Who Dat Creepin’ Through da Hood? It’s the Repo Man

I write from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day at the kitchen table looking out a window to a parking lot and a dumpster. So I see a lot of stuff.

And I’ll be damned if I’m not watching a car in the lot get repo’d this pleasant mid-morning. It came up from Texas a few weeks back — a nice, new brown Hyundai. Black dude out there talking to what looks like an insurance chick. He’s being reasonable and she’s not glaring or mad: she’s just taking his ride. Bummer.

She is early thirties and big-boned with shoulder-length brown hair, wavy arms and authoritarian gestures. Her pale-yellow capri pants are too tight, especially for a gal sporting thick thighs and a butt like hers. She steps about in high heels, and her dusty rose-colored jacket – alas, too short to be called fashionable – ends at her belly. Off and on her cellphone, she keeps throwing glances at the tow truck driver standing next to his rig smoking a cigarette a short distance away, waiting for the signal to tow.

He reminds me of myself at 16 smoking one summer with fellow grave diggers at a Catholic cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, waiting for mourners to leave so we could get to work. It was the height of Vietnam, and we buried a Marine a day. I close my eyes and smell the mound of fresh dark earth piled by the grave; hear the muffled sobs of the grieving wife; yet still see the black veil and the crumpled white handkerchief soaked with tears.

I’m glad the black guy with the Hyundai didn’t get rowdy. I bet he knew that if it came down to him or the authoritarian white girl with a big ass and Mississippi plates on her bright-white car that she would win. Let it go, my Brother.

It’s rough where I live. People hang on, try to keep going somehow, try to patch lives together on part-time jobs with no benefits. Know what I mean?

Shit, I got repo’d once. Surreal. Neither my wife nor I heard the driver or his chains when he towed our Chevy Blazer off in the middle of the night years ago. You wake up and your car’s gone. (You only wish it were stolen; then you could maybe get it back. But a repo? Nope. Gone.)

I really liked that teal-green Blazer with a tan interior. My wife and I drove it to Seattle in 2000 loaded with my Ganja Tales book of stoner short stories. From Omaha to the Seattle Hempfest to sell out the entire press run of 2,500 copies at the world’s biggest 420 festival. So exciting to plan and execute!

And then we drove into the jaws of the dragon. Round trip of 3,320 miles. Six long days of hard driving. Total fuel requirement: 200 gallons. Night driving, dangerous driving in mountains, constant hunger. Shoved with 100,000 other souls onto a narrow piece of windy land bordered on one  side by cold water filled with police boats. Overhead, police helicopters. Clopping around the ground on huge horses? Mounted police. Walking up and down the sidewalk? More police. Look, I’m from Nebraska. I like to see a mile or two in front of me. I don’t like being fenced in. Makes me nervous. And all those cops. What’s up with that? You’re at the world’s so-called biggest dope festival and you’re afraid to light one up. WTF?

And then – wait for it – we sold three books. Please, just shoot me. Can you imagine the long drive back to Omaha? We bet the farm on that West Coast 420 trip, and lost it.

A few months later the teal-green Blazer was repossessed, and I was teaching freshman composition at a junior college in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, buried alive.

Three books. What can I say?

Look, I’m an artist. I have to take chances. That’s what the game I play is all about. So I’m not ashamed; I can’t be. I would only be ashamed if I hadn’t taken the shot, because one day I will take the shot … and make it. Like ol’ Karl, the lonesome ghost of Omaha, I just have to keep swinging that sledge, pounding down those words.

Persistence and passion. I’m wishing the same for you, Dear Reader, no matter what your art is. Keep at it: there’s joy in your creation – and discovery, too. No better voyage than that!

Anyway, next week I’ll tell you about the Green Goddess who cashed in at the Seattle Hempfest, as well as the snooty professor’s daughter who wouldn’t buy my book because “the words were too simple.”

Until then, stay creative, keep resisting the white noise and lies of the Industrial World, and be persistent with your art.

I am The Depressive Insomniac in Omaha Otherwise Known As

Craig Pugh

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