10 Jul


A sleepless night, knowing I’ll have to get up at four a.m. and call a cab to bring me downtown to the corner of Seventh and Figueroa. As close as I can figure out, that’s where I can catch a commuter bus to take me the 19 miles to Woodland Hills, where I can put in a day’s work and then pick up my car.

The alarm rings while I’m wide-awake.

One of my favorite things to do is to walk through doors where I haven’t a clue what waits on the other side. It started in Boston when I was 18, walking into a nightclub in the Combat Zone called the Mousetrap Cabaret. On the side of the building was a painting of a tipsy mouse in a tuxedo holding up a martini glass. Nothing much happened once I was inside, besides a stripper in leopard skins, but I think it cured me forever of worrying what was on the other side of a door.

But I feel vulnerable, riding in the cab through the dark streets as my cab driver listens to gangsta rap on the radio. What kind of corner is Seventh and Figueroa? Downtown LA is a homeless nightmare. I can’t help wondering what kind of tough shell I’ll need in the pre-dawn streets. A lot fucking harder to pull off with a head of gray hair.

Once we’re downtown, it’s no big deal; a metropolitan crossroads with streetlights on every corner. My bus comes and I pile in with the Mexicans. I pay a ridiculously low fare of $1.25; you gotta keep the underpaid, illegal workers flowing back and forth.

Like a lot of places I’ve been lately, I’m the only Anglo. Just me and standing room-only Mexicans, all of them eerily silent, except for the occasional woman who climbs on board, greeting other women with affectionate smiles and a kind word.

The women who speak seem superbly grounded, compared to the stoic men, who look like they carry the end of the day with the day’s beginning.

We drive north on the 101 and the sky grows warm and gray.




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