I returned to the car I live in only to find it’d been robbed. Everything I own is in there. Notebooks, clothes, and mold-covered pillow cases. Pots of gold and troves of treasure. Somehow some dipshit saw fit to rob a car that a bum lives in. I felt bad for the man. Looking for loot but only got an old laptop. One full of memories and a malfunctioning fan. Nothing to them but a world to me. They rudely didn’t even take out the trash. It left me distraught. Window smashed and laptop gone. A quick change of fate. Life altered in an instant. Before that I’d had such a good day.
I hiked to Sculpture Falls to tan on rocks by water. The last rain came heavy so now the creek rose. Kayakers passed with helmets. Paddled over the namesake ledge to churning water. A dog went for a ball and had trouble fighting the current. I kept my shirt off and soaked in the sun, using uneven rocks as a pillow. An idyllic January day. Texas at its best.
As afternoon closed I hiked the few miles back to my car. Stepped to a cement stall and washed my cock with soap and water. Rinsed it with an old coffee bottle. I’d talked to a girl on tinder and thought there a chance we’d meet. I didn’t want to look or stink like someone who lived in their car even though that’s who I was. I pictured the night and came up with kisses. Maybe even more.
A week of free concerts were wrapping up. One of my favorite bands played this night so I headed to that part of town for the show. I parked in front of a church and across the street from a graveyard. Sucked vodka blasts straight from the trunk jug. Popped on a hat as I was having a bad hair life. With all this I was ready for a night of entertainment.
Post prep I wandered ’round. Went to a stand-up show and now waited to see this band I adore. I didn’t care to catch the openers so ambled the streets, pissing out alcohol in dark places. Then the vodka hit my stomach. I thought I might blast my pants.
I stepped through mud next to train tracks looking for somewhere to shit. A pile of dirt blocked the view of me from the street. Plus this spot was only lit in ambient light. Still I had to be careful. I heard drunks so sat in the pile as they passed. Then I stomped myself a squatting platform. I squeezed my guts but the rest wouldn’t comply. Just a false alarm. That was good as there wasn’t much to wipe with.
I passed the venue and noticed no line. I still had time so headed to the tracks once more. En route I ran into a construction site. Boards and mud plus a trailer with a ladder on its side. I scanned the yard but it was empty. Just generator jugs before me. I popped the cap of one and sniffed gas. The next was diesel. I decided what the hell so climbed atop the trailer. In daytime I wouldn’t do this but the earth was dark and my body drunk.
I played with my phone and watched people but now the band was close to starting. I climbed down and into the show. It was an open air venue, little more than a fence wrapped around a gravel lot. I was early so the band wasn’t on. Everyone was here with friends, chatting away as they waited. As always I was alone. A solo ghost. No friends in the city.
My tinder gal worked ’til midnight and it was only ten. I took in all the women I could approach and say hi to. But I’ve seen hundreds of shows. Know it doesn’t work that way. Even when I think someone’s making eyes their dude shows up. If he doesn’t it doesn’t matter. I’m too shy to say hi. Too worried I’ll be a bother.
I felt resigned to spend yet another night with myself. Same ‘ol gab. Again and again. My body and brain missing so much the touch of another. The camaraderie of laying in bed and spitting sweaty bullshit. The fun times I once had so much access to. Now a never ending drought. One that feeds into itself. Living in a car, drifting through America. No permanence. No way to know anyone.
The longer I’m apart from others the harder it is to connect. I thought of women I once knew who’d appreciate my tin top trailer spot. Wished they were here to wrap arms around me. But they weren’t. It was just me with muddy shoes and a fading buzz. I knew that tonight, like all others, I’d sleep in the trunk. No touch from another.
I walked to the bathroom to piss and it reeked. A rat blast of yellow fart. Drunks spraying beer turned diabetic dark. Outside were crushed cans on dirt. Beers stomped out. Social lube put to use. I stood alone, just stage lights and night sky on me. The band played and for forty minutes I forgot my worries. Then I left the show and started to wander. Wound back to the construction site.
I sat on the roof watching drunks amble past the tin and graffiti buildings. I’m almost never sad but thought of how the show induced that in me. Seeing all those couples. Knowing I was alone. I counted down to midnight in hopes the tinder lady would want to meet. But I knew I was groggy from the post-drunk. I slammed water at the show, pissed a million times, but still felt foggy with buzz. So I decided to embrace that before me. This beautiful night. This incredible spot.
Behind me were train tracks but in front a street. A bike cart passed by, just the peddler and his doggy. The Lime man came by to scoop scooters. Down the way a doorman squatted outside the bar he works for, smoking and checking his phone. Things were still but drunks stumbled. People leaving the show. Those hailing Ubers or stepping to the dark. They didn’t know of the voyeur perched on this aluminum roof. It gave me a thrill to be the watcher.
I felt like a security camera. One pointed outward. My lens scanned the area. Took in the external. Aluminum graffiti. Prince’s face formed by spray paint. Corrugated tin roofs topping shacks. People piling out their SUV. So many walking by. Me perched in the vista. A bike man greasing his wheels. Me looking at stars that survived the city light. The din of a distant interstate. Branches above like witch fingers strangling the sky. It was joyous. My moment of self pity now came to a close.
I walked to my car to call it a night. As I approached I saw what seemed to be glass beside it. A curbside glint. At first I thought it was piss stains on cement. But as I drew closer it looked more and more like shattered glass. I started talking to myself aloud. Babbles of denial and desperation.
“Oh no. Oh no no no. They broke in. They broke in.”
It was surreal, as if my brain couldn’t compute what its eyes fed it. As if I now watched myself on a busted VHS. I knew the scene that was supposed to play and this wasn’t it. Somehow an unknown asshole had snatched the tape. Recorded over my little life with scenes from another screenplay. Wrested control of an unsteady narrative.
I stepped to the front passenger window and found it smashed out. An intact but shattered chunk of glass sat on the sidewalk. Ringing the window frame were jagged edges. Green pieces filled the front seat. I didn’t know window glass was green but there it was. Emerald hunks. Unwanted gems.
“They broke in. They broke in.” I almost cried in my half-drunk state. This couldn’t be real.
I picked through the glove box and by some miracle my passport and checkbook remained. I checked the console and my cash and cards were there. I started to think this was only vandalism. Felt relief. I was poor as hell but could handle the hit.
I sat in the driver’s seat and checked all over. Backseat and floorboards. All seemed good. Then I noticed my laptop was missing. It’d been on the passenger side under a sheet. Of all they could’ve stole this held the least cash value. It was half a decade old. I’d put a sticker on its lid that said 79 cents. Left behind were its battery and charger. The thief had one piece and I another. How unfunny and dumb. Cosmic irony at an open mic.
I felt both sadness and relief. It could’ve been worse but still this was awful. As I took it in I realized all that was on that laptop. Irreplaceable photos and writing. Memories of lost pets. Pictures of me and my dead grandma. A million things I couldn’t even think of. Years of my life gone in an instant.
The tinder girl sent a message asking if I wanted to meet for drinks. I hadn’t been on a date in ages. Felt cursed. The one time someone wanted to meet and I got robbed. I explained what happened then called my sister. Talking to her calmed me down. I started to think it all funny. Imagined the thief’s dismay when they opened my shitbox laptop.
I cleaned the glass then made way to the safest spot I know. A street where my absent window would face a hill and no sidewalk. I took the green sheet that’d covered the laptop and taped it to the window. Cold air billowed the cover and passed inside. I crawled to the trunk and texted Miss Tinder. We swapped stories of getting robbed but I already knew we’d never meet. The curse of the night just meant it so.
I was too wound up for sleep so lay in the trunk thinking on this life I lived. I didn’t know if it was good or bad, just that I was cold and alone. My laptop was gone. A part of me missing.
As I lay I wondered what other pieces had disappeared. The ones slipped off without my knowing. I felt incomplete. Like I’d robbed myself of the life I should live. A stolen item only I could return. But it’d been so long I wondered if that was possible. If I even knew where the pieces were. If I could ever stitch them back together. If I even knew how. But that didn’t matter. There didn’t seem enough glue on earth to unshatter this mess. To fix the lonely life I built from bad pieces.
If you like my work and want to support it ways to do so can be found here: https://gabfrab.com/make-a-wish-gross-hobo-edition/
Ca$h App: https://cash.app/$gabfrab