Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lucifer in Los Angeles - Chapter Three - Murder

I peer out of the tunnel to see the overcast sky match the river’s fixed course concrete bed in tone.  A burst of color wheels by, purple spandex and early-morning motivation atop an expensive and relatively new bicycle.  Young, taut, fresh, fit flesh shines out in the morning light, diffuse though it is.  I suddenly realize that I am starving.

Innocently exercising to extend her life - Sally never suspects that she’ll end it in the river.  She’s left Jed at home in bed, sleeping peacefully.  She likes to be gone in the mornings, because that’ when he wants sex - and she doesn’t want sex.  She never wants sex, she just wants to keep moving - so she doesn’t have to think about anything.  Thinking about things lead her down bad roads.  Scary roads.  

Jed paid for her bike though, that’s nice of him considering she only lets him have sex with her once a month.  She tries to time it so that he doesn’t realize it’s once a month, though - but let it average out that way.  She hopes she isn’t damaging her vagina with even that much.  Jed is an agent and she knows that he will soon get her a good part, because she takes care of her body better than anyone else.  She knows that if she just lets Jed have it once in a while he’ll put her on a pedestal, so she pretends to be one of those kind of girls.  Deep inside that’s not how she feels though.  Deep inside she doesn’t ever want to be penetrated by anyone.  She wants to cage off anything deep inside.  She makes sure her body knows who is boss.  *fsk fsk fsk* that’s the sound her pedaling makes.  It keeps her centered.  She needs to be centered.

All of this flashes before me in a blur of purple spandex.  A flash of my former power gives me such hope, but it is crushed by the smell of her sweat and the contents of her mind, heart, and soul.  Before I’ve realized what’s happened I am devouring her body.  I shudder at the animal instincts and yet take deep pleasure in them.  The metallic taste of her blood bothers me so I dig into her organs. I am feasting on her intestines when Janine finds me there, blood and entrails dripping off of my chin, grinning and slurping.  Muted sunshine glinting off the blood covered bicycle beside me. Sally’s face frozen in shock.

Janine crumbles to the ground sobbing.  Before I know it I am at her side, I want to soothe her, to take her pain on with my own - still throbbing in my head and temples despite the sleep and food.  I want to suck it out of her, to relieve her, to save her and protect her.  I sing to her a lullaby with no words.  She tries to push me away but my rocking and cooing relax her and she leans into me crying.  

“I was hungry, I didn’t know. That’s the most action Sally will ever see.  I won’t do it again.   I have to leave.”  I try to say something to get her to stop crying, and the promise not to repeat the murder is what does it.  She calms and nuzzles into me.

“So do I, motherfucker - the police on they way for a nice neurotic white girl like that in seconds.”  I am surprised to see her know what kind of person Sally was.  It makes me wonder whether my flash of information was psychic or just human intuition.  Janine races to her hole to pack her belongings.  I see that she is used to doing this.  It is unceremonious and unsentimental.  I am glad I have not put her out.  I walk to her and put my hand on her shoulder.  

I realize I have true emotion for her.  “Janine I will give you money, when I have it.  You will have all the drugs you need.  You will never fight again.  I will find you in the river”  She shakes her head, I am not sure if out of disbelief or incredulity.

“No shit Sherlock, I live here all the time.” she says.  Then she smiles at me and puts her hand in mine.  “Good luck, Angel.  You definitely not human, don’t think I don’t know.”  

“I wish that were true.”  I admit.  “I am not sure what I am.”  

As she walks away I realize she has left in my palm a balloon containing 200mg of black tar heroin.  I reach up to my face and find it wet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

San Francisco

I fall in love with San Francisco over the course of a two week stay in October, 2012.  

It is not love at first sight.  I lived in the Bay Area for 6 years and never loved any part of it.  I’ve always appreciated it on a theoretical level - as the end of the spectrum and the pinnacle of progressive, leftist civilization in the United States.  I never liked it close up though.  It always felt to me like that over-achieving, note-taking, well-put together, charming and strikingly gorgeous hot girl in college that you wish you could be like until you get close and realize she’s a diet-pill using bulimic virgin except for the rape.  

San Francisco pokes holes in the veneer of leftist theory by having more street people than any city I’ve been to.  I have to frown as I watch hundreds of people and cars passing a homeless beggar, a black man in an oversized army coat resting his back against the cool stone of a downtown San Francisco building. Those that want the government to take care of people are the very people that won’t take care of each other and so I, the tourist, stoop to drop a dollar in the hand of a grateful man.

This visit, though - my perspective shifts.  I realize that this person and so many others that can’t make it without assistance flock to San Francisco as a testimony to the city’s tolerance and generosity.  As are all the other populations that are celebrated in San Francisco and not elsewhere.

The food is fresh, nutritious, and conscious.  More so than any other city in the United States.  I can eat everywhere I go - refreshing after being accustomed to bringing my own food everywhere.  I happily stick to a restricted diet and still enjoy new flavors and combinations at the hands of Bay Area chefs both gourmet and everyday.

It is over tapas in Mountain View with my friend translating his Russian supervisor and my English questions that the deal is struck where I will sell Chinese-made robots for a Russian company.  It is over tea in the Castro that me and my friend of many years and few in person hangouts agree to write a book about using nutrition and therapy to manage cyclothymia.  The Bay Area affords fractal expansions of opportunity.

I am in a fancy medical marijuana dispensary in the Mission that also provides alternative healthcare counseling to patients seeking cannabis for their maladies.  The product is lovely, the packaging is amazing.  The design speaks to the Asian influence in San Francisco - it is zen, vaguely Japanese.  The products are stacked in removable boxes that are color-coded by their drawers - seems to me each would have room for about a pound of weed, or a few dozen brownies.  They form an ever-changing mosaic against the back wall, where they live on shelves.  There is a rolling ladder like you’d find in a library affixed to a layer of the shelves so the budtenders can reach the top of the stack.  Everything is made from wood, the lighting is bright but subdued, and I am smiling as I’ve just passed a lesbian security guard so confident and dominant it made me tingle even though I don’t like the women.

A stagehand nearing his 60th birthday whispers to me while my rec is being validated that if I say he referred me we both get “free pot”.  I go along.  He tells me about his life, and how he found a ticket to Maui for $150 online and is going there to relax for a bit as he lived there for seven years.  He is writing a book on the history of rock’n’roll and he doesn’t stop talking to me, to the budtender, to anyone that will listen.  Until he gets his “free pot” - then he’s off like a rocket.

He tells me and the remarkably patient, tuned in, and supportive budtender stories that skirt the lines of what I know is legal to recount in a medical marijuana dispensary.  I smile as we are not hurried, mentioning that I have given up on not getting a parking ticket.  They both ask if I should run and feed the meter.

“No worries.  It will be my gift to the City of San Francisco.”  They both react negatively.  I smile - you never appreciate what you have.  I’ve been told a number of times in meetings this visit that San Francisco is in the midst of another boom - people are flocking here at an alarming rate.  It is very difficult to find housing in San Francisco, and when possible it’s shockingly expensive.  

As a tourist, I find this pressure produces pleasing results - high-end everything, grateful newcomers, and status based on how long someone has been living in the community - these aren’t bad things.

The stagehand tells a story about how he was rolling a joint in the park and a police officer asked for his recommendation and then ran his name.  Beaming with pride at having no priors at age 59 - he smiles as he delivers the punchline:

“The cop told me to watch out, my pot was blowing away.”  In his face is such gratitude, this man that’s been smoking pot longer than I’ve been alive and now - for the first time in his life - can hardly believe that he’s free to do so.  

I’ve seen that look before, on a man’s face at the Vapor Spot Bar at a rooftop Hollywood benefit for medical marijuana that I won tickets to from a dispensary.  He looked the same generation, in his early 60’s - but clean cut and clearly closeted about his use.  And on another man, about the same age, late 50’s, early 60’s - as I was smoking a joint in the neighboring lane in traffic waiting to enter the freeway - he leaned out of his SUV so overcome with admiration for my open and carefree use he couldn’t quite get out the words to communicate that, but I caught his gist. It’s a beautiful look to see on a man’s face - the joy of bringing something once hidden and shameful out into the open to be shared, sometimes even with pretty young ladies.

I order a gram of Dutch Flowers, a gram of SFV OG, an outdoor OG Kush pre-roll, an indoor OG Kush pre-roll, and a Space Queen pre-roll, and as testament to the luck of the stagehand - we both get a free pre-roll of Maui Wowie.   I do not fail to notice the digital Volcanoes, three of them, sitting on three tables with benches on one side and simple, Japanesey wooden stools on the other.   At one of the tables sit three people with two mouthpieces and bags, playing a simple children’s board game, a giant stack of which sit in a basket by the desk next to the verification counter.  One of them is in a wheelchair, and obviously using medical marijuana for a serious condition.  I smile as I hand my ID over for Volcano fixin’s to one of the staff.

15 minutes later the Dutch Flowers gram is gone, and I’m pleased to no end to have a Vaporizer high after weeks of smoking.  The packaging for the medicine is pleasingly sleek but non-medical.  I am tired of the medicine bottles and happy to see something less wasteful.  Even the rolling papers are branded.  On my way out the man who trades me my ID for the Volcano Easy Valve Set that I decide is preferable to the ancient one I own that now resides in a storage space in the San Fernando Valley tells me that he likes my hair.

I get lost on the way back to my car and consult Google briefly, then figure it out on my own.  As I approach I see the traffic cop entering the ticketing info.  I know I’m fucked, so I slow down and smile.  

“It took longer than I thought.”  He turns and looks at me, a young black man with braces on his teeth.  “I know, I get it.  I’ll pay, no worries.”

“No.  Just go.” he says as he turns and is in his cart and off faster than I can thank him.  

I grin.  Thank you San Francisco.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I am 9 and it is summertime.  Beautiful, humid, upstate NY weather with the cicadas and soft breezes.  Naked outside weather, not too hot to sleep weather.  It is an early night for us all - I am in my bed and hear my parents snoring - my father a roaring drone, my mother softly on occasion.  I know they are asleep and I rise from my bed still in my favorite navy blue sports shorts and red tank top trimmed with navy.  I put on my socks and shoes quietly.  

My shade is open as I am prepared.  This is premeditated.  I know what I’m doing, and where I’m going.  I planned my escape by leaving my shoes in my room, my shade open, my clothing on, my pockets full.  I make little noise as I slip out of the open window.

My belly is already heavy as I scrape across the sill and let my feet to the ground.  It’s never comfortable, but I’m proud to be strong enough to still get in and out silently.  I keep to the shadows as I cross the lawn - it’s a full moon tonight and the streetlights are on even though there is still light in the sky.

Once I hit the road I am free.  A wave of pleasure crosses over me.  I’m unseen, untracked, and can do as I please.  I know I still must be wary of neighbors spotting me so I hurry quickly down the street and listen for sounds from yards.  I am getting away with it.  I pass the neighborhood friend’s house and note that their lights are out - they are asleep too, all six of them.  I am out of risk of their prying familiarity with me, and their numbers baffle me.  I’m an only child.

After the big fir tree is between their house and mine I slow down.  I savor the time alone, breathing deeply - trying to inhale a store of this uncaged being.  I feel oppressed by childhood.  Moments alone are the only time I do not.  I desperately crave to have adult experiences so that I can feel that increased level of choice and independence.  It never goes away.

At the bend in the road I take a left through the cul-de-sac as I’ve finally found a big shortcut.  Usually it scares me to do it at night, but tonight I feel infused with courage.  And power.  I walk through someone’s lawn to a path through a dense patch brambles and junipers. At the end of that path the grassy, dark field behind the police station.

Here my policy is to walk to my destination with purpose.  Even when officers have noticed me, I’ve never been questioned.  My heart quickens every time, with the danger of the cops and the nearness of my journey’s high point.

The convenience store shines flourescent light on my desires.  It is designed to be what it is - a beacon.  I go straight for what I want.  The clerk recognizes me and smiles his enabling smile.  

“Thanks champ!” he says to my exact change. I wonder whether he knows that I am a girl.  People often make that mistake, or simply can’t tell.

On the way home I quickly eat one candy bar after another, until the 2 Zero bars, 3 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, 2 Twix, 4 Peppermint Patties and the giant Hershey’s bar are gone, gone with the $12 in smaller bills and coins I’ve had in my pocket all day.  Scrounged from the couch, borrowed and stolen from my parents and friends’ parents.  By the time I hit the path again, all of this is gone.  When I pass the police station I transfer my remaining loot to one hand and give it the finger with the other.

I’m high all the way home.  Ecstatic, flushed, warm, filled.  In the present moment feeling no anxiety of time passing. As I clear the final stretch a pacified numbness sinks in.  Regret sings when I haul myself back into the house, but I’m too apathetic to listen.  I don’t want to be back here.  Gone is the freedom.  What’s left is the teasing I’ll get tomorrow for my body.  This thought crashes me, and I hit my bottom bunk bed and am asleep to escape the gas and discomfort and self-flagellation.  

Tomorrow, or maybe in a couple days - or maybe, maybe even a week I’ll chase the dragon.  My grownup quest with the rainbow's end proving my identity as an eternal child.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lucifer in Los Angeles - Chapter Two - The River

The Los Angeles River is not aptly named in that in many parts it contains no water. The first thought that goes through my mind upon gaining enough lucidity to ascertain my surroundings: “Well at least I’m not wet.”

I drag myself to my feet and stumble over chunks of concrete to the nearest prop I can find, a rusted shopping cart. Every movement bounces my wings and bones dig into flesh and nerve. I quickly turn my back to the cart and let the wings rest inside it. Feathers push through the cheap metal grid and add to my feeling of being a caged bird. I blankly stare at the grass pushing through the concrete.

A vision, I’m sure, naked and pulling a rusted shopping cart behind me to support my useless wings. None of the wheels turn so the scraping sound of metal on concrete adds to the display. Two grooved tracks stretch out behind me as I make me way, slowly aiming for the edge of the river. I bend to rest my hand on the river’s sloped side. The concrete is rough, sandblasted, I realize, to remove graffiti. There are staggering statistics on the millions of dollars spent annually by Los Angeles taxpayers on removing graffiti. The River alone is responsible for upwards of 2 million dollars a year in graffiti removal. What’s left is an off-color scar that stands out as it’s own form of abstract and unintentional marking. As territorial as the throw-ups by aspiring gang ladder climbers, the non-graffiti of anti-graffiti efforts join the tags and murals on the spectrum of street art.

I run my hand against the etched surface noting the honey in the light and that this signifies darkness soon to come, the first hints of what the film industry refers to as “magic hour”. I must find clothing. Shelter. I know what the dark will bring.

I hear laughter. Without my powers my senses are difficult to pinpoint. Pain fogs any assessment. I feel enhanced and retarded all at once. I can’t find the source of the laughter and for a moment I wonder if it’s from within.

Then I see her. Leaning barefoot against the riverside clutching a tattered backpack. Skin like chocolate, hair like fire. Black as night at the base, red in the middle, fading to orange and platinum blonde at the tips of her short afro. She looks half Persian, half African, and clearly homeless. She wears a large oversized men’s t-shirt that overlaps almost seamlessly into blue sweatpants with a college logo flaking off on her front flank she slaps now in laughter at me.

“Angel, you sure are some sight. What exactly you fucked up in yo’ life to get yo’ nekkeed ass here?” Her accent is southern black with the velvet tones of Farsi woven through. I wonder at her heritage, and how she ended up here.

I open my mouth but nothing comes out. It never occurred to me that I might not be able to speak. The sandpaper of stuck gears that rasps in my tubes when I try doesn’t encourage a retrial. The throbbing in my head is relentless and concentration does not help.

“You mute?” She looks at me with a blank stare, curious at first, but then she seems to drift off. Her eyelids flutter and close and then snap open. I realize that she must be on drugs. She aimlessly scratches her foot and I see needle marks. My eyes trail to her arm, to deep and weathered tracks woven into her skin.

I try to find the source of my voice within me. Nothing is there, there is no response, no feeling - no awareness. Dead air. I open my mouth and squeeze my throat and concentrate, trying to catch a wave of pain and urgency and ride it - when I do it feels like I may vomit again. Instead a low keening emerges and then a gargled growl and in a low voice - I speak my first words

“My name is not Angel, it is Lucifer, and you must give me your opioids.”

“Give you my WHAT?”

“It is the only thing that will make this pain stop and you must give it to me now.” I lurch forward and grab at her backpack, which causes her to jump to her feet.

“I don’t know what the fuck you talking about lady, but I been nice and shit and you want something that’s great maybe you gotta learn to ask for it but I ain’t making no deal with no devil that’s for certain” She spits for emphasis.

“Your drugs. Give them to me.” I listen to the words coming out of my mouth and am repulsed at my own humanity. Desperate to be out of suffering I know that I will do anything, even kill this wretch if she does not go willingly. It hurts to care so much about anything.

“What the fuck? Bitch you have to PAY for that shit.” A knife is in her hand before I can blink.

Money. This will bring me comfort. Shelter. Clothing. Protection from being shanked. I look at her. I see the cold eyes of a warrior - a junkie only in terms and context. This woman will fight me to the death for her companion, for her true love.

“How long have you been living with that drug?” I ask, softly. Bouncing against her is giving me energy, resilience, and alacrity. I realize that my softness causes her to soften. This will be purer to my survival than money.

“Since I was 10.” she answers, surprised at her own honesty.

“And how old are you now?”


“What is your name?” I ask, placing my hand on her shoulder.

“Janine”. She looks up at me, smiling. I see my reflection in her eyes. To her, I am still an angel. She is childlike and trusting. Power remains in my voice. It has authority. Petitions work better than threats.

“Janine, will you share your drugs with me?”

And it is thus that among my first experiences as a human being is injecting heroin into my inner right arm using an unclean needle held by a spirit more soothing than any nurse. Protection, understanding, relief.

The pain dulls, recedes and flows away, leaving only two points of tether at my forehead. It snakes outwards in all directions, but then is caught by gravity, filling the riverbed and rushing out to wash away the pain of it’s dwellers down westward and southward - down away and out into the ocean where it can not hurt us locked to land. Where it shall dissolve and leave alone these dreaming ground creatures nestled in co-dependence, now in a clockwork dance of their tools used for pain relief, the black one pushing the cart carrying the white one’s wings and the white one carrying the backpack as if cushioned on a slow-moving cloud. The black one in awe, the white one in worship.

And in a small, protected and long unused tunnel I bed down for the night amongst the belongings of Janine. She supplies me with a long floral nightgown, cobalt blue with pink hibuscus upon. Wrapped in the coils of false chemical serenity and cheap synthetic fabrics, and in the arms of a child finally found its family - I sit, resting - but awake - through the night.

At dawn, the smell overtakes me. The smell of filth and neglect, of diseased and misused human bodies. The smell of waste.

I have to leave the river. I can’t remember how many days I have been in this makeshift domicile. Time and memory are a blur, existence has narrowed to pain and absence. I do not know whether it is just one night I have sat here awake, or if I have been asleep for days.