Town & Country Ch. 3: Hodgepodge Raucous Collapsing
The hodgepodge raucous of downtown Los Angeles collapsed in upon itself, devoid of sense and guidance. In poisoned irony, water tip-toed the line between entity and dream: nevertheless empty, no matter the way. The anthrodelineations were given venomous conformation by highway motes laid to separate different histories. The inner city, despite its song and dance, was an island, left to its own devices (pre-approved by the city) and ambushed by suburban territories; what once were city walls in ancient cities, now were boxcar homes and contiguous roadways.
Landon looked at his reflection in the neutral window of Bank of Amerikkka and the warm unforgiving breeze of downtown loosened his joints. He stood on a narrow strip of sidewalk between the great window and the bearish boulevard. At this precise moment, Ana was inside finishing rolling her thumb across a pad of ink, which was required to receive the cash from her paycheck. Thereafter, she made her way across the tile, made cold by the air conditioned room, and then outside.
“So, should we head to the beach or walk around downtown?”
“Let’s get to the beach; though, I’d like a pack of cigarettes beforehand.”
“A pack of cigarettes? You know 15 minutes under the canopies of these iron trees is a nasty habit in and of itself,” Ana said, referring to the skyscrapers.
“I’m sure we’re all always fried from the city.”
“Might as well neutralize it and relax,” Landon said, wincing at the reflection of the Southern California sun as it bounced off windows and buildings like a pinball in a machine. He noticed a helicopter overhead.
“You act so strong but are oh-so weak,” she said, before he said:
“Look at the ghettobird.”
“The what?” Ana asked, her voice climbing in a style customary to L.A.
“The ghettobird, the police helicopter.”
Just as Ana took notice, a large FedEx truck whizzed by kicking up a maelstrom of dusts and leaves, unleashing a rattlesnake choir of organic debris. Everything settled eventually and all was, once again and for the most part, the same as before. However, what was in the beginning, of course, could never be quite the same again. As the two picked up their pace, their stroll found a gait and was locked into fleeting habit.
The years of road expansions and privatization schemes had left L.A. sidewalks with little choice but to suck in their midriff and assume a lesser role in the puzzle of metropolis. Workers turned in towards the buildings or out towards the streets, a matter of personal preference and circumstance, as they passed one another. Ana took Landon’s hand and wiggled her fingers in between his, searching for comfort. Whilst strolling past business men and women, the outdoor enabled itinerant, struggling local businesses and behemoth Frankenstein firms, the two gossiped of mutual acquaintances, drinks and drugs. Before passing a tobacco shop, the two arrived at their car.
“The tobacco can wait, let’s get to the coast,” Landon said.
In the car, she scanned the radio for a song before settling on KROQ, and then turned the dial down. Traffic was light. The two got on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed for the beach. There was no need for conversation, and so the two sat in relative silence, their relationship a stickshift idling at an isolated stoplight on an expansive highway. By the time they arrived at the coast, already commenced was the afternoon changing of the guard, as beach faring families disinvolved themselves from the web of littoral being, and young, weekend lovers began to eagerly await the sun dragging down the night like blinds. On the sand, the two walked and soon were alone enough to spread the blanket out, have a seat, and open the twenty-two’s of beer they had.
A septic breeze from out at sea disrupted the slumber of sand granules so, that perhaps one would be inclined to convert to extreme animism at the sight. The shoreline was exposed and Landon pondered the slope of coast leading to a distant, aqueous abyss. In between the shore break and the two lovers, sea stars, sponges, crabs and fish bided time in pools sequestered, for the time being, from the open ocean. In these universes exigently cogitated by the sentient ongoing, the sea animals anticipated the future return of their massive soup-like real estate. But for now, the sea water shanties would do.
The translucent veneer of sunset hinted at a distant heaven, however, reluctant it was and left it at that—merely hinting forevermore. Smeared across the sky like a one-stroke painting—as though achieved by some omniscient visionary—the incendiary extravaganza of mauve meandered centrifugally from the bleached yellow and pink of the sinking sun. Over the head of Landon and Ana, both metaphorically and physically, the seasons of the day blended into one, only to soon be transformed into something entirely new—into the jet black of a pelagic night that would render them more enveloped in isolation than heretofore.
Without mentioning it, they felt it in their bones. Landon and Ana had fallen carefully in love with each other over the last year. And, as much as either would despise to admit it, safety and circumstance had kept them together. Kempt as they both were, civilized standards informed them of their pairing, but somehow still love transcended their sobriety and draped itself over them. Blinded, a prejudice inhibited the dexterity of their eyes to wander and lose themselves in the glow of another. And so they led each other by feel. This was love and they were both convinced of it. But love was as dubious as direction in the open waters of a moonless night.
Ana had spent the last three years studying earth’s insights, repackaged and presented in the vernacular of academic veritas. Presages had babbled on for four decades, like a young songbird following the musical lead of its parents, about camaraderie with ecosystems stuck in terms guaranteeing the survival of their own roles as professors. From them, she learned the guilt of being. Markov’s palimpsest had given rise to a chimerical apparatus with a grenade stuck in its teeth. Where did this ghostly vector come from, she wondered to herself, which swept everything away like the ocean gasping back its shallow waters before a tsunami? What was to be done?
Landon thought to himself of work. How childish of the members to get so excited over the announcement that Seraville would no longer be a club, but instead a town, a hallucination. Upon entering one of the Club’s four entrances, few members heeded the uniform buildings which stripped the scenery of the surprise reserved for healthy, mercurial environments.
The tranquil right angles of buildings, the sterile green of daily watered grass, which, due to its sanitized manner, impinged enough on the thought of people so as to dissuade wandering astray from straight and narrow paths. Landon, being that he was only in his early twenties, came to this world too late to see the decade long process of quartering which had been endemic to Los Angeles, but he was old enough to partake in its conclusion. A wave of obsession with circumferences birthed new neighborhoods and, like a lobotomized patient, the collective Los Angeles intellect was haunted by an extreme case of divisive incontinence. The shit and urine pseudo-science of Angelinos, nevertheless, remained unfeeling. And so, Ana’s dinosaur professors lived on.
Meanwhile, as Landon and Ana sat on the beach, Marlon and Tim—the club’s security guards—drank pints of beer at a local bar back in the city. Businesses were alive with the wastrel of youth and the streets were congested with motorized parasites fed on oil like ailing throats of crude phlegm. Risen in discourse the two bantered on about parallel dreams and kept in the back of their minds the rest of the night.
“I swear I am meant to be a movie star,” Marlon said.
“What are you going to do about it?” Tim asked.
“What am I going to do? Whatever the fuck I want.” For a split second, there was a pause before Marlon collected himself and pieced together the better response.
“My first role would be how to pick up chicks and expose the whole game for exactly what it is and show all the secrets and shit. It would be an outline every guy would need to see to pick up chicks.”
“You would write it?”
“Bro. I would write it and star in it.”
“You got to do your research. Or better yet—you better do your research. All those dating sites you pimp on are perfect for that.”
“I know! And I wouldn’t even have to do those things that I might learn. I’d be the natural heartthrob who just got every chick he wanted. I’d be the moral example whose moral is to be yourself.”
The two retired the conversation in favor of empty silence and, having seated themselves at the window, watched passively the clamoring about. Passing by the concert hall bar in which the two sat were not the extras in the films which originated minutes north, but rather an eclectic assortment of overlapping personalities. The majority marched side-by-side in pairs, some ambling along with partners they had known for what seemed like an eternity and others with partial strangers, while on the margins single-lopers weaved their way in and out of the single-file lovers. Lights turned the endangered eve orange, over-stimulating the overworked, as the industrialized era put to rest the ancient and natural phenomenon of night fall.
To the beat of an insecure bravura the Los Angeles night life aimlessly was, exposing Marlon and Tim to the estrangement of cultural vertigo. In a world of layered differentiation and sameness, these two grew where differences were distinctly highlighted. To those few leavened with imagination enough in this abyss, there was no such thing as species, only wonderful variation, melanin but an afterthought.
Without stake in the sort of dominance which prevailed through the current of history, there was no point for Marlon and Tim to be hoodwinked by a sick sort of normality. And so they were not. They preferred, instead, to keep their criticisms among themselves.
“Can you believe that speech from Avery?” Tim broke the division. “What a narcissistic numb nut.”
“He’s got to be Illuminist. He is a lizard,” Marlon replied.
“He is plotting to kill everyone.”
“Whatever, he has an uncontrollable urge he can’t quell. He wants more, it’s not there, and so he gropes and takes.” Tim analyzed.
“Dude, he’s a lizard.”
The two finished the pitcher of Escondido’s only source of pride, Stone India Pale Ale, that they had ordered, then entered the outside and stood out front of the door for some seconds. Each took a deep breath. Their inspection of the engagement in which they were about to participate completed, they went off on their own way alongside the peripatetic weekenders, therefore graduating from kibitzer to actor.
The stage was an urban renaissance. Strong, shady towers of corporatehood peered across the fields of luxury like giant eyes. The holders of the highest volumes tended the garden of repression in space and movement, main-stayed by the ever-present dictum of order and progress, although never, ever redress. The blueprint of the city was governed by an urbane galaxy of carcel intercrossings, and so sociality was put on the brink by architectural police and their progeny in boundaries.
Nowadays, buildings were conscious, made so by the curiosity of geo-synchronous cameras on all sides. Banks were the tallest skyscraping residents. Marlon and Tim walked for some ways, turning eventually into a mysterious long alley that served well as a shortcut. They originally intended to come out on the other side, as one would assume, where another street featuring other sights would be.
But, as they walked further into the alley, they noticed on the other side a police car with its lights turned off. A tall but slender female officer hovered over a man face down on the pavement with his hands behind his back. She was yelling something they could not make out.
“Woah, dude! What an adorable cop,” said Marlon. “Taking charge and shit.”
“What are you talking about, she has her gun drawn. She’s fucking crazy,” Tim snapped back in a whisper. “We gotta bail, homie.
And then she fired, and fired again. While placing her gun into her holster, she scanned her whereabouts. Seeing the boys, she yelled: “Freeze, you are under arrest,” and fired two shots, both of which hit the concrete walls on either side of the two terrified escapees. They bolted. She took off running after them.
“That pig is on her period!” Marlon yelled, unconcerned with saving breath.
Tim ignored the utterance and quickly they were back on the main drag from whence they came. In an attempt to blend in they tried to stop their hustle, but with hoppy-sweat falling off their brows and onto their cheeks, their chests pounding and their mouths panting, blend entirely in they could not. The officer hadn’t run far before turning around, putting the mysterious corpse in the trunk of an unmarked car and driving off. Neither Marlon nor Tim could know this, and doubts about their safety embalmed them in a spry discomfort. Once the Officer was a few blocks away, she made a call from her personal cell.
“Everything’s orderly, but there might have been some witnesses. I’ll tell you some more when I get there.” The voice on the other line, that of a man, was absent for some seconds.
“I hope it’s nothing we can’t handle,” he said, voice lingering.
“It should be fine she said.” She drove on.
Speed walking and frozen in wordlessness, the two walked into a dark bar. Their brows low, they ordered beers—“two Budweisers, please”—and took a seat in the back corner of the bar. Like gay lovers might, they sat on the same side of the table, eyes facing the door.
“What the fuck just happened?” Tim asked.
“That cop fucked that guy” Marlon replied, eyes wide open. “Did you really not see it? No, you’re just joking, right? You fully saw that. Right? Just fucked him in the head. Twice.”
“That was terrible dude, did she just murder him?”
“Of course she just murdered him! Just because she’s a cop…” “
No, no, no. But he was lying on the ground and shit,” Tim interrupted, knowing where Marlon was taking the conversation.
“Homie, I was there too! That cop just pulled a 781. That was straight-up execution, like Oscar Grant and shit.”
“What is a 781?” asked Tim.
“No idea. The opposite of a 187? That cop just shot a dude. The dude didn’t shoot the cop. 781 on a mother fucking dude, dude!”
“That was terrible,” Tim said in a deflated tone, unable to muster up the vigor from his adrenaline that Marlon somehow had from his.
The two sipped from their watery, tasteless beers. They regretted their decisions, which they made in haste, to order Budweiser. Because their adrenaline sprinted through their veins, quicker-than-usual they were inebriated; nerves settled, but thoughts unraveling.
Overcharged neurons overloaded their mind’s eyes as they attempted to understand the piercing implications. Cricket-like chatter helped to cover the nervous inquiries they posed to each other like the picking of scabs. What to do, what to do? New possibilities—scenarios dooming them to the gallows—massacred their tranquility. Had the lady seen their faces? Did she know, already, who they were? Then, when their survival instinct retreated to the back of their minds, they turned to other questions. Why had the brother been shot? The innate inquisitiveness led them on a path towards justice, but first they had to survive.
“Do we stay in the city?” Marlon asked. “Do you think she saw us!?”
“Fuck if I know, but she probably has facial scanners in her soul and shit, right?”
“No, the uberrich ain’t kill enough of the poor yet to get their terminator flesh eating robot force on the streets,” Tim said in all seriousness.
“We gotta smoke a blunt, get our heads clear and shit.”
“Dude, that’ll just make me paranoid and think that Lucifer has this bitch cops back.”
“That’s the case, my old friend, that’s the case.”
The two sat in silence, drinking the last of their beer. In envy of the becalmed crowd, who let themselves and the regulations which had defined their lives go, the two wondered about the day when this new, concentrated pressure upon their shoulders would abate. In the background a young woman spoke of her day:
“Today on the internet I adopted a digital dog and named it Eskimo and I can, like, feed it stuff! I can’t believe how cute it is, cause’ it’s like, on the computer.”
They stood to make their way out of the bar and onto Los Angeles streets, atop of which they kept their eyes on the intersections along Wilshire Boulevard extending out to suburbs. Red lights, green lights, yellow lights took their turns governing people behind the wheel. To the car they went. Fumbling through a glove box full of maps, a few parking tickets, assorted paraphernalia and condoms, Tim eventually came across swisher sweets cigarillos, flavor grape. Keys in the ignition, neither spoke, but at least now the stereo sounded the void.