The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 37
It was a little strange staying as clean as one needed to be for the coffeehouse gig but I had access to the office building’s interior and the bathroom on the second floor. Showering was a matter of getting the hose on the roof into the sun a few hours ahead of time and being conscientious with its use.
I washed clothes at a coin-op laundramat on Venice Blvd., then hung them on a wooden bar inside my little half-cylinder home.
I slept in my sleeping bag on an old three-person lawn swing I kept from swinging by wedging it into stationary position with bricks, boxes, whatever Lloyd had laying around. A small flashlight hung from the ceiling over a beat-up, uneven coffee table by the swing so I could log the distances I ran, the times I’d run them in.
Sometimes, on weekends, Lloyd would help transplant the bromeliad pups. In mid summer, during one of these sessions, he advised me that once per year—usually in October—the fire department inspected his roof. “You know what that means, right?” he asked.
Me: I think it means that if they find out somebody’s living up here you’ll get hit with a bunch of violations, and you’re suggesting I move.
Lloyd: By September, therabouts.
Me: You own apartment buildings too, yes?
Lloyd: And I’d happily rent to you, but… (Chuckles) I’m what’s known as a slumlord. I doubt you’d want to live in any of my buildings. Although, there is one…
He gave me the key and I examined it the following Monday. Mexican ghetto off Jefferson, slightly west of Sepulveda, Fox Hills Mall and the 405. Second story of an 8 unit building. Grafitti. Bars on the windows. An alley in back. Empty Budweiser bottles littering the front. A one washer, one dryer laundry room. And the unit itself was just a room, a teeny kitchen, even teenier bathroom. $375 per.
I caught the Crosstown #3 from the nearby Albertson’s, Henry at the wheel, back to Lloyd’s office below my beautiful roof. “Boss man in?” I asked the receptionist.
First, last, security.
I bought an 8” queen futon, a custom 8” futon corner grouping, a low, circular glass table, four big custom pillows, some cookware at the May Co. in Fox Hills, plates, bowls from World Market and—lord have mercy—a $500, 5 speaker, 50 disc, dual cassette surround sound stereo system through a Sony employee, a regular at the coffeehouse.
AND about 20 CDs, at cost, from Rob, another regular, a fellow painter, and a full time employee at Rhino Records in Westwood.
Simultaneously, David decided it was time to enforce a stricter dress code at work. The problem, he determined, wasn’t myself or AJ, but his daughters, Ingrid and Marie, and especially Lorraine. “You know,” he said to me, “I get it. It’s summer. They’re single. They want to dress… alluringly. And I also get that Lorraine doesn’t need to wear a bra, but when you’re looking at those nipples or that shake… don’t know about you but I find it difficult concentrating on what we actually sell.”
Ha! It was definitely true. There were guys who would come in, sit at a table for hours, sipping coffee, getting refills, pretending to read but not-so-secretly oggling Lorraine—the approximate equivalent of Marilyn Monroe, only a brunette, longer legs, an ass that came to the precise level my dick wanted it to come.
“So,” David continued, “elegance and class as compared with, say, a strip club. You and AJ in tuxedo shirts, slacks, shoes to match—I’ll reimburse you, and supply the bow ties. The… (ahem), ladies, also in tuxedo shirts, floral patterned skirts and whatever shoes work.”
“Cool,” I said.