The Great Escape

Slash Coleman chronicles the offbeat misadventures of his childhood including accompanying his father during drunken standoffs with grocery store clerks and enduring his father's endless false promises of a great escape to the Yukon.

| August 2013

The Bohemian Love Diaries: A Memoir (Lyons Press, 2013) is an irresistibly weird and wonderful tale of a boy’s upbringing in a warped but warm-hearted household of eccentric artists. Hilarious and profound, Slash Coleman comes to terms with his father, a genius sculptor and volatile alcoholic, and his mother, a Holocaust survivor who makes him promise never to reveal that he’s Jewish. The following excerpt is from chapter 1, “The Great Escape.”  

The Great Escape

Chesterfield, Virginia
July 11, 1974

It’s seven minutes after midnight, and I’m standing in a silver shopping cart with a bad wheel in Harvey’s Meat Market and Grocery, facing a Standoff Sandwich.

My dad stands to one side, shirtless, wearing bleach-spotted jeans with a deerskin loincloth on the front and his Nazi soldier helmet with fake pigtails on his head. He holds an open can of Schlitz in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth. With his thick black beard and roadkill clothing, he looks like a cross between Ringo Starr and Daniel Boone.

Harvey, with his crazy red hair and greasy face, stands on the other side, the rest of my father’s case of Schlitz under his arm, a cigarette also in his mouth.

A cashier—a Mexican woman with a red and white name tag that says Rosario—stands between them. She resembles a stick of beef jerky in a maroon apron and is chewing a big wad of bright pink gum. She holds a phone receiver in one hand, her other hand frozen on the rotary dial, ready to call the policía when given the signal. I open the black cover on my Moleskine sketchbook and write her name down with my pencil.