Sunday, April 10, 2011

Primordial Americans: The Struggle Continues

Downtown Los Angeles as seen from my American ...Image via Wikipedia DEPT. OF THE SCREWED


     8:30 p.m. I'm in the Arco gas station getting cigs. A tiny Guatemalan woman, nearly a midget, driving a huge white cargo van pulls up. Nasty smell coming out of the new, pristine mammoth van. She runs into the station and asks me, asks the two clerks behind the counter, asks another customer, asks anyone who will listen if putting regular gas in a diesel-fueled van will cause mechanical problems.

     Not only that. She's lost. Been lost for hours. Put her last $20 into the diesel-fueled van's gas tank. Only she thinks she put regular gas in the tank. How does one know? Can someone come out and check the gas? She's trying to find the city of Bell where she should be with the van but after she put the gas in, the van stopped running well.

     Oh you're screwed, lady. Bell is a long, long way from here and I don't think this is your van.

     The big Arco clerk---the one whose fingers someone broke a long time ago for God knows what reason---looks into my eyes. She's screwed, his eyes seem to be saying to me, she might not make it out of this neighborhood alive.

     We feel sorry for her. The sun has gone down and the street's vampire shift will be starting mos riki tik. Soon the citizen-emptied streets will be filled with bicycle crack dealers, loobies, lubbards, macrogasters and goons.

     Across the street three sheriff's cars have pulled over a primer gray Mustang. While Broken Fingers is out sniffing the van's gas tank, the sheriff's deputies separate the driver from his Mustang. While the Guatemalan midget uses the Arco phone to get a cousin to come pick her up, the Mustang is towed off, leaving its driver standing in the church parking lot, obviously wondering how he is going to get home.

     The midget's cousin has never been to Gardena where the midget is trying to explain she lost herself. He's never even heard of Gardena, this garden spot of south Los Angeles. This we surmise from the midget's phone conversation. And her repeated question to anyone who will listen: 'Where are we?'

     The Arco station closes its doors in half an hour as a protection against robbery, murder, mayhem and wraith. The midget will have to sit outside in her self-disabled van for at least an hour, maybe two, while her cousin tries to find her.

     Maybe the ex-Mustang driver can keep her company.

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