Monday, March 9, 2009

Chronicles of Craigslist: A Meatspace Adventure, Part II

Long overdue, but delivered as promised.

I give you the second part and thrilling the Chronicles of Craigslist.

Check it out from the Omnibus

Jerry met me at the door. I walked past his white Saturn, noting the ominous presence of a huge muffler. It wasn't just aftermarket huge it was redneck spent money on this instead of his mortgage huge. Jerry's ‘house’ was the bottom floor *cough, basement, cough* of a modest home on the ragged edge of the wasteland that is Kannapolis, NC. It reminded me a lot of our basement back at the Overbrook house.

Floor coverings included some of the TP-thin gray carpet you would find at any state sponsored college dorm room. There was also a weird patchwork quilt of red and yellow deep pile shag that described a sawed off circle around the bed. The sheer amount of random crap laying around was staggering and it took a few minutes to take it all in.

Jerry was there with his wife, two fierce looking husky type dogs with pale blue eyes and the vacant affect of furry feral killers heightened the mood nicely. His wife had long straw colored hair. She was seated in front of the computer with about 4 feet of the stuff dangling down the back. No bra, holding a lit cigarette as I arrived. Didn't even glance at the newcomer as he stood there trembling.

Jerry was my height, significantly built with some of the most venal looking forearms I have seen on a human being. He beckoned me inside. Strike that, he was looking intently through the window when I stepped into line of sight. So already he caught me smugly chuckling at his personal conveyance.

Great first impression.

Beyond the dogs, the lazily unaware wife and Jerry’s machine gun fire talking there were action figures, empty aquariums, unstuffed bean bags and a tremendous collection of literature *ok it was mostly comic books and old playboys* around the place. A cardboard box full of computer stuff lay on the bed. A huge pile of similar looking boxes lay off to the side.

Man this guy has even more esoteric tech crap than I do. See, why would anyone need a whole box full of external 56k modems?

“This here’s yer shit,” he said. “I threw in a 2.4 celeron…(burp)…case you need it.”

“Always collecting,” I said. Bad move. He spent ten minutes trying to sell me external modems, PCI video cards and 10/100 low profile Ethernet cards. 10 bucks a pop each. There is no fucking way I am going to touch this crap but I try to be polite about it.

“If you sold that stuff on ebay you’d have a couple hundred bucks,” the wife says. I can see she's working on a PowerPoint presentation of some sort. My attention sweeps her profile, call it a typical male scan for viability, and notice what she’s smoking. It’s a Virginia slim 120 and 6 inches of little white tube dangle from her lip. I said her hair was straw colored. Her face makes me want to grab a pitchfork for...other reasons.

“I think I’ll just stick with the motherboards I need,” I say. She shrugs and goes back to her powerpoint.

“She’s going back to school,” Jerry tells me. “Me I’m a self taught man. Half the shit in here comes from all these fuckin’ rednecks we got around here. Man I love making money off those idiots but ho-lee SHIT are they dumb. God I hate them rednecks.”

Oh god. The irony is paralyzing. Must not laugh hysterically. Hold it together now, it’s all good.

“School for what?” I ask. I have to fake a cough and bury my hand in a smile. I wish he could see how ironic this was.

“I want to teach English to middle schoolers,” she says. A long drag on that 120 later and she points it at me. “I am really good with kids. “

I nod and open my mouth to get the transaction going. A millisecond sooner and I could have pinched the whole snafu off right there. Before a word escapes I hear the dreaded words of a redneck in denial, who fancies himself an expert in technology.

“I wanna show you sumthin.”


This ‘sumthin’ turns out to be a whole menagerie of pointless broken crap acquired via craigslist. I get to watch him show off an old projection TV without a mirror. That’s cool, I lie. He’s also got the back half of a speed boat and a massive multifunction printer/copier circa 1995. It’s about the size of a walk-in fridge tipped over prone. I can’t imagine how he managed to get it in there.

“Also, you’ll wanna check this out.” He beckons me over to bend down and check out something tucked away in a cardboard box. I squat next to him, glancing over at the escape r…door. One of the dogs is staring at me. A chill runs down my spine and jerry rips open the cardboard. I notice something tucked into the back of his pants.

It’s a .38 special. I am going to die here.

He catches me staring and looks back, as if he couldn’t feel the 4 pound hunk of steel stuffed down the posterior side of his ultra-tight jeans. Like the dogs, for a moment his face goes slack and unreadable. I truly think my heart stopped for a second or two.

“You like it?” he says. Up close his breath is like exhaust from a chewing tobacco-fueled dump truck full of burning manure. “My deddy gev it to me just before he died.” He reaches back with a smile.

I should be choking him or something. God damn rednecks.

Jerry pops the wheel and shows me that it’s empty. He laughs long and hard, slapping at his thighs all the while.

“Gawd damn, son. I thought you was gonna shit yerself. Hey honey!”

“What?” the wife called.

“This boy thought I’s gonna shoot him, he he he.” If she responds I don’t hear it through the torrent of blood foaming through my skull. I want out, I’m getting out. I stand up to leave.

“I gotta get going,” I say. Subcon tweaked my accent towards the southern drawl. I only notice after I speak and it annoys me. “Can I grab those…” Jerry shakes his head.

“If you go now, you gonna miss the best part. Check this out.” He gestures at the box, it’s in the shadow of the mirror free tv so I have to squat back down to see inside.

Oh, well that’s normal. Let’s see: stuffed crow with no feet; antique bottles of some brownish liquid; allen wrench; empty shotgun shell casings and a plastic bag full of gold. . . teeth! Those are fucking teeth.

“Guess where them teeth came from?” Jerry asks. All eight of his teeth are showing as he grins ear to ear.

“I am so sure that I don’t want to find out,” I say. Hopefully he has a dentist friend but…

“Them’s teeth from the jews. Dubya dubya two my grandeddy drove a tank right over hitler’s personal car. Lifted these here teeth from one of them…concentrational camps.” I nod slowly.

“You’re so full of shit,” the wife says. I hear her lighter flick again. She's something of a chain smoker. No wonder the air visibly agitates when home boy and his freak show move around.

We go back to the main room and I take another look through the box of stuff. It’s all older socket 478 mobos, exactly what I need. I rifle around and notice that jerry threw in a couple extra parts for the heck of it. Easier than taking them out to dump I guess.

Now an interesting smell catches my attention and I turn back to the wife. Instead of a massive narrow cigarette she’s puffing on a fucking joint. Her left hand holds it above an ashtray while the right works out some tricky text spacing for her power point project. The topic of the presentation is “Innovative Methods of Education for Preteens.” The irony is like a vise I can’t squirm out of.

Luckily for me the tale ends pretty much here. Yes there was a moment when Jerry tossed his .38 onto the bed which caused the dogs to freak out and growl at me. But I paid my 40 bucks, took my box of parts and stuff and headed out. The wife popped out for a second. Jerry watched her intently from the window.

“Hey kid, you wanna buy some weed before you go?”

“Fuck no,” I say. That’s it. I throw it into reverse and haul backwards ass out into the road, barely looking or stopping and put as much fucking distance as I can manage. I was more than a little freaked out until I got home and started testing the stuff.

Not a single piece of equipment works.

Fucking rednecks.

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