The Dumb Ass Scene
saturday night in the big city
I realize very quickly that I’ll have to call on 6’s assistance for accommodation. Since I happen to be doing her a tremendous favor at the time, I figure my chances should be pretty good.
However, since it’s after one a.m., I decide to wait until morning to call. I wander the back streets of Santa Monica for about half an hour, past countless alleys, doorways and small, inviting parks, until I find a drugstore that offers a reasonably safe-looking loading area. I figure this is as protected as I’m likely to get, so I drop my bundle and curl up for the night.
I lie awake until three, imagining muggers skulking about in the shadows. Then I wake about six and someone is tugging on my shoes.
Luckily, I don’t start, so I pretend to still be asleep and take a look at my assailant through half-slit eyes. If this guy even looks like ever met someone dangerous, I’m going to just lie here, the soundest sleeper in the history of the world. If he wants to take my Nikes, I’m going to let him Just Do It.
There are three of them, but they’re all kids, maybe ten or twelve years old. From their dress, I guess Rich White Homeboys Looking For Kicks. This significantly changes things.
I leap up and roar at them, “Fuck off my shoes!”
They scatter as if they’re on strings, one giving such a terrified squeak that I get the giggles for the rest of the morning. As they leap a fence, one says, “Told you he wasn’t dead, dickweed.”
“More where that came from,” I mutter dangerously, just in case there are any more homeboys lurking under the crates.
time for some change
Right now my wallet contains:
Drivers license with photo of me in very bad mood. I still can’t believe this. The bus driver stiffed me my change on the way to the DMV and because of this insignificant chump I have to carry around an embarrassing picture of myself until the year 2011.
A ten dollar bill and two ones. I haven’t checked my bank account for so long that I can’t remember how much money I have. I know I had a couple of hundred a few months ago, but I seem to remember handing Cindy my keycard and telling her to take whatever I owed her. This does not bode well for my current financial status.
Bogus American Film Institute card. There was a guy selling “Any Official Card You Want (FBI, LAPD, ’Official Bullshitter’ etc)” on Ocean Front Walk; he drew them up himself. He was really good, but he was only there for two weeks before I saw him being escorted into a black Ford by four men in dark suits.
An old photo of me and Marianne Johnson, a girl I dated when we were high school Seniors. I’m pointing at the camera with a quizzical expression on my face (the guy taking the picture just could not work it out) and Marianne is hanging off me, laughing so hard her eyes are closed. It’s too cute to throw out, even though Marianne dumped me for a football player. I have a high school reunion Friday night, so maybe I’ll see Marianna there.
6’s business card, which includes her cellphone number.
My wallet does not contain:
Change for a payphone.
a close encounter
I wander into the drugstore, carrying my briefcase and bundle of clothes and looking, I’m sure, very much as if I just spent the night on the streets. The proprietor is old and Asian, and he throws me a terrified look. I guess it’s a tough neighborhood, with all those upper-class homeboys loose on a Sunday morning.
“I just want money,” I say, trying to calm him. I root around in my bundle of clothes for my wallet. “Just want some change.” I point helpfully at the till.
“Okay,” he says. He opens the till and stands back against the wall.
It takes me a moment to realize my mistake, and as I open my mouth to explain, a voice says, “Move one finger and I blow your head off, you dumb ass.”
I take a long, deep breath.
“Turn around. Slowly.”
I turn. It’s a kid about my age, with a long, thin rifle pointed at my head. “I just—” I stop and readjust my voice, which has jumped a couple of octaves. “I just wanted—”
“I know what you wanted, you dumb ass,” the kid says, his eyes narrowing. “You get out of here and never come back, and I don’t call the cops, okay? You understand what I’m saying?”
“I didn’t mean to—”
“You must be a dumb ass,” says the kid, and I realize that if I’m really standing here trying to argue, he’s right.
The next place is a grocer, Mexican, and I enunciate clearly: “Excuse me, I wonder if you could please change a dollar for me.”
“Sure, buddy,” says the grocer, and I head for a payphone.