86’d

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , on April 22, 2012 by Dave

I’ve since been 86’d after a year stint at the Down and Out Bar and I must say it was a good run. It was a run to proud of. My 86 was handled with utmost professionalism by the staff. I had crawled up the sorry excuse for a hill from The King Eddy to the Down and Out Bar and attempted what was to be my last breach. The security officer pulled me gently to the side before I walked in and in a low voice said my first name. This especially took me off guard as I had not expected him to know it and I felt awkward for not knowing his.

He continued on, “there have been too many instances.” I wondered for a moment if not knowing his name was one of the instances as I was only familiar with two minor infractions. I wanted to ask about the instances, but perhaps it was best not to know the details. Perhaps it was bad enough that I had not known the name of the man who let me pass into this bar on hundreds of nights. Perhaps this 86 was more than just. It was necessary. He then tapped me on the shoulder for what we both knew would be the last time. I nodded in agreement, stuck my hand and the only words that I could find were something along the lines of, “I understand. Thank you.” I continued home.

A ruling had been made in some weekly staff meeting. Video tapes replayed. Reminders issued. And finally tonight they had enforced it. As with most things; relationships, an 8-ball of coke, or a good book – they come to an end. Except for running out of coke you usually feel a little lighter about it. A little like a sailor once again standing on the dock gazing the sea. Pondering far away lands that seem to be rushing at him in the wind. And the seagulls seem to know it too dangling along shores squawking at the horizon every day. How could we forget about these moments that make your skin feel crisp?

But I had no shore or dock to stand on with my crisp skin. I was on 5th and Broadway and I was surrounded by drug salesman firing off lengthy lists of pharmaceutical offerings under their breath. It reminded me of this tunnel you can walk through in the Museum of Tolerance where racial slurs are whispered at you from tiny speakers. Though these weren’t racial slurs, they still had the power to cut men down. Downtown Los Angeles is full of men and woman that have been cut down; weeping on steps, sleeping on sidewalks with rats running over them. The stench at times is difficult to take. Man seems to have a knack for smelling worse than animals. Especially here. I ponder how close I am to joining them. Just a few more bad paychecks at the dealership and I’m finished.

Reflecting on my run as a regular I recall mostly the primary activity is gossip (and occasionally some fucking). Once you are settled in endless curiosities are made regarding your personal life. Only to find out later they were clearly and shamelessly shared with other regulars at later times. I suppose this would be the case at most bars, amongst their regulars too. As if our lives hold some special importance inside taverns or bars across america. That there surely must be some uniqueness to our lives because we’re not sweeping the garage floor at night.

I suppose if there was something unique, honorable or remarkable in any way about being a regular in a bar we would know about previous batches of regulars: Batch 14 from 1945-1946. Batch 32 from 1976-1979 and so on. But, I have yet to see any mention of these previous batches and no walls of honor. Yet, surely they thought admirably of themselves. Surely they too thought they had some special attachment to life. That their lives were a less common. Perhaps the truth is that regulars are actually just that. Regular people. Searching for something. Something not unlike the sailor pondering far away lands, except they don’t know they are sailors and they don’t know about the sea that stretches out and the reason for this just might be because they’re inside a dark box called, a bar. And they won’t leave.

Until there are too many instances.

Car Salesman

Posted in Fiction on July 26, 2010 by Dave

Your skin and clothes have become the same color as concrete, and people don’t even notice you anymore.

It started like a whisper inside. Harmless enough at first. Like a mouse living in your apartment. As soon as you forget about him you see the little fatty scrambling and wobbling along the wall. Sooner or later, the little mouse grows into a raccoon that occasionally sits on your chest while you sleep.

I hope, dear sir, that such a thing isn’t rumbling around you now.

I wished this morning that I didn’t see the blonde girl sitting in the window of the hotel La Mirage with her hand tucked under her chin watching the rain fall on Hollywood. My work shoes weren’t holding up very well in the puddles, and every few minutes I would find myself in battles to maintain possession of my umbrella against the wind on the narrow sidewalk, and as far as I could tell I was the only pedestrian around.

I kept thinking about her, and imagined that her veins carried not only blood, but novels, and paragraphs, and sentences, and little men were marching up and down them with their typewriters, and official-looking black suits with hats, and they could be mistaken for FBI men but they are writers dressed to type a motherfucker out and give birth to some master prose. Something that seems to tell all of time that we were here and we were made of more than organs, and machines, and that we looked for everything.

Inside and outside.

A full investigation was made

Nothing considered scrap, nothing re-written or revised or buried or burned.

And I wanted to let her know all of this, and toss my umbrella away and make a sign in the cold rain to tell her all of this, and at the very least let her know that I saw her, and I had hope for her

but I’d surely appear crazy making any such attempt

but then again maybe it would have saved both of us.

and then perhaps she would run out the hotel door and sprint across the street in her bare feet, stop a few steps short of me, catch her breath and look right at me, and swallow me whole, never to let me out alive again.

and I’d be a writer employed by her

working on her veins

and fully documenting her

on official business.

But I must remind myself I am a mere internet car salesman. And I do apologize.

Salesman

Posted in Fiction on July 13, 2010 by Dave

Sitting at a desk with all my pens in order and all my various office supplies in their propers, I’ve wiped the desk clean a few times and I’m certain there isn’t a crumb or spec of dust on it. I’ve even leaned down for verification, eyeing the desk like a soldier sights a gun.

I nod with approval and look out onto Van Nuys Blvd.

I’m all set to sell Audis.

And some super thing, some beast that lives a bigger life than me seems to be slipping and slithering all over the showroom.

I’ve considered going to Gold Diggers on Santa Monica Boulevard where I can write the complete report.

Perhaps I’d see what D. saw before he went crazy (or uncrazy) and brought his metal typewriter in there and banged out poems. What I wouldn’t pay to know what he wrote on the edge of the stage. What I wouldn’t give to read those poems. A manic storm of humanity and skin and Kafka poured into his veins for him to bleed out. A man alone with his typewriter under his arms on a long walk from Koreatown with the world sticking itself to him and he splashes it back, in ink. In the first draft. Always just one draft, because there’s only one pass. One chance. Searching for a place to finally belong. Surely this place of lost souls must be such a place. A grimy strip joint in Hollywood where he dared to walk in and drop his metal down, order drinks and begin pages of prose. But even he was chased out and beaten inside and out where the strippers looked at him with confusion and sadness.

Then I wonder if maybe I’m not ready for Gold Diggers. I wonder if I would have the guts to walk in. I put the thought aside and consider writing papers for the boss: outline a new internet process. Perhaps suggest some areas of improvement for the CRM application. But they’ll say they’re working on it, like they always do.

So I stare at my computer at a tab called “employee dashboard.” You would expect such a tab to contain HR materials but this is a sales area, where the leads are stored. Clearly this is an application geared towards a corporate auto dealer. An industry whose management likes to monitor and report. One where the salesman is an employee. He’s not a super thing. He’s not a unique animal of mankind. He’s not a thing renting a room someplace. He’s not capable of gutting someone in an alley fight. He’s not even aware of Latin. The salesman needs something inside of him. Some boom inside. Something to grab onto and suck off for life. Something he can carve into his arms. Clarior hinc honos carus bestia.

Everyday on my way I to work, I wish I had a typer and could plop down and document all of Los Angeles – every block and street, for a living. But such a thing doesn’t pay the bills, so I must pass on the urges to pull over. I must keep going before I’m late and get written up.

Sometimes I sit in my chair making calls and emailing out quotes, and I think about sticking my head out the window on the next test drive like a child would. I don’t want to end up with a leathery face standing on some lot talking about what I used to do. So I wiggle in my chair and write prose for a few minutes between leads. Before someone comes looking for me, this super thing spinning and wiggling slithers up my leg like a worm pulled from fresh dirt and squeezes itself en mass around my middle, causing my chest to make terrific leaps up and down to breathe. It puts itself out in my mouth and I must gasp for new air to live on.

Outcast

Posted in Fiction with tags , , on June 26, 2010 by Dave

Go out into the world with no backpacks, no authorization passes, and in some drunken move that wouldn’t ordinarily make sense, make a fucking run for it.

At least not in the sun, after it warmed the cold grass and gave it a smell that only seems to happen in the morning – after salesman and day laborers started to make their way out of front doors and walk down Koreatown sidewalks, where small rodents and sometimes people seem to be rotting along the way, like a small plague swept through the neighborhood, and fed on us last night.

Run past worker trucks, cheap multi-passanger family vehicles, past fruit stand workers who will cut you fresh fruit and pour it into a bag seasoned with chili powder, where it feels like you’ve somehow found a secret way to wet your organs, with every vitamin available, all at once.

Run past someone in an alley fucking his girlfriend. Past Carlos and his truck. Past Ernesto the registered sex offender holding a can of beer. There’s no factory nearby. No sign of Whitman’s industrial vision. Of a thing bulging in iron. Of it bulging from the woods. Of it leaping out in a fantastic sight of new man, shaking the land with both fists to the ground, thigh muscles firmly ready to launch. Mouth dripping. Off collar. On top. Waiting for nothing.

Close Combat

Posted in Fiction on January 12, 2012 by Dave

When he finally stood up he noticed that the sun had wiggled itself between the crevices of his curtains; he closed them and with that the lightsabers disappeared in his apartment. It was time for breakfast.

 

In the Rain

Posted in Fiction on November 23, 2011 by Dave

I remember in the last winter storm I saw a homeless man sit on the steps of Pershing Square for 3 days. Every day I’d step out into the cold rain to walk the dogs, but their faces would turn grumpy and they would shake their little bodies insisting we turn around, but not before I’d notice his black umbrella looked more worn than the last time I saw him. And his knees rattled like wooden baseball bats against his chest trying to get in.  And his body was stubbornly tucked underneath the umbrella which did him little good. I asked myself how he could do it. And I Imagined he must have told himself there’s no choice but to grin, bare it, and chew the seconds away one-by-one. When the finally rain stopped, when the sky was fresh, when it seemed the skyscrapers turned shiny again, and life could once again move- he was gone too. Without shelter.

15 minute break

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18, 2011 by Dave

I can’t help but wonder of there is some purpose to life other than standing against this brick wall. My shirt buttoned all the way up. Tie strangling my neck. I’ve found a small sliver of shade. Some relief from the heat.
I’m watching the porter hose down a car. The wind sometimes catches a few water droplets towards me and for a moment I realize I’m not actually here, but someplace else. And I feel alive again.

The Reester

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 2, 2011 by Dave

I went to the grocery store and saw a whole family of Reesters sitting on a shelf on sale for $3.99. I almost bought them all, but after looking in my wallet I pondered hiding them in various areas of the store for another day. I envisioned I would need a supply to get me through the whole year. I began to plan how I’d disguise them as other things in my freezer to protect them.

Finally, on a hot summer night I’d slide one of these little bastards out. I’d have my way with the Reester on a cold leather couch. I’d watch Dexter with my Reester. I’d talk to my Reester and we’d discuss the meaning of life, but the discussion wouldn’t last long because my dear little Reester is the meaning.

Pershing Square at Dawn

Posted in Fiction on January 10, 2011 by Dave

Yesterday I took the dogs for a morning walk in Pershing Square as the sun began to rise. I found myself in the food court where they have plastic cafe tables. I thought I was alone until the sun revealed shadows sitting at the tables. Some alone, some having important looking discussions, some hunched over and rocking back and forth, one gentleman even had his laptop out. At first I thought they were copper-colored humans on proud display, but as I sat there in silence they reminded me more of a pack of deer laying in an upstate NY field. I was a hunter encountering them before he was ready to hunt. Entirely unexpected. Entirely not the vision I set out with for how my afternoon would unfold. A pack of deer shouldn’t have let me get this close. Their ears raised a little and wiggled around like small radar stations and the black ends of their noses let some heat out.

I remained undetected and stood motionless as the sun slowly revealed more humans. At any moment I expected everyone to jump up at once and sprint away, but no such thing happened. This was no Paris cafe, no Munich beer garden and very much not the Jarden in San Miguel. It was Pershing Square in Los Angeles and the only thing that seemed willing to move were the rats along the edges.

Even the minimum wage security guards stood motionless under the lights with their notepads in hand ready to document an infraction. The night lights blinked for a second then then went out signaling the official start of daily activities according to the LA City Parks and Recreation department.

I could see as far as the benches now and saw more bodies. These had covered themselves with all their possessions like birds hiding under their wings. To them it was still dark. It was still midnight. The lights could turn off or on all they want. I circled the park a little more until the sun slid in between the skyscrapers like a giant bright slices of toast.

Pershing Square Metro station

Posted in Fiction on January 2, 2011 by Dave

In DTLA Pershing square metro stop. Where on cold nights you can slip underground in your socks and sleep against the wall and girls in high heels and night dresses will walk by you
stumbling and being alive before they are old.
Screaming that the Down and Out Bar is where it’s at as the escalator pulls them up into the city.
Swallowing each and every one of them in a nice orderly fashion.

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