Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I’m killing myself with this shit


Jose Perez threw a party in honor of his new apartment. Two-room rat hole with a rusted steel balcony and panoramic view of the Red Zone. Nice if you wanted to see smog, criss-cross of wires, and bloated hookers clopping up and down the broken pavement.
But, ah yes, the aforementioned fiesta. All types of sordid junkies and nefarious types lurked in the smoke-filled shadows of Jose’s colonial apartment. Cocaine, marijuana, speed, and booze passed many a hand.
Banda music and the vecinos rushed about like cackling, famished jackals.
Stumbled over Ivan in the bathroom and he sighs, “I’m killing myself with this shit.”
With the mask of the damned on his ravaged face, he looked at me with sick, brown eyes. I took a snoot or two myself and felt it.
“Worthless shit.” He shook his head.
Half a bottle of tequila too soon and effects of the tweek caused me to lose control. I stumbled and swayed and the music - the music was all around me.
Sniffing, I leaned against a chipped, green painted, brick wall and listened to hyped up, drug fueled patter of Jose as he gabbed in shuddering gestures with a ratty, sour-faced whore strung out on goofballs.
“…slammin’ that heroin with no electricity only that red candle, ya know - they turned off all the lights and water months ago. Man, was Chava happy to kick out that asshole roommate. Never take a puta with a monkey, mija. You can’t trust none of them motherfuckers. No bueno.”
Suddenly, I saw a Mexican Indian in sharp spotlight. He was hooked and sick, sniffing and all the bones stood out on his smooth face.
He caught my eye and walked over and leaned on the wobbly metal table and asked, “You wanna be with me?”
Lean, brown hand gently rubbed against my hardening crotch. The guy was short, but handsome with strong Aztec features. In his hazel eyes, there flickered pinpoints of light.
“Let’s get out of here.” I slurred.
Long, mute shadows of a dark, colorless street. Bar. Grocery store. Cable dishes of television sucked the sky like greedy siphons. The boy lived in a dead-end alley. Rats scurried in trash clogged gutters and the cockroaches - the cockroaches were downright arrogant. Ultimately, we entered an old Spanish apartment with rusted, iron balconies.
Dim lightbulb hung from a wire attached to the ceiling. Windowless room of concrete. Reek of mildew and dead bugs.
I tore open a small bag of meth; he ripped open a small packet of lubrication. Undressed quickly and erect penises were oiled up. On all fours, I clenched the thin, brown blanket as the smack-smack-smack of his hips hit my naked ass. The coke exploded behind my closed eyelids like a kaleidoscope of fireworks as he shuddered deep inside of me to some kind of gasping climax.
Through dry lips, we both sighed together, “Muy bueno.”
Alone in the back of a taxi libre, the lights of the city flickered across my face as the driver did a kamikaze race back to my flat. With the window down, the cold night air played in my hair. I grinned behind screwed up eyes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ivan


Stood outside Bar Ranchero in the shivering night - the Plaza was pregnant with the twilight people.
The bar adjacent to my frozen form thumped with laughter and merry making. Two old queens celebrated their cumpleaños. And, they graciously were flipping the bill for the posh and swanky fiesta. Complimentary booze and vittles guzzled by nameless, arrogant faces.
I went into the bar for a bit, danced a little – scrawny, attractive boy swirled with lithe movements to the disco beat - what was his name? Who cares? I drank with vague acquaintances - too many bodies that poured out into the street, so I stood outside in that chilled night and feigned interest with these faggoty-assed jerks.
By the entrance, Ivan - rentboy turned waiter, knew him for years – passed and sobbing that someone had stolen his money. I leaned against a lamp post, lit a cigarette, and watched Ivan go on and on with fellow hustlers about being ripped off.
How does it feel when it happens to you? I thought.
Big boobed hooker clopped up to me as I stood there watching Ivan’s scrawny frame tilt and droop in drugged-out grief.
“Whacha looking for?” She asked.
“You don’t got it - plus, I like men.” Puffed on that cigarette like a cock.
“I am a man.” She croaked and it was time to cut.
Before I walked away, Ivan faded in and invited me to his trap - why not?
When I had first met Ivan, he was simply one of the legions of rentboys that hustled the plaza. A young man of slight build, his copper-colored face was oval and almost oriental in appearance. He had high cheek-bones and almond shaped eyes. The thing that appealed to me more than his slim and well-toned physique was his jet-black wavy hair. I’ve always been a sucker for black, wavy hair.
In the dark streets that led up to his shabby hotel, phantoms lurked - offering me junk amid hushed hisses and probing fingers.
“Nope, I’m all right” I muttered, as Ivan copped a paper.
Up worn and wooden staircase, the small room had a bed and a squat bookshelf, dirty clothes wadded and crumpled on the shelves.
He took out a glass pipe and crushed the crystal into it, lit up, and smoked - billowing huge plumes of that gray, tinny smell. Handed me the charred pipe - I faltered, internally reassuring myself that I could quit at any time.
One toke, two, three - we passed it back and forth in junky silence like a religious ritual. Been so long and so much it really didn’t affect me - at first.
Ivan on the flip side, degenerated into a shaking, teeth-grinding wreck - face sunken in skull, eyes open, peeled, raw.
When it was gone, he stashed the blackened tube under his stained mattress, laid back and listened to Banda on his CD Walkman.
I sat on the edge of the bed and glanced around at the bare, dirty pink walls as the tweek set in more on Ivan than myself. That acrid, heavy-metal taste in my mouth the cigarette couldn’t erase.
I sat and studied Ivan in pity as he convulsed in mechanical jerks - he had already dragged the bookshelf (small, black cockroaches scattered) and barricaded the door from paranoiac Dream Police. Ivan retrieved his pipe again – expertly scraping the residue from the stem for another round.
Heavy boots and jingling keys passed the door and Ivan’s schizophrenic paranoia flared - we sat a moment in silence and waited for the stranger to pass. I declined the second dose and enough of this sad, hopeless Fallen Angel - he was once strong and virile but the mind was gone. At least the boy had retained his looks of strong, angular Aztec features. However, I realized, that soon would decay.
I stood - extinguished my cigarette on the filthy, warped, wooded floor.
“I gotta go.”
And, I left that wretch to his personal horror.
Walked the few blocks in that dark, cold night - eyeing for patrols on account my own paranoia was kicking in. I thought of my future and of my plans - I cannot allow those past demons to control me.
Reaching my room - I undressed and got into bed, unable to sleep as the drug took hold. Eventually, I drifted off - horrid nightmares abound. I woke up depressed and the urges of quitting festered in my mind.
I walked through the Plaza - Ivan sat on a stool at the entrance to Villa Garcia - in the flashbulb of paranoia his eyes lit up.
A whiff of meth drifted in the clear night, riding on the Banda music. An old hag muttered over her candles and altars in one corner. A dingy, white cat pulled at my pant leg and ran onto a concrete balcony. The moon ominously floated by.
“Ivan!” Rentboys glanced up from card games, coffee houses, and sullen hooked stances under metal light posts as the name whistled by and slowly faded away. “Ivan! Saul! Diego! Jose!” The rentboy cries echoed on the warm night.
“Need you to do me a favor,” I croaked, wiping away the more obvious signs of distaste with a stained paper napkin, saw the yellow of meth in Ivan’s face, “Don’t ever invite me to do that again.”
His body moved in little overanxious jerks as the junk channels lit up. “Okay - okay. Ya sure?”
“I know what I’m doing.” Breathing the residue of methamphetamine out of my already scarred lungs.
I walked alone down Avenida Revolucion to my room amid the carnival of blaring neon and pounding discos - everyone looked like a drug addict.
Stopped to sit on a metal bench in front of El Torito disco - wanted to sit alone and smoke a cigarette and think. Depression was rising again.
Moments passed and a handsome cholo pelon sat with me on the bench - smell of dirty linens and unwashed bodies - we don’t talk, but he cackled and grinned into his overused Styrofoam coffee cup - he laughed, black insane laughter as patrol after patrol roamed by eyeing us.
This was too tiresome and I drifted home - lost without purpose or meaning.
I lay in my bed, naked, on top of the covers smoking a cigarette, watching a black cockroach scale the faded, baby-blue wall of my room, feelers waving - national sponsored program in Spanish mumbled from the radio about catching crabs from prostitutes - and I thought, I need to quit this shit.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dark and Dirty Back Kitchen


The streets were still wet when I got off work. The snobbishly rich were out in the blinding, white sun walking their dogs - San Diego being the dog walking capitol of the country.
I darted around the corner and entered Mr. Lee’s Café. A small, hole in the wall diner. The long, high ceiling restaurant was the last of its kind in downtown - all other family owned restaurants had gone out of business, replaced by high-end fusion eateries and condos, all in the name of urban renewal.
Lee’s was owned by an ancient Chinese man and his wife - quite popular with the hobo crowd. A plate of eggs, ham, toast, hash browns, and a coffee still ran you about one-fifty.
I entered the joint with the smell of grease and unwashed bodies that wafted thick through the tight air. The café had a long diner counter that ran the length of the room, it was wood and warped, rusted, steel stools lined the counter and there was a beaver board wall with hooks for hats and coats.
At one end, in front of the dusty, glass-pane window, sat a ragged man - gray hair a tangled mane, bush of beard, layered dirty clothes - he sat sipping his coffee, staring into nothing, listening to the tinny crackle of the small, portable radio attached to his cart that held all his dreams and possessions.
The four others at the counter were sullen, ratty, old phantoms of the night streets - they too, sat solemnly and sipped coffee or shoved yellow messes of breakfast into their slobbering holes. No one looked up as I entered, except a bloated, black man with cataracts in his left eye.
With a loud screech of metal on spotted, dirty linoleum, I sat at the counter as Miss Lee asked for my order with weary apathy.
“Coffee.” I croaked.
In the dark and dirty back kitchen, the fryer and grill worked over time as Mr. Lee prepared various orders.
From a storage room wobbled a massive, squat woman with long, straight brown hair and great, tumbling breasts that over lapped her bloated stomach. As she walked to the back of the counter, her green eyes, that were hidden behind large, oval, horned rimmed glasses, caught my glance.
She smiled genuinely, “Oh muh God! Haven’t seen you in a while!”
“Hey, Darlene.” I wheezed. “I been working and doin’, you know.”
She wiped the counter in front of me, “Well after you eat, why don’t you head over to my apartment for a visit. I got something I wanna show you.”
Ms. Lee placed the coffee in front of me, I said to Darlene as I stirred in sugar and milk, “Sure. When do you get off?”
“At eleven this morning. I hafta take little Bobby for a haircut before our appointment with the CPS tomorrow. You wanna wait for me?”
“Okay. I’ll hang out at the mall and meet you back here at eleven.” I agreed, then pointed at the pen written menu plastered on the wall mixed in with the Buddha shrine. “And I’ll take a number three.” Number three was the cheap breakfast I had mentioned before.
Darlene was a woman whom I had met once as I lay on the slab at a local blood bank. I used to sell my plasma for money to score for my dope. She was a chatterbox, but a good person. I had never seen her mean or angry, just a little worried about her weight. On one of our long tirades at the plasma center, we both confided that we were addicts.
In her apartment on the fringes of skid row, Darlene shacked with her lover - a gangly, snaggle-toothed tweeker named Frank. He would cook up messes of whack shit in their small kitchen as the two kids from a previous, hellish romance played on the floor in the living room.
Before, I would hang around every day, scoring and partying with these two hillbilly tweekers. Running errands, keeping Darlene company; while Frank transported his home-made speed all over the southwest.
Things went sour real fast. Unbeknownst to Frank, Darlene had a romantic interest in me and freaked out when she found out I was queer. It hit her hard. And, Frank being the stereotypical, tweeking, red-neck homophobe didn’t help matters much. After a few verbal confrontations with Frank, I dropped out for a few months – though, I missed getting that free dope. That was then and over time; I guess, she held no hard feelings.
So, I met Darlene standing out front of Lee’s Café smoking a cigarette at eleven. We hopped the trolley the few blocks up to her building - an ancient pile of red brick that served as low-rent housing for welfare recipients and ghostly elderly. We slowly crawled up the warped, wooden staircase - six floors - the steps creaked under her titanic weight.
The apartment was cluttered and musty. Overstuffed couches from the Salvation Army clogged the room - various objects laid about that gave the impression that some large beast trampled through. Wadded clothes, dirty dishes piled on every table; crumpled newspapers littered the dirty, green carpeted floor. Everything was worn and second hand, save for the shiny, brand new fifty-two inch flat screen television that dominated the room.
I sat on one of the ratty couches in the corner, contemplating out the window - a warm breeze blew in ruffling the yellowed, laced curtains. “Where’s Frank?”
“He had a delivery job to San Bernardino - he won’t be back for another day or two, I guess.” Darlene said absently as she meandered into the kitchen. “Want some Pepsi?” She hollered back, opening the fridge. Returning back into the room, holding two plastic glasses, Darlene passed me mine and smiled, “You wanna smoke?”
I looked into her plump face, all the junk cells in my body lit up - I felt a lift, like when you met an old lover and you know you are going to have sex again.
I stood up, “Sure, Darlene - whacha got for me?”
“Go into the kitchen.” She smirked, falling into a green recliner that poofed out dust and groaned in disapproval.
I casually walked into the small kitchen and stopped in my tracks. Piles of dirty, greasy plates and utensils mounded up in the corner next to the stained sink.
On the untidy dining table was Frank’s meth lab - an assortment of Sudafed pills, a collection of chemical bottles, hoses, and pressurized cylinders.
One of the major problems with homemade dope was that those crazy kitchen chemists threw in a bunch of fertilizer and No-Doze and Sudafed and gasoline and who knew what the hell else and you ended up with some seriously toxic shit.
As every addict knew, there were a couple of ways to make meth and many common ingredients were used. Believe it or not, most of the ingredients used to make meth could be found right in the home.
Meth could be manufactured from a very easy recipe and be cooked and ready in six to eight hours in makeshift labs where the cookware could be relocated to avoid detection from the law of any fumes or vapors that were associated with the making of the drug. It cost about $50 to $140 to make one ounce that could be sold for as much as $1200.
Some examples of chemicals used to produce meth included, but are not limited to: Ether - Benzene - Methanol - Methylene Chloride - Trichloroethylene - Toluene - Muriatic Acid - Sodium Hydroxide - Table Salt - Ammonia - Pseudoephedrine - Hydrochloric Acid - Drain Cleaner - Battery Acid - Lye - Lantern Fuel - Anti-Freeze - Anhydrous Ammonia - Red Phosphorous - Iodine and whatever other crazy crap that could be thrown in.
Those lingering chemicals caused nausea, headaches, dizziness, skin burns and eye irritation. It could affect soil, ground water, air, furniture, and structure materials, such as flooring, vents, and walls. Many of the contaminants present when making meth were harmful to humans or pets if exposed to them. Cases had been reported that where children and adults lived in a house or other structures that were former meth labs, the inhabitants encountered serious health problems long after the lab had been deconstructed.
Labs were frequently abandoned in paranoid lieu of a bust and the potentially explosive and very toxic chemicals were often left behind.
Chemicals may also be burned or dumped in woods or along roads that caused a deadly hazard to the natural surroundings.
It is a well-known fact, that the most common of chemicals used to start the meth-making process were over-the-counter cold and asthma medications which contained ephedrine or pseudo ephedrine as decongestants or stimulants.
Empty Sudafed boxes overflowed the little, plastic trash can in the kitchen, but that wasn’t what stopped me. Sitting on the filthy counter was a plate that held a big pile of methamphetamine - it resembled a slice of crumbling birthday cake. I had never seen so much tweek at once in my life - I began to shake, felt my heart ping.
“The aluminum foil is in the cupboard, dear - take what you want. Bring me a little, will you?” Darlene called from the living room.
I grabbed the box of foil and placed several large crumbs into a napkin and walked into the living room. Darlene was sitting there with her works out next to her on an end table.
With speed, I hated to snort it - I preferred smoking. I obtained a better rush and it didn’t fuck up my nostrils. That gunky tasting residue lodged in the back of your throat never appealed to me. Yeah, I know - what about your teeth?
It is a long winded, boring fact that the chemicals used in meth production will rot out your teeth - I guess, I had been blessed with strong choppers and unlike many a junky that I know, I do keep up personal hygiene. No meth mouth for me.
However, Darlene was a skin popper. She enjoyed jabbing that needle into her haunches. Claimed there was no rush like it - I just don’t like needles. Injection was a popular method, also known as slamming, but carried quite serious risks.
The hydrochloride salt of meth is soluble in water; injection users may use any dose from 125 mg to over a gram, using a small needle. This dosage range may be fatal to non-addicts. Not so for the experienced addict, who rapidly develops a tolerance to the drug. Injection users often broke out in skin rashes (called ‘speed bumps’) and infections at the site of injection.
Too each their own and at that moment I wasn’t going to categorically analyze the matter, I just wanted to get high.
We went to work - I found an ink pen, popped out the ink reservoir and discarded it, using the casing for a straw. Ripping off a two inch wide strip of aluminum, I creased it length-wise to get that preferred groove down the middle. Placing a nice sized rock in the middle of the groove, I put the pen casing to my mouth, lit the underside of the aluminum strip with my lighter.
Heated, the speck dissolved into mercury like liquid, spewing gray resinous smoke - I tilted the strip downward, letting the liquid ooze along the groove, following with my straw, inhaling the smoke as it crept.
Instantly, I felt that static charge as it rushed and pulsed up from my lungs, up the spine, across the back of the head, to my forehead - I could feel my hairs prickling. My heart pounded and my sweat-filmed body quivered as I flicked the lighter over and over and over again under the strip, mechanically following the liquid dope up and down, up and down, up and down.
Darlene put some dope in a blackened spoon - held a lighter under the spoon until the meth dissolved. Grabbing a syringe, she sucked the liquid up with a needle. Leaning to her side, she pulled down her black sweatpants, exposing her unappetizing person to my fucked up gleam. A mass of white skin glowed, pockmarked by acne and red puncture sores - the smell of dirty ass and vagina punched me in the nostrils.
She somehow found a vein in that plateau of rippled dimples and jabbed the syringe in, pushing down the plunger.
She pulled up her pants, sat back and sighed, “So, this some good shit or what?”
I was shaking, hunched over my aluminum strip, feeling like a fat kid in a candy store. I glanced at her and curtly nodded.
Darlene chuckled, “Frank left me a lot - so do what ya want.”
Oh shit, I thought.
When I finished the dope that I had first brought out, I quickly returned to the kitchen and got more - and more and more.
All day, Darlene and I smoked and shot that shit like there was no tomorrow. Eyes wide and aware, mouths grinding and chewing, bodies tweeked in jittering jerks - Darlene and I sat and joked and laughed, spun out on all that dope.
She looked at me and realized I looked haggard. “When was the last time you slept, sweetie?”
“I don’t know – days?” I sighed.
“Why don’t you go into my room and lay down - try to get some sleep.” Her motherly instincts apparently coming through.
I stood up and agreed - made my way to the bed room. A queen-size mattress lay in the middle of the room covered in rumpled, musty blankets. I took my shoes off and lay down.
Every tweeker will tell you they have a distinctive habit when they are spun. This varied from individual to individual - hearing voices, seeing shadows; whatever - mine was hearing fucking.
I lay in the bed and on the other side of the grimy, plaster walls; I distinctly heard the muffled sounds of someone having sex. Thumpthumpthump went a bed against the wall. I rolled over; put my ear against the cold wall.
Yeah! Oh God, yeah! Fuck me, baby!” Moaned some bitch.
Between gasps and lunges, a young sounding man grunted, “Yeah! Take…all…that…dick, baby!”
I lay against the cold wall, twitching and sweating, listened to the moans from the adjacent apartment.
Didn’t even think of pleasuring myself - on this much tweek, my dick was shriveled to a useless nub. It must’ve been two hours I laid prone and listened with an attentive ear at that couple - funny thing was, in reality, on the other side of the wall, there was nothing, six floors down to a parking lot.
It became quiet and I adjusted myself into a more comfortable position. My mouth chewed and teeth ground, I looked out the window.
The sky was a harsh, bright blue - the trees a vibrant green swaying slowly in a breeze. Then, they began morphing into Disney characters - a duck, a mouse, a dog.
I smiled, thinking, Damn, this is some good shit.
Hours passed and I wasn’t sleeping. I popped up off of the bed and returned to the living room. Darlene was sitting there twitching, holding a cup of coffee in one hand - her syringe rested on the arm of the chair.
“Did you get any sleep?” She asked.
I sat on the couch, grabbed the strip of aluminum, “Nope.”
Flickwhoosh!
“You gonna work tonight?” She croaked.
“No.” I said, exhaling smoke. “As a matter of fact, I’m off.”
Leering, she smiled coyly, “So, you wanna stay the night here?”
I continued smoking dope, not looking up, “I can’t. I have to get back to Tijuana. I hafta do something.”
She looked at me hurt. Took a sip of her coffee as I inhaled the rest of the dope. I put the aluminum strip on the end-table and sat listening down into myself.
I needed to get some sleep - my body felt doughy, gummy, exhausted - blanketed by the electrical charge from the drug coursing through my muscles. My eyes stung and my mouth tasted foul and evil.
A few moments passed, I blurted, “Darlene, can I take a bag with me. I’ll get you back in a couple of days when I get paid.”
“Of course.” She sighed. She handed me a small zip-lock bag. “Here. Go in the kitchen and get what you want. But, I need you to pay me - Frank will get pissed if you don’t.”
In the kitchen, I filled the bag to the point of bursting. I gleaned the rim of the plate with a finger and brushed my gums with it - a tingling feeling washed over them.
I stood a moment, pondered the idea of shoving the rest of the dope on the plate into my pants pocket. Nah. I returned to the living room.
Darlene and I said our goodbyes and I walked the six flights down into the cool night. The stars twinkled and the traffic breathed. Jumping a trolley - I headed back to Mexico. I stood there in the back of the car, keeping an eye out for security.
Eyes shifted as the trolley rumbled, I glanced at the other passengers. I knew they were staring at me - what did they see? Was I that spun out that I didn’t fade into the shadows? Standing there in oversized, dirty jeans, wrinkled sports shirt, greasy, sweaty, pale face behind black, horn rimmed glasses - I twitched and swung my head back and forth in mechanical clicks.
Obviously, I didn’t care. All I thought was, I need to get some sleep.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dirty, Velvet Curtains



He looked like a pedophile. Ashen gray in colorless shirt and pants. White hair, paunch, and squinting, shifty eyes. That predatory stare at your person that always ended at your crotch.
I walked into the office as he stood by the register, munching on a sandwich. The room reeked of garlic and raw onion.
“Howzit goin’, Bill?” I asked.
I couldn’t care less for the old fucks mood - truth was, I couldn’t stand him. I’m sure he felt the same about me.
He grunted something to the fact that he was okay and returned staring blankly out the box office window into the blackness, slowly chewing like a cow with anthrax.
I sat in the old, blue easy-chair and quietly watched porn until the forty-five minutes was up and ended his shift. Bill mechanically went over his notes - he had a paranoid habit of jotting long lists of trivial notes to pass off onto me every night at the beginning of my shift. I stood and listened with bored apathy.
After ten minutes of that shit, Bill grabbed his backpack and shuffled out the door to go where ever Bill goes at night.
I sat at the box office window on the rickety stool for a solid hour before I grabbed my notebook. I jotted down thoughts interrupted by perverts and junkies paying to enter the theater.
I thought about my insidious life - a morbidly, depressing, solitary life that I had fallen into. Ever since my move to Tijuana from Los Angeles, it had been one romantic let down after the next. All crashing and burning from paranoid actions of my own design.
Too be sure, I have had my run of romantic relationships - however, I had always found some way of screwing them up. And the drugs didn’t help. Sure, they gave me that thrill, they filled that void - but, I always came back to the same point of originality. Depressed and alone.
And yet, at the moment of contact - the exact moment when some fool finally opened up to me - I became vicious and brutal. An arrogant monster, twisted in contempt and hatred. Was it because I had built up an impenetrable, emotional wall that had shielded me from that heart-shattering separation that I ran from in Los Angeles? The old ‘I’ll hurt you before you hurt me’ routine? Or that I wanted everyone that revealed the slightest interest in my well-being to feel the same vacuous pain that I was burdened with?
I lit a cigarette and stared out the window.
Fuck it, I thought. Leave that shit for the psychoanalysts.
I got up, locked the office and headed to the bathroom.
Passing through dirty, velvet curtains, I entered the main theater and marched towards the short hall just to the right of the large screen. Passing the coughing, slurping, yawning, farting - I heard an old man gasp through a toothless mouth, “Itha cumin’!”
Quickly, I turned the corner behind the screen into a well-lit hall with red walls. A candy machine hummed as I noticed, leaning up against the side, was little Mario - glass pipe up to mouth and blowtorch lighter blasting away.
He mocked surprise at seeing me, blowing huge plumes of gray smoke into the dank air.
“Hey, white boy! How’s things?”
“Mario.” I barely nodded.
“You look all sad.” He grimaced as he handed the pipe over to me. “Here, man - something to get this night going.”
I took the pipe - still warm, and placed it to my mouth.
I stopped, eyeing him, “How much you got, Mario? I don’t wanna bogart your shit.”
“Ah, dude.” Mario said, as he flicked the lighter in front of me. “It’s just dope.”
Three hits later between the two of us and I didn’t even have to piss anymore. Mario followed me back to the office and sat in the recliner. I took the stool.
Mario pointed at my open notebook next to him, “Watcha writing?”
I sighed, “Crap.”
Reaching into the folds of his black, denim jacket, Mario stated, “Well, when you’re a famous writer - remember me.”
Why does every one say that to me? I cannot - actually do not - want to associate with any of these characters if and when I am a successful writer. And no junk for me! Lounging on some veranda in a silk suit, sipping a martini, being tended by some dark skinned, exotic youth while I read my reviews in literary journals. Yep, I’ll show them all!
But, that was the fantasy of a near future - now was now. And now, Mario was pinching more meth into his pipe. He held it to his mouth, took a big hit and passed it to me.
Thirty minutes later; we were spun. Twitching, shaking, sweaty messes. Mario sat hunched over in the chair - his dark eyes transfix on the monitor that displayed a blond bimbo that yanked beads out of her butt by two sweaty Mexicans.
Mario leaned back and with the concession door wide open, unzipped his black jeans and pulled out his erection. And completely erect - never had I ever seen this junkies junk that hard before.
“Damn,” He quacked through trembling lips, “This makin’ me hornier’n shit.” His sparkling eyes darted at me. “You wanna?”
I hung the BACK IN 10 MINUTES sign on the concession door and closed it. Kneeling in front of Mario, I slobbered up and down on his long, dark penis until, with pointing of toes and quickness of breath; he squirted his semen into my mouth. I leaned over and - splat! - spit a wad of semen, saliva, and blood into the wastepaper basket.
I stood up and silently returned to the box office window. Mario zipped up his pants, fumbled with the front button - I looked at him, feeling so cold and void.
Mario jumped up, “Whelp, I’m going back into the theater. Here.” He placed a tiny plastic bag in my wet hand. “This should keep you for a while. Laterz.”
I said thanks and later back as the short Mexican darted out of the office and into the theater.
At that moment, the phone rang. Picking up the receiver, I heard the distinctive, labored breathing of obesity and knew exactly who it was before anyone answered.
“Is everything well?” The basso voice lisped.
It was Bob - the owner of the theater. He would occasionally call at odd hours throughout the night to make sure I was still there and not robbing him. He stated that openly a few times.
Bob also called in lieu of his missing boyfriend. He and his lover - a potbellied, mustachioed queen named Keith - ran the theater with such totalitarian authority as only haughty fags could. Keith was prone to leave him and go on drinking binges for days - or just hole up in some bathhouse screwing his blues away. It was one of the missing Keith calls.
“Yeah, Bob - how’s everything on your end?”
There was a pause, static, then the wheeze of someone that was suffocating under their own weight, “I want you to tell me - and remember, choose your words wisely…”
Choose my words wisely? What the fuck does that mean?, I thought. Fuck this fat bastard - why does he have to annoy me with his woes concerning his infidel boyfriend.
There was another deep gasp for air on the other end, “Have you seen Keith? Is he there?”
Shit! I don’t know, much less care where that potbellied fucker was spreading his gonorrhea - let me get back to my dope!
“No, Bob - I’m sorry. I haven’t seen him since yesterday when he was here with you.”
Long pause - I heard wheezing. I waited, examining the grime under my fingernails.
“If he does decide to come by,” Bob rumbled, “Call me, let me know.”
I looked at the wall clock - 2:38am. “Sure thing.”
Click. Ugh - I hung up the phone as two, drunken Navy men approached the box office window.
One was a tall, thin Filipino - his eyes glazed and red from hitting the bars.
His short friend, a tattooed blonde - put his lips up to the hole in the window and slurred, “How much to get in, cowboy?”
I told them, took the admission, and buzzed them in. I sat in the recliner and watched the porn drone on and on. I grabbed the now tattered strip of aluminum foil, and the meth that Mario had given me, and lit up.
Points in the room came into sharp focus. For the next hour, I dodged around the room meticulously inspecting every crack, every fleck of dust that lay about. Plopping back in the chair, I smoked more.
“Hey!” Called a voice from the box office window. “Hey!”
It was a short, shriveled junky - face sunken and unkempt. His scraggly beard partially hid the mass of festering acne on his neck. I noticed in those sparking eyes, he was lit up.
“How much, man?”
“Six dollars.”
“Aw shit, dude - I ain’t got six dollars.” He whined dramatically.
I thought of my own nightly supply and stated, “Right. You gimme a bump and I’ll let you in.”
He started with the stupidity routine, “Bump? Watchu mean by that, man?”
We stared at each other for a moment, he saw the raw sparks of tweek bursting in my eyes.
The junkie’s face lit up with the flashbulb of addiction, “Yeah? Yeah! Awright.”
I buzzed him in and he came around to the concession door. “You ain’t no cop, right?”
“A cop working graveyard at a porno theater? You are suffering from paranoid delusions, man.”
He reached down and dug into the crotch of his stained, corduroy pants, “Fuck - can’t be too sure. How long can I stay?”
“Till six o’clock when I close for clean-up. And, if you’re nice - I may let you stay so you can kick it all day tomorrow.” I said, watching him pull out a fat baggie of white powder.
He started that junky swaying con, “Well, don’t you worry, homie - I’m gonna hook you up.”
And, indeed he did.
As he disappeared behind the musty, velvet curtains into the theater, I held the small, plastic baggie that he had given me between thumb and forefinger. It was a fatty.
Without hesitation, I snatched my tattered aluminum strip and went to work - inhaled that sweet, metallic vapor through the melting straw. My lips began to burn - I smoked so much, so fast - but, I didn’t care. My eyes stung and my breath quickened as I flopped into the easy chair.
Then, the damn phone rang. It was Bob, again. Same question - same answer. Through chattering, grinding teeth, I again assured him if Keith showed up, I would call. He hung up.
I sat trembling back into that overstuffed blue recliner - transfixed, immobilized on the image of a black woman that loudly slobbered all up and down some bald stud’s cock. Then, to my left - taptaptap.
Looking up, it was the Filipino Navy officer. He swayed - eyes shifted from me to the porn on the monitor.
“Hey, man. Is there any strip clubs around here?”
I twitched, “Nope - not open this late.”
“Really? Shit - what time is it?”
I didn’t answer - just swung my arm up and pointed at the wall clock. He stood there, leaning over the counter on his elbows, mouth ajar and staring at the porn flickering. A full minute passed.
He snapped back into focus, pulled a small bottle of whiskey out of his pant pocket, took a gulp.
He breathed liquor and stale peanuts into the office, “Wanna sip?”
“Sure.” I said, coyly.
He handed me the bottle - the liquid burnt going down my gullet, warmed my stomach. He stood staring at the video on the monitor - fazing in and out.
I simply wanted to get back to my dope. I darted my eyes up to him - not bad. Tall, thin, thick black hair, full lips, bloodshot eyes. He stood there, slack-jawed, pouty mouth hung open, shiny and moist.
Drunkenly, he blurted out, “Damn we need some bitches here - I want a blow job.”
“Well - it’s real late, no one here but me. Sorry.”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause as we silently stared at the porn on the monitor.
“Damn, I need some head.”
Mechanically, I stated, “Drop your boxers and I’ll do it if you want it that bad, shipmate.”
“What?!” He stuttered.
“Your last chance.” I droned.
“Shit. Don’t hafta ask me twice.”, he entered the office - closing the concession door behind him.
He glared at me with the look of a guilty boy about to do something bad. The shorts came down and I gave him the bestest of the mostest. Shooting his cum - he gave me the old Don’t Tell Anybody Speech before he darted back into the theater.
Don’t worry, kid - I won’t tell anyone.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Strobing Purple Neon


Generally being hopped up on speed by the time I arrived home from work, I rarely went straight to bed, unlike normal people who worked a graveyard shift. Today was no exception.
I got undressed and lay on my bed completely naked - staring at the orange stains on the ceiling paint from a leaky roof. I grabbed the meth that I had received from Carl earlier that morning.
“Don’t do it all.” He had warned.
I grabbed my glass pipe from the end table - held it in thumb and forefinger, pondering that such a small thing was capable of giving so much insidious indulgence. The pipe was nearly charred black from so much use - black and silver.
I pinched a rock from the little baggie and went to work. Kerpow! On that first hit, I realized that shit from old Carl was special. The rush was orgasmic. For hours, I lay on my bed propped up against the cold, dingy wall smoking smoking smoking until it was all gone.
After the pipe cooled - I smoked the residue left on the inside shaft and bulb. I tore open the little bag like a skilled surgeon and extracted the dusty remnants of white and pink flecks nestled in the creases and folds of the plastic and I smoked them, too.
I deteriorated into a tweeking, shivering, tongue-clicking, jaw-grinding mess. I tried to get up from the bed - my head swirled and the room spun into a vortex. Plop! I fell onto the musty carpet. I tried to prop myself onto one elbow - I couldn’t get up. I lay there as time spun by like a sped up film.
I realized that I had to work that evening - couldn’t be late - that thought pounded in my fried brain. I kept track of time from the television programs fading in and out from the living room on the set I forgot to turn off.
“Today on Oprah Winfrey!” It’s 3pm - no worries - I didn’t have to be at work until eleven. I squinted out the unbearably bright window - the tree morphed into obscene Disney characters. I looked on, transfixed in terrified, paranoid, fascination.
“Live from San Diego - It’s Chanel 5 news at five!” Okay, it was 5pm. Eyes darted uncontrollably around the room - shortness of breath - still unable to move.
The Star Trek theme began - it was six. I felt as if I was about to pass out. I twitched and shuddered in a vain attempt to at least sit up from that fixed position.
The boinging tune of The Simpsons popped on - it was seven. I really needed to get up and get ready for work. As The Simpsons back to back comedy hour drew to a close - I thrust my torso upward. I stood fully erect - naked - then swirled and crashed onto my bed, falling straight and solid as a board. I lay akimbo for a moment and burst into laughter.
If only this was filmed, I thought.
As the Law and Order theme drummed on, I realized it was 9 o’clock and I had to get my ass in gear. Popping up once again - body tingling and head swirling - I walked into the small bathroom and splashed water on my greasy face. Not in there long - that water hurt.
Dressed, I darted out of my apartment into the cool night and hailed a cab at the corner. Reaching downtown Tijuana, I walked to the border.
I felt fantastic - everything in sharp focus, sounds crisp and clear. Rapidly crossing the bridge that spanned the sewage crusted Tijuana River; I looked up and smiled as the dark, pendulous clouds were outlined in strobing, purple neon.
I passed two Mexican tweekers - dirty and furtive - on the bridge as they rushed in the opposite direction at supersonic speeds.
“Wooh! White boy’s tweeeeeekin’!” One smiled.
I grinned, exhaled, and continued my power walk up to customs. Passed through the Sentry without a hitch and jumped the trolley to downtown San Diego. I glanced at my watch - 9:45pm. Enough time for a quick beer before work.
Trash lined streets with old liquor stores and porno shops and cut rate hotels. The throng of deviants that prowled the night were out in full force. Junkies squealed and meth addicts howled at the yellow moon as prostitutes of both sexes did their stylized ballet back and forth in front of the Rialto Theater. Florescent shadows played along cracked walls.
“Hey, man - ya lookin’?” White boy hip-hop asks through bent teeth.
Dark street packed with hobos lying in piss and hip blacks on the hustle, clenching crack rocks in quivering, cold hands - liquor stores and blue red purple neon of porno shops that peddled it real nasty all night - and all kind of sick junkies screaming in the alleyways of the world.
I hit the cracked pavement and found a bar full of hip kids and fags - sat there savoring my beer when a black man, rail thin, barged in and sized me up as an easy mark, I reckon.
“Now, what you need is a safistamacated woman.” He breathed liquor and halitosis into my face.
I smiled and croaked, “What?”
“A safistamacated woman, boy. One’ll fuck ya all night.” When he said ‘all’ his yellow eyes rolled around his lined, scarred head.
I told him to scattah and he stared me down all gangsta and shit, but jets, anyhow - leaving me to my beer. Finished up, paid the man, and headed to work.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

my Tijuana


All the broken streets sloped downward between deepening canyons to a vast, rectangular-shaped plaza full of shadows. Faded, candy-colored adobe walls of the plaza were perforated by debilitated dwelling cubicles and cafes, some a few feet deep, others extending out of sight into a network of dank rooms and graffitied corridors, hidden by rank mist and steam - smells of beans, seared meat, mota, and shit. Catatonic, emaciated whores stood gray and withered in their doorless, diseased cubicles of Viral Death – beckoning with flashes of silver teeth.
Salsa music wailed – cops stood with ominous sneer and truckloads of them rumbled by kicking up dust with the screams of the prey that wailed in anguish – drunk, loud, Americans stumbled in turn groped by transsexual deviants of all sorts - Americans needed it special.
Nevertheless, there was tequila induced vomiting in the streets - the moans under a neon heaven, spattered angel wings covered with soot – angels in Hell they, their broken wings huge in the dark.
Entering an apartment building dark and sinister like you don’t know, we traveled down feces ranked hallways - the green walls flaked like sclerosis. We came into a garden in the middle of the building with an opening to the sky.
Then I saw eight, maybe ten other people who milled around the corners with charred glass pipes and flicking lighters – all of them junkies, rugged and suffering features, covered terminal sick, slick faces with beaded sweat – the eyes alert, the mouth alert - sports cap, jeans, cell phone, glass pipe, meth, worked swiftly on pipe hits, orange flame sparked in the smokey gloom. Everybody was lighting up.
Smoked my fill and faded out, back into the streets.
Old man draped in filthy rags blinked in the unrelenting Mexican sun. His face creased the color of a brown, paper bag and sporting a dingy, yellow cowboy hat. He watched out of tired and rheumy eyes as three, white Ford trucks - Tijuana paddy wagons - hurtled down a broad street, kicking up dust. The dust stung his eyes, yet he stood immobile. Several police clung to the sides as they raced by - dark eyes filled with fear, hatred; caramel-colored faces hidden in black masks - one stared at the old man back, fingering his shiny, black AK-47. The old man stood glaring in apathy - seconds later and blocks away, gunfire and rumbling explosion. Five more trucks careened past, followed by monstrous paramilitary vehicles - street teemed with pedestrians casually going about their affairs.
I stood in the coolness of an awning sucking on a cigarette; backdrop of dusty greenery of park Teniente Guerrero - three squad cars roared by - sirens squealed, scaring the mother clutching baby to her breast, five kids raced behind her crossing the street of kamikaze taxis and rickety buses belching black smoke. Several shifty and dubious milandros turned and hid their faces from the barreling convoy. The police always traveled by car in threes, now - ever since the local cartel executed 46 of them the week prior. Their faces cold and featureless masks of fear and suspicion.
I remembered two nights ago in my room, hearing the ratatat of machine gun fire in the distance - last night the symphony repeated itself down on the corner. Seven bodies lay akimbo in the darkened lamppost splashed streets; blood oozed onto black concrete and vecinos didn’t care. Thirty minutes later, fat cop chewed cigar stump surveying the scene...
In the rural hills of Independencia where you could score for mota, speed, heroin, coke, crack - anything your junky heart desired - fires ran rampant in the shanty adobes across from the school where a five year old boy timidly scuttled home clutching his textbook past roving gangs of cholos, faces vicious in hate, prowled and brandished pistols to deter the inquiring placas.
Yet, down on Avenida Revolucion - the arrogant tourist still lurked, still drank, still danced, still bought that one-tequila, two-tequila, three-tequila...floor! t-shirt that they must have for the folks back home, unaware of the slaughter occurring a few blocks from their reverie. This was Tijuana - my Tijuana - a place that I called home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

dazzling midday sky


The train ride back to the border was a painful ordeal - everything seemed to be in sharp focus and amplified.
A group of American tourists were being exceptionally loud and all I wanted was to kill them. But I digress, I am not a psychopath.
I needed a beer. I hopped the border and made my way through those teeming masses - brown, bloodshot eyes followed my every move - and entered Bar Ranchero in the plaza. Gotta love Tijuana - bars were open almost 24/7.
Of the time of the morning, the joint was mostly empty, save for a small knot of screeching, gesticulating fags and drag queens at the bar. I stomped in and ordered a beer. Taking a table, it was only a matter of seconds before I was accosted by the local ‘buy me a beer, meester’ boys.
“Scattah - let me enjoy my beverage.” I spat.
One of three looking mortally wounded.
Mario entered the stage and sat with me. We sat for a full five minutes without saying a word.
I finally croaked, “You holdin’?”
Under the table, he slipped me a paper and I handed him 100 pesos. I walked into the bathroom - a den of penis peepers, cock suckers, and pervs.
I found an empty stall - closed the door.
Next to me, I heard the telltale sign of sniffing and on the adjacent side, the slurping of some rentboy making rent. The smell of shit, piss, and chlorine wafted in the air.
I emptied my package onto the toilet paper dispenser - chopped out three lines with an old credit card - thanking God it now had a purpose. Rolled up a 20 peso note into a cylinder and snort-wheeee! snort-whooo!!
I leaned back up and asked myself, Why?
Any addict will tell you that it is a well known fact - a tired, long-winded, over-stated fact - that addiction comes from the course of pain and worry.
I scratched my nose - checked for residue.
I returned to my table to find Mario had gone and I finished three quick beers. I struck up a conversation with an attractive, bespectacled lad named Javier and he being quite literary. Well read. We sat and chatted over authors - Kerouac, Selby, Bukowski, Vonnegut, Kafka.
Around 11am, we found ourselves in a hotel and doing that which nature doesn’t abide and I felt nothing. I just went through the motions.
As Javier lay asleep, wrapped around me - my mind spun. I thought of the new book I had begun - this one started at birth and related the story of my adolescence. The horrid parents, the sad school days, the ravaged coming of age. I thought the title fit: Fried Chittlins. Gray and disgusting. That put me into an even more frump.
I lay thinking thinking thinking - smoking smoking smoking. Perhaps I needed a bit of road traveling. Maybe a little adventure through Mexico. I had no goal or plan for my life and that seriously concerned me. My life was so open, so free - yet, so fitfully alone. I couldn’t seem to connect with this human species.
When Javier rolled over, I silently dressed and left the room.
The sun swung high overhead when I found a hotdog vendor on Revolucion Avenue - stood there munching; watching the hung over tourists drag themselves back to the border, watched the patrol cars slowly creep by, the transvestite hookers clomp around.
I stood there under that dazzling midday sky and thought, There has to be more to this life. Is this all there is? I hailed a taxi and went home.
Home. The apartment was near the end of a blind alley that hardly received any sun. I slid the key into the metal door and stepped into the dank.
The air was stagnant and the particles danced in the beams of yellow sun light through the drawn curtains. The two-room apartment was small and grimy. Movie posters of underground directors such as David Lynch and John Waters cluttered the walls and dirty laundry and empty fast food containers littered the carpet.
The bed room itself contained a well-worn queen sized bed with black oak headboard and matching nightstand.
The living room was occupied by a black futon, a small table and a window that looked out into a filthy, garbage littered alley. A dusty ceiling fan wobbled above.
The bathroom was wall to wall to floor white tiles, porcelain sink, and a toilet. The old kind that had a latch you pulled from above. There was no shower - that was downstairs and shared by the tenants. Luckily having hot water. The kitchen had an old, mint-colored refrigerator from the ‘50’s that still ran, sink area, stove, and metal table with two metal chairs. All furnishings could be considered antiques. Slightly worn.
Not a bad place, near Zona Rosa and close enough to the border, so I could walk or make a hasty exit.
Still feeling the methamphetamine, I sat in my room with my notebook and scribbled out a few more anecdotes in my new book holding nothing back - wrote raw, peeled tales of a horrible past.
After a few hours, as I sat in the dim room smoking my umpteenth cigarette, I concluded I had found my calling - but to what end?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who am I to judge?


The hissing of the rain continued. I glanced out the box office window - like a walking pile of wet rags, a stooped, homeless man soggily pushed a shopping cart filled with his dreams down the wet, gray sidewalk. Yellow streetlamps lit the blue, plastic tarp that covered the upper part of his bulky form that glistened in the half dark.
Grabbed my notebook and jotted down notes. The high that wracked my body was winding down and I began to feel literary - I seemed to be following a fractured nightmare.
I stared at my dog-eared copy of a book by Charles Bukowski and I sighed. The more I read his work and the works of Kerouac, Burroughs, Orwell, Hemingway, Herbert Selby - the worse my writing seemed, because I saw those writers as my superiors. They could take a few choice words and make a beautiful flower.
I saw myself as a writer writing unpublishable horrors. I smiled, knowing full well that I would be living in shit and degradation until my dying day - found slumped in a chair, face ashen gray with age as I clutched my final work. How maudlin.
Thirty years later, they would be scrutinizing and analyzing my works at Harvard and Yale - a pigeon dung covered bronze statue of my ravaged ass outside the literary building. Life was funny that way, I reckoned.
Thoughts flashed across my fucked up mind in a kaleidoscope of images - I didn’t scribble in my little, uniformed, capital letters about blonde heroes careening across the solar system battling intelligent octopi and warrior insects - I began to write about my loneliness. On how, I continued to obsess over the wreck of a past four-year relationship. O! How the world then, my world, was brighter and more comprehensive. I meditated on the life shattering pain of that separation.
I remembered the day after he and I had broken up; I stood beat and forlorn in a swanky bar on Santa Monica Boulevard back in Los Angeles - a circle of caring, simpering colleagues held glasses of various liquors, the sun bright outside and green palm trees slowly rustled in a gentle wind.
The bar was not that crowded - Rage it was called - homosexual clones stood posed around us in their uniform of white tank tops, jeans, and black work boots, all looking sad and lost and desperate with that gleam of detesting hatred that no matter what amount of alcohol consumed could hide. The common gay attitude face.
A short fairy whom I had known for some time, glanced at me earnestly, “So, whacha gonna do now? I realize how much this must pain you.”
Pain me? Ah, that pain I felt raging inside as I stood in Rage surrounded by a gaggle of faggots who I wanted nothing more than to see incinerated in a blast of atomic destruction. The pain! It felt so insidious! During four years, I had a reason to get up in the morning, to shower, to eat, to work, to live and love and all those sweet, candy-colored memories and emotions that went along with it. Now, there was a hole - a dark, dark void in my chest that was so fucking ugly to feel and sense and smell.
I took a sip of my rum and coke and sighed at my little friend, “I’m going to take a weekend vacation - I’m going to Tijuana, I guess. Cool off - think things over.”
Internally, I wanted to die - why else, what else was there to live for? Anyone who has had their heart broken and are prone to over dramatic responses of certain situations could understand my motive.
I concluded, at the time, there was no reason for me to go on. I thought of suicide on several occasions - the drudge of jumping through life’s rut with all its hate and anger and paranoia and never ending let downs - all seemed pointless. It felt fruitless to continue to placate the two-faced condescending queens of West Hollywood or perhaps it was just the shame of looking into their eyes and knowing full well they were laughing internally, “Haha - you got dumped!”
On a spiritual level, I believed that suicide was not the answer - personally, and I wouldn’t have it any other way - God, if he was up there, would forgive all things except suicide. At least, that was what I remembered from Sunday School. Why exchange one Hell for another? That belief stayed my hand.
So, in secret, I realized I had to attempt the insidious act precariously and I had chose to go to the most dangerous city I knew and that being Tijuana, Mexico. I had visited the city only twice prior in my life and knew next to nothing of that locale save the whispered horror stories from beaten and long-winded acquaintances who journeyed there on occasion.
I held the fantasy that I would go down there, wave fistful of dollars around in several dismal bars, and at the crack of a foggy dawn, the police would find me face down in a shit strewn alley with no pants - my life pumped out of me. Thus, ending the gnawing hurt in my heart over that insidious separation.
Unlike Lot’s wife, I didn’t look back. I packed the few clothes that would fit in my small duffel bag and purchased a cheap Mexican bus line to the Tijuana border. I lived in a crappy room above a whorehouse for the first six months doing ghastly things.
Indeed.
That weekend of self reflection stretched into years of insidious suffering. The guilt, the depression, the pain that I felt enveloped my soul and consumed my world.
Once settled in Tijuana, I soon was to become acquainted with Plaza Santa Cecilia. The Plaza was the meeting place, the central nervous system of gay Tijuana. A stretch of pedestrian concrete running diagonally from Revolution to Constitution Avenue and Second Street topped off by a silver slash across the sky; the Millennium Arch - a bane to many locals.
There, you would find sidewalk cafes with their open tables and the old American queers who sat entertaining up to four or five boys at a time. Those decaying fags giggled and shrieked and rolled their eyes at each other in vain attempts to impress their American colleagues at how popular they could still be with younger men. The boys sat and smiled and laughed at the right times, waiting to rob those festering, old vampires of every penny they had.
The hustlers of Plaza Santa Cecilia were in a category all to themselves - I had never seen their equal for persistence and all around obnoxiousness.
They were, without fail, attracted to the uncoordinated movements of the American in a strange land - the least show of not knowing precisely where you were going, and they would run at you from their lurking places in the side bars and cafes.
“Want nice chico, meester?”
“See bull fight? Donkey Show?”
“Want mota?”
“Nice boy? Show you good time?”
“You like beeg one, meester?”
The cruising fags sat, lounging in the shade and they would coo and screech, flipping wrists and rolling eyes, tearing each other apart with catty, gay double entendre.
There was a parade of hustlers to choose from. All circled the Plaza with the attitude of aroused Tomcats.
In the Plaza, was the notorious cantina Bar Ranchero - one of several gay locales that ringed the square. It was well known for its seediness and blatant, cruising homosexuals and rough hustlers. A hotbed of American pedophiles and drug addicts.
The interior of the bar was a low-ceiling room. On one side, a long counter tended by two, tough lesbians. On the other side of the cantina were old, rickety, metal chairs and tables where sex and drugs were bought with indifference. There was a jukebox that played the same tunes over and over again. And in the middle, the main floor where hustlers and queens stood and posed, gazing out with probing, calculating lust.
The restroom was a virtual carnival in which drugs flowed as easily as the piss. Oral sex was openly common.
There was a little dance floor that catered to strippers and tired drag shows – and, one could dance on it if one felt inclined.
Since I was soon to become a fixture at this dive, I became friends with many of the hustlers that frequented the cantina. Of course, they being hopped up on meth to stay awake 24/7 to woo their various clients, it was through them that I received my first major taste of speed.
Though I was partying and living in such liberation, such as I had never encountered in Los Angeles, I still carried that black cloud over my head concerning the break up in Hollywood.
I began consuming methamphetamines at first, because it seemed to alleviate the pain a bit. Then, those once in a while sniffs in toilet stalls at bars eventually led into a full blown addiction. All I cared about was my writing and my dope.
I kept a detailed journal and wrote about my experiences living in the whore district with painful accuracy. I never meant to publish any of that tripe - I always considered it a letter. A letter of desperate woe to send to the ex-lover who destroyed my heart. See what you did? See what you put me through? I am living this mad, insane, bitterly sad existence and it is all your fault! And yet, as time passed - I didn’t care anymore.
Life is funny like that. One day, you are drudging through the worst emotional trauma of your life - a week later, who gives a fuck, right?
But, that was then…
In the office, I paused; sat the notebook down - waves of depression washed over me. I picked up the crinkly, aluminum strip. Nothing. The little plastic bag licked dry. I sighed and walked to the concession window, hanging the BACK IN TEN MINUTES sign on the door as I closed it.
I decided to confront my frump with a little release. In the dark theater, the air was thick with ammonia, dried semen, and the grunts and moans of unbridled lust.
The patrons consisted of five lost boys, four cruising queens, three old farts, two quivering junkies, one black hobo, and a partridge in a pair tree. C’mon, people, sing it with me!
On screen, an Asian cooch was getting banged in the back seat of a convertible as they drove down the freeway. Porno was scratching the bottom of the barrel if it had to succumb to such cheap thrills.
Speaking of cheap thrills – I sat in the back row like a good fag, when a short Mexican guy next to me whipped out a glass pipe and with a small blow torch, began smoking crack without reservations.
As I sat and listened to the crackle and pop of the drug mixed with the shrieking of the she-bitch onscreen, I smelled the aroma of said crack and the tingle of tired, old cells began to activate.
The little Mexican - I had seen him several times before, sat with his unattractive, dark-brown face shimmering in a fine layer of perspiration.
He handed over the pipe, “Hey, man - want some?”
“Nah.” I croaked. “I don’t do that shit anymore.”
“Don’t do it anymore?” He asked mechanically. “What do you do now?”
“I write. (Cough) I’m a writer.”
“Really?” He took another obscene drag. “What do you write?”
I smiled, “Garbage.”
Ah, fuck it, I thought. I looked over to him, reaching, “May I?”
“Sure, man...it’s only dope.”
Click - fffft - wheeeeeee!!!!
Small, white sparks exploded behind my eyes - my body felt that 240 watt current.
“Damn.” I quivered.
“Yup.” The Mexican smacked his thick lips. “Sure fire way to wipe away them blues.”
After a few more hits, I was a clicking, teeth grinding, jittery mess. The Mexican poofed away in an incandescent cloud.
Shrouded in tattered clothes, Fagin looking hobo character entered and plopped next to me, smelling like last week’s sewage.
“Hey, buddy.” He wheezed halitosis into my face. “You wanna get high?”
“No.” I sneered. “Drugs are for losers.”
I crossed my legs all lady-like and snorted in disdain. Fagin vibrated out of focus a shivering, teeth grinding wreck and I was left alone with some little Yoda-looking coot ogling and grinning, jiggling change in pocket.
Side note: In all my years as a homo in the service, why is it that in these porno joints there were always, and I mean always, some fucking Elder who would stand for hours on end smacking gum and jiggling change in their polyester pant pockets? Why?
Time to move on. Whacked it a few as the movie continued to heat up and the older queens did their dance around me and I ignored the lot of them. They were not worthy.
That was until a slick, college-type fruit sprung up from the front rows. However, I saw he was sniffing and bounced around the theater like a ping-pong ball.
Am I the only one here not a wing-nut?
He walked back to the hall leading to the toilet as old perverts raised their heads like animals sensing danger. New Meat. The Exodus to the mensroom ensued; leaving me alone.
I repaired to the loo to wash off my hands - old, bitter fairies paraded in a stylized ballet of random, broken lust amid sounds of pissing and farting - smell of bleach, semen, and shit lingered in that foul, stained room.
Sitting back in the theater proper, I looked around and the fun fest was in full swing - heads bobbed in crotches of willing patrons as the desperate and depraved paraded through the aisles.
An attractive Emo kid that I had noticed before slithered next to me and performed the most mind blowing blow job on me I have had in many a moon - afterwards the bitch wanted to get intimate and cuddle - told him to scattah.
I sat and watched the show around me and not paying much attention to what was up on screen - puffing on a cigarette in a row of crackheads - my immediate vicinity was a literal London fog of carcinogens.
My shift was almost over and it was nearing time to close up and clean the filthy joint out. I returned to the office and counted out the register. Tallying the stock and marking down the inventory in the books.
At the stroke of 6am, I switched the video off and flicked on the main lights - the sounds of anguished grunts and sighs of desperation from the theaters patrons.
I grabbed the microphone connected to a speaker system and blurted in the most faux professional voice, “Attention, theater goers! It is 6am and the theater is now closed. If you wish to return - please come back at 7:30 after the theater has been cleaned. Tickets can be bought either at the concession window or at the box office. Thank you.” The speakers whined silent.
The exodus of perverts and junkies - a nightly ritual - streamed out of the theater. I stood at the box office window and with a placating grin on my face, watched them shuffle out.
Stopping at the window, swaggered old Carl. An African American that still dressed in funky beige pimp 1970’s clothes – multipatterned, silk-shirt, flared slacks, white, patent-leather shoes, and a snap brimmed mesh hat. His face was a ravaged map of creases and scars, dust and grease in the cracks. Eyes squinting and voluminous lips in a continual grimace.
He stood and drooped to one side at the box office window, drawled, “Look, my man - gimme one of dem tickets fo’ 7:30 and I’ll hook you up wit some fine ass shit.”
“Really?” I asked. “Whacha got, Carl?”
His eyes rolled around in his skull, he slid an ashy hand across crusted, dry lips, “Mmmm, yeah. I got dis shit fo ya, white boy. Good shit.”
He pulled a small, pink baggie from the folds of his shirt.
I took it and handed him a ticket, “Thanks, Carl.”
I looked at the chunky pink/white powder in the bag.
He examined the ticket, “Wit dis I can come back, right? No problems?”
“Yep. Just give that ticket to the dude that relieves me.”
He turned toward the street, stopped and snapped his fingers in thought, “Right - right. Now that some strong shit - don’t do it all at once, ‘k?”
I shrugged with hands open and smiled, “C’mon - I’m a big boy, Carl.”
“Shiiiiiit….” He chuckled and walked out into the predawn mist.
I locked up and headed to the storage closet - grabbed the mop and bucket. I stood a moment and gazed onto the lit theater - with its rows of stained chairs, wooden floor littered with cigarette butts.
Now, I am going to tell it to you and I’m going to tell it to you country simple: There is nothing more grotesque and demeaning than cleaning a porno theater after 24 hours of use by a legion of cooing perverts and filthy junkies.
After shooing everyone out - and of course there was always some flop snuggled into a chair snoring and no manner of poking, screaming, or dousing with water was going to stir him.
The trick was to simply hoist him up and drag him out - moreover, he awakened, kicking and screaming and that’s when you had to get tough with the old fucker.
Shadowy memory of holding the door open and pushing the old bum out - whack! - he bounced off the door frame and with another push, went rolling into the street - cursing and face red with rage.
Donning industrial-rubber gloves and with broom in hand, I got to work. Sweeping between the isles - used condoms, wadded tissue, watches, underclothes, glass pipes, syringes, dope. And, always money.
On a good night, I could score up to one hundred dollars in loose bills. Drunks were always spilling money from their pockets in fumbling fits of passion - more for me, I reckon.
I slopped water into that hideous bucket and mopped away all the saliva, mucus, and semen - onto the mensroom, which had developed into a biological horror. I used the bleach abundantly, searing my eyes and nostrils - took time to spray down the sink, urinal, and toilet with lots of Lysol - Hell, I even coated down the glory hole in the graffitied scrawled toilet wall.
More often than not, I hired one of the regular crackheads that would clean just to stay in, not having the extra six dollars for readmission. These junkies would jump at the chance because of the money and dope they found lying around under the seats.
However, that morning I was feeling it - flying on a crank buzz that wouldn’t quit. In a tweeking fit of energy, I scrubbed that theater spotless.
Even though Bob usually inspected the theater - I still left one seat caked in vomit and urine, I do have my limits.
After I vacuumed the carpet in the halls, I returned to the office to reopen the theater and waited for my shift to end.
An hour passed and my relief arrived, a scrawny white kid with a scraggly, black goatee named David - he was a musician in a floundering garage band and a student that attended writing classes at the Community College. He was also ass deep in a heroin addiction.
I recalled a few weeks before as I sat in the office, one of Bob’s little beetle looking friends came to the concession window not only to buy a candy bar, but also to vomit out his gossip he had accumulated on David that I was sure caused the creepy little fucker gastronomic problems holding in all day.
The short, rotund pervert confided in hushed tones that when he came to the concession window earlier during David’s shift, the young man was slumped on the nod in the office chair, hunched over with tongue hanging out, right hand clutching a syringe.
I was certain Bob had heard about this - but, since David was handsome in that Calvin Kline junky model way, Bob had turned a blind eye to it.
David was not bad as far as people went - timid, reserved, hopelessly heterosexual - and every morning I met him, he loved to relate the horror stories of his previous day’s work shift.
“You know that old man with the bag - the red canvass shopping bag?” He started as soon as he entered the office.
“Yeah? The one that looks like Allen Funt?” I asked, mixing a cup of instant coffee.
The man in question was a daily regular and one of Bob’s eyes and ears. I always wondered who would come to a porno theater every day. There are different types of addiction, I guess.
“Yup, that’s him.” David said as he placed his book bag on the blue recliner. “People were saying that he would troll around the theater - y’know looking for dick - and when someone would refuse his advances, he would stand up dramatically, turn, and fart on them - walking away.”
I smirked, because I’d seen it happen.
David took a sheet of paper towel off the role and taped it up across the monitor showing the porn on the theater screen.
I looked over at him as he adjusted the sheet of paper, “Heh, you always do that.
He stood up, hands on hips, surveyed the monitor to make sure no filth filtered through, “That shit can rot your brains and can cause impotency, man!”
Who am I to judge?
I passed off any pertinent information, said my goodbyes, and walked out into the shimmering dawn.
The streets were still wet from the previous night’s downpour - but now, the sky was a brilliant blue and the orange sun came screaming over the horizon. The sidewalks were empty as I trudged up to a station to jump a trolley back to the border.
As I stood and waited at the stop, a young transvestite on a beach cruiser bike silently peddled by in the still dawn. Black dress, blue wig, black horn rimmed glasses, red garter belt outside the dress, and old style, black, high-top sneakers. I hummed the Witch’s theme from The Wizard of Oz as she whisked by.