TOPANGA (Chapter 6)

Don Bajema Issue: Section:

6. Eddie

So while I was watching the blue light of the stove under my coffee pot I dailed 969 gethigh and Junior answered,
"He's asleep."
"He said I should give him a wake up call."
"You don't go waking Grant up. He just went down."
"Tell him I called."
"..Wait a second."
I heard grumbling on the line, heard a girls' voice repeating what I thought I'd heard Richard Hemmings saying. Then I was sure of it then I heard some moving around and a couple 'excuse me's', a coffee table sliding over a sandy wooden floor and Grant breathed in the receiver.
"Yeah. I'll be ready in half an hour."
"Fifteen minutes."
"Com'on over have some coffee."
"I'll meet you out front."
"Com'on over a minute."
Figuring I'd be closer to leaving on time the longer I sat over there I turned off the stove and crossed the front room toward the gray light dawning through the screen door. Out into the sound of faint beach thunder and the smell of hot sycamores still in the air from yesterday, scrub brush, animals and the primordial ooze of the nearby salt flats. A breeze picked up as I made my way down the dark rotunda that had dust devils whirling at me like ghosts at a square dance. When it hit me full force it crossed my ankles on each other and I had to lean into it to keep my balance. Then it was quiet again.
Junior's place was a lightless box, windows covered in black plastic, with the front porch protuding on a plain deck and over the door a bare yellow bulb burning night and day.
You felt a cloud going over your soul or something when you neared the door, the porch light was stark and cast slinking shadows, the low ceiling of the building made you feel claustrophobic before you got inside. You felt like you were being laughed at, devalued and if you were to come to a bad result you'd have no one to blame but yourself.
Before I could wonder too long what I was doing there, I knocked.
And the door latches clacked and door swung open to a couch with Richard Hemmings standing over a girl laying naked on her back with her hand between her legs. He glanced over his shoulder at me and nodded hello, then turned his eyes back to the girls' eyes.
Junior closed the door and said,
"Find yourself a place to sit down, we'll be done in a minute."
I looked toward the hallway where Grant was moving a light stand around and talking to a guy behind a film camera of some kind.
Junior walked over to Richard and moved him off the girl with his hip. Richard walked over tucking himself in and stood beside me.
As Junior unzipped I could see that the girl was young, very stoned and depraved behind what looked like some hard use for long drug fueled while.
I reached for the door about to just sort of yell out that I'd meet Grant outside when his hand pressed the door closed and then took one of the two cups of coffee he had laced through his fingers on his other hand and gave it to me.
"Five minutes," he said.
I felt a kind of relief in seeing that she was loaded down to a few feet of visibility. As it was she was living and floating there like a corpse, a poisoned coyote staggering by a dumpster, and it was beyond horrifying, but it'd have been so much worse if you could read anything concious in her eyes. There'd be recognition, presence, a soul and shared responsibility. She'd become a monster. If she could see me, she could curse me and I knew she would.
"I'm not down with this shit." I said and started turning latches on the door and trying to get it open.
"Junior..." Grant said and the room stalled and the light landed squarely on us and I heard the camera man getting up from the floor and I saw the lense winking at me behind the light. I tried to move toward the door but Grant shoved me back into the light and stepped away and I was standing there blinking in the glare with the camera on me.
"You are now," Grant said.

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