An Acid Trip, An Old Lady, and LA.
Nobody really likes Los Angeles, or that part of California. It's just close enough for middle America to road trip in and out of within a week's time. Same goes for Florida on the East coast, it's literally the same state but with less movie stars and more cocaine. Both places have terrible beaches, and both are owned by the Disney corporation.
My last visit to Los Angeles, in Silver Lake, was an experience. I was visiting to a close friend, who happens to be one of my favorite people in this world. He has perfect hair, a literary mind, a flawless sense of style, and his homosexuality doesn't get in the way of it all. We all know the type, and he isn't one. He hit's harder than most manly men I know, a total gay's gay.
So, I arrive and grab a motel, the only place that would take me and kind of popped up out of nowhere. It had a neon sign that was buzzing bright "The Olive Motel." I check in for a few days and it's cheap and they would take me, plus you could smoke in your room. Outside of one of the buildings there was a sign warning anyone who seeks shelter at this establishment not to dally in bringing prostitutes in, no drugs, and I forget the other, but it was probably something about sex. When I stepped into my room and saw the down blanket, I could understand the liability of the motel and one’s self of having sex on anything in that room.
I fell in love deeply with old black and white television shows like The Bachelor Father, Leave It to Beaver, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Only one station came in and somehow with the crusty volume the picture was clear as it could be. It was the first time I've felt relaxed in years watching those shows and smoking up a storm while stagnant cigarette butts and smoke stayed on the air and walls. In between the breaks I would write, god know what, while an entire city was at my feet. What did I do though? I waited in that room and watched masculine 50's men navigate problematic sons, daughters, wives, and all the trouble of that occurred in the show. I guess mixing up white loads of laundry with a red sock or broken windows from stick-ball in the streets were a natural reoccurring situation in those days.
After waking up one morning after a night of heavy drinking with my dear friend, which neither of us were hung over of course, being writers who knew how to talk books and drink heavily, I walked a mile to a local laundromat that had a Starbucks. It was a giant place full of lovely eclectic people who wash their mounds of clothes. I walk back through the dirty Los Angeles sunshine to my motel. I light a cigarette, enjoy my coffee, and begin to write for the next hour or so. I take a break and watch some more of The Bachelor Father, which is great by the way, and as I'm sitting on my filthy made bed, which is impossible to make up as the maids do to perfection, I hear something high pitched, like a moan. I think nothing of it, feeling it's my imagination, and I continue to watch. The father in the show I’m watching is bouncing around the living room, a clumsy dance, and I hear the moan again. I turn off the television because there is no mute, and I hear nothing. I do this several times before I hear a long moan, "heeelp." So, I turn off the television, put out my cigarette and open the door completely. I peak my head out the door and wait. There is nothing but silence. I wait. About thirty seconds pass and I hear the moan again, "Heeelp!" So, I exit the door and answer back, hello? I hear a woman's voice and make my way to her room which is a few doors down. What I see next will always stay with me.
There she was, out of her wheelchair and on the ground, twisted up like a pretzel. I forget her name, but I remember she was from New Jersey. She was half dressed, and a look of severe pain was on her face. "Thank god, I've been screaming for an hour, I think I broke my hip, help me back up." She said, no tears but with stress in her voice." I assess the situation and ask her if I can touch her, to help her up and she agrees. Her bones and skin felt moist like a damp sponge and as I got a grasp around her she cried out with pain and I could feel how weak she was. Her arms had the strength and feel of a loaf of bread soaked with water. After she caught her breath, a lit her a cigarette and tried to ask her about herself, to lighten the mood and keep her mind of the pain. I remember on her bed she had pills, a ton of cash, and empty cigarette boxes. She sat there in her wheelchair and I called her an ambulance and waited for them to arrive. We shared a few laughs, somehow, and I was on my way back to my room as the firefighters were helping her out the door, and that was the last time I saw her.
Later that night I tell my friend all about it. We have a few drinks and I'm still in shock over the painful screams and the fragile body of this woman. It's around eleven at night and we go to a local food truck with some decent Mexican food, all of which my friend is ordering though Spanish, and all I can think of is if they're going to put onions in my food. We eat, and I drive him to his home, and say our goodbyes for the evening. I drive down this long hill and at a stop sign a young girl comes up to my window running, and like an idiot I roll down the window and see tears roll down her face. She's in a panic and I try to calm her down to figure out what's wrong, later realizing I shouldn't have been so attentive on just her issue in case some other person came on the other side of the car and tried to rob me before blowing my brains out. This didn't happen luckily, and this girl was around seventeen and was running away from something. After a hard ten minutes of talking to her she's in my car, safe, and I'm reassuring her that everything will be fine and that she didn't want to take my advice and have the cops take her home.
So here I am with a young woman in my car, I'm unfamiliar with the streets of LA, and I'm coaching her to breath and relax, all while she is on a bad acid trip. It was remarkable talking to her, it was her first time, and she couldn't remember where she lived. So, I drive around many streets and during this time she is having panic attacks, forgetting where she is, she thinks I'm kidnapping her, and I'm just like oh shit, this looks fucking bad. So, I continue to coach her, and drive her around the area, while figuring out where she lives. I see her personality change at least a dozen times in the 45-minute drive of her in and out of conscience reality. It was no easy task. I believe her name was dolphin or something of that young and mislead type. She had no ID, losing her purse somewhere, and she was a trip, but I felt bad for her being young and out on the streets away from home. I could've left her there and drove off, but I just couldn't live with that on my tiny conscience. The good news was that we found where she lived, and she was kind enough to try to pay me, which I didn't take.
Somehow, I managed to get home, without any GPS, and I felt like the television show fathers I had watched all week, but in a modern time with modern problems. Between the acid trip, the old lady, and Los Angeles, I had a pretty great time. One thing that I learned in my experience with Southern California was don't do drugs, never get old, and if you need a place to stay just look for the neon signs.