She could lick the crisp off a Chinatown duck faster than I could breathe. She could suck the sweet off a Koo’s pancake and make you believe… there was still magic in L.A. She could down an El Greco calzone with a big Yoo Hoo and crease you with a smile sideways. She could hold my basest wants in her perfect carnal sway… but was she quite as clever as she thought? No f**king way.
I wasn’t some late night party trick or some mojado just over from TJ. Sure, I drove those girls to Myrna’s house in Elysian Park and I fed them good tortillas from Luella’s down on Chavez Way. And when I saw, in the dark down the block from Myrna’s bungalow, Rhea’s old LeBaron with the top stuck down, I knew she was looking to do more than just eat, f**k and write in this town.
Maybe she was working on a book, some kind of expose; maybe she was working undercover for the cops… I didn’t care, either way. She was after something – maybe even me. But trying to bait me with carnitas – even ones from Antojitos Denise’s? Please. Still… the woman made me hungry.
Four burritos later with the sweat just starting to cool, I had her believe… that the girls were Myrna’s granddaughters – illegals – who could be taken away. She was hiding them from the police. And I was just a big hearted honest kind of Joe, helping out a friend in need. Then I left while she was still asleep.
I left before the doubt of dawn burned in a new day. I left still feeling her perfect carnal sway. Yeah… she could down a double-stuffed amore in one luscious bite and take the edge off any other useless night. But don’t go messing with my income.
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Archive for September, 2009
I could stay awake at night forever and let the days go by unveiled. But Koo’s is only open in the hours before wee and their Griddle cakes are unrivaled. Pancakes are where I go when I want to hide. Something about their syruped dough helps me forget my lies. But today I drove on by. I’d won an all-night fight with my apathetic soul now I needed to bait my soul-less guy.
Well, maybe Panama wasn’t really my guy but the twinge I felt when he mouthed a Praya pork bun was as close to that as I’d wanted to come. And by the smile I’d caught in his wayward eyes when I’d downed that hot dumpling from Torung, I knew he had a thing for me too, at least after round one. He also had info I needed: like what the hell were they doing with those girls and how I could get them freed; get this thing done.
I figured anyone with an L.A. dive pork jones would get creased by the carnitas at Antojitos Denise. So I picked up four and went in for a Corona at Domingos, ready to transform my need. He was there, in the shadow, nursing a San Miguel, trying to look like he didn’t belong. I set the bag on the bar, and ordered a cold one, my heart beating an addict’s song. As the scent of the magic in those sweet hot greasy burritos escaped into the dead evil air, he couldn’t resist. “You either give me a taste of what’s in that bag or find out if your disappearance is missed.” I smiled, “Ask nice or I’m eating alone.” He threw cash on the bar, took my elbow, eased me outside and drove me home.
Three burritos in to a muggy night dense with the taste of shredded pork, smoky heat and pungent balls, my questions were answered, my anger aborted: The girls were the daughters of Myrna’s illegal immigrant son, lying low so as not to be deported. And the Ensenada night where I thought I first saw them was unlit: assumption, an easy casualty. My fears and journey since were all the cause of simple mistaken identity.
I fell asleep in his answering arms, thinking I slept soundly… my mind was closed but my eyes were open. And I looked out onto a darkness born of place and desires misspoken.
The skies over L.A. are blacker than sin, bled starless by the cheap lights below. I woke around four, looked out at the moon alone in her dark abode. No friends were there to hear her luminous whisper… and no angels were there, in the mist above the lights, no help for me, no sister. And Panama was gone from my bed, and I knew…
… my addiction to hiding in men and food had made it easy for me to believe him. Those girls were really in trouble bad and was I betraying them with a whim.
I vowed, yet again, to transform my needs, my deaths… it’s the only thrill left. And maybe if my fears no longer define me, I’ll find there’s more to life than death.