Children of Los Angeles

Flash Fiction by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Let me tell you how it is—

“GET HIM OUT OF MY HEAD!”

I met this girl.

“I MET JESUS!”

You’ll meet her too.

“I HAVE ISSUES! AND I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THEM!”

It wasn’t like I had any pressing appointments that weekend. I’d been out of work for three weeks. It was starting to hurt.

“GALAXIES! EXPLOSIONS! MY CUNT!”

I’m sorry; if I knew better—if I knew how to control it—how to control her—

“TURN ON THE FUCKING ENGINE AND LET’S MOVE!”

– –

Five a.m. Outside the Café Hermosa on Sunset, 750 paces from the beach. Gold umbrellas. Gold epaulettes on the maitre d’. Five American gold dollars in my pocket.

If I told you what I did, would you forgive me? The terrible thing is: I no longer care. What I care about is this: what are you going to do about it when she gets you?

“DID YOU GET THE MONEY?”

“Yeah I got it.”

In my imagination; she’s not wearing anything. In my imagination, she’s a mercurial goddess, descended from heaven into the underappreciated passenger seat of my pedestrian American automobile, nude as Aphrodite, lickable stickable humperdinkable, obscene and clean from the mainstream, baby, but she isn’t, she’s on four month lockup under the twin towers, twenty-two floors up (they only put you there when you’re crazy)…

“AAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

I can hear her in my head.

It swings easier when it’s dead—I think about money like that: dead money and live money. Live money is like energy, alive over the sidewalk, ready to go into the air, over the concrete, into the radio waves. But dead money is the zombie eternal underneath: dead money is necromantic. Devil worship.

What I can’t decide is this: which am I? Alive or dead? Employed, or entrepreneurial? And why is that man looking at me like that?

“You going to eat that, buddy?”

“Uh, yeah, I was going to eat it. I paid for that donkey wheel.” (They make them from fried dough and cream cheese. These Swedes will think of anything).

“I know where you’ve been.”

“Well you know more than me, man. Could you move over a bit? You’re standing in my light.”

Two blocks down from Hermosa is the poor man’s coffee joint in this neighborhood, the only place the working stiffs can afford to caffeinate. why don’t the homeless guys bug the rich kids down the block? Because they know they’ll have better luck here.

“I don’t have any cash on me, I’m sorry.” (Only American gold).

“I’m not asking for money. Just a donut.”

“Alright. One for my friend here. Put it in my tab.”

The way I got a tab at this donut shop is not that interesting a story. Maybe I’ll tell you later. who I want to tell you about is Lisa:

The galactic broadcast frequency.

The hubba-tubba burning mumma.

The—

“I’VE GOT A HOT CUNT! I’M BEING BURNED ALIVE!”

I’m coming baby.

– –

Los Angeles is like a great burning lamp, and I am the moth. I am the audience, as the builders, the hundreds of them, fed on garlic, as Robert Ashley said, as I roll through town in my dilapidated Geo Prizm, trying to stay two days ahead of the addiction. Two days ahead of the men in white suits.

It’s not drugs. I wish you would believe that part. It’s Los Angeles. She’s the drug at the top of the party, so high she doesn’t even need to be naked to summon you into her most private hearts, she radiates it out of her chakras at 600 watts, turning glass into syrup . . .

One hundred twenty days out is my appointment with my probation officer who despises me and wants to see me go back behind bars. If I can get my baby out before then I might live but she’s under government indictment two hundred and twenty feet above the street looking out of a slit-medieval window down onto Union Station.

And let me tell you one more thing: I could tell you a lot of the worse stories. I’m protecting you here. This is one of the nice ones! It’s because I like you! And I need you to do me a favor. I need you to help me shut this bitch up:

“I HAVE HAD ABOUT ENOUGH, TIME AND AGAIN, OF LISTENING, NOT ONLY TO YOUR DECEPTIVE BETRAYALS, HOMBRE, LITTLE MAN, AND I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU ABOUT THAT TOO. THIS IS NOT THE WOMAN YOU THOUGHT YOU Were MARRYING, I GET THAT. BUT HERE’S What YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND: We CAN GET OUT OF THIS TOGETHER, OR We CAN GO DowN APART. I Wish I COULD TELL YOU THERE was ANOTHER Way BUT I’VE HAD ABOUT TwO THOUSAND YEARS TO THINK ABOUT THIS AND IT’S DowN TO THIS.”

Did I forget to mention my baby believes she’s a demi-goddess who’s two millennia old? She has a nice personality, is the thing. That’s what you’re supposed to fall in love with girls for.

But just because this is a nice little story for you on your couch doesn’t mean it’s not a scary story. This is a scary city. And there are men with knives here, who give you interesting looks over the edge of their car windows.

“You going to eat that?”

Swedish donuts are very popular around here. I pass the donut across the space between my piece of shit American-Japanese automobile and the iridescent mobster stooge car across from me, wipe my hand, roll up the window, and pick up my government cell phone with my free 400 Obama minutes per month to ring Legal Aid:

“Can you make me a free man?”

“You need to make an appointment, sir.”

“I already did!”

“You need to make another one.”

The Obama-phone is the size of a very small turd in cheap black plastic. Above my head the iron sky glows blue and the sun is baking the red metal of my automobile to force me to commit to something, for the first time in my life:

Therapy?

Love?

A criminal career?

I want all three, God.

“GET ME OUT OF HERE YOU CUNT!”

“I’m coming baby.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, I was talking to my girlfriend. What time can I come in?”

“Noon tomorrow.”

“What am I supposed to do until then?”

“If you need emergency medical assistance, please call 9-11.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The grail of the holy city knows no other names, for it neither has nor needs one; it rises absurd priapic at its heart where they killed the Chumash’s great tree and erected the unappealing Patsouras Plaza, named after a betraying Greek—

“ARE YOU COMING HONEY?”

“Yes. Yes. I’m coming.” Just as soon as I can assemble a legal argument.

– –

The lawyers know nothing and neither do I but it still seems remotely possible that somewhere in the tomb-like recesses of the public law library will be a magical get-out-of-medical-lockup free card . . . if I can just find the right tome . . .

“You have anything for wrongful arrest?”

“Aisle five.”

It’s like the wal-mart of legal aid; organized by defense strategy.

Violation of rights. Improper procedure. Judicial recusal.

I’ll take all three, God.

“How much for all these?”

“The photocopier is over there. You’ll need a card.”

If I am a tool of the system, I wish to be the industrial grade plastique, deforming huge structures with my pristine crystalline structure, awaiting its spark:

– –

That we hear each other’s brains is not the most interesting thing about me and my baby. The most interesting thing is that we both survived a ten year stint in Hollywood with all major limbs, organs, and bank accounts intact. We paid other costs, as you can see. The piper’s fee, in our case, was the color of the sky: it rages red inside of my head. And in hers, it is a silver grey, no matter the hour of the day.

I hold her hand over the bright silver lunch table, bolted to the floor where she is handcuffed.

“I got you a lawyer, honey.”

“Did you bring me a sandwich?”

She looks like a gazelle improbably thrust into a Gaudi-esque architectural landscape, the angles pushing uncomfortably against the edges of the shapes arranged for her, like the dais in Cadiz for the native captives to be displayed before hereditary royalty . . .

“You feeling okay baby?”

“Better now that you’re here.”

The radio transmission of her thought-system activates only at distances greater than twenty yards. She’s not the same in person as she is in the thought-plane of desire; but no one is. Even as no one experiences the same Los Angeles, when they come here with their brittle dreams.

– –

The judge bangs his gavel and I rise with the attorney to declare myself present to defend the honor of she, ragged carousel wanderer of this Fifth Age of Turtle Island, Atlantis Reconfigured and Re-launched like a decades-late season of Twin Peaks, directed from beyond the grave by Cecil B DeMille . ..

Do you take this woman? To convey and to shelter, under improbable circumstances, imprisoned within late capitalism or early anarchy, made new within the cauldron of media-children burnt by the flame of Babylon?

“Yes, your honor.”

Five months is what she gets. Her third shoplifting charge of the year.

I buy the pixie sticks she loves and send them to her through the mail.

At work I process the paperwork of more serious criminals: sucked into the system by less appeasing orifices. I cash the government checks for the absentee lawyer. Three dozen little green pictures of the State of Liberty: government scrip.

“I WANT TO FUCK YOU LIKE A KNIFE!”

Doesn’t she sound like a lullaby?

 


Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming in 1979. He is a graduate student in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

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