A sort of life

A long legal tether on this guy

RICHMOND, Va. — Deee-deee-deee-deee. Breathe. Dee-deee-deee-deee-deee. This morning I wake with company. That bastard alert moves me like no other. And, wouldn’t you know it, she brought a friend. Say, “Hello,” to a stony ache within my skull. In my zeal, my lust for satisfaction, I tried to bed both last night. It looks like it worked.

Look at me now: I’m naked, ass up with icy feet jutting beyond my sideways spread. It’s a comfortable place if you fancy frozen fingers and retracted testicles. I do not.

But the story begins long before this early October morning. Let’s go away for a while, you and I:

Sunday morning I rocked up to Richmond in three-day-old clothes. The journey took me two hundred miles and nowhere. There’s no satisfaction where I went. And why should I expect any? I look like I live in the backseat of my car. And now, as my phone begins to ring, I feel like it too.

“You’re late. You avoiding my calls?” my attractive and reserved boss asks. I’m late for work again, my job, of course, being an editor at the Commonwealth Times. Tardy is my thing.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I beg infinite forgiveness. I know I let you down, kind hearted beauty.”

“Yeah, yeah. When will you be in?”

“Three-quarters past. I’ve got to grab a clean shirt,” I reluctantly admit.


“I’m in the same clothes I was wearing when you saw me last.”

“Does that mean you haven’t showered? Ewww.”

“It’s been a rough week,” I say, ignoring her question.

“That girl! Is that why you’re late?” She picks.

“It’s been a rough week.”

Confident that I held her at bay, I stumble into my apartment, the trash left tossed is as it was the week before. Welcome home mi amigo encantador.

Between the mess I find a shave, a shirt, and a clean pair of socks waiting. And as I leave, I see that the mold has found its way back into the kitchen sink. It clings to the jellied grease on my Ikea plate. It drives a path to move toward a cereal bowl. Welcome home.

Work was nothing special. I spent my time choking out a column. About what, I can not remember. Then there was coaching a buddy how to properly break up with his tiresome girlfriend. He had a lot of questions. I had a lot of answers.

The night went strong, but slowed as midnight approached. There was the pasteup, and then the call to cut 200 words from my column. That’s always a fun experience. I didn’t end up leaving until after 1 a.m. I felt the movements of a headache creeping through my brain.

And things were done and I left. And as I walked to my car I thought: “Where is my car?” It was a double take moment. Thinking, for a minute, “Did I even park my car here?”

I did, and I had.

And so sometime between then and now my car was towed from an empty parking lot. And then I was lost. How was I going to get home? How was I going to get it back? What kind of mother fucker tows a car from an empty parking lot?

However, the absence of glass beads in the street kept me remarkably calm. My baby Mazda hadn’t been jacked. She was still in one piece. Probably.

After bumming a ride, I am able to get home and to sleep.

And then at some point during the night, my apartment got down to 58 degrees. And I woke up with a frosty dew on my face. I cussed myself and I cussed the mother fuckers that took my car.

Then I grab a cab out to the impound lot. I see her sitting there among the derelicts and the beaters driven by wife beaters that wear wife beaters. She’s the shining emerald city beyond the spooky forest.

So, it turns out that towing companies don’t take credit cards. Only cash, and of course, I haven’t carried cash since my days running around Vienna with 20 shilling beer money in my pocket. That’s six years ago, for those who don’t know.

OK, collateral…

“…here’s my license.”


“My other credit card.”


“Look at me. Look at the car. You think I’m going to stiff you for a $65 tab? Does it look like I’m the kind of guy that would have all this shit reissued to avoid paying $65?”

“Hmmmmm, OK. I’ll take your two credit cards and your license.”

“OK, sir, but if you do that I can’t get money from the ATM.”

“I’d really hate to write you up leaving with non-payment.”

“Look at me. You really going to be a cocksucker and write me up for $65 when I’m offering you all my plastic, my cash flow? For $65? $65 doesn’t even buy me lunch.”

And so he agrees and I leave and come home to dig through my stacks of crap I’ve got all over the place. The thing is: I don’t know my ATM PIN. I don’t use it, you see, so I don’t know it. And it’s not one of those you can set yourself. The bank picked it for me. And now I hate my bank.

I find the PIN, I get cash after dodging a cop that followed me for a while. I pay the guy. I go home. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Marshall Brothers Towing guy put a warrant out on me anyway. If they can even do that.

It’s a filthy crook business, towing companies are. Scum of the earth. And I’m reminded why I love Richmond. Wreckers preying on student cars, which they do, and not taking plastic — which is how most of these kiddies get money from their parents in the first place. It’s a racket I tell you.

It’s not Richmond. It’s these fucking people living here. Someone should sweep the streets clean. And leave my goddamn car alone.

And now I’m back home. It’s not even 10 a.m. yet. I’m tired. It’s cold. It’s time to leave me alone.

“A long legal tether on this guy” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Showery Wednesday afternoon in the Wildflower State

Showery Wednesday afternoon in the Wildflower State

Andrzej Jalowiecki grips an umbrella during a rainy winter day in Perth, West Australia on June 11, 2003.

I look like I live in the backseat of my car.