The Feds and All the Best Breakdowns

 

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M
***

People always asked why Dave drove himself around, tempting fate driving in the street when there are services for individuals who use wheelchairs when his van or lift was out of commission? That is a great question that supports my never-ending rant that there are not nearly enough services or thoughtful conveniences in building design or easy access in public spaces for individuals with special needs in this world, more ranting on this later. In the very early days, he attempted to use one of those services that shall be nameless to avoid any potential lawsuit.

I witnessed Dave’s first load up with this company because I had a mild curiosity, having never seen a motorized wheelchair lift in operation before or a van that big. I stood on the sidewalk as the attendant loaded Dave onto the wheelchair lift at the back of the van and prepared to back him in, yes backward because that is how some lifts work, apparently. Dave, being backward, obviously could not see anything coming his way. He had a long torso and sat tall in his wheelchair, so when the driver from the vantage point of the street pushed Dave in the van, he was paying attention to rolling him straight in but not paying attention to Dave’s head.  Dave whacked his head hard on the top door jamb with the full weight of him and his chair in momentum. It made an awful noise.

The driver was not phased or apologetic; his movements were mechanical like he was on autopilot. He was annoyed that Dave was too tall to fit and required anything in the way of further interaction. I cannot remember a time when disappointment flashed over Dave’s face as it had momentarily done in those few minutes of the nonreactive autopilot finishing loading him and driving away that followed. My intrigue of the cool lift was ruined by the noise of Dave’s head hitting the frame of that van with the sound like a bowling ball being dropped and not the smooth sound when you slide it down the aisle toward the pins like a champ, the sound of it conking the ground awkwardly by a new uncoordinated bowler.

Once inside the van, there was more than enough headroom for Dave to sit normally in his wheelchair with what seemed like four or more feet of headroom, and he could see out, which was also nice. I watched him drive away, surprised at the overall height of the vehicle with the deceptively low doors. Later that night, when Dave was back in his bed, I asked him what the rest of the ride to his appointment was like. He said, “It was quiet.” He paused, then he corrected himself with an unimpressive, “It was fine. But MAN I had a terrible headache the rest of the day.” Lesson learned.

Some time went by before he was completely stuck needing the service again. Different driver, and as Dave was explaining that he was a bit too tall to fit through the doorway and would appreciate it if the driver backed him into the van slowly… before he could finish explaining, the driver dismissively nodded like he was listening and proceeded to bash Dave’s head into the header door jam again, massive headache NOT averted. I heard about it this headbanging at dinner when Dave spoke of his day and frustration. Dave never used that service again. I have to assume that with time, technology, different lifts, complaints, and general improved overall awareness, that none of these problems still exist, but back in the 70s, it was not a good fit for Dave.

*

I have talked about the ‘Mystery Machine’ Chevy van and the challenge with the low doors and ceiling in that ride. Then “The Cluny,” the retired work-horse booze delivery step van that broke down it seemed more than it operated, that or the lift was not working, rendering the same inoperable result. Back then, I never understood why Dave hung onto the Cluny as long as he did, but as an adult realize that the lift was very expensive and had been made to fit the doorway of The Cluny specifically. It could not simply be moved to another more dependable vehicle. Further, lifts themselves were not that dependable back then either. Dave had an understanding of his ride and accepted that sometimes he was going to have to find a way to work around the breakdowns, and he did. Besides, like that saying, “Alcohol: Because no great story starts with a salad.” Similarly, I theorize a dryer version of that statement, all the best stories begin with a breakdown. The following are examples of some of the more note-worthy breakdowns because… only the BEST breakdowns for Dave.

*

Dave and I were taking a computer night class offered at Pacific High School one semester. I was in my late teens; Dave was pushing 30. My mom and Linda were taking a stained-glass art class in the same building. Normally, I would drive Dave in the Cluny; my mom and Linda drove separately because the Cluny, with only the two delivery driver type seats, would not work safely for all three of us and wasn’t comfortable for a mature lady such as my mom anyway. She almost never rode in the Cluny.

For whatever reason, the Cluny was out of commission (AGAIN); So Dave drove himself the roughly 2 miles to the school. On this occasion, the three of us gals rode together in Linda’s Volkswagen and met Dave there.

The weather was cold and cloudy, four decades before Google could forecast the exact minute a storm was going to unleash its wrath. Weather forecasts, back then, were pretty hit and miss when it came to accuracy, and California doesn’t usually have a great deal of rain anyway. We think nothing of gathering clouds that threaten to rain, but every so often, we have a season of heavy rain, and we were unknowingly heading into the storm of the decade.

Dave and I sat in the back next to the door, in a stale smelling high school classroom featuring a narrow clerestory of windows near the ceiling that were covered with security bars. They were not meant for looking out of; only a bit of dismal light would have filtered through them during the day because they were north facing. At night there were only a few light sources in the open-air corridor between this and the next building. All in all, it was an uninspiring learning environment.

We both tried to learn about the DOS operating system as we endured the dry material; I clicked around the screen and typed stuff as Dave took it all in. It was an unbelievably, dull class for everyone.

A flash of lightning lit up the room blowing the power out as the building shook with a concurrent peel of deafening thunder as it breached the sound barrier. It is even rarer than rain that we experience a thunderstorm during winter in Southern California, so this was a banner weather event that drew sharp exclamations of “Ohs” and surprised gasps in the dark.  If ever there was a time one would expect a power outage, it would have been this occasion; the lightning was that close upon us. I jumped, but Dave didn’t really flinch. It was the most interesting evening of the semester by far.

I was closest to the door and got up to open it to let some light in the pitch black room. Before I made it to the door, the teacher announced that the class was dismissed without waiting so much as a second to see if the lights were going to flicker back on. I can only guess he had to have been even more bored than the rest of us and now had the perfect excuse for a clean getaway. There was a bit of childish excitement among us bored adults with this development, like the last day of school before winter break. No one complained.  I opened the door with Dave right behind me to a deluge of torrential rain that started the exact moment I opened the door…cue the rain.

I stood at the threshold, surprised more by the impressive display of the volume of water than the lightning or the blackout; it was falling so furiously from the sky, loudly pounding everything gravity would allow and the asphalt, splashing up on me. There was no protection or covered walkway above the door; there was only a breath between me and this big fuck-off storm, and half the class lined up behind me at the back door of the classroom, buzzing with joy at the unexpected turn of events. I love the rain but was stalled by envisioning what lay ahead of Dave getting home and remained frozen as I didn’t quite know what to do. I realized I had no choice but to go out, to keep moving forward because everyone was in a rush to get out of the dark room into the dark of the storm, to their cars and beyond, home early. Out we went. 

My mom and Linda huddled up to us as soon as we were clear of the door. There wasn’t time to panic or bitch about the situation; we had to act. As an uncoordinated group, we trotted our way to the car along with the masses of everyone else. My mom shouted above the deafening rain with Linda in concurrence, a plan to follow Dave home. He didn’t want us to follow him, but my mom insisted. It was too intensely raining to stand around and debate about anything because we all wanted to get out of the rain and get Dave home quickly. As a reminder, Dave’s ability to control his body heat was not great, so he could get hypo or hyperthermia very easily, so there was that. No pressure or anything.

Dave had a decent fleece jacket on and a water-resistant poncho over that, but with slightly more than two miles to get home with no streetlights, no traffic signals. At that time, Dave didn’t have any lights on his wheelchair, so this was a potentially dangerous situation. The intensity of this storm alone was on its way to dumping enough rain in a 24 hour period to remove us from drought status for a few years. The streets were quickly flooding everywhere as the volume of water was too much to move it away in an orderly fashion, as was typical of the light rain runoff our city was designed to deal with.

We followed Dave with the VW. There was so much water and condensation on all of the windows that my mom had to roll down the front passenger window to see him better. Because the gutters were so flooded, Dave had to travel much further out in the lane of traffic than normal. As a few cars veered around him at the last moment, she thought passing cars probably couldn’t see him. She positioned herself hanging out the window from her waste up as she tried to protect Dave by way of waving her arms wildly and yelling at approaching drivers to “LOOK OUT!” or “GO AROUND!!!” or “GETOUTTATHEWAY!!”

The other drivers couldn’t possibly hear her over the intense sound of the storm beating down on their cars, to begin with, AND further, no one drives around in a storm with their windows rolled down. I am certain NO ONE HEARD HER except for us and maybe Dave.

She was as drenched as Dave, and water that seemed to be coming from every direction was flying into the backseat as we rolled along. I tried to see around her from back there, but at the first hint of water, I retreated to the other side of the seat. She continued waving and yelling, “Get out of the way! Get OUT of the way! Watch what you are doing! Don’t you see him there?!!! GET OUTTA THE WAY!!” We slowly continued following him at his now much less than five miles per hour pace of that older electric wheelchair.

The water was so high at the intersection of Sierra Way and Highland Avenue that was notorious for flooding in normal light rain, that without warning, she hopped out of the car, leaving the door open to push Dave across the street. His wheelchair was bogging down with the weight of drudging him and itself through all that rushing water. In a ridiculous attempt at trying not to get wet, I suppose, she lifted her feet high out of the water with each step like a prancing horse as she pushed him through the more than foot-deep river of water across the intersection. It was very funny from our perspective, but I am sure from hers, it was scary with cars mowing past them, plowing a wake of water over them. I think it probably took about an hour to get home. A trip that probably would take Dave closer to 40 minutes when dry. But thank goodness we made it home safely and out the rain.

The power was on at our house. My Dad stood looking at us at the back door, soaked by the rain, my mom, and Dave the most. Both my mom and Dad quickly peeled off Dave’s outerwear and were drying his hair and everything wet that could be wiped off while he was in his wheelchair near the back bathroom. Dave and I laughed at my mom as she recounted her tirade at all those rude drivers out in the rain who were not being careful, and she shouted inside the house, “Get out of the way!!!” she briefly stopped drying Dave off to wave her arms at the world once again for my Dad’s enlightenment.

Our laughter at the back of the house was halted by a very stern and unexpected knock on our front door—the door that was like a dungeon door, complete with a wrought iron confessional type box peephole and a wrought iron clapper of a knocker-a very loud KNOCKER. My dad left the towel on Dave’s head and as the man of the house went to investigate, who would be knocking on our front door in the middle of this big fuck-off storm? Everyone who knows us comes to the side door, and at this time of night?

Me being the busybody that I am followed to see what this exciting development was all about. My dad turned on the front porch light and opened the huge door with its characteristic groan as it was hard to open on a good day but harder to do so when it was damp out. From my vantage point, I saw a sliver of a figure and the light stabbing through the crack of the open hinge side of the door and my dad in the light cast by the porchlight on our side of the door; he said, “Officers?” It was a COP KNOCK. That is who knocks on your door that loud in the middle of a big fuck off storm this late at night. There were two cops, one on the porch, one behind him in the rain. I could clearly hear the response that came from the other side of the dungeon door, “We got a call about a young man being stuck out in the rain on the road in his wheelchair. Dave was the only person we thought might be out on a night like this, so we figured we would start here to see if everything is ok?”

I mentioned at the very beginning of the book, my feeling like the proverbial everyone in town knew Dave even though San Bernardino is not a small place. It was occasions like this that supported my hyperbole. Everyone knew Dave statements. He somehow knew enough police officers that he was the person who came to mind in a city of well over a hundred thousand when the call came in. I moved around behind my dad and up the stairs a way to look at the two men standing in the driving rain. My dad was very touched not only that they checked on him but that they thought to check on him because he had been out in the storm but was home safe now. He thanked them with a huge smile and a handshake.

I remained on the stairs after my dad closed the door and headed back to Dave’s room to finish getting him completely dried off and back to bed. I heard my parents and Dave howling with laughter at this new addition to the story of the dark and stormy night of the power outage and the big fuck-off rainstorm of the decade as Dave described my mom from his perspective, “She was waving her arms and lifting her feet high out of the water as if there was any way to keep them from getting wet-HUH-UH-Uh (barking seal of a laugh)” And how she was yelling at passing cars, “GET OUTTA THE WAY!” My mom interrupted as she tried to respond to his I don’t know what she was thinking comment, “I DON’T know what I was thinking!!! I just didn’t want any cars to run over you!” Then she broke into laughter. I loved hearing the three of them laugh as I sat in the dark on the front stairs looking out at the gloriously pouring down flashflood at this point, washing like a wild river over the curb of our corner on Arrowhead Avenue.  

Not long after the dark and stormy night, my dad attached a bike light under the right leg rest of Dave’s wheelchair and attached some red reflectors on the backpack that always hung on the back of the chair. Neither of these helped Dave navigate, but it allowed cars to see him the next time he may be on the road at night. As I recounted this story to my mom and Anne, Anne just laughed with that hindsight, understanding, “Planning for every possible scenario is a steep…never ending learning curve.”

*

 “The Cluny” was around way, way, way longer than it should have been; Dave had it maybe 20 years, which was 20 years too long. But as big a POS as it was, surprisingly, someone attempted to steal it late one night. You may recall that I teased Dave about putting an alarm (for the stereo) on it that went off all the time in the wind or rain. It never served the purpose of alarming us of anything other than being an annoying weathervane. But the Cluny also had a kill switch.

It was summer, so our windows were open, and I was awakened to the Cluny alarm going off. That happened so frequently that I am surprised it woke me, but in this case, it did not reset; the siren continued making its horrible sound. Mixed with that sound was another that took me a moment to separate, the motor coughing? I wasn’t sure. I sat up in bed and looked out my window to 25th Street below. The Cluny was 40 feet from its parking spot, lurching forward in awkward jumps in the dark as whoever was inside was trying to pop the clutch to start it. My quick to action potty mouth instinctively shouted, “YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH!!!!”

When you are a slight human, it pays to have a loudmouth in such circumstances. The would-be thief, in fear for his life, I am sure, ditched the Cluny in the middle of the street and ran from the litany of obscenities that exited my mouth and flew out my bedroom window at him. The van was still rolling as I turned around to get my dad. Not surprisingly, he had already reached my doorway and understood what was happening from the characteristic sound of the Cluny sputtering from the street without me shouting another curse word out the window or otherwise.

He headed downstairs and out of the house, barefoot and in his boxers.  Obviously, I startled the entire house awake, with both the Spinal Tap 11 volume and tapestry of obscenities I weaved. Outside, my dad hopped in the rolling van that was in the middle of Arrowhead about 120 feet from its parking spot, almost across the double yellow line, partway through the wide arc of a failed negotiated right turn. He flipped the kill switch off, started it up, and backed the old POS back to its parking spot.

My favorite thing…the would-be thief used the turn indicator. Between the moment he ditched and ran, the alarm had reset itself, so the only sound in the air was that of the turn signal very loudly TOCKING, the old fashioned round rear light, flashing in the night that he was making a right turn. I am sure the would-be thief bumped the long rusted switch on the steering column while trying to hotwire the van, but I liked to joke that he was an unsuccessful car thief, but a VERY courteous driver.

The next day Dave and I could not stop laughing; we were incredulous that someone, anyone would try to steal that piece of shit and of course, the turn signal’s surreal hollow-PLOCK-PLOCK-PLOCK and our dad barefoot, almost naked in his boxers out of doors in front of A CHURCH no less!” The “In front of GOD and everybody” jokes were non-stop, and we were in hysterics.

When we caught our breath, the best theory we could string together as to why anyone would attempt such a ridiculous thing was that whoever it was must have REALLY, REALLY needed a ride. This was one of those occasions when I had to eat a little crow at having made fun of Dave more than a decade previous for putting an alarm on that pathetic ride. I don’t know when he had the kill switch put on, but it was his only ride, and the wheelchair lift was what he was actually protecting, well, that and stereo a little bit.  

*

Dave loved the beach; I think everyone loves the beach, don’t they? His friend Karen had rented a beach house for her and her two young children in Newport Beach for a week and wanted him to come down and hang out one of those days if possible. My sister Anne and I took her girls Jennifer and Jaclyn and Dave down in his van. When I asked Anne for clarification, that we actually took her two young girls in Dave’s van without seatbelts? She covered her face with both hands in a retroactive moment that looked like fear that her Mother of the Year award was going to be revoked at how dangerous that had been. Her defense is what I have said repeatedly throughout this book, “It was a different time!”

Riding around town in the Cluny was a rough experience. It had a very stiff frame, and all the doors rattled as there was no rubber gasket around them, just metal on metal. The double doors in the back rattled, the driver’s sliding door, the passenger’s sliding door, everything rattled. The side mirrors vibrated when it was standing still just idling, and sometimes on the road, the back doors would rattle themselves open. It was a very rough, loud ride. Oh, and did I mention there was no air conditioning? It was hotter than an oven inside because in the center of the front dash, between the driver and passenger, was a metal engine cover over a portion of the motor, ya, so there was that. Anne’s second comment of clarification of the details of this story was, “All I remember is that it was really HOT inside the Cluny.” And so we went on our merry way 70 miles to the beach in the middle of July, the five of us in the Cluny.

We made it down there, no problem. The Cluny AND the lift worked like a champ that day! We parked, unloaded, and followed Karen out on the sand where she had set up their camp of towels on the beach a hundred yards in front of her rental back on the strand; where the sidewalk runs along the edge of the beach and the back patios of beach houses met the sidewalk. Like everything, Dave paid no heed to the sand as an obstacle. He just plowed his way across it.

The kids had a ball as kids do at the beach; There was running and playing in the waves, digging for sand crabs, collecting of seashells, burying each other, sandcastles. Dave remained under a big umbrella we planted for his protection because too much sun could overheat him even at the beach on a comfortable day.

Karen had rented an upstairs unit of a duplex with a small back yard that faced the beach. In the yard were a BBQ and a picnic table that was a shared common space and also the way out of her unit. She had made friends with the guests of the downstairs unit who happened to be the son of Ronald Reagan, yes, President Ronald Reagan, while he was in office. Karen waved to them from our beach towel camp 50 feet away from their similar beach towel camp, and they smiled and waved back. It was a very pleasant and quiet day at the beach in the middle of the week in the middle of the summer. Their kids were playing with our group of kids somewhere in between us down at the water’s edge.

Karen pointed out the very buff, incognito secret service staff members all around us on the beach with the curly wire communication devices plugged in their ears. I laughed, wishing they were wearing navy suits, but they wore regular beach clothes. Karen joked about how each of the two little kids had a detail that followed them wherever they went. She had been giggling all week watching the kids play as busy kids do; if they went skating, the agents strapped on skates and followed. If the kids then decided to ditch the skates to ride their bikes, she described the agents scrambling to hop on a bike to catch up to the kids. I envisioned them riding bikes with suits on, but I am sure they wore play clothes to fit in. I wondered if they had any fun.  

The beach was almost completely empty the day we were there. I wondered now if the Secret Service had anything to do with that. My husband knew where we were based on my description and noted that given how deep the beach was in that location, most visiting for the day beachgoers, which is most beachgoers, don’t want to have to carry all their stuff that far from their cars to the surf. So they choose to spend the beach where parking is much closer and the walk across the sand short. I will go with this as the reason because we did have to walk quite a distance across the sand. But it was worth it to me to have very few people around us.

I could not believe Karen could rent a place in the same duplex as the Reagan family, but back then, I guess it was just a simpler time. By the way, this was not some fancy-ass duplex either, I mean, anything on the sand in Newport Beach is going to be expensive real estate, but the duplex was a nondescript old, two-story rough stuccoed box of a structure with the sort of crappy carpet that you install in adhesive square tiles. I am sure it has been mowed down and rebuilt since then, but it was NOT anything fancy. I appreciated that this family was doing their best to try to live a somewhat normal existence of staying at the beach for a week of summer vacation. I wondered if their unit had the same crappy square adhesive carpet tiles.

The funniest part of that day was the interaction of the kids. Jaclyn was between two or three and the youngest by five years. The five older kids were involved in a variety of clusters of play, but Jaclyn, the toddler, was wrecking the beach. The older kids cycled one at a time to the adult blanket section with different complaints of Jaclyn doing something that irritated them. Read in a whiny child’s voice, “Jaclyn knocked over the water on my sandcastle!” “Jaclyn got sand in my sandwich!” “Jaclyn dropped my seashell, and it got lost in the water!” “Jaclyn, Jaclyn, Jaclyn.” We, adults, were cracking up at the littlest kid causing a tear in the fabric of the universe of the older kids day at the beach with what seemed her mere toddler presence. She wasn’t purposely destroying anything, she was just trying to keep up with the big kids, and it was hilarious.

After the kids had eaten their allegedly sandy sandwiches, Anne asked me to hand out cookies to everyone; she suggested, “Give them two, one for each hand.” It made sense, there wasn’t anywhere for them to put the cookies anyway, so I handed two cookies to each kid, putting them in each hand. I put two cookies in Dave’s mouth. When I came to handing Jaclyn hers, she was the last of the kids to receive cookies and sitting on the blanket with the adults. I handed her the first cookie, and when I attempted to hand her the second, she declined it and announced, “I want the box!” while reaching for it. I was surprised at her demand and looked to Anne for guidance; she was a strict mom. Anne was worn out by the litany of complaints from all the other children and responded without further thought, “JUST GIVE HER THE BOX!!” Growing up in a family with very few cookies being distributed, I was shocked and could not help but bite my lips together to hold in my giggling. Dave and I shot a glance at each other as we tried to hold in our laughter at our sister, who was normally the most patient human mother on the planet. I did as I was told and relinquished the box to the toddler on the beach blanket and could subside my laughter no longer; everyone joined me, cracking up, including Jaclyn with her box of Lemon Cooler cookies in her lap, one hand buried inside. It is funny retracing the origins of a funny phrase that ends up in ones life. This phrase and the sentiment of this phrase has forever cracked me up and has been put to use in every applicable situation box or no box.

Dave loved being near the ocean spray, the wide-open setting, the kids playing AND tattling, the snacky beach food, the general vibe of the day. I wish he could have enjoyed the water; The push and pull of the mass of the waves, that distinct weighted feeling from being moved around in the ocean, that feeling that sometimes returns right as you fall asleep after a long day of playing in the waves. Now there are very cool non-electric all-terrain wheelchairs that are designed with huge nobby wheels, much like an all-terrain vehicle, that can easily be pushed on the sand and right into the edge of the waves. Dave would have loved that, not the part of being in the waves that leave you with sand in your crack and everywhere else, that would have been a disaster, but the opportunity to be in the water-he would have loved that.  

At the end of the afternoon, we packed up the beach camp towel collective to head back to the patio to BBQ some hotdogs. Dave was especially looking forward to some grilled dawgs because he loved them, and we never ate them at home; our mom did not care for them and did not believe them to be viable food. When we removed the umbrella in our loadout, Dave went to turn on his wheelchair, but it was dead. He had either blown a fuse or possibly even run it out of juice with the difficulty of moving across the sand, something his wheelchair was not built for. Karen, Anne, and I together did not outweigh Dave and his chair. As pretty small, people were not able to budge him one bit. We stood there a moment, thinking out loud about what to do as a group.

Karen instinctively spoke up and waved to a few of the buff secret service agents to come help. I was secretly worried that this would be the time someone might swoop in and kidnap an important grandchild or something, but four agents peeled themselves away from their detail and came over to help push Dave off the sand. Those poor guys…it was a long slog off the soft sand, and Dave’s wheelchair was more like a boat anchor that anything with wheels. Those four guys struggled, wrangled, and sweated as they shoved him the hundred yards or so off the sand. Anne, Karen, and I looked from one another, thankful for the help of these strong guys. Dave, of course, was his typical, very gracious self and grateful for their help. They were awesome with him, and to him. I could not help but make jokes in my head, “Will they keep this a secret? What is the deal with all the secrets anyway?” “They know we KNOW who they are, right?” That is just how my brain works. We all thanked them for their service… “I mean it guys, THANK YOU for your service!”

Once Dave was off the sand, it was pretty easy for us to push him the rest of our stay to the back yard patio, and later back into the for ONCE working lift and van. We joked around the rest of the night and long after about Dave’s Secret Service Detail, or “the best of the best of the best sir!” encounter with the Feds. Dave was a fan of James Bond; I like to think of those guys as his Majesty’s Secret Service!

*

I learned about other breakdowns Dave had posthumously, which is the best, by the way, none of the worry at the moment, just the knowledge that everything worked out. When I interviewed his friend, Bruce, at some point in the conversation as we reminisced on some of the crazy adventures those two had, he commented on Dave’s openness for adventure, “I miss seeing Dave ALL OVER TOWN! And I mean, I saw him EVERYWHERE!” We laughed at that, and I added, “It is funny, I had Jerry, the plumber here to fix a faucet, you may remember he was our former neighbor in San Bernardino. He said the same thing, ‘I could not believe the places I would see Dave, down by the Orange Show and Mill Street (probably coming to or from Valley College). I would always honk or wave at Dave, and he would give me the nod, you know how he used to nod?” Jerry physically mimed Dave’s characteristic emphatic head tilted way back sort of one big nod that you could see from a distance. I laughed, “I know, I couldn’t believe how far away he drove either.”

Bruce continued to tell me how he would find him out in the world “stuck on a sprinkler at the edge of someone’s yard or some such shit. I would drive by and give Dave a big wave and keep driving like I wasn’t going to stop and help him. Then circle back around to help him. We would laugh!”

Another time Dave was visiting Bruce at his home on west 25th Street one afternoon, they had a few beers, and Dave headed home for dinner. Some time went by, and my mom called Bruce asking if Dave was still there. Bruce noted how long it had been since Dave left, it should have taken him about 10 minutes to get home from Bruce’s, but it had been about 45 minutes. Bruce told my mom he would look for him.

Bruce headed out only one and a half blocks to find one of Dave’s front wheels stuck in a rut in the asphalt of 25th street. His wheel had given way sideways when Dave drove over a cracked portion of the road,  the asphalt shifted, forcing the wheel into the rut. Bruce parked, hopped out, and jokingly asked if Dave needed any help. Bruce smiled as he spoke, looking into his memories of seeing Dave all over town.

*

My friend Dena told me of a day when she was driving down Arrowhead Avenue, way downtown by the Orange Show, almost 4 miles south of our house when she saw a man in the street, cars were driving around him. As she got closer, she recognized Dave stuck in the lane of traffic. She panicked, pulled over, and parked. She had two of her little kids with her in the backseat of her car.

She ran out into the road around oncoming cars. She was shouting to Dave as she made her way across the lanes on this very busy street. She was pissed that cars were driving around them, she shouted at them, “MOTHER FUCKERS!!!!” She could not believe no one was stopping to help.

In between shouting to Dave, “DAVE!!!” WHAT THE FUCK?” She was shouting at another driver. “YOU! YES, YOU! MOTHER FUCKER, CAN’T YOU PEOPLE SEE HE NEEDS HELP??!!!” She then shouted Dave’s direction, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I guess she didn’t realize he drove himself around town and wouldn’t have thought of the other thing, that goes hand-in-hand with driving anything anywhere; sometimes things or wheelchairs break down.

She made her way across the street to Dave; when she reached him, she asked, “WHAT HAPPENED?” He calmly explained while they were in the middle of a very busy avenue that his “wheelchair must have blown a fuse or something. Could you just push me out of the street?” Of course, she would! She navigated him out of the street to a shady spot. It was a hot day, and Dave was wearing all of his necessary gear that he always wore when he was up in his wheelchair, his leg and arm braces, and the soft clothing that had to be worn under them to protect his skin from being rubbed raw. Then regular clothing on top of that-the part the world saw. Needless to say, the heat was never kind to Dave, and on this occasion, he was sweating profusely. Dena untucked her shirt to wipe his face off as she tried to recover from her shock at finding him and fear for his LIFE as he waited there in the middle of the avenue for someone to help. She asked what she could do because obviously, this story was not resolved. Dave asked her to get our dad.

Dena, horrified and fearful for Dave’s safety, jumped in her car, circled around making an illegal U-Turn, and hauled ass all the way up Arrowhead Avenue like a bat outta hell on a Mission from GAWD to save Dave. She arrived the twenty-five or so blocks north, at our house to find our dad mowing the lawn in his mowing the yard uniform of Bermuda shorts and white athletic tube socks. She abruptly parked the car, hopped out, and shouted across the yard at my dad, “Mr. Linane!! Dave is stuck down on Arrowhead, and he asked me to come to get you!!” My dad responded, “I wondered where he was. Thank you!” He was ever grateful to Dena for helping push Dave out of the middle of the Arrowhead Avenue. 

I can’t possibly know every story of Dave’s life; at this point, I am sure I don’t remember all my own stories. But it is always fun to hear a new story of a day in the life of Dave. Dena adored Dave, and I know it made her feel good to be at the right place at the right time to help him. I say this all the time; all the right people end up on your path when you need them. With Dave, he trusted this more than anyone, and as it turns out, all the best people were always on his path, magically so, I mean who gets help from the Secret Service? Dave did and I am so grateful for all of you helpers out there! Thank you! XO

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

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