Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Gnarly Day: Part Two

This is the second part of my historically gnarly day.  For the first part, go here.
OK, so where are we?... ah yes, I am in the middle of running from my (undeserved) porn problems. And I'm not alone. My roommate Cormac is with me. And he is just as scared as I am (neither of us could be described as tough men). And where do end up after our escape from reality? Why, Griffith park, of course. Griffith park, the famous park in LA that's home to the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theater (the very one that is referred to in the title of the movie Get Him to The Greek), and the tunnel that is seen at the very end of Back to the Future Two. Indeed, it is a magical place. A place perfect for two guys who want to forget about their current troubles.

So here we are. In Griffith Park, sitting on a bench on top of hill overlooking the city. It's calm up here, peaceful. I start to feel a little better about the world.

This peace lasts for about fifteen minutes, and then it all goes wrong.

It starts with shouting. Suddenly, we hear loud, frantic, shouting coming from behind us. The shouting is incoherent but it sounds like it belongs to someone with a German accent. We turn around and see a German on a bike, stopped in the middle of the road, shouting and pointing at a parked car. And he's not pointing at just any parked car; he's pointing at the parked car that belongs to me. And he's pointing at the parked car that belongs to me because there are billows of black smoke pouring out of the engine.  

Now I'm completely alarmed, as well as confused. Why would my car be smoking? I take a couple of steps forward, and then I see something under the car and I stop in my tracks. Orange waves of flame are shooting out from under my car. Why would my car be smoking? Because it's on fire, that's why.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know if I'm skilled enough of a writer to explain my state of mind at this point. I mean, a second ago I was trying to think about my best strategy to use against Paris Hilton and her porn lawyer, and now suddenly I am trying to process the fact that my car, my PARKED! car, is on fire.

I guess the best word to use is shock. I'm in shock that this is happening. The world seems to be going in slow motion, except for the flames, the flames look as if they are shooting out in fast forward.  I run to my car, but the faster I run, the slower the world seems to be going.

I reach my car and begin to try to open the hood. But just as I reach for the latch, I notice that the paint on the top of my hood is bubbling. Bubbling!

I pull my hand away and just stare at the bubbling paint, feeling almost hypnotized by it. It's so beautiful, and so disturbing at the same time.

I think Cormac grabs me at some point and takes me away from the car. He tries to talk to me about what we need to do. But I can't hear him. The only thing I can hear is the one single thought that's running through my mind. My car was in park, how did this happen?! The engine was off, for Christ's sakes! How did this happen! Cars don't just catch on fire when they're in park, with the engine off. That doesn't happen!

I look over to the German biker who is still in the middle of the road. He's still pointing at my car and shouting at me, as if I haven't already fucking noticed that it's in the process of burning down.

At some point, I call the fire department. As I punch in the numbers 911, my phone switches to "emergency mode" and the screen turns red. This makes it feel even more like I'm dreaming.

I give the fire department my information and location, and just as I end my conversation, a park ranger pulls up.

"My car's on fire!" I immediately tell him.

"I can see that." He answers. "What happened?"

" I don't know! It was just in park, and then the engine burst into flames! How does that happen?"

"Sit tight." He says, ignoring my question. "And stay away from the car. I have to make some phone calls." And then he takes out his phone and casually dials a number like he's about to order a pizza. I feel the urge to throttle his neck or shove his phone down his throat, but instead I walk back to Cormac who is standing a safe distance away from my car, watching it slowly burn.

"I can't believe this happened." He says.

"I don't believe this happened." I answer.

We don't say anything more after that, because there's nothing else to say. So we continue to watch instead. We watch my car burn, and burn, and burn. I notice that the flames underneath my car are getting larger, and up in the sky there is now a huge black cloud of smoke that is rising past the tallest trees in the park.

As we watch the carnage unfold, a new biker comes are way. He stops when he reaches us.  

"What happened?" The new biker asks.

"My friend's car suddenly caught on fire, for no reason." Cormac answers for me.

"Oh that's crazy." He says, and then holds out his water bottle. "Here, try this." I give him a blank stare, as I have no idea what he's trying to tell me. Does he think I'm thirsty?

"Pour this on your car." He says, sensing my confusion. This does indeed cure my confusion, but it also ignites the fury within me.

"Are you crazy? That little thing of water is not going to put out a flaming engine." I say this in a relatively calm voice, but I really want to scream at him.

"It's worth a shot." He responds. "What if the fire catches on one of the trees and the whole park goes up in flame." He says this in a tone that suggests that I should be ashamed of myself for not being more environmentally conscious.

"Dude, I'm not going to walk up to a burning car with a water bottle in my hand! What if it explodes?!"

The biker gives me a shrug, as if to say: Fine, be a prick. 

Between this guy and the pointing German, who I'm starting to suspect may have started the fire, I suddenly find myself hating all bikers in general.

Then I get a call from the fire department. They can't find the road I'm on. I let out a string of expletives and run over to the park ranger and shove my phone in his face. He talks to them.

Twenty minutes later they finally arrive. And when they do, they are all smiles and laughs.

Yes, smiles and laughs. While my poor, innocent car is roasting, they joke back and forth as if they're at a family barbeque. Don't they understand that the only thing I have in this world right now is that car, and now it's slowly disintegrating before my eyes. Of course they don't, they're firemen. They only care if some house, or person, is on fire, not some stupid car.

But I care.

And as they pry open the hood and extinguish the fire with gallons of water and foam, I think about all the good times I've had with this car, and how that will never happen again. I almost feel myself getting emotional, but then one of the firemen makes a loud crude joke to his buddy and they all burst out laughing, and the moment is ruined.

 Once the fire is out, the firemen slap each other on the back, jump back onto the truck and disappear down the hill and out of the park. And now it's starting to get dark, and it's just Cormac and me, and my poor, hideous car. 

The ranger comes up to us. "A tow truck should be here to get you guys in a little while. Until then, hang tight."

So we hang tight and sit on that bench with the great view, just like earlier, wondering what the hell we were going to do, just like earlier. And as we watch the city go dark before our eyes, we don't say much. We just appreciate the quiet, and pray we don't hear any more screaming German voices behind us.

"This has been a pretty gnarly day." One of us says at some point; the other agrees emphatically.


Weeks later, my insurance company conducted an investigation as to what caused my car to combust. This is what they told me when they were done with the investigation: "After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that the fire was not the result of arson, nor was it the result of any malfunctions that are on our recall list. Therefore, the investigation is closed, you will receive an insurance check in the mail."

   "But what caused the fire?" I asked. "How does a parked car just catch on fire?"

"We're not sure. Maybe the plastic coverings around the electric wears got too hot from the engine and caught fire. That's happened before."

That was the only answer I ever got. It's a little infuriating because I really want to know why this happened, and know for sure.

But hey, at least I got an insurance check.

As for the porn lawsuit. Well, I decided to just pay the lawyer to write a strongly worded letter to Mr. Porn Law telling him to fuck off. Cost me two hundred dollars, but it did the trick. I never heard another word from him or Paris Hilton.

But later on, I told one of my friends about the whole thing, and he laughed at me, "Man, they tried to pull the same thing on me. Told me I downloaded Transformers illegally and they wanted me to settle with them or they'd take me to court. I wrote back and told them to shove it up their ass. Never heard from them again. I can't believe you actually hired a lawyer. You moron."

So there you have it. In the end, Mr. Porn Law didn't really have a case against me. Probably. Which is why he decided to light my car on fire instead. Because he and Paris Hilton want me to suffer. At least, that's the best theory I could come up with. But what do I know, I'm a moron. If you can you think of a better one please share below. If not, then I guess I'll see you back here on Friday.

The End


  1. This was like watching the movie Mulholland Drive. Halfway through (part 1) I thought I saw where things might be headed. May have anticipated a resolution. But then part two started and I was like, "Holy shit-- car on fire!"

    Gnarly day indeed!

    1. I'd like to acknowledge that there is not a burning car in Mulholland Drive and that I was simply trying to illustrate how mind boggling what happened was. I may not have accomplished this in my short comment. That's why you're the writer, bro. :)

    2. I'm glad you enjoyed it! And yes I know there is no burning car in Mullholland Drive, but other than that it totally is the same story! Thanks for the comment, sis!