Three Sheens


Martin Sheen is standing in the lot of a car dealership. The car dealership is one that deals in new cars, but not in luxury cars. It sells Toyotas, Hondas, Hyundais, and also Oldsmobiles. It is unknown what he is waiting for (but it’s not Charlie).

Charlie Sheen emerges from the building, scans the lot for Martin, locates Martin, and walks over to him. Martin spots him about when he steps from the concrete sidewalk area surrounding the dealership’s building onto the asphalt of the lot area (about a meter out from the building, in other words, or about one second after letting go of the building’s door, is when his father spots him). When Charlie steps up to Martin, he doesn’t say anything. Martin just looks at Charlie. Charlie looks back. For a moment they just look at each other. Their eyes are focused on each other’s eyes.

Charlie’s left eyebrow only barely twitters right before he says,

“You know, I’m the most serious Shee—”

“I will always be . . .” Martin says gesturelessly, before Charlie’s tongue even begins to rise in pronunciation of his terminal alveolar consonant, “the most serious of all of us Sheens.”

Charlie looks at the bridge of Martin’s nose. Martin looks at Charlie’s eyes.

But Martin was being ironic with his emphasis on the word all, in that father-pointing-out-a-kid’s-minor-but-shameful-indiscretion sort of way. He and Charlie turn their heads as Emilio Estevez emerges from secrecy. He had been occasionally trying to catch a glimpse of the duo from between a Civic and a Town And Country, but unsuccessfully, because every time he dared to so much as stick his nose around the tail light fixture of the Town And Country’s north-pointing corner, (a slightly drunk salesman had parked it (his personal vehicle) there perpendicularly to the rest of the row after arriving back from lunch twenty minutes late) he was jabbed back by the same little jabber-thing of fear that has jabbed him persistently ever since his father acted in Apocalypse Now. For some reason, ever since that role, the filmic shadow of a psychotic-from-pressure demeanor has clung tenaciously to Emilio’s preconscious reckoning of his real, albeit off-screen, father. But he walks over to them, feeling awkward under both of their stares.

Emilio walks over casually, which takes some gall, because no way do his male relatives any longer buy into this tired but well-executed façade of casualness, not at this point in knowing him. He arrives. He moves his head fore-aft-fore-aft in those little birdlike motions of casualness that you make just before, like, commenting favorably on a pitches’ throw. As he does, he pans slowly left to right, Martin to Charlie. “You know. . . ” He says, and pauses. He holds his breath. All other Sheens maintain an Emilio-ward stare, Charlie to the nose’s bridge, Martin right in the eyes. Emilio breaks into laughter. Not rollicking, but movement of the entire face is involved, at least. Charlie almost lets one of his smile’s corners elevate slightly, but suppresses it by thinking about Michael J. Fox’s plight. Emilio laughs for a good thirty seconds.


Three Sheens II

Emilio looks at Charlie. Charlie looks at Martin. Martin looks in between his boys.
“You know, I’m the most serious Sheen,” says Emilio.
Martin and Charlie continue looking. For a moment. “Well, I am when I wanna be,” says Emilio, his voice breaking. He looks angrily from Martin to Charlie for a moment. They all continue looking. Charlie starts to speak while moving his head to look at Martin. “I’m the most serious of the Shee—-” “Shaddup, you two, before I rip off both your heads and shit into your throats.”

They look.

Three Sheens III

I was one day just strolling on down Congress Avenue. The busses are plentiful in this city but I wanted to be sure to get all of my walking in this weekend, because I was scheduled for a doctor’s appointment that Friday. This was on Tuesday. I was walking down Congress, with this resplendent view of the capital building bobbing up and down in my field of vision as I strolled through a vivacious, dusk-time Austin. As a people, we Austinites are active around the clock.

I was just noticing a beautiful Mexican-American woman strolling towards me, wearing a painfully bright red dress, on the sidewalk, coming in the opposite direction. I had reached the portion of the avenue where it crossed over the Colorado River. I prepared to politely avoid contact with the woman on what would be a close passing. My eyes caught hers, inadvertently, I have to say, and she happened to return my gaze. But then she looked suddenly to the space behind me, just as something unwelcome touched me.

Whatever it was flew into my jacket. I reflexively grabbed it and looked back to discover that I was cradling the arm of a sheen. Thanks to my preoccupation with the peacful but bustling scene around me – and the beautiful woman -- this sheen had managed to sneak up behind me, along with its young, dark-complexioned mate or partner, who hovered warily behind him, waiting for an opportunity to pinch and swipe at me. The two quickly coordinated themselves into a swarm of two. They slapped and prodded any area of me that I couldn’t defend from attack. I postured and shooed with all of my might. Although there were only two of them, they seemed to be everywhere. Out of the corner of my eye I had noticed another sheen lurking further down the street, standing gingerly and alertly under a damaged street lamp. In seconds it had joined in the fray also.

I finally punched the dark-complexioned one in the gullet and he scampered off in the direction of El Arroyo a local taquería. The latecomer followed him, and soon I was engaged in a rather pathetic slapping battle with the last, largest sheen (I think it was a Silver Martin.) The open-palmed technique that he employed would have been mercilessly painful if it had been anything other than a sheen. He was impervious to my shooing and shoving, but he paused momentarily to grunt something loudly and awkwardly in the direction of its flown compatriots. The lady in red had slipped around us on the street. Sheens rarely attack those wearing bright colors. I assumed she was undamaged. The bulky sheen grunted his grunts and then walked off slowly in the direction from which they had come.

I could not enjoy the evening stroll as much as I had before the swarming occurred, but I went on to complete my planned circuit of about one square quarter-mile of the downtown region. I kept on eye out for any other sheens, but without much worry. I also happened to know that they rarely beswarm the same person twice in the same city – another of those odd little touchstones of sheen behavior. The image of the lady in red was burned into my mind. I have a great affection for the The Dead's Casey Jones.” Funny how life imitates art. The song, with its Lady in Red, fomented my own fascination with the beauty I briefly encountered on the street. If not for the inopportune sheens, I might have been able to finally meet an LIR.

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