Fragrant pipe smoke and a battered hat. A crafty smile and a quick wit. His disarming charm and penchant for entertainment are the tools of his trade. These are the formidable weapons of our most infamous citizen of conundrums. A skillful hermit. An engaging master of ceremonies. Giuseppe Spicoli of Burnt Oak.
Giuseppe is notably one of the oldest Wasteland residents. Among the first of the eccentric settlers that wandered in from the outside world, this fellow quickly became the caretaker of a series of structures in the southeast of our small settlement long ago. He soon busied himself with many tasks here while other scavengers fortified their homes and began hunting for salvage.
The Motor Lodge, a broken and boarded building of rooms with strange decor, received a clever array of barely operable solar panels. Their gleaming faces turned to follow the sky-fire’s path, somehow drawing in the energy that bakes the flesh. Coiling cables snaked from the panels and through the sand toward something on his land next door.
There stood a riddle wrapped in metal, stone, and fabric. A large surface of tattered cloth and exposed metal spanning tall steel ribs rising from the cracked desert. Terraces of earth, marked by odd metal poles adorned with boxes, stepped up from its base to the street. Across the asphalt, a small hut with corrugated roofing looked back at that strange blank surface. Nearby a tall sign reached up to the sky. The few understanding the old world markings read what it said: Burnt Oak Drive In. The mystery persisted…for a while.
Next door to this “Drive In” was another strange place. A sandy lot bordered by stone walls and dotted with blank stone slabs. We already felt a strange chill about the place. Even more so when Giuseppe bolted up a plaque that read “Burnt Oak Memorial Cemetery”. Very soon, the strange stones gathered names and its purpose was clear. The names of the unfortunate. The names of the fallen. Memorials to scavengers or wanderers briefly defeated in battle or knocked out from the harsh elements. Sometimes, while nursing our wounds from a recent defeat, we look upon our own names among the stones and suppress a shudder at the strange sight of it. “This strange man works a strange magic” some whispered.
Such whispers became declaration when Giuseppe revealed his next trick. A call was sent out for Wastelanders near and far to gather at the small hut under the Drive In sign. A curious bunch, the Wastelanders responded. Some walked. Some drove their vehicles (if they managed to start) and parked them on the terraces. They all found the snickering hermit setting about boxes and scrapped board-benches on the roof. Folks glanced about and sat uneasily while the strange man went into the hut with a cackle. As the sun set behind the screen and night’s black blanket pulled over us, a sound whined in the hut. A dim beam of light sprayed out from its window. Sound crackled from unseen sources in the dark. The broad surface across the way glowed brightly. Shimmering colors. Senses assaulted. Everyone hypnotized.
Moving pictures from the old world. Stories of light and sound. Tales of the strange and the amazing and quite often, very funny. We found ourselves laughing at the odd people in odd clothes dancing on that large panel…obviously an old screen of sorts for exactly this type of event. This strange hermit, this Giuseppe Spicoli, was no simple human. The superstitious would accuse him of being a shaman. The more earthbound Wastelanders marked him a trickster dabbling with old world technology.
Gathering at the Drive-In soon became a regular occasion. New wanderers sometimes met the old-timers away from the threatening sands and tense streets. All watched the illuminated screen, their eyes reflecting shining images of wonder. Nonetheless, if you tore your eyes from the screen, you might’ve caught sight of Spicoli among us.
Sitting silently. Drawing from his pipe. Pretending to watch the film.
But his mischievous eyes betrayed a sly smile of satisfaction. He definitely enjoyed the strange films he shared with us, but i will always suspect he took more pleasure in the sight of so many Wastelanders gathered together. The trickster delighting in his magic cast upon us those many dark nights from the big screen…
(Editor’s Note: Here ends Part 1 of a 3 Part Feature devoted to Giuseppe Spicoli and his tremendous work for the Wastelands community. These articles were long ago planned for the Blog and slated for Issue 4 of the Salvaged Times. Given Giu’s recent announcement that he’ll be taking a much needed and well deserved break from his time in Second Life, I decided these stories get top priority. I had assigned the articles to Monofio Pinion but he thought I should write them. I’m very thankful to him for that and I hope my words do Giuseppe the justice he deserves.)