The bus from El Paso finally departed at seven that evening. Once again, I found myself leaving a place that I would not miss. I can state with the utmost conviction that I will never reside there again. With that being said, the bus shot West up the I-10 through darkening vistas of sage brush and jagged rock formations.
I was the only white person on the carriage - which was kind of a relief. Greyhound has that nasty reputation of the filthiest buses cram packed with the loudest and obnoxious of American citizens. I took a Mexican line - the Tres Estrellas de Oro - and zipped right along in somewhat comfort. My seat mate was a handsome late twenties man who said little and didn't snore. As always, I can not sleep on a moving vehicle, I sat through the night listening to my ipod, gazing up at the stars and passing roadway signs lit by random flashing lights in the night.
I arrived in Los Angeles at 8:30 the following morning. I said it once and I'll say it again, the tepid air of that metropolis always smells like 9 million people all farted at once. The black spotted sidewalks were lined with makeshift tents and cardboard shacks propped against as yet unopened shops. I had informed my friend Victor that I would arrive at ten. I knew he worked late the previous night, so as to give him more sleep, I found a little cafe - Cafe Floma - and breakfast on delicious coffee and a fat juevos y jamon burrito.
Afterwards, I made my way up 8th Street to Olivera were his apartment lay. The renovated Hotel Bristol. I knew I was leaving skid row and entering the hipster area in lieu of all the fags out walking their dogs. As I approached the landing of the apartments, Victor was outside, we noticed each other and greeted one another with familiar hugs and kisses.
We chatted and joked as Victor assisted me with my luggage up to the second floor to his tiny apartment. I was greeted by his hyperactive dog in which we both took a liking to each other. His apartment was a converted hotel room which consisted of a tiny room and bathroom. His bed was a mat splayed across the floor, a desk for his laptop and wadded clothes cascaded from an open closet. Not two seconds in the door, Victor began and continued to heavily badger on having sex. The only problem was that not only was I tired from the trip but I did not find the man sexually attractive at all. I mean, I knew him from online and enjoyed the witty banter, but in person he quickly came across as a desperate, over bearing douche. How sad. I sat and chatted, dodging his continual advances, seeing the slow burn of anger in his eyes with each time I diverted the subject of sex. The dialog became tense and awkward. At one brief point, he quickly devolved into a snarling psychopath over his dogs antics. As the moments passed, I regretted my decision on this trip. I expected a friend, someone to enjoy the brief time together and have good memories, not simply to become another nameless asshole who he slid his dick into.
I lay on his floor and casually stated that I had no idea what I was doing. Where I was going. I did have to admit, I was at a loss. I knew eventually that I wanted to finish this book and at the same time time save for relocation to Southeast Asia, but I didn't have a jump off destination planned. I stated, because of this, that I wanted to enjoy my day with him and in all fairness in lieu of my travel pattern, we would never meet again. So, he began crying.
I sat and attempted to alleviate this sad, beat character with humor. I remained calm and aloof, I mean why would I get so emotional? I hardly know the guy. It was rather sad.
To maintain the good memories angle, I suggested that we go for a bite to eat at Cole's - a favorite spot of mine in downtown which serves the best french dip sandwiches. He offered to flip the bill which was quite generous. Again, we sat out on the sidewalk tables joking and conversing of films and general interests, again with me dodging his blatant advances. It was all becoming too pat. After the meal, I stated that I would have sex with him, but first if I needed to shower and get at least an hours sleep.
Scurrying through the multitudes of people in that ominous concrete labyrinth, we returned to his apartment where I showered and eventually lay down. I did not sleep, though. I remained quiet as I thought and thought and thought. Victor showered and fell asleep eventually. I arose, quickly dressed, and grabbed my luggage. I gently kissed him on the forehead and whispered, "Goodbye, Victor." He stirred and swung a fist at me in his sleep. I paused before I left, looking down at him from the door. I felt so sorry for him.
I gathered my things and returned to skid row as the sun was setting over the spires, basking the haggard multitude of hobos and all in an sickly orange glow...
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I found myself in Calexico. Back on the fringe. The border. Between light and dark. Here and there. It was 1:30 in the morning as I wearily dragged my luggage across dusty, trash strewn sidewalks. Campesinos slept huddled in doorways of closed shops as coyotes howled in the full moon night. I secured a room in a cheap hotel and hunkered down for the night. I need to find and enter the shelter they have here. To finish what I started. To unfurl my plans within plans.
People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.