I feel like I’m trapped in a Tom Waits song.

Generally this only happens on long car rides across the Midwest, where after about five hundred miles and several gallons of coffee, my brain gets stuck in “Gun Street Girl.” (I blame Waukeegan.) In this case, however, I am living a peculiar suburban version of “What’s He Building In There?”

My neighbor has this van. It was a white van at one point. Now it is that peculiar unsaturated non-color that comes to white vans that have not bathed in several years. The van has not run in years, and was once in the back side yard. Once a month, a solemn ritual was enacted whereby the neighbor and his son come out with the Ceremonial Jumper Cables, fiddle under the hood, perform the Ancient And Terrible Rite Of Trying To Start The Van, discover that, like the last five months, the gods are still angry and will not speak, and then go back in the house.

The van has four flat tires. Somehow, while James and I were out, it was dragged backward about ten yards to the front driveway, where it has been for several months. We do not know if the gods decided to grace the van with brief mobility, or if the worshippers simply hauled it, like laborers on the Pyramids dragging an oddly shaped limestone block, but somehow the van moved.

Yesterday, strange noises erupted from the neighbor’s yard. We spent all day holed up playing World of Warcraft (Horde, Tauren druid, Aurocha, on Cenarion Circle, feel free to say hi) and it’s too cold to keep the windows open, so what we heard were strange muffled sounds loud enough to pierce the walls–hammering, banging, and the distant scream of tortured metal. The band Savage Aural Hotbed (which probably nobody else has heard of) would be proud. It went on, and on, and on.

James eventually went out for provisions and returned. “Say–” I said, “did you happen to see what the neighbors are–”

“Yes. You’re not going to believe it.”

“Are they trying to fix it?”

“They’re cutting a giant hole in the side, actually.”

I am baffled. I do not know automotive anything, so I cannot concieve of why one would take a saw to the side of one’s non-functional van to carve a giant hole in it. Perhaps they’re installing a porch. I must await further developments.

Leave a Reply