around the tires. A couple of early morning joggers came jogging by and smiled at me as if it was the most natural thing in the world for a uniformed, badged man to be banging on an apparently vacant RV at 5:30 in the morning.

     "Battery delivery!" I repeated loudly, mostly for their benefit. For some reason, I felt the need to explain myself to these strangers. They never broke their stride, jogging on down the street. This is, after all, Los Angeles County.

     The old man needs the battery for his little $500 car, parked further on down the street. He needs the car running so he can go visit his new girlfriend. If a 73 year-old man has got the pluck to date a 38 year-old woman, who am I to judge? I can always petition the court later if he gets himself into some bad trouble.
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