LA LA LAND

“Fuck me in the goat ass…”

                “I would if ya weren’t so dirty,” the comedic “kick me in the ass for a buck” sign holder replied back to me.

                “”You better wash your ass with that dollar,” I quipped.

                The baggy jeaned bare – chested long blonde haired youth with the furry chest began rubbing a bill on his butt.

                “Peace, peace…”

                Hey, somebody want a piece?!” he shouted gracefully. He then proceeded to run over to a cute blonde passer-bye and hug her, wagging the sign and his ass.

                “How about you, home slice?!” he shouted gracefully.

                Further down the blocks of down the blocks of the bored walk, I came apoun the Freaks.

                “That’s right step right up ladies and gentlemen!” the man with the microphone coming up onto a loudspeaker behind him at the entrance to the establishment used his best M.C. circus ringleader voice.

                “See the two headed snake,” he continued on as I saw curious passers-by peering into the white plastic food storage container partly filled with water on the table in front of him, “the monkey boy!” his list went on and on.

                Night was falling, and the crowd was beginning to thin. Being the dead of winter, night came early.

                I found myself walking further in my five dollar flip flops and jeans and hoodie toward Santa Monica and the pier. I was very restless, and had no intentions of sleep this night. It had been over a month since I had touched a drink or a drug, like that Atmosphere song says “I’m just your next door neighbor, work-in hard at trying to stay sober!”

                The first few days had seemed like weeks, and the first few weeks like months. I was in more physical pain than I had ever endured during them, and learning the ropes of something new. There was a certain flair and a knack for separation of your circumstance to establishing success in the business. The Los Angeles streets scared the hell out of me, and I had only begun this journey.

                I was working and walking about like never before. My weight had gone from two hundred and thirty – five to one hundred and eighty – five in just over a month and a half. I was well on my way to being in the best shape of my life, out of dogged determination. That winter it is fair to say I walked off more than a quarter of a pound a day just getting to meals.

                “Hey, I’m Ayers Brooks, Ozenoz man! Spit at ya for a buck?!”

                The khaki and surf t- shirt clad tall thin man thin man with the short blonde hair in the glasses gave me a concerned look. The backdrop of the setting sun over the Pacific was over his shoulder, and I could see he didn’t know I meant “rap.”

                “Get away!” he muttered and turned back to his conversation with short pony – tailed brunette beside him.

                “I didn’t spit on you!” I yelled back, looking zany.

                “But I could!”

                I went down the entire stretch between that section of beach to goers as no – man’s land and the pier working like this tirelessly to try and come up with something for some midnight sustenance.

                I would not resort, as some, to picking from trash bins. There was a lot of food to be had for free around in the course of the day, you just had to work at getting to it. While working at getting work, and getting clean, and staying clean, and safe.

      I was living the life of a homeless urchin, scared to death that the Hollywood serial killer was going to get to me in my sleep. He was wandering the city was killing off the homeless. In my passionate and paranoid panic, I had shouted to all in front of Small World Books in front of a lot of video tapers’ that I indeed would hunt and kill him. Didn’t do my fears any good at night.

                I was unsure of where to go, what my scavenge route for the night should be, so I followed Colorado due east turning on the street leading to my two P.M. soul food cheeseburger joint. From there I went down to Pico and banged a right. I sighed. It was going to be a long night.

                An unopened bottle of spring water stood on the wall of the bridge and I swished with joy my first sustenance since Venice Beach, which I was almost back to again. Technically I was in Santa Monica but was headed back that direction. There was reason to think I would be safe, as I followed the fading light of a Santa Monica Police cruiser as it passed me, headed south as well.

     I had walked as far East as downtown and the Fashion and Financial Districts in one night and back. These deep, dark downtown streets were filled with closed shops, and dark alleyways. During the day traffic jostled along interspersed with carriers on bicycles and sparse but involved pedestrians.

                One night I saw a homing pigeon who was trained to fly up into and under the closed and locked gate of this shop. These inner walkways and were a mystery to me. One that glared at me with intent of sucking me into a dark underbelly that reeked forth with a furiousness. This was not a safe place.

                A series of three police cruisers came speeding by me and I was alerted to see if the action was close. The boys were headed to some kind of bust up ahead. I had little idea what was going to come of the busts this night for me.

                The way it works, I figured, is this. A robbery or looting occurs in the streets. Say a storefront smash – and – grab goes down and the police catch the thief. The store is going to be reimbursed by insurance, the loot is over piling in the evidence rooms, and the police don’t want it. The stolen property is either just dropped right then and there or relocated as was in my case this night to the artisans who would do it well.

                Over the course of the next blocks I became aware that there seemed to be a constant presence of police all the way into the Venice Beach Area. I walked Lincoln to Rose and turned right towards the beach on Rose. When I got to the bored walk, it was stock piled with not only the usual performers’ belongings, but large piles of brand new looted merchandise.

                After collecting, hurriedly mind you, what probably amounted to about fifty thousand dollars or so worth of merchandise, I began my long journey out of the area. I got from my sixth sense a feeling that this booty was becoming well known and coveted, that I should hide. I began discarding things I didn’t want in the back alleyways, trying to dissuade things. A good hearted and not over – greedy claimant was more likely to retain his goods.

                At one point, I had picked up a fresh unopened cigar, a miniature, and I planned on smoking it when I came to a complete rest. Emerging from the alleyways, and making my way back to the intersection of Rose and Lincoln, I found myself shortcutting through the gas station parking lot.

                He was riding a red motor powered Mo- ped that sputtered as he sat at rest. A black hoodie, green paint fatigue splattered fatigue over were peeled back to reveal his leather Native American waist sack that held his delivering Indica marijuana. He had on dark blue jeans over leather Prada boots, and he wheeled up to me as I he fingered his pouch.

                I shuffled my palmed Pom- Pom cigar, twiddling it nervously between my fingers.

                “I see you found my Pom- Pom nigger!” he said.

                I looked into the eyes of this now what must have only only been an eighteen year old just becoming a man, his dark lidded brown straight rimmed cap shadowing his bony face and announced “No, I found my Pom- Pom nigga’!”

                He watched the dark eyes of the man grow large, and then he squinted a seedy squint and pumped the gas on his left. Two UCLA student pedestrians in their sweatshirts who also happened to be at this early bird hour scrambled to the right to get out of his way as he wheeled around.

                As soon as he was facing east, he reached up under the rear of his coat, and pulled and unsilenced twenty – two.

                “Holy shit!” I screamed and my heart exploded as I raced around the sign that read the mornings’ petrol fuel prices.

                I ran into the well lit expanse that was the neighboring grocery store parking lot and as I turned, saw the man hot on my heels. He was raising the gun and drew up just over my right shoulder as he popped off a shot.

                “Pop! Pop!” two exploded into the air as he pulled wide of my side.

                I spied a tinted windowed Mercedes Benz that was made for my best bullet bearing cover. I hoped it wouldn’t be bearing more of his as I sprinted around the car to the southwest facing the rear of the vehicle diagonal of his position in the front.

                He wheeled to the front, all the while testing his aim and trying to figure a way to get at me. He spun a quick move to my side of the vehicle as I skittered behind the trunk to the opposite diagonal side of him again. He made a mean face and began to come at me from the other side, then changed his mind.

                I watched helplessly in sight as he motored back into the wells of the gas station, and up towards the clerks station. I heard the gun recoiling two more times. I didn’t know this man. I didn’t know his intent.

                “Pop! Pop!”

                If those sounds I heard were the exploding skulls of innocent bystanders, we were all in trouble. I raced back to the petrol prices sign and past.

                He was coming straight at me, fiddling with the nozzle of the gun.

                I ran to the back of the nearest utility light pole located between the fuels sign and the building. It had a breaker switch on it, and as he lined up his moped and faced me, I palmed it nervously.

                I saw the man change gun hands, and to this day wonder if a silencer was ensued in the interim on my run and that he took a few. He certainly had skills. I didn’t try and kill the lights. I threw the Pom- Pom at his feet and yelled, “You can have it!”

                As I exhaustedly, heart pacing, started to walk in plain view of that man going north on Lincoln, I counted the shots in my head. Was that gun full? I felt that he should have three left counting the one in the chamber. I resigned to the fact that he was appeased. He needed the Pom – Pom to wrap some Indica for pain. Somehow I knew we had achieved peace. No more piece.

     As wandered the Ocean Front Walk near no man’s land that night, I was confronted with many issues. What if this man had a small child to take care of? Why should I hold a grudge when nothing harmful happened to me at all? If anything I felt I was just taught a very timely lesson in life that would bear its’ weight on my decisions as I chose a path ahead of me that reeked of danger. In my mind, I thanked his toddler for forgiving me, and his mother as well. And I moved on with my bad self.

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