creative non-fiction

eddie catalina part 12

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by the time lt january got back to the interrogation room eddie had finished his sandwich and coffee. before going in the lt told sgt johns about the phone call to nevada. huddled together and combined with their hushed voices none of the other detectives in the squad room heard what they were discussing. as the lt was about to enter the room he told mick to turn the video camera back on.

how was dinner?

just great. almost like a good basque joint, lt.

good to see you still have a sense of humor, eddie.

what else is a poor boy to do? i’m glad the running is over. but i’m a bit worried, to say the least, about what comes next.

well, tell you what, eddie, a lot of that depends on you.

how so?

you’ll find out soon enough. if i unhook you do you promise to be a model prisoner? no bullshit. tantrums. or other crazy insane shit? you sit here like a gentleman or walk around the room if you like. i’ll knock when i want to come back in again. you hear a knock you go sit in that chair and be a choir boy. alright?

ah, sure, ok. what’s going on?

like i said, eddie, you’ll find out.

with that the lieutenant unhooked the cuffs from eddie’s wrist and slipped them into his pocket. as he left the room he said.

you just be cool. this might take awhile. ok?

i suppose i have no choice.

nope.

lt january closed the door and told mick johns to leave the camera running and keep an eye on eddie. the sergeant nodded his ascent as the lt handed him back his cuffs. marvel january went back to his desk to wait for the phone to ring.

after several calls and a little over an hour and a half of waiting his phone rang again. this time it was the call he had been waiting for.

just a moment, lt. mick, take eddie to the can and see if he wants more coffee or another sandwich.

sure, loot.

mick got up and knocked on the door. waited a moment then entered. eddie was sitting quietly in the chair.

come on, eddie, restroom break.

eddie got up and the sergeant led him to the restroom.

ok, estaban, what do you have for me?

the gun and rounds were right where you said they would be, marvel. though i seriously doubt you’ll find any prints on them with the water and all. but they are properly bagged tagged and awaiting your decision.

that was much quicker than i expected.

we have a new chopper that covers quite a bit of ground in a very short time. a very nice time saving tool. a gift from our at times friendly benefactors, the feds. we actually got two of them due to homeland security and our dams.

good for you guys, lt., we could use a few ourselves. traffic around here is usually horrible. anyway, if it isn’t too much trouble lt can you deliver the evidence bag down this way? asap?

let’s see. if i can get a flight to l.a. tonight i don’t see why not, lt. i can use a break from the cold.

i’m sorry it’s such short notice but i’m sure you know how things can work out.

it’s alright lt i’m always prepared to take flight as it were. i imagine you are too.

you’re right. it’s the nature of the game.

absolutely. let me put you on hold and i’ll check on a flight right away.

marvel january didn’t say anything but heard a click on the line. he was on hold. he sat thinking and wondering. soon he would know.

lt?

yes.

if i leave right now i can be in l.a. by 9:30 this evening at the very latest.

very good. airline and flight number? i’ll pick you up myself.

southwest, number 1966.

see you when you arrive around 9:30. that will leave us enough time for a quick drink and maybe a prime rib sandwich.

i’m looking forward to it.

both men hung up and lt january went back to the interrogation room. eddie was inside eating another sandwich and drinking another cup of coffee.

mick, the nevada cop will be here tonight. i’m going to go pick him up. are you ok? this could be awhile.

i’m good, marvel. i’ll keep an eye on him and keep the lookie loo’s out of the way. i’ll brush up on my ‘angry bird’ skills while i’m at it.

yes, i know you will on all counts, mick. thanks, man. i’ll be back when i’m back. and mick, just in case the feds come sniffing around keep eddie inside and under wraps. no more breaks till i get back.

not a problem. eddie and i will be here, loot.

lt marvel january removed his pistol from a desk drawer and put it in his empty shoulder holster then headed out the door. the clock on the wall read 7:30.

this last appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 9

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it was warm and the air clear due to a slight santa ana with the warm winds coming out of the east. eddie catalina stepped off the plane and back to the city from where he had come. he’d left years ago vowing to never return. well, never say never he thought. here he was back again. no where to go and almost broke. no prospects either. jesus, when things spiral out of control they spiral until the wings fall off. then it’s a free fall until the sudden stop. eddie was beginning to wonder when the sudden stop would come.

the airport had changed since he was last there. he could tell a new terminal had replaced the old one at some point long ago. when was the last time he had flown in or out of ontario? probably the flight to oakland after his leave home before vietnam. no, that didn’t make sense. had to be his flight from oakland after his return from vietnam. a long time ago.

standing out on the sidewalk smoking with no plan in mind wasn’t a good idea. eddie figured there probably wasn’t anyone still living in the area from the old days. and he couldn’t just grab a cab and ride around all day and night looking for something or someone that probably wasn’t there anymore. a cheap hotel seemed to be his only option at the moment. a very cheap hotel if he didn’t find some money soon. he walked out to the curb as a cab pulled up. eddie told the cabbie to find him the closest cheapest hotel or motel.

the cab dropped him off at a motel not far away from the airport on east holt. it was a run down joint that looked like it catered to hookers and druggies. eddie wasn’t surprised. some things never change even with progress. eddie paid the cabbie and went into the dingy office. it smelled of tobacco, stale sweat, a tinge of blood, and a lot of tears. gag reflex was the only other thing that came to his mind.

yeah, can i help you?

i suppose. i need a room for a couple of nights.

we got a couple. one up one down. take your pick.

up i guess.

214. take the stairs to the left. that’ll be $66 for two nights. if you decide to stay longer i’ll cut you a rate for weekly or monthly. take your pick.

ok. thanks. i’ll let you know.

sure.

eddie counted out the money which left him with somewhere near the one thousand dollar mark. when you’re on the run money seemed to just vanish. the thought of calling the lapd again flashed through his tired mind but he quickly forgot about it. he took his key and went up to his room. hopefully, it wouldn’t become his home.

it wasn’t much of a room and it smelled like a well used ashtray that had never been cleaned. a good thing eddie had started smoking again. there was also a shabby bed covered by an even shabbier spread with all manner of stains on it. several large holes in the dirty shabby carpet as well. he would have to be careful at night. his inspection of the bathroom was somewhat of a surprise. compared to the rest of the room it was a diamond in the rough. eddie tried the tv set next which worked and offered basic cable along with a free porn channel or two. yeah, hooker haven for sure. so much for quiet nights.

he lit up as he sat at the cheap table that over looked the parking lot while hoping the chair he was sitting in wouldn’t fall apart. as he sat there smoking a car pulled into the lot. an old beater for sure but the lady driving wasn’t.

the car parked in the spot directly under eddie’s window. a youngish black woman got out and came up the stairs. eddie had a thought and he needed to hurry. he was up and outside his door when the lady passed by.

hi, sugar. you looking?

i’m looking but not for what you have in mind.

really? so what you want?

i’m looking for a ride over to claremont. if you’re interested in that proposition i’ll buy you dinner later.

harrumph. i’ll think about it.

eddie watched as the lady walked down to her room. he turned and went back inside his room thinking, another fine mess to go along with his first day of hiding in plain sight. moving back to the rickety chair he lit another cigarette. eddie sat smoking, thinking, and staring into the distance. shambles. his life was nothing more than a massive shambles. lighting another smoke with the butt of the other one eddie picked up the phone.

he dialed 9 for an outside line. then 0 for an operator.

operator.

can you connect me with lapd homicide?

one moment, please.

eddie sat smoking while waiting for the call to go through. when it finally did he heard.

robbery homicide. lt. marvel january speaking.

this is eddie catalina. i believe you’re looking for me.

why yes we are, mr. catalina. we need to have a talk. where are you calling from eddie?

i’m in room 214 at the day night inn on e. holt in ontario near the airport.

marvel put his hand over the phone and told another detective to call the ontario police and have them send over a black and white asap to baby sit eddie until lapd could arrive.

eddie, i’m sending the ontario police to your motel. they’re going to sit with you until we get there. at this point eddie you’re just a material witness. ok? you won’t try and pull anything stupid now will you?

no, lieutenant, not a chance. i’m not armed and i’ll have the door open waiting for them.

eddie heard a police siren a short distance away.

good, eddie. that’s good. i’ll stay on the line until the officers are in the room with you. ok?

sure. whatever you say.

eddie lit another smoke as the ontario squad car sped into the lot. the arrival of the police took a small group of people by surprise. the group hurriedly began to disperse. eddie got up and opened the door then sat back down.

lieutenant, they’re here.

good. just relax and don’t do anything stupid.

eddie heard the cops running up the stairs. they paused at the open door with guns out and told eddie to show them his hands. he sat the phone down showed them his hands then stood up.

turn around slowly, sir, and put your hands behind your head. we’re going to cuff you for your safety and ours.

not a problem officer.

after eddie was cuffed the ontario cop picked up the phone and told lt january the situation was under control.

thank you, officer. we’re on our way. just sit tight. we’ll be there as soon as traffic allows.

the ontario cop hung up the phone then sat eddie back down on the chair. it was over. finally. it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from eddie’s shoulders. eddie sat and watched the cigarette smoldering in the ashtray. the smoke drifted up and out the open door.

this first appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

a fictional life(?)

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i was a priest for a time.  the head vicker at a young girls, well, not that young of a girls school.  it sat on the border of southern france and northern italy.  the school was equally divided between the two countries.  a strange thing indeed but just a simple hold over from the middle ages.  some of the parents didn’t appreciate some of the things i thought necessary to teach the young ladies.  i used to tell them, better me than some lout from the streets, with no prospects teaching them, things.  sadly, they weren’t amused.  of course, the police of both backward countries had to became involved.  i made a hasty departure.  fond memories for me none the less.

at some point or another i became a doctor.  just how, is still clouded in mystery.   with the help of a good plastic surgeon and some minor facial reconstruction i was able to make my way back into italy.  where i secured the position of, dean of tarts, at the university of bologna.  the position suited me well.  as a tart is a tart, in any man’s language.  and believe me they were tarts, with much to learn.  after a time, as things generally go with men, i became bored with the dean of tarts gig.  don’t get me wrong, the young italian ladies were spectacular.  but like i said, i was bored.  so i just up and left when i noticed the police were spending time on the campus. 

i wandered about here and there living by my wits and good looks for what may have been many months.  it was so long ago and furtive i can hardly re-call that time with much clarity today.  then one day i found myself in shanghai, china, drinking german beer with a portly, good natured chinese gentleman.  he suggested that i should come to work for him at his all girls school there in shanghai.  teaching of course, english, to those lovely pearls of the orient.  had he known just what else i would be teaching them he may have had second thoughts.  things went swimmingly for some time, as the girls had a rabid desire to learn from a great master.

i blossomed in china, even starting a side job teaching english and other arts to the girl’s mothers.  in the process, i nearly wore myself out, causing great consternation far and wide.  culminating in another hasty departure during the wee hours of the morning.  something, of course, i’m an expert in doing.

set adrift again in life’s waters i roamed far and wide.  teaching what i could in what little time it always seemed i had.  whenever i tried setting down some roots.  the roots never took as the time between moves grew shorter and shorter.  it seemed i always left a bit of myself behind with each furtive escape into night’s darkness.  just like some depraved 20th century johnny appleseed.

so there you have it.  a somewhat condensed version of my of pathetic life.  i trust you will keep it under your hat as there are still husbands and fathers out there searching for me.  though in my new life, as an internet douche bag, i doubt they will ever find me.  sadly, if they do.  i’ll have to pack my kit and sneak off on yet another lonely moonless night.  to perhaps wend my way through life’s byways and highways to…your town. 

this mornings music provided by, miles davis, ‘sketches of spain’.

jmh
 

a little bit of drive-in movie madness

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this story has appeared here a few times. folks seem to enjoy it. anyway, it is what it is. i should write something new but…meh. for some reason re-doing this has screwed up my front page. it also refuses to be fixed. sweet.

jmh

drive-in movies are a thing of the past. they played a sorta minor major role in my life at times over the years. you don’t see them around here much anymore. land is too expensive for that use now a days.  as for the rest of the country i don’t know. though it’s probably the same.

when i was a kid there were 2 local drive-ins. well, in the early years actually only one, the ‘valley drive-in’.  it had a really neat neon sign on the back of the screen. a spanish vaquero with a couple of oxen pulling an ox cart, of all things. i think i might even have a photo of it buried someplace in an email account. too far underground to find. at any rate during the day it was a very nice sorta mural. at night it was magic. there was also a monkey house located inside. the typical monkey deal of years ago.
lots of really pissed off monkey’s running around in a not very clean monkey house. by high school or sooner the monkey house was closed down. no one really missed
it.

times change of course and movie viewing has changed as well. if i’m not mistaken, my first trip to the valley drive-in was to see ‘the bridge on the river kwai’, yeah a long time ago. lots of grade b horror films as a youngster as well.  one of the neighbor ladies loved crappy horror flicks. she would take her son and a few others along to be her runners for the snack bar.  yeah, she was a big one.  one of the original junk food junkies.

by the time high school rolled around we drove ourselves to the drive-in it became standard to try and avoid the entry fee.  a couple of guys curled up in the trunk was the obvious place.  as night fell and the show started trunks opened up and kids got out. they got wise to that action and started asking kids to open the trunk up at the gate.  a friend of mines parents owned a vw bus sorta tricked out camper style. there was a tiny closet just big enough for one of us to hide in and under one of the bench seats 2 of us
could squeeze inside the box frame.  totally uncomfortable and cramped but it worked. they would ask to look inside the van but they never came in and searched. the things kids do to save a dollar.

i suppose the real allure to drive-ins was the fact that there seemed to be all kinds of action there for young hormone powered youths, there was, usually in the last couple of rows. the date crowd. which was fine. though if you didn’t have a date the movie, after awhile, became secondary with all the hormones careening wildly about. then it became a search for babes.

most of the time it was wishful thinking especially if you were drunk. which more often than not was the case. amazing amounts of red mountain dago red swilled in those high school drunken drive-in days. the usual scenario was watch the first movie and get drunk. by half way through the movie alcohol infused hormones took over.  semi demented youths wandering about looking for unescorted babes.

it was like, over there. see em? yeah, lets get closer. they seem hot. ok. cool. look, no one is parked next to them. let’s move. so back to the car and the move was made.generally speaking it was a called strike three. then it was off to greener pastures. more often than not with the same results. cars driving around or kids walking around looking for some action. action that was a white rhino if you get my drift.  though sometimes the action was great. you don’t always take a called third strike.

i remember one night vividly. it occurred late in my drive-in life.  i even remember the movie. hitchcock’s, ‘torn curtain’, the cold war spy drama. a good movie i guess but to complicated for a couple of drunk guys to follow.  then it became let’s find babes.  no walking too drunk for that.  we’ll drive around instead.  at the time i had a 1962 ford falcon station wagon. 3 on the tree. ah, 3 speed stick shift,on the column.  a real babe magnet for sure.  yeah, uh huh.  though as a surf wagon it worked out nicely. also for those semi rare lucky times.  drifting.

we wandered drunkenly about finding a car of babes here and there and of course they want nothing to do with us.  we of course got drunker and drunker.  we’ve searched pretty much the whole place.  no luck. only place left are the slots up front. we had avoided those due to the high family occupancy rate.  close to the restrooms and play area. desperate times and desperate measures.  we ventured into the family zone. too drunk to care. too stupid to realize what we were getting ourselves into.

the slots up front were on a semi hill.  they had to be in order for you to see the screen.  ergo, the closer to the screen the higher the hill.  a combination of quantum physics, geometry and drive-in engineering.  something way beyond our drunken state. we found an empty spot beside a family and a couple of babes right in the front row.  i managed to park the car without any trouble.  the ladies were not amused. nor interested. time to move.  getting in the spot was easy getting out turned into a nightmare.  the
hill bump whatever was as steep as any hill in san francisco.  even sober they can be death defying with a stick shift.  i couldn’t got off the hill.  we were stuck.

in some sort of mack sennett moment we came up with the idea of the century. i would man the wheel, of course, as well as the clutch and hand break if needed. my friend would get on the floor and operate the gas and the brakes.  yeah, fucking genius at work. pure drunken logic.  i don’t know how long it took to finally get out of there but the clutch was damn near on fire by the time we did.  hell, it stunk so bad itmay have been on fire. lots of yelling on my part. more gas! less brake!! stomp on it!!  the engine revving to rpms not meant for it’s simple 6 cylinders. why the police weren’t called i’ll never know. they may have been.  by the time we got off the hill we realized we had better leave.

there ya go.  drive-in movie madness.  there were times my friends and i had dates for the drive-in. those are for another time.  perhaps.  though one date the friend from the story and i had with 2 lovely surfer girl types is the reason i started to think about those drive-in days.  of course the date was a bust for both of us way early in the evening. i don’t think the sun had even set. the ladies ended up sitting together in the backseat while my friend and i at up front and got very drunk. the lady who was my date for that long ago evening died last month. i just found out about it this past weekend.  life comes at you hard and way too fast.

ok. i found the photo of the valley drive-in.  valley-drive-in-theatre

the date mentioned above passed away in 2010 i believe. my friend in the story passed away this past march 2014.

music provided by, the art farmer quintet, ‘blame it
on my youth’.

jmh

 

wishful thinking

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this first appeared back in february of 08. i’d forgotten i’d written it. though with yet another election looming soon i’ve already voted. the ass hats just don’t know it yet. for you see i sent my official absentee ballot material through the shredder. it’s been six years since i wrote this and we’re not any closer to it happening than we were six years ago. a sad thing.

jmh

lots of wishful thinking on my part over the years on lots of different stuff.  anything from the chance meeting of say, heidi klum, where we immediately fall into to bed and live happily ever after.  or perhaps, the twice weekly i’m going to be the next california super lottery winner wishful thinking.  i think the odds on either of those things happening are probably both in the same ballpark.  a ballpark with very long odds and over 375 feet down each line to the foul pole. 

i’m not the first person to wishful think either of the two i mentioned.  not by a long shot.  male or female.  for either.  yeah, heidi’s that hot.  drifting here.  no, it’s the political season of the witch, no, not necessarily, lady machill.  it’s just this season of endless political weirdness that over the years has become just annoying and nauseating and finally culminating with my withdrawing from all elections.

i have some wishful thinking that might drag me back into the fray.  the problem being is that’s just what it is because the humps in charge of both major parties and probably the fringe groups as well, wouldn’t like it.  oh, maybe some of the fringe guys might but the big sex and money boys and girls would probably have a collective massive coronary if it came to pass.  which might not be a bad idea.  then we could just start over from scratch.  more drifting.  perhaps.

i’m not the only person to come up with this wishful thought as it’s been tossed around every now and again over the years but it never goes anywhere.  sadly.  big money wants nothing to do with it.  i think it scares them.  good.  they scare me.  daily. 

i think the time has come to scare the bejesus out of them for a change.  this sad slate of presidential candidates would seem like the perfect time for my wishful thought to maybe make it past the blossom stage and give fruition to something that should have happened years ago. 

oh, i’m sure all the candidates are probably sorta nice folks.  i mean maybe you could probably invite them all over to the house for some grub, massive amounts of dago red, and mah jong.  though they would all have to promise no politics.  the only problem is they all, would at some point, renege and start campaigning.  worse yet, while working the room glad handing anyone in sight, they would be spilling heirloom organic cabernet all over the living room furniture and in general just being boorish dinner guests.  the whole sad deal would probably end up being worse than letting the local canvassing scientology crew in for a chat and a brew.  god, the horror.  i don’t know if they do that but just the thought of it scares me on lots of levels. 

the point of this madness?  for those of you that have stuck it out here it is…none of the above.  yep.  that’s it.  none of the above needs to be added to every ballot in the country.  it’s time is way the hell over due. it’s simple in it’s purity and gives those of us something to vote for other than the ever ubiquitous ‘lesser of two evils’.  cause that’s what it generally comes down to in any election.  in particular a presidential election.  regardless who is running. 

sadly it’s not going to happen.  although i think it needs to be brought up and hammered home to our elected elitist that they serve us and not their pocketbook or summer home where ever the hell it is.  it’s time we that have made ourselves the disenfranchised get our vote back.  sure we quit voting on our own accord.  however, they were the ones that pissed us off so much we just up and said, fuck this, i ain’t voting anymore every again for any of you witless bunch of money grubbing oily sanctimonious swine. 

problem is they have all forgotten just who the hell it is they serve.  they all think they are there just to serve themselves up their own personal money tree.  yes, they are the folks that actually have that tree.  the tree that your dad asked your mom if she thought money grew on trees tree.  well, it does exist.  you just have to get elected to any public office in the land.  it also comes with the keys to the new tony soprano model caddy escalade AND your very own 23 year old smokin’ hot mistress.  boy, howdy.  makes a man want to run for office, don’t it?

imagine the chagrin some november after the votes have been tallied and candidate A gets 12%.  candidate B gets 12%.  the fringe guys and gals get their usual 1% and lo and behold, none of the above, wins with a whopping 75%.  you snicker.  though it could happen.  no, by god, it should happen.  it’s time we the fed up disenfranchised take our vote back.  take our vote back and vote for none of the above in any damn election we feel like.  we need to badger our elected swine into letting us vote for none of the above.  why not?  what’s the problem with that?  why is it just wishful thinking?

what?  what the hell?  who the fuck are you anyway? why no way, sonny boy, we can’t do that.  why that would be un-american.  say, just what kind of commie pinko nazi muslim are you any the ways?  by all that’s holy, you gotta be one of em or all of em for even suggesting such a vile idea.  why, why, i think i’ll let my bodyguards shoot you for bringing that sick deviant idea up in my very own official officially sanctioned official office.  ed, jack.  take this commie nazi muslim scum out back and do what needs to be done. 

so like here’s the deal.  call your congressperson and senator.  be polite.  ya hear?  yeah, well, hopefully he has no clue you don’t vote.  then tell whoever answers the phone we need the none of the above clause added to All ballots in this once great nation.  simple easy.  sure they will laugh and hang up.  come on, the caddy and smokin’ hot mistress need a good hot wax.  so call again.  give them the same rap.  if enough of you supposed americans do this.  we will get the none of the above clause on all ballots across america for every election.  it’s time has come. 

jmh

oscar night redux

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it’s almost oscar time yet again. it’s also time once again to trot out a couple of moldy oldies of mine to commemorate hollyweird’s biggest TV show, oscar night. the first of the two is for the more mature reader among you. however, i’m not your parents nor do i want to be. i hope you enjoy the reads.

jmh

donna di’monico

yeah, donna di’monico was her name.  a contract player for warner bros in the 40’s and 50’s.  lot’s of b westerns as second leading lady, plus the last of the serials.  she once told me, in a round about way, she had fucked howard hughes.  but she wasn’t one of his hayseed bimbos locked up in one of howie’s fuck pads.  no, not donna.  she moved and grooved to a beat all her own.

donna was an early lipstick lesbian.  when doing a bit part on an early ‘colgate comedy hour’,  she blew dino while playing dildo momma to marilyn maxwell and some make-up lady.  jerry sat and watched.  nice work if you can get it, i suppose.  as time passed she got fewer acting calls.  she never got into the older character stuff.  too much work she used to tell me.  but every once in awhile she would get some commercial work.  lever bros or one of the other yid soap joints, as she used to call them.  nice work.  easy 2 day max work.  plus the residuals were good, even in the late 60’s early 70’s.

don’t get me wrong she wasn’t hurting.  no, not donna.  she did ok.  she had plenty of time to prowl the bars on la cieniga and ventura.  out looking for some young cooze who may have seen her when she was a kid, like they were.  some kid who wanted to munch down on that well manicured carpet.  so they could say, hey, ever hear of donna di’monico?  we fucked last night.  nice old babe and still holding up ok.  god, she ate my snatch like she hadn’t eaten anything in months.  great fuck.

yeah, donna di’monico, the older she got the more genteel she became. doing charity work and joining historical societies. she got off on the historical stuff.  the older the shit was the more she was into it.  like trees.  she really got into old trees.  say 450 year old california oaks in some old downtown southern california berg gone to seed or illegal aliens.  or like this old cork tree where i live.  it’s at least a good 500 years old, probably the oldest around.  left standing when they razed the old hotel it had stood in front of for decades.  rumor has they had built the hotel there, where the cork tree stood, because it was such a beauty and old way back then.

yeah, donna di’monico.  she really got into that cork tree.  at some point she started badgering this local pbs tv guy, who was into trees as well, to come out and take a gander and shoot some video of the tree.  the cork tree and genteel historical society lady, donna di’monico.  for donna that meant another shot at some air-time, 21st century air-time.  she would email the guy weekly.  donna always got a return email from some staffer saying, thanks, we get lots of ideas and email.  we’ll give this one to the boss.  donna kept it up.  the guy finally said, ok.  the tree sounds ok.  they are coming out tomorrow morning.  only trouble is donna bought the farm last night.  yeah, donna di’monico, is dead.  so, i guess i’ll have to meet the guy out by the cork tree in the morning, which means i’m going to be her last stand in.  adios, aunt donna.

jmh

the dust and heat…

hung in the tijuana air like a freeze frame from hell.  cars honked and clamored looking for an inch in which to move.  nothing ever did.  in sunglasses and old clothes he moved through it all.  no one knew him.  he moved slowly looking for the place.  if you looked at him closely you could see the disease at work.  taking what was left of his life and mocking him with each painful step.  finally the place.  the earthly waiting room for hell. 

the bell above the door tinkled when he opened it.  as the door closed the hell from the streets outside stopped and the smell of the office over came him.  a small greasy headed man got up from behind an equally greasy desk and spoke.

ah, senor bullet, you have come.
yes, on the phone, you said you could help me?
si.  yes, i can.  por favor, follow me.

through the cluttered outer office and into the dank dismal treatment rooms they went.  a strange but familiar odor growing in the man’s nose.  the small mexican finally stopped at a dirty examination table.  he turned and said.   

please, senor, you must deesrobe.
ok. the man replied.

he was resigned to it.  it was all that was left.  this final sad humility of an approaching death.  a last chance stop on the road of life.

hokay, meester bullet, now you must assept these enemas of the coffees to cure you cancers.  por favor, on the tables.  you must spread you nalgas for me.

a tear formed in the corner of his eye as the man moved to comply.  only to be used as substance by a very large nasty house fly.

outside the dust, heat, and noise, for that moment, stopped.  something had gone from us all.  forever.  in an instant they all began to move.  again.  to oppress.  again.  moving us closer to this hell on earth.

jmh

hot dogs for breakfast pt 2

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after hanging up the phone he went to the stove and stuck his index finger in the seed and stem tea. it was cold to the touch and probably consisted more of stems and seeds along with assorted other gunk than liquid. he turned on the burner under the pot then rummaged through a drawer until he found a small strainer. jerry placed the strainer over the mug he’d already used while he waited for the stuff to boil again.

deciding it was going to take a bit he wandered off into the living room and his stereo system. the zappa LP was still on the turntable. he picked it up and put it back into it’s sleeve then returned it to sit with the other albums. jerry began looking through them again. new riders of the purple sage seemed like a good idea. he was placing it on the turntable when the phone rang again. he went back into the kitchen. turned off the stove and picked up the phone.

hello?

hi, son.

it was his mother.

hey, ma, what’s up?

not much. your father is outside doing yard work and i just finished an apple pie for your uncle. they’re coming over for dinner tonight. so, how’s work and school? are you dating anyone?

jerry sighed. it was his mother’s usual phone gambit.

just fine, ma. just fine. the pie sounds good. trying to change the subject he said. what’s for dinner?

your dad is bbqing chicken with the usual sides.

ok. wish i was there.

you know thanksgiving isn’t that far away. are you going to come down?

i hadn’t thought about it but yeah, sure. why not? he was thinking it would probably be a better place to score a cheap brick of weed. he still knew people down there.

good. i’ll make your favorites.

pickled tongue?

of course.

great. unless you hear different i’ll see you the wednesday before the big day. in the afternoon.

ok. love you, son.

love you too, ma. say hi to pops. joe and josie too. i’ll see everyone thanksgiving.

alright. take care of yourself. he could hear the smile in his mother’s voice.

ok, ma. bye.

bye, son.

jerry replaced the phone and picked up the pot of tea and poured the remaining liquid into the mug. the strainer removed most of the crap and all of the seeds and stems. he was surprised when he found the cup to be almost full. taking a sip he grimaced a bit then went and started the new riders LP. jerry wasted the rest of the day listening to music and staying very high.

it was almost dark before he was aware of time again. maybe it was the hunger he felt. he got off the couch. stretched. tuned on a floor lamp. found another LP and put it on the machine. the allman brothers live. the first notes hit with a jolt. too bad there wasn’t a lady around.

once back in the kitchen he found the squash in the fridge and an old onion. there was rice and tomato sauce in the cupboard. no meat anywhere. it didn’t matter there was plenty of rice. he made a sauce with the onion and canned tomatoes tossing in some dried herbs and garlic powder. after chopping up the zucchini he added them to the sauce. it simmered as the rice cooked.

duane allman was ripping it. another rocker dead before his time. jerry decided to have one of the tall cans of colt .45 with dinner. he popped the tab and took a long pull. it was good. cold and tasty. dinner was ok. filling and somewhat tasty.

after dinner he drank the rest of the malt liquor he’d bought earlier in the day and smoked his last remaining joint. comfortably numb and pretty well toasted he spent the night on the couch.

the next few weeks went by quickly. work was work and fairly non-taxing with plenty of spare change to be found on the floor of denny’s. school was another matter. he just stopped going though he still got a check from the VA for the past month. he wasn’t sure why he’d quit but it was as if he wasn’t really there anyway. it was hard to fit in again after the nam. the nam. he kept that to himself as best he could. no point in making it well known. all things considered it seemed like a good idea.

the wednesday before thanksgiving he got up early and headed south. it was an 8 hour car trip that went fairly well. jerry was looking forward to seeing the relatives and eating all that good food. piles of it to be sure. the trip south was uneventful. he arrived at his old home around 2 in the afternoon.

the garage door was closed which meant no one was probably home. no matter, there was a key in the garage. his father liked the door open as it was easier to move around and work in the garage that way. if someone was home the door stayed open until around sunset. he parked his car in the street. grabbed his bag and went around the north side of the house. the back gate was closed and the dog on duty sign was still there. his dog. the dog had died while jerry was in nam. the gate was unlocked as always and the back garage door was open. also as always. he went inside the garage. as he’d figured, the car wasn’t there. his dad had built a row of large cabinets when they’d moved in years ago. jerry opened the one closest to the door.

he reached inside and up into the second shelf. he found the nail and the key hanging from it. taking the key he unlocked the back door and then replaced the key it on it’s nail. as always. it was SOP. his dad had drilled that into him long long ago.

the house smelled good. his mother must have been busy getting ready for the big day tomorrow. turkey day. he took his bag and went through the house to his old room. it was like he’d never left. it was just like it had been for years. the double bed. a small desk and chair by the mail slot. the desk was covered with a sheet of glass which in turn was covered with surfboard company decals.

he paused and looked at the decals then ran his hand over them. memories. deciding he was hungry he went back into the kitchen to see what he could scrounge. it was then he noticed the note on the kitchen table. it was for his aunt. apparently she was bringing something over for turkey day. of course, she knew about the key. the note said his parents were at bellevue cemetery putting flowers on a grave. it also said his mother would call her sister later. jerry figured they were at his grandparents grave site.

forgetting he was hungry jerry decided to surprise his parents by going to the cemetery. besides he hadn’t been to visit his grandparents grave in a number of years. plus, there was a gas station across the street from bellevue and he needed gas for his ride anyway. so, jerry locked up and headed south to the cemetery.

on the way down he didn’t see his parents heading home. he figured he was on the route his dad would use. they must still be at the cemetery. he’d get gas later. turning into bellevue’s drive he noticed his father’s car over in the newer area of the cemetery. his grandparents grave site was in the older section behind the mausoleum. what was up? finding it interesting he followed the road toward his parent’s car.

jerry parked behind is dad’s ford. got out and walked towards his parents. their back was to him and his dad appeared to be holding his mom up. her shoulders were shaking. was she crying? what in the world was going on? as he got closer he called out to them. nothing. maybe they couldn’t hear him.

he was almost upon them when they turned towards him. his mother had been crying. jerry smiled and said.

mom. dad. what’s going on?

they looked right through him. his mother still crying. they didn’t say anything or otherwise acknowledged his presence. for good or bad. in fact, they silently walked right by him as they returned to their car. jerry stood there for a moment and watched them.

dad? mom?

it was all he could think to say. baffled he turned towards the grave where they had been standing. there were fresh flowers and a small american flag on a stick stuck in the ground next to the flowers. it was then he saw it. the gravestone. on it was his birthday and a day in june from the year before. along with that was jerry’s name and army rank.

they found jerry’s bag beside his bed when one of the young second cousins had gone into his old room to take a nap after dinner on thanksgiving day. it freaked everyone out to be sure. however, there never was an acceptable explanation as to why or how the bag got there in the first place.

jmh

hot dogs for breakfast

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jerry stood at the kitchen sink. a bit off to the side of it in front of the bay window. the sky was cloudy grey and he could see the tall dormant sycamores in the dim early morning light. their long leafless limbs reaching upward. he was eating a hot dog.it was nestled in a single piece of wheat bread. his early morning dog consisted of swiss cheese, mustard, mayo, along with bread and butter pickle slices and a handful of potato chips on the side. it usually served as his go to breakfast. though there was something to be said about grits mixed with creme fresh, parmesan, and topped with a fried egg covered with a generous dollop of his homemade asian chili sauce. finishing the sandwich he chased it with a glass of milk. the glass emptied the carton.

he rinsed off the dish and glass then set them in the sink to be washed later. probably after dinner. probably being the operative word. it was time for work. not work in it’s usual sense. jerry hadn’t worked in several months. though he had a job. a semi full time job working for a janitorial service. one afternoon he decided to not go into work. that one afternoon had stretched into a month or more. he hadn’t bothered to call the office. and they hadn’t bothered to call him. the company keys still sat in a drawer by the back door. he’d been living on his GI bill college benefit. a meager sum to be sure. he would probably have to go back to work soon because he’d given up on going to school as well. once the VA realized he was no longer in school that check would stop. that would probably happen soon enough.

it really didn’t matter to jerry. not much did. what mattered was having enough money to live on with enough left over for a few quarts of colt .45 and some decent smoke everyday. cigarettes too. the real ones. not the crap in the can or bag which left you to roll your own. he’d been doing that for the past couple of weeks. if there was one thing that would get him back to work it would be his need for ready made cigarettes and decent smoke. one could always scrape up enough cash for some malt liquor. regardless.

his job that morning was to go through some stems and seeds one last time in order to cull enough weed to get him through the day. he thought there was a slim chance at finding enough for at least one large joint. jerry pulled the baggie of seeds and stems from the cupboard along with some rolling papers and a shoe box lid. he sat at the kitchen table and slowly went went through what was left in the baggie. it had started out as a couple of ounces of some very nice jamaican weed. heady stuff. he’d scored it along with several grams of peruvian flake back when he had what could almost be said plenty of cash. sort of. jerry had paid for the smoke but the coke had been a credit deal. a credit deal which would soon become payable.

the only sound in the house was the seeds dropping onto the shoe box lid. he’d lift one end up where the seeds lay and slowly lift a few up with an old playing card. a jack of diamonds. the process wasn’t unlike panning for gold. that analogy wasn’t lost on jerry. the seeds ended up at the bottom and the dope, which was lighter, stayed up on the top. he kept it up for a half hour or so until all the seeds from the baggie had been carefully gone through. then he carefully picked over the stems once again. when he was finished he figured he had enough for a nice after dinner smoke.

the problem being there wouldn’t be anything to get him through the day. as he was still sitting at the table rolling up his last lonely joint the phone rang. jerry glanced at the phone as he licked the glue on the rolling paper and gave the smoke a last flick of the fingers. he dropped the blunt on top of the seeds and got up to answer the phone.

hello?

jerry? it’s sid.

the coke on credit had just come due. he bolstered up what he thought was some bravado but doubted sid was buying any of it.

hey, sid, what’s up?

not much. look, the reason i’m calling is i haven’t heard from you and my end is looking for their final payment. i need my money.

ah, shit. yeah, man i um been meaning to get down there. you know work school and all…

yeah, i get it. when can i expect you?

tomorrow evening at the latest.

ok. i’ll be seeing you soon then.

you got it. later, man.

later.

jerry hung up the phone. said, shit, and realized he wasn’t going to be heading down to sid’s place anytime soon. or anytime at all ever again for that matter. sadly, it meant no more flake for sure. ah, well. at least smoke was easier to find. you just needed some cash. thankfully, sid had no idea where he lived. no idea other than the city. sighing he went back to the table. as he was about to toss the stems and seeds out a thought hit him. tea. he’d never done it but he could brew up some tea with the stems and seeds.

he filled pot up with water and sat it on the stove. he turned on the burner and went to the fridge. he found an old lemon with some life left in it and sliced it up. by the time the water was boiling he was looking forward to his home brew. he turned off the gas and dropped the lemon slices into the hot water. then he carefully put the stems into the pot. he used a spoon to get them submerged. he followed with the seeds. putting a lid on the concoction he left it to steep. he needed some music.

he thumbed through his LP collection searching for something that fit the mood and the day. he settled upon frank zappa’s semi jazzy, ‘waka jawaka’. long instrumentals that made him think of rain and snow. very soothing. the music filled the house. jerry sat on the couch almost drifting off to sleep. the sound of the turntable turning itself off roused him. he flipped the LP over then he started side two. he figured the tea had sat long enough and went back into the kitchen.

the kitchen smelled of something. almost unpleasant. he lifted the lid on the pot and the smell grew stronger. it was tinged with lemon. the water had turned a dark color and was still warm. jerry thought of english breakfast tea. he found a mug and carefully poured some of the liquid into it. smelled it. held his breath and drank. he nailed the cup all at once. cringed a bit then thought it wasn’t all that bad. just different. he filled the mug again and drank. ok, he thought, now i wait.

while waiting he finished dressing and decided he should hit the grocery store while he still had some cash. filling the car’s gas tank was also in order. deciding he wasn’t feeling anything from his tea he thought it had been a waste of time and energy as he turned off the music and headed out the door to his ride and the store.

the drive to the store was uneventful. though as he was parking he began to feel THC jolts up his spine. by the time he got inside the store it was obvious his shopping trip was probably a big mistake. he was getting blown away. not a bad thing but he wasn’t so sure about getting home now. he was also sure a shopping trip alone and high wasn’t a good idea as well. as he turned to leave the floor rose to meet him and began grow wavy. great. just fucking great were his thoughts. things were going to get weird.

as he got to the exit he realized not scoring some malt liquor for that night would be stupid. hopefully there was something at home for dinner. he turned around and made his purchase. the checker turned out to be a pretty young thing around his age that he hadn’t seen or noticed before. hopefully, he’d remember her.

carefully driving home he tried to remember when he had been this stoned before. the nam probably or before that a trip into l.a. to see the kinks live after taking some mescaline. he’d thought he was surfing and shooting the pier while going under the 405 and 10 underpass. his passengers hadn’t been very happy to hear that.

making it home in one piece was a relief. he put the colt .45 in the refrigerator and noticed some zucchini. dinner he thought as the phone rang. with any luck it wasn’t sid again. had he given the checker his number? he had no idea. he picked up the receiver.

yeah.

jerry?

larry?

it sounded like his work partner, larry mitchell.

yep. man, where you been? pete’s been fucking wondering and worrying.

ah, yeah, i bet.

you know the keys and all.

safe in a drawer in the kitchen.

ok. you planning on coming back to work? it’s been a while to say the least.

yeah, sure.

at least it finally dawned on pete to find out just what the fuck was going on. good ole pete. more concerned about the swinger parties he attended than anything else.

when?

fighting the high he said, tuesday. he thought today was saturday. though he wasn’t sure. at any rate, tuesday was their day they did the floors at a local denny’s. lots of change on the floor under the tables and in the creases of the booths. gas and malt liquor money.

ok.

yeah, see you at 2. the usual.

fine. i’ll tell pete. later, man.

ok.

as he hung up the phone he realized there was more tea left in the pot on the stove. it was going to be a good rest of the day of whatever day of the week it was. yeah, a good day.

jmh

box cars and snake eyes re-visited part 3

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he was almost running when he heard the cantina door slam closed.  the sound of that act more or less calmed him down.  an old white guy running around the streets of a predominately illegal mexican barrio just might attract the wrong attention.  especially if johnny law got involved considering the circumstances of the murder he supposedly committed over night.  jesus, things just kept getting better and better.  
 
slowing his pace to a stroll he casually looked behind him and down the street.  no one was out and about in any direction.  at least no one he could see.  he made up his mind to continue east to avoid the homeless guy from earlier.   when he got to eastern ave. he made a left and began walking up the hill.  
 
stress, the heat, and lack of any breeze or wind began to take it’s toll.  he was sweating heavily when he heard the sound of a car coming up from behind.  he resisted the urge to turn around and check to see if it was the cops.  no sense looking any more suspicious than he already did.  the sound of the car got closer and seemed to be slowing.  it took all of his concentration not to bolt like a race horse.  
 
out of the corner of his eye he caught the front quarter panel of the car.  black.  crap.  the cops.  the car was indeed slowing.  it stopped and it was then he realized it was a limo.  the back passenger side window slid down.
 
‘ride, soldier?’
 
the voice was familiar and as be bent down to look inside at the back seat he knew before he saw her.  the nurse/angel/government goon.
 
‘i suppose i don’t have a choice.  right?’
 
‘let’s see…not really.  you get in and enjoy the cold air and have a chat or i use my cell phone to call 911.’
 
‘nice to know somethings never change.’
 
‘get in, soldier.’      
 
the lock clicked.  he sighed and opened the door then slid in beside the lady.
 
‘alright.  i’m in.  what’s the deal?’
 
she didn’t say anything as she hit the button to open the partition separating the driver from the passengers.
 
‘yes, mam?’  it was the blonde german woman from his driveway yesterday.  yesterday?  yesterday seemed so very long ago.  from his backseat angle she looked remarkably like heidi klum.  
 
‘take us to the house in manhattan beach.’
 
the partition was already sliding closed.  a muffled, ‘yes, mam.’,  was heard.
 
‘ah, was or is, that who i think…’
 
his seat mate laughed and said.  ‘things and people aren’t always as glamorous as they seem.  most things aren’t.  some folks like to get out of the box whenever they can.’
 
‘like keith?’  
 
‘not exactly.  but the blonde driving us down to the beach isn’t why i’m here, or you, for that matter.’
 
‘fine.  get to the point.’
 
‘OK.  look, soldier, when we come calling.  you do as we say.  you know that, right?’
 
‘i guess.  i mean…i don’t know…’
 
‘yes, well, you do.  if you don’t things get complicated.  understand?’
 
‘oh.  cops and murder suspect stuff?’
 
‘bingo.  you catch on quick.’
 
he sighed and looked out the tinted window.  they were almost to the 110 freeway.  they’d be taking it south soon.  at least it was cold inside the limo and unless nurse/angel called the cops he was somewhat safe.  at least for now.
 
‘so, is it finally time for my big job?  whatever that is?’
 
‘i see.  that makes a bit of sense then.  um, your reluctance to cooperate the other morning.’
 
‘look, you’ve bounced me around a bit in the last what…?’
 
‘it hasn’t been long.  just a few days really.’
 
‘you mean, ah, everything…a few days?’
 
‘give or take.’
 
‘what about emma?’
 
she looked at him oddly then said, ’emma?’.
 
‘yes, my wife.  is…is she a part of this?’
 
it was her turn to sigh.  ‘soldier, you remember, of course, emma has been dead for years.  cancer i think.’
 
‘come on.  yeah, i know that but she…she was there.  at home.  i saw her.  felt her.  she fried me some chicken.  we ate.  we laughed and listened to an old gene autry CD several times.  then we went to bed.  you can’t tell me that wasn’t real.  it was like, well, like it was years ago.  jesus.’ 
 
‘jesus had nothing to do with it.  even though there would seem to be ah, well, similarities.’
 
he didn’t know what to say or think.  she seemed like she was telling the truth.  she also seemed totally confused by what he’d just told her.  
 
‘i don’t know what’s going on.  i only know what i saw and felt.’
 
‘as for emma, i’m sorry, but i don’t know what’s going on there.  we had nothing to do with what happened.  it may have something to do with why we wanted to see you.  some fairly powerful things are at work here.  you know that.  or at least did.  we need to run a few simple tests.  blood work mostly.  just to be sure things are OK.’
 
he felt as if he was sinking into the lush leather seat.  the words numb and crushed were also on his mind.
 
‘you don’t look well.  are you OK?’
 
‘what do you think?  emma.  er, ah, the murder.  did i do it?’
 
‘no.  you cooperate and it will go away as quickly as it appeared.  we needed to be sure you knew where you stood with…things.  you work for us now, soldier.  we are your life.’
 
‘sweet.  hunky dory.’
 
it was all he could think of to say.  nothing more.  he’d do as she said and see what happened.  for now.  though the thing about emma was getting weird.  very weird.  even considering everything else.
 
with traffic it was mid afternoon by the time they made it into manhattan beach.  the limo pulled up in back of a very nice two story beachfront home.  the limo door latches clicked and the nurse/angel motioned for him to get out.  it was cooler by the ocean with a slight off shore breeze. motioning again she had him moving through a wrought iron gate and into a small patio at the back of the home.  he was thinking the view on the other side of the house must spectacular, especially at sunset.  her voice brought him out of his revery.
 
‘you can get comfortable either inside or go out front and watch the ocean.  i’ll call for you when i’m ready to draw some blood.’
 
‘sure, count dracula.’  
 
‘funny man.  the old VA joke.  keith is around here somewhere.’
 
‘he is?’
 
‘yes.  he’s been here for a month or so rehearsing and relaxing.  his wife and i are old friends.’
 
the man gave her a very strange look.  the he remembered an earlier conversation they’d had about keith.  all he could think of to say was something inane.
 
‘mick too?’  
 
‘ah, no.  i don’t know where he is.  maybe you can ask keith if he’s around.  it’s still early for him.  he might be asleep.’
 
the view was outstanding.  nothing like an ocean vista along with the sound and smell of the ocean.  he hoped he’d be around for sunset.  even though there were no clouds in the sky to ramp it up.  he was lost at sea when he heard her call him into the house.  the blood work equipment was set up on the dining room table.  he let her have her way with him.  when she was finished she told him if the tests were OK he’d be home soon.  she also told him regardless the murder rap was going away.
 
he decided to stay inside and watch the ocean.  around 4pm he turned on the TV to watch the news.  the TV was tuned to the local ABC station. he wasn’t paying much attention to the news more so to the ocean.  then he heard the announcer say something about the l.a.p.d. canceling a search for a murder suspect.  they had somehow or another confused a few pieces of surveillance film.  
 
the reporter was marc brown.  he didn’t know him from the man in the moon but respected his work from his time living in los angeles.  the remote was close by and he grabbed it quickly changing the channel to the local NBC affiliate.  they were coming out of a dog food ad.  when the announcer came on he had the same story.  it was, chuck henry, another old time l.a. news hand.  it must be true.  she’d kept her word.  the murder suspect rap had gone away just like that.  he turned off the TV. 
 
turning his attention back to the ocean he moved outside.  he sat in a lounge chair and drifted off to sleep.  a voice woke him.
 
‘cheers, mate.’
 
from behind him it was a smiling keith richards holding a guitar case in one hand and waving to him with the other.
 
‘i speck i’ll be working with you again sometime.  till then be well, guv.’
 
before he could say anything keith had turned and was gone.
 
the nurse/agent appeared.
 
‘i see you saw keith.  did he say anything about mick?’
 
‘no.  he wasn’t very talkative.’
 
‘oh, well.  the preliminary results look to be ok.  for now, all things are a go.’
 
‘OK.  whatever that means.  thanks for keeping your word about the murder.  when can i leave?’
 
‘you’re welcome.  soon.  very soon.  just try and relax.  remember when we call you listen.  no going off the reservation as the saying goes. capisce?’
 
‘yeah.  capisco.’ 
 
he rubbed his hands over his face.  he needed a shower and a drink.  in front of him the sun was in free fall and had just hit the far edge of the horizon.  you could almost hear the splash as the sky turned a vivid orange red.  BBQ smells filled the salty beach air.  sea gulls noisily rushed to their nightly roosts.  soon it would be dark.
 
jmh           
 

box cars and snake eyes re-visited part 2

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the air was almost black along with foul smelling.  at first he thought it was a dream.  vietnam?  long ago?  no.  not that.  this was real too but in the present.  the odd time travel bit was happening again.  at least there were no ringing phones.  he rubbed his eyes for several seconds. maybe it was a dream after all.  when he stopped and opened his eyes again the black air was still there.  he sighed.  the foul air burning his lungs.  
 
he was standing on a sidewalk.  he knew where he was.  east l.a.  and it was summer in the city of lost angels.  so much for his memory of last night and the dead of winter up north in his little country cottage.  oh, man, was about all he could think of at the moment.  
 
it was already very hot for early morning.  even for lotus land summer.  a nasty inversion layer was trapping every bit of particulate matter low to the ground. it was at least several hundred feet thick.  almost like the the hills were on fire.  and burning madly down towards the valleys.  he coughed and rubbed his eyes again and noticed a homeless man walking towards him carrying a couple of large crumpled paper cups.  the guy was big and vibed bad juju.  he was still a couple of hundred feet away though.  but, making a bee line straight towards him.  turning the man walked quickly in the opposite direction.  
 
he was on city terrace drive and marengo.  just south and steps from the rush of the 10 freeway.  he stayed on city terrace and kept moving east.  for some reason he thought of the house not too far away.  years ago, every christmas, it was decorated with thousands of lights.  you could see it from the freeway as you either flew by or crawled by as the case may be.  one christmas, before emma, a vietnamese girl he was dating made him take her by the house.  up close the house was even more impressive.  it was massive as well.  a small but steady stream of cars made their way by the home.  a portly guy and his wife were out front dressed as mr. and mrs. claus.  christmas carols played from hidden speakers.  the lights glimmered and twinkled.  it was almost jaw dropping.  especially when santa walked up to the car and handed his giggling date a handful of christmas candy through the open car window. ‘merry christmas!’ he said with a distinct mexican accent.  incongruous at best.  totally lala land.
 
the house was still there.  still massive but nothing about it spoke of any christmas memories.  he stopped to look at the home and catch his breath and wondered aloud if it was still a christmas tradition.  he glanced west and was pleased to see that the homeless had given up on whatever it was he was thinking.  he had headed back to his probable corner at soto and marengo where he might catch some spare change from folks leaving the usc medical centers.  county usc and keck a bit further east nestled in the small rolling hills of east l.a.
 
moving west again he wondered why he was there.  he did know that eventually somehow or another he’d end up back home again.  it was just one of those things.  he wasn’t used to it but there was nothing he could do about it.  what bothered him was not knowing what was going to happen.  he never knew.  he wondered if he’d see the angel/nurse/government agent again.  or keith.  one or the other usually showed up. sometimes together.
 
he was passing the vista motel a large early 60’s structure.  he’d never seen it from this angle.  it was always from the freeway.  you couldn’t miss it.  it was big and sat right on the side of the road.  with the constant freeway noise he often had wondered how anyone ever got any rest.  on the side of the street he was on he’d stopped in the shade of a mexican cantina.  he stuck his hands in his pockets and came out with a few small bills.  the bar was already open so he went inside to get out of the heat, to grab a beer, and think a bit more.
 
it was dark and cool inside.  as his eyes became adjusted to the light he noticed a couple of other early morning or all night drinkers were down at the end of the bar furthest from the door.  the place reeked of stale beer, old smoke, and seedy desperation.  as he settled into a bar stool his bare arms stuck to the bar top.  the bartender wandered over wiping his hands on an old dirty towel.  he made a sad attempt at cleaning the bar top with the rag.  
 
‘cerveza, por favor.  coors light.’, the man said, as he placed a five spot on the bar.    
 
the bartender nodded and went to fetch the beer.
 
the beer arrived sans a glass which given the circumstances was just as well.  the TV was on and as he sipped the ice old brew he watched it without much interest.  it was the news on a local spanish station.  a rather pretty reporter was standing in front of the old parker center building yammering away in spanish about something or another.  the only interest he was paying was to her ample cleavage.  given his meager knowledge of spanish he’d gleaned she was talking about a murder that had occurred last night.  the suspect was still apparently at large also apparently considered to be armed and dangerous.  he yawned then sipped his beer.
 
the next moment was one of those things that made these time travel deals a white knuckled scary ride.  it was as if he’d plunged through all of dante’s rings and had boarded the boat steaming into the port of hades.  his picture appeared on the TV.  ms boobs was saying something about the photo being the suspect the cops were searching for.  a person interest.  yeah, it was him.  what the fuck?  he was even wearing the clothes he had on in the photo.  
 
he was so startled he was sitting ramrod straight on the bar stool.  his bottle of beer frozen halfway to his lips.  jesus, a new wrinkle indeed.  he finally got his arm to move again and he drank long from the beer.  thankfully, neither the bartender or the drunks at the other end of the bar were paying no attention to him or the TV.  he finished his beer.  left the five on the bar.  said nothing then stepped back out into the black air, hot sun, and blinding light.
 
jmh