My Cardboard Box

Life in the Mojave, Part 10

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As I mentioned a long time ago, Sunday mornings are laundry mornings. Part of the time not dealing with clothes is spent on the benches outside the Laundromat of the Future, either chatting with Crazy G. or any of the other customers that drop by from time to time. The other part is spent wandering around downtown.

The center of Joshua Tree, about a block and a smidge, is geared mostly for the rock-climbers and neo-hippies that come to The Park. Restaurants (mostly bistro, vegetarian or natural foods, tho there is one mediocre Mexican place and a well patronized greasy spoon), vintage clothing stores, camping goods, a liquor joint (two thumbs-up by the J.T. alcoholic community), an ersatz trading post, an overpriced gas station, and one gentrified saloon.

But beyond that is a mixture of empty stores, thrift shops, the aforementioned laundromat, and some art galleries, a couple of storefront churches and missions, a few old businesses with long-established clienteles, and a few shady-types attracted by the low rents.

There’s life out there on Sunday mornings as well. A tiny old man in an electric wheelchair with an American flag strapped to it takes up position every morning at the old gas station-turned realty office at the intersection leading to The Park, where he watches traffic in between naps. A somewhat pretty, very strong-looking woman of obvious Eastern European origin power-walks through the parking lot at almost the same time of the morning, every time, swinging her hand weights. The two Thai women who drive up to their restaurant and unload stuff from their battered station wagon.

Then there are the usual characters who swing by from time to time. The chap who wears his bedding as he shuffles along, regardless of the weather. The fellow who looks like an emaciated Johnny Cash and waves to all the traffic as he walks up to the convenience store/Indian restaurant. There’s the sad, somewhat dangerous, and tragic ones. The lady and her daughter who live in their Suburban. A furtive Hispanic fellow with a battered knapsack and equally battered hat, who dodges the occasional sheriff’s patrol car as he makes his way East. The occasional tweaker (meth-user) who staggers from wherever they woke up, to their crash-pad or their dealer somewhere on the north side of the highway.

And the real oddities, like this morning’s example.

We were parked on the benches, enjoying the morning coolness. Me, Crazy G. The Mechanic and his two offspring. And then She came.

She was a middle-aged blonde, thin to the point of emaciation. Decently dressed. Handbag slung over one shoulder. Bottle of cola clutched in one gnarled hand. And crazy as two loons. The Mechanic sent his two kids inside.

She preached – not to us gathered there on the benches – to the skies. The world was all falling apart. It was all going to end. She shook that bottle of coke in her fist as she spoke of hellfire and damnation. We were all going to blow up. The earth was going to explode in a ball of fire. And then, came the most telling part of her sermon.

In the meantime, we all could have a Sonic burger!

Then just as quickly as she came, she turned on her heel and stalked back towards the center of the village, still shouting angrily at the air and shaking her coke bottle.

“Man, that lady was crazy!” said Mechanic’s Offspring Number One who snuck out during the last five minutes of the tirade. Crazy G. just peered over his glasses at the retreating-and-still-ranting figure and shook his shaggy head.

“Y’know,” said the Mechanic as he dragged on his cigarette, “She’s right, though. We could have a Sonic burger.”

I’m going to miss this place.


Written by PappyBro

July 24, 2011 at 20:56

Posted in Musings, The Mojave

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