4/5/18: Holding Space with Unknown Fire

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

—– Robert Frost


April 4, 2018 9:05 pm van #1472. Operator, Brian von Ahsen, run #225

“Two two five clear Kalihi. I show one at nine thirty… at St. John Baptist Church. I need to step out for a hundred Ok.”

“Ten four on the hundred two, two five.”

Heading down Middle street, I turn left onto Kahauiki and pull into the space designated for busses next to the public restrooms of the city park. “Fern Park” is quite small, with only a few picnic tables and some playground equipment. In the daytime, it’s used by local families on any given weekday, and by the children attending Fern Elementary School right next to the park.

At night, the space I’ve pulled into is often (as it is now) illegally occupied by the vehicles of various local men who hang out and drink and smoke and vape and do whatever they do. The cops are regularly chasing them out I imagine, but at this time of night they don’t bother. It’s a bit early and the park isn’t officially closed yet.

The SUV that is now in the space for busses, has left plenty of room for me to pull in… so I do. I can see fifteen or twenty men at the two picnic tables that have been pushed together. I can’t see what they are doing but I can hear loud shouting. My windows are closed so I can’t make it out yet. I consider moving on but I have to pee. Besides, my pickup at the church is just around the corner and there is no other place in this neighborhood to park my large Handi-Van safely.

And as the sign right above me indicates clearly, this is “my” spot.

I get out and head for the building with the restrooms. I make sure and not glance to my left at the men. I can’t see if they are looking at me but I can hear that their attention is towards one of their own so I doubt that I am being considered much.


“No, FUCK YOU!!!”


I hear a series of back and forth shouts of this from several different men, but it sounds like it is mostly from and to one in particular. The way the phrase, and combinations of similar phrases are pronounced, the men intend serious threats but are in a kind of macho display mode. Making their voices sound as strong as possible as they expel the words of challenge with an exaggerated forcefulness.

I enter the toilet and pee, aware that this is where I could be most vulnerable if one of them chooses to attack me for some unknown reason. The hairs on the back of my neck are tuned for full detection of anything that might be approaching the building but… as I’d guessed, I can hear that the men outside are far too preoccupied to bother with me.

I go back to my van, intentionally walking with an air of confidence and using a posture while walking that will accentuate my size. I get in and again consider moving on. The voices of aggression from the men are indicating that the conflict is escalating and I also consider calling dispatch to alert the police.

But again… for some reason, I do not interfere.

I decide to hold space… “my space.”

I have not been challenged or interfered with in any way so I decide to simply use my space as I’d intended, and as I have my rights to do so.

So I pull out my manifest and update it from the computer in preparation for the pick up. I still have over ten minutes before it’s good for me to drive round to the church so I pull out my phone and look at it… as if I’m looking at it. I make sure I’m not looking at the men intently, and only occasionally glance up at them. I want no indication I’m studying them.

When I glance up, I see they are now up from the tables and moving. Two of the men have faced off and are in a clumsy boxing stance as they circle each other. It’s clear that one of them (no doubt the one at the center of the conflict) is very drunk and he stumbles as he tries in vain to land blows on the other man. The other man appears to be holding back and the entire group watch on almost embarrassingly as they allow the drama to play itself out.

I look down at my phone again. I don’t want to call attention to myself but when I again look up, I see I now have no choice. I need to interact with them.

The men who had been most soberly dealing with the very drunk man, are now preparing to get into the SUV in front of me and there are several men walking around my van as they exit the park through the gate. I get out instinctively and address the men by their vehicle.

“Is everything ok? I’m not blocking you in am I?”

The man near the driver’s door or the SUV shakes his head. He seems unconcerned by me and still too preoccupied to bother speaking to me. Several other men who are getting into the SUV look at me with a combination of disdain and nonchalance, as they drink from their beer bottles and toss the empties aside.

“I just wanted to see that things are ok.” I say, now realizing that I’m saying too much.

“I like things to be ok in my world.” I say, immediately chiding myself for uttering such foolishness.

It doesn’t matter though. The men get into their SUV and pull away.

The very drunk man is in the middle of the street. Several of the other men are around, but giving him plenty of space. I start my van but wait for the very drunk man to be completely off the street and on the other side. He walks with an air of feigned victory and real exhaustion. Dangling a beer bottle between his fingers, he stumbles and hikes his falling pants up a bit. He glares at me before leaving the middle of the road.

I pull away and head for my nine thirty pickup.

Still a bit early but definitely…

Relieved and…

Inhale, two, three, four, five, six…
Exhale, two, three, four, five, six…
Inhale, two, three, four, five, six…
Exhale, two, three, four, five, six…

Ah yes…




By |2018-04-06T01:24:24+00:00April 5th, 2018|The Life of Brian (In the Now)|Comments Off on 4/5/18: Holding Space with Unknown Fire