SICK Book Review from Parents Little Black Book
SICK Book Review from Literary R&R
Excerpt from SICK: The Econoline 150
It was morning when I was climbing the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into theLake Tahoearea. All of a sudden there was a police car behind me flashing its lights. I didn’t think I was speeding but maybe I was. I pulled over and the cop walked up alongside of the van.
“Hello sir,” I said. I knew to be respectful and courteous to cops always; this helped give off the impression that I was the type of person who would never consider breaking the law.
“Do you know why I pulled you over, young lady?” This cop looked like a decent guy.
“No sir, I have no idea.”
“You don’t have a license plate on the back of your van.” I’m sure my complete look of shock convinced him that I had no idea the license plate was gone, and I really had no idea, because next he asked me if I would like to get out and take a look. As I strolled around to the back of the van I was stopped in my tracks. The entire spare tire was gone. This van had a spare tire coved by a custom casing that matched the van and in the center of the casing was the license plate.
“Oh my gosh! The entire spare tire and casing is gone!” And I proceeded to describe to the police office what was supposed to be there. Next the officer asked me for my license and registration. I knew my privilege to operate a motor vehicle had been revoked by the state of Rhode Island, the state of Vermont, and, although I didn’t know it yet at this time, the state of Pennsylvania but I still had the actual license card. I would get into all of the reasons why my license was suspended everywhere but let’s just stay on the story at hand for now. Of course I was supposed to have turned my license card in when it was suspended but that wasn’t going to happen. I got out my license, registration, and insurance for the very nice officer and he went back over to his vehicle to call it in.
“Young lady, do you know that your license is suspended?” Another completely shocked look on my face as believable as the real one convinced him that I had no idea. I asked him why with distress on my face, knowing that he wouldn’t have that information.
“Sir, are you telling me that I drove across the entireUnited Stateswith a suspended license?” I asked in complete disbelief. This cop was completely buying my young and innocent façade and I could tell he didn’t quite know what to do with me. He went back to his car for a few moments, then came back.
“When you get to Lake Tahoe,” (I had told him I was headed to a friend’s house in Lake Tahoe before heading on to school inSacramento), “I want you to get this straightened out.”
“Should I put my front license plate on the back sir?”
“No, you’re almost inLake Tahoe. If you get stopped again just give them this warning ticket,” and off he went. Later that day I was in my new hometown on my way to the landlord’s house to get the keys to my new pad.
I pulled up in front of my landlord’s house in the yellow van. Getting the keys was a big moment. I had never lived in a place so beautiful or in a house so big ever in my life. JJ smiled at me from the passenger side window as I strolled up the front walkway. I rang the doorbell and the landlord promptly opened the door with his small son beside him.
“Hi, I have the keys right here for you.” He was expecting me. “Give me a moment, they’re on the counter.” Then he disappeared from sight leaving his son standing there. The little kid started pointing out to the street and then calmly spoke to me.
“Your van is on fire.” His words were spoken so calmly it didn’t register what he was saying. “Your van is on fire,” he said again. I turned around and huge puffs of black billowing smoke were coming out of the front engine. JJ was frantically moving back and forth in the passenger seat. There was nowhere for him to go with all of the stuff in the back of the van. I instinctively ran top-speed to the van and opened up the passenger door. JJ jumped out and as he was in mid-air jumping from the passenger seat to the ground below, the billowing black smoke burst into flames! The whole thing seemed like it was happening in slow motion. The time between the passenger door opening and JJ landing on the ground below seemed endless. JJ and I stood on the grass a safe distance away and watched as our temporary home on wheels crackled from the heat of the flames and turned black with soot. The landlord came from around the side of the house with a garden hose, but it was futile. The flames and smoke rose higher than the two-story house. In another few moments I could hear the distant screaming of fire engine sirens. Soon the firemen were putting out the fire and the whole thing was over. JJ and I were still sitting on the grass in disbelief of what had just happened before our eyes.
About one-third of the back end on the van was still recognizable. The landlord was very helpful in getting me to move along and figure out what the hell I was supposed to do next. I was tired and burnt out from the drive and the Dead shows in Vegas. He asked me if I had any money to rent a car. I wasn’t sure, I had money stashed here and there in the van but it didn’t look too promising. With persuasion from the landlord, I got up from the grass, walked over to what was left of the van and started picking through the remnants to see what might be salvaged. I had a large chunk of cash in the pocket of a brown leather coat that was hanging on the back of the passenger seat. The coat had been burned about two-thirds of the way and then stopped right at the pocket. I reached in and pulled out the cash.
“I have money to rent a car, but no license. The purse I had my wallet in burnt to a crisp.” Actually I still had my license in my back pocket from being pulled over but a suspended license wasn’t going to get me a rental car so I figured it was better to just say it had been burnt. That ended up being the right thing to say because the landlord took me over to the car rental place and rented a car for me.
I promised I would come back tomorrow to clean up the burnt mess on the street in front of his house but really just needed to go home and process what had just happened. He was cool with that and I made my way to my new home. I had nothing and just slept on the floor with JJ that night but it was the best night’s sleep I had gotten in a while. The mountain home was peaceful and I loved it.