Sunday, March 06, 2011

Burning Crosses On Rosecrans

by James Jarvis
from Offline Journal Of The Damned

  The thing about this town is that you touch on the edges of so many other people's lives. Sometimes it's more than touching. Sometimes it's fucking in the back seat of a raggedy car at the back end of an Armenian used car lot in Hawthorne or horizontal dancing naked at midnight on the beach at Redondo.

    Sometimes it's just touching. Less than touching. Grazing, maybe. Or sliffing. Spliffing, for you landlubbers, is running your boat across the rolling wake of a boat you haven't seen, a boat that crossed your path just a little while before you arrived. Spliffing. The maritime equivalent of walking across someone's grave.

    Tonight, for example, I took a midnight drive up Rosecrans looking for police checkpoints. No cops fishing for felons. Instead I found a roadside memorial on the sidewalk in front of a furniture warehouse. Thirteen burning candles on an otherwise deserted street. Had to stop. Check it out.

    You know the kind of candles I'm talking about. The kind you buy at the supermarkets: 8 inch colored candles, 2 and a half inches in diameter, encased in tall glass with pictures of the saints painted on the front and church-sanctioned prayers painted on the back.

    Thirteen burning candles, arranged in the sign of the cross. Apparently someone died here on this spot. Drive by? Drunk driver? Heart attack? Why would anyone die in front of a furniture warehouse? Was it a Murphy Bed accident? A faulty barcolounger? What?

    As I stood at the base of the makeshift cross, the burning cross, I began to notice writing on the sidewalk at my feet. As my eyes adjusted to the flickering darkness (screw you pedagogues, my darkness can flicker if it wants to), I noticed more and more writing. The sidewalk looked like the back of a high school yearbook, a thirty foot by 6 foot page, with mushy, sentimental and downright goofy farewells to Sam, whomever that might be.

    "R.I.P. Sami, you were the best. Suzi."


    "Watch over us, Sameh. Bob."

    Must've been one of Sammy's casual acquaintances.

    "Thanks for all the laughs, Sammo."

    "I'll never forget you were the one who introduced me to my number one love. R.I.P."

    Hundreds of these, scribbled everywhere. On the sidewalk. On the curb. Even on the tree. Then I ran across the bon voyage that gave me a little key into Sam:

    "I always said you were a bad bartender."

    Sam the bartender. That explained all the "Cheers" epitaphs I had seen. I had thought it a little weird that so many people had chosen "Cheers" as their parting words to the dead. Sammy the bartender. Good-bye, Sammy. I hardly knew you.
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