LOS ANGELES, Calif — Room 110. The Aku Aku motel. Furnished in faux ’60s chic (green shag carpeting, Hawaiian Tiki gods looming outside my room), the place has been here since my family moved to California in the late ’50s. Somehow I always wanted to stay here.
Wow. Guess this is my dream come true. As to why I’m here, that’s a long story. Let’s just say I’ve got some business to take care of. …
Across the street the yellow light from Jerry’s Deli blinks on and off. I can go over there 24/7 and get a cup of java or some matzoh ball soup. Incredible. In France, nothing was open past midnight.
At the magazine rack on the corner, I drop $50 bucks. Everything from The New Yorker to L.A. Biker to Tattoo Journal to Guitar Player.
I take my stash over to Fatbuger, where I pop $10 worth of quarters into the jukebox. Best blues in town. For the next hour I sit in ecstasy, listening to Big Joe Turner, Johnny Otis, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and a host of others. Before I leave, I must’ve played “Born Under A Bad Sign” 20 times.
That last tune seems particularly appropriate, considering my day today. Here, lemme tell you about it:
Last night I awoke at 3:00 a.m. in the guesthouse of the pad I bought in Calabasas, Calif., last year. Guest house my tuchus! The place is a converted garage, despite fancy flooring and a $5,000 kitchen.
It was freezing. So cold, I couldn’t get out from under the covers to go to the bathroom. When I finally got there, I was greeted by a huge spider who I was sure was grinning at me (I am terrified of spiders).
I get back in bed. Everything seems crazy. I have no idea at all why I’m in L.A. or what I’m doing. All I know is, I can’t stay here.
As soon as the sun begins to break, I get out of bed, wrap myself in about ten sweaters and begin throwing my clothes in a bag. I’m outta here, man.
Then, as I go to close the garage door, I feel a monstrous sheet of pain shoot through my hand. I look up to see that my index and third finger have been crushed in the garage door. Blood is gushing out.
Gingerly, I raise the door. I look at my fingers. They’re still attached but pretty badly mangled. Had I gone another quarter inch, I’d have sheared them off.
Wrapping my hand in a dirty t-shirt I get in the car to drive myself to the emergency room. Oddly, I’m not in pain, just numb, but my hand is shaking like hell.
Five miles or so into the drive, I hear a “PFFFTTTTTTT” sound. I look in the mirror and see all this black crap spewing all over the road.
Yep. Flat tire. (Now what are the chances of this happening at this particular time?)
The Triple A guy gets there in 10 minutes after I tell the dispatcher I’m injured and on my way to the hospital.
The Kaiser Permanente ER waiting room. I’m in one of the ugly orange chairs flipping through a Reader’s Digest. A couple of brats are screaming for attention from their mother who is fixated, watching some young black guy and his girlfriend yelling unintelligibly at one another on the TV.
Normally the scene would bother me, but I’m too numb. Maybe it’s because of the five Vicodin I’ve popped. By now, I’m outside of myself, watching the whole thing. I keep thinking of how I can build a script around this whole deal.
Three hours later, after persuading the turban-wearing doctor with bad breath to give me a new scrip for Vicodin (I lie, telling him I don’t have any), I leave, with my hand in a nice clean bandage. Oddly I feel happy, though I wish there was someone around to give me some sympathy.
Well, what to do now? Why, go to a movie of course!
I hit the Cineplex and pick something called “Traffic.” It doesn’t really matter what I see. For the last four months — since I’ve been in France — I’ve been longing to see a real American film, drink a real Coke with ice and eat some real popcorn.
Sitting in the dark, everything’s cool. The movie is not great, but it’s OK. But for some reason, about an hour into it, a little voice in my head goes off and tells me to leave.
I get outside, and walk to my car. As I get there, I see the strangest sight. My car is being hitched up to a tow truck. At first, I think I’m dreaming. Nonetheless I start running at top speed.
As I arrive at the scene, an ugly looking female sheriff’s officer puts her hand up — as if to stop me.
“What’s happening,” I stutter.
The officer explains that my tags are expired and my car is going bye-bye.
I try to explain that I’ve been in Europe; that I let the tags expire; that I’d called the DMV (I really had) just yesterday and they told me to come in tomorrow and renew my registration.
Officer Ugly doesn’t care. “You cannot have the car on the street sir,” she says, showing me a set of nasty yellow teeth.
“Well, how am I supposed to get to the DMV?” I seethe?
“That’s not my problem sir,” she answers, handing me a stack of paperwork.
I try to talk to the tow truck driver, who looks a bit guilty, but the officer motions at him. He continues hooking up my car.
Officer Fang then hands me a parking ticket, tells me to “have a nice day,” gets in her car and leaves.
I’m literally in shock.
I stand there, watching my car disappear into the sunset.
At this point I know all I can do is to keep moving or I’m just going to lay right down on the pavement and let myself get run over by the next passing vehicle.
Fade to black. …
So here I sit, back in my nice cozy hotel room (after waiting two hours for the cab to show up). I don’t feel depressed or anything. A bit numb is all, really. I tried asking God what the heck the meaning was of all the stuff that happened today. I mean, there must’ve been some reason, right?
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any answers.
That’s how it’s been lately.
I guess you may have gleaned by now that this is another one of those columns with absolutely no moral. It’s just a story — that’s all.
I don’t feel sorry for myself or anything like that. I mean, hell — people are dying in all kinds of horrible ways as we speak. People are sleeping in gutters. Me, I’m in the Aku Aku, watching “Jag” on the tube.
I hate “Jag.”
Think I’ll see what’s on the other channel.