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Friday, September 14, 2007
Mirror Meadows was a small district close to downtown L.A. The area was semi-rural and hilly. Trees grew wild with branches stretching and leaning in all sorts of directions. Weeds towered all over, and where there was grass it would alternate in colors of yellow or brown when it didn’t feel like growing anymore. Many homes there were severe leftovers from the turn of the century and obviously hadn’t been kept up at all. “Once I reached a certain age I found less and less things to be frightened of”, she said. I had to go to Mirror Meadows to find Veronica who had been missing for the past two weeks, and several tip-offs led me there. It was a prospect I faced with a large degree of dread. The only thing that saw me through all this was the thought of seeing her again after the night we spent together. “You can’t put somebody down if they don’t give a damn to begin with”, she told me. We had something special in common about each other: we were both children of parents who died under chance-related circumstances. My mother died of poisoning from a contaminated aspirin pill when a disgruntled pharmacy worker was laid off. Veronica’s father was shot to death after he cut off another car to take a parking space. “El Diablo sees me. I can’t stay away from him much longer, he’ll be calling soon. He’ll find me no matter where I hide”, she said fearfully. I swung up the hill to Horoscope Drive, trees twisting like wrecked bodies reaching for death’s cold touch. Through the tall weeds I saw a small clapboard house with rotting wood and peeling paint out in front. The blinds were drawn at some windows and the rest were boarded up. I cut the engine a few yards away and grabbed up a fresh magazine clip into my gun and got out of the car. It was time to take a walk. “In our home town everyone looks up to El Diablo. He has nothing but money and power, and that’s all people see, hear, and understand. Everything else doesn’t matter to them”, she said, feeling tense.
The legend has it that the community of Mirror Meadows started out when a carnival mindreader came to town and built a church. She gained everyone’s confidence and constantly juiced collection money out of the religious poor in the neighborhood. She took everyone for their money. One day she simply disappeared, never to be heard from again, the church and her followers abandoned. Rumor had it she was murdered by the swindled members of her congregation and buried somewhere on the grounds of Mirror Meadows. As I walked towards the house I saw a gunman holding a rifle standing guard in front. I crouched down to my belly and slid through the tall weeds like a garden snake. The guard abandoned his post to walk around the back of the house to take a leak. I shimmied as fast as I could towards the weather-beaten door before the guard could get back. I reached the door, jumped to my feet, quietly turned the knob and slid into the house. “The people of Mirror Meadows will always look at you sideways”, Veronica would say quietly, her voice trailing off like vapor. “Everything here is deceptive: people will move forwards but think backwards. People here like to work hard, but they’re so crooked the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing”. I entered a dimly lit lounge with red satin drapes, leopard spot furniture and black leather lampshades. All around me were young teenage girls servicing old men, but there was something vaguely wrong in what was going on. Instead of having sex these girls were either coughing or sneezing into the old men’s faces while the men vigorously masturbated, and then it hit me: this must be that new perverse sexual act I read about in Time Magazine. The Orgasmo-Viral Fetish Addicts, better known as the Virosexuals. The old men in their underwear and socks looked like judges, prominent lawyers and clergymen whipping their meat. “AAACCCHHOOO!!!” a girl sneezed. “Ooohhh yesss, Jesus Jesus Jesus, I’m coming, here it comes, oohhh yesss!” a priest howled. “COUGH COUGH COUGH!!!” another girl hocked a loogie on an old man’s aging member. “Ooohh yesss, young lady that’s the way, oh sweet fuckin’ Christmas!” some old gavel pounder moaned. The stench of stale semen and phlegm filled the air. I scanned the faces in the lounge, all seemingly oblivious to my presence. In a nearby corner I saw Veronica reluctantly trying to cough.
The old doctor in his underwear was losing his temper with her. “Come on, missy, let’s get on with it, hock me a steamin’ chunk”, he whined, pulling on his flaccid bit of string. She glared at him angrily. The din in the room was almost deafening. Suddenly, a hand jerked open a satin curtain and in came El Diablo, legendary masked Mexican wrestler and rumored white slavery czar. He was dressed in all his wrestling finery: regulation wrestling boots, stretch pants, flaming red wrestling mask and flaming red cape to match. He angrily glared down at Veronica and kicked her, yelling, “Go to work! You cough up some disease or I cut your ears off like a burro, you little bitch!” I whipped out my gun and pointed it across the room at the demonic wrestler. “Get your fuckin’ hooves off her or I’ll blow your face off your head!” I yelled. Everyone froze and stopped what they were doing. Girls screamed and the men scrambled for their clothes. “How did you get past my guard?” El Diablo barked angrily. “Who the hell are you?” “I’m the guy who’s going to burn your little playhouse down, asshole!” Some of the old men ran out of the house. “Come on, Veronica, we’re getting out of here!” She ran over to me. Under the mask was a spiteful sneer. “You will not get out of here alive, young man. I will have your gun taken away from you, and after that...” I felt two barrels of a shotgun poking into the small of my back. The house guard had his rifle stuck behind me, “...I will tear you apart with my bare hands!” I dropped my pistol. I was fucked. El Diablo slowly charged towards me with a sick, hateful grin on his face, a flaming apparition floating closer and closer amid the leopard skins and satins and leathers to seal my destiny. I felt Veronica’s nails digging deeper and deeper into my arm. There was a low, grumbling sound in the room. I must have been terrified because I could feel my body trembling, or was it Veronica? Was it Veronica trembling? Something was shaking. Was it me?? Was it her?? Why was the room shifting and twisting, coiling and unwinding? A voice screamed behind me in terror. “!TERREMOTO!” The gunman cried as the girls raced towards the back door. “!TERREMOTO!” Earthquake! Walls cracked open, powdery stucco ceilings dropped in cracks, chairs fell down over lamps over tables. The gunman dropped his rifle and sped out the front door. El Diablo, unperturbed, rushed towards me. I pivoted to pick up the rifle and spun around to crack him upside his head with the butt of the rifle. I could feel the whole floor hopping up and down as I beat him over the head with the rifle.
“Vanamos! This whole house is gonna tear up!” Veronica cried. El Diablo grabbed ahold of my ankle and held it until I kicked him hard in the face. We ran out of the house as it caved in. We ran and we ran until Veronica tripped over a plot that opened like a chasm. She looked down and screamed, for under her in the small chasm was a skeleton with a turban on its skull, old ropes holding skeletal hands together, old ropes holding skeletal feet together. Sister Clara McGuffin. We continued to run towards the car. We peeled down the hill and it was the shakiest ride we’ve ever been on. Everything we drove away from crumbled down to shit. But we were back together amidst the decay.