Scott Silsbe: “One Night at the Pittsburgh Tow Pound”

Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit and now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems and prose have appeared in numerous periodicals including Third Coast, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, The Chariton Review, and the Free State Review. He is the author of two poetry collections: Unattended Fire (Six Gallery Press, 2012) and The River Underneath the City (Low Ghost Press, 2013; 2nd ed.: 2015). He was also a finalist for the Cultural Weekly’s 2014 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. He is currently at work on a new collection of poems.


One Night at the Pittsburgh Tow Pound

I’d gotten the last customers out of the bakery just before 3pm.
I locked the door behind them and started to clean up the place.
Two days before Christmas. Still needed to do some shopping
and drive home to Detroit. There was a girl waiting there for me.

After locking up the bakery, I drove down to Eide’s to get some
presents for the girl. It took me a while, but I found some things.
When I went back down to Penn Avenue to where I had parked,
my car wasn’t there. My first thought was that it had been stolen.
But then I remembered the little no parking signs on the meters
and decided it had been towed. I found a pay phone, called up
the tow pound, and sure enough, they had it. So I walked those
20 or so blocks to the tow pound under the 31st Street Bridge.

When I made it to the tow pound, there was a line of pissed off
individuals like myself out the door and down the steps of the
pound’s trailer where you settled up with a cashier behind glass.
I stood in line and I waited. When I got up to the glassed cashier,
she said I couldn’t get the car back, as it was in my father’s name.
She said I could have him fax them there in the little trailer, and if
it was on his letterhead and it said it was okay for me to pay for it,
I could get the car back then. I tried explaining that that was not
possible, but she told me that wasn’t her problem. I asked her if
I could grab some things out of the car and she said that I could. 

When I had been in the line waiting for my turn, I’d overheard
the cashier say they were having trouble with the electric fence
that kept in the towed cars. I walked out to my car through that
electric fence, which was open and not going anywhere. I got in
the car. I sat in the driver’s seat. I started the car up. I sat there
for a little while, looking at the open fence, thinking things over.
And then, with the lights still off, I drove the car out of the pound.
I pulled the car into a parking lot to consider what had happened.
Then, not seeing any flashing lights behind me, I headed north.

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