"Not Lost" and "Mr. Cell Phone Guy" by Mike Monson

Categories: ISSUE 03: Edgar

Not Lost
I know exactly where I am.

“We are not lost,” I tell Beth.

“We are so lost,” she answers.

“No,” I reply, “‘lost’ is when you don’t know where you are or how to get home.
"I know where we are; we are at a gas station just off of the 99 in Fresno. I know how to get home to Modesto–get back on the Freeway and go north for an hour and a half.”

“You are crazy,” Beth says. “We are so completely fucking lost.”

“We aren’t lost,” I say, “We just don’t know how to get where we are going, but we will figure it out.”

I’ve pulled off the freeway because the exit given to us by Yahoo Maps doesn’t seem to exist in reality. 

It is the middle of August. Outside the car it is 105. Inside–who knows? 115? 120? We have a piece of shit 1990 Nissan Sentra and there is no A/C. None. This fact is a perfect example of what an idiotic life we lead–we live in Modesto in the burning hot San Joaquin Valley and we can’t manage to own a car with air conditioning.

Our son Christopher in the back seat screams–again and again and again. He is eight years old and wants to be playing with his cousins already at the campsite up in the Sequoias. Neither Beth nor I try to make him stop. 

I look at Beth in a way that I hope will make her feel loved and supported, that will make her think “we are all in this together everything is going to work out just fine, I love Jeff and he loves me and of course we will be at the campsite soon and have a wonderful time” just as she begins to have what I decided later is known as a “nervous breakdown.” 

She starts kicking the plastic dashboard with her bare feet while smashing both hands–hard–onto her thighs. She grunts, she moans, and she shrieks. She writhes. 

I say soothing things as I reach out my hands to try to calm her. She looks at me as if she has never seen me before and begins to punch me in my face and chest.

Christopher stops screaming. 

I get out of the car. Beth gets out of the car. She pummels the roof. She kicks at the tires. Her grunting gets louder and she begins to perform a lewd rhythmic dance that includes sticking her butt out toward me, pulling her hair, grabbing at her crotch, and stomping at the ground. Her baby blue sun dress is wet with her sweat. 

I try to think up what one does in such a situation. I try to picture me doing something that will help and nothing comes to mind.

I am lost.

O Typekey Divider

 

Mr. Cell Phone Guy
This guy was in such a nice suit walking along Montgomery Street in the San Francisco Financial District. He had a cool looking briefcase. He was talking into his cell phone: “Yes, this is Mark Johnson. It is 3:30 p.m. on August 21. Yes, yes, I did receive those reports and I just wanted you to know that I haven’t had a chance to look at them yet, and I don’t think I will be able to do so until at least next week. I’ll let you know as soon as I get a chance.” 

Wow. What would it be like to be the guy in the nice suit walking along talking about reports and shit and putting some guy off until next week? Would you have a great car, like a Porsche or an Audi? Would you live in a condo in the City or in some fancy house in Berkeley or Marin County out among the hills and the trees and the mountain bikers?

Would your wife be luscious and great-looking and intelligent and meditate at the local zen center and wear jewelry from Asia? Would you go out with your guy friends to North Beach strip clubs and pay for lap dance after lap dance with a smug and dirty leer on your face? 

I bet it would be a lot different from being like me, a homeless son of a bitch hanging out on the corner of Montgomery and Market with my stupid coffee cup and my inane sign that reads “Hungry and Homeless–Please Help,” while I give tourists directions to the Wharf or Pier 39 or Lombard Street with my humble, subservient smile. I could’ve been that guy, that guy with his briefcase and cell phone and Mill Valley mansion, if it wasn’t for all the stupid politicians and their goddamn war, their goddamn war that worked out so well for Mr. Cell Phone I Haven’t Read the Reports Yet Guy.

--Stories by Mike Monson
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--Background photo by Doriana Maria
--Foreground photo by Clay Brandt