25: Pam Getter

She has bedsores, but no bed. She sits with the door of her ’95 Dodge Neon open, her torso spilling over the sides of the driver’s seat. Her hair is fanned out over the back of the seat and the headrest. It’s strawlike, blonde, and tinged a little red as if someone ran bloody fingers through it. Her pale lips hang slightly open, and she stares into her rearview mirror at the wall of clothes and blankets and fast food wrappers that fill her backseat.

On the back windshield of the car, the words “MAKE LOVE” are barely legible in half-scratched-out red nailpolish. The window of her drivers’ side door is a patchwork of plexiglass frames, and towards the top the guy who fixed it ran out of plexiglass and used two metal grates from the back of an old refrigerator. When it rains, the water comes in through the slits. Thankfully, it doesn’t rain much in Los Angeles. Her eyes fall from the rearview mirror to the main entrance of the storage facility across the street. She needs to use their bathroom, but if she leaves the car for even a second a police officer might come along and give her a ticket for the thirty-six days she’s spent parked in a one-hour parking zone. She’ll just have to wait for her daughter to get back with lunch. She doesn’t know quite where her daughter gets the money for the food she brings. She doesn’t quite know her daughter’s age. All she knows is that someone has to stay with the car so that they can keep it near the rest of their possessions in the storage facility. And Pam has selflessly volunteered to be the one who stays. Not as if they can afford gas anyway.

Pam’s daughter has been bugging her to sell one of the televisions they keep in the storage space on the second floor. She says they need the money to keep the storage space. But Pam is so tired all the time, she can never get herself out of the car to go get the TV. And Televisions are heavy, and she’s not sure she could carry one, and she doesn’t trust her daughter with the combination to the storage room anyway. Or maybe she doesn’t remember the combination. She thinks she remembers it, but she hasn’t gone inside to make sure yet. She will soon.

After years of getting slower and slower, this curb across the street from this storage space is the place where inertia has finally caught up with Pam Getter. She thought she might vanquish it by leaving her poisonous bog of a husband, but the burst of energy it took to break free of his terrible gravity left her more tired than ever. It left her tired, and homeless, and destitute. She rushed out of the house in a rage. She took everything she could fit into the back the moving truck, and packed even more into her Dodge. The storage space was supposed to be temporary, a stop-gap to allow her to collect her thoughts. But she’s so tired. All the boxes they carried, all the forms and the yelling and the heat… well, after all that, Pam Getter stumbled back to her car and she fell asleep in the driver’s seat.

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