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Friday, March 21, 2008

Apartment 217

The big punk rock thing to do for the kids at the Masque was to move into a decrepit old apartment building in the center of Hollywood called the Canterbury (as in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales). I really needed a place to stay because my back ached from sleeping too many nights on the floor at the Masque. The most eventful things there never happened on weekends, they would happen on Tuesday mornings. Like this one Tuesday morning, there was a knock on my door.

“Andy, I need your help”, Rick said desperately with a fix in one hand and a tourniquet in the other. Rick was a quiet punk who hardly ever talked to me, well! He hardly ever spoke to anyone. When I saw the loaded fix I practically jumped.
The door was ajar while he held the packed works.
“Close the door!” I hissed. “Jesus, get in already!”
He slammed the door. “Look, this is the plan. I’ll tie up while you plunge the fix in, okay?”
My apartment window overlooked a parking lot for Love’s Barbecue, heavily frequented by police cars, of which SEVERAL were parked by my window.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah”, I freaked, “cool, baby, let’s take this in the bathroom where the COPS, like outside the window, CAN’T SEE us”.
He doddered into the bathroom with me, careful not to upset the works. “Okay! When you see my veins swell and throb, plunge it right in. Here!”
He handed me the needled plunger and pulled on the polka-dot scarf around his arm with his teeth as tightly as humanly possible. The veins bulged out of his arm like purple snakes. I felt sick just looking at this.
“NNNNGGGG! C”mon!” He roared with the material in his maw.
I hesitated at sticking the needle in. I never did this crap in my life. How deep should I go? What if I waste the expensive junk by not getting it in completely?
“Okay, okay”, I paced a little in place. “Give me a second, I gotta think about this”.
“NNNGGGG!!!” he pulled harder on the scarf and breathed heavily.
“HEY!” I barked. “Time out! Let’s switch, yeah let’s switch, Rick. You plunge and I’ll tie, I’m a good tie guy”.
We switched. I pulled hard on the scarf as he plunged the needle in, and I saw the switch from junk to blood enter the dropper. Blood never makes me faint but I almost did this time. It creeped my ass out.
“Bitchen, Andy”, Rick grinned, “I knew I could count on you. Thanks, man, Next time I’ll save some for you, I’m a little short today”. He edged towards the door.
“Thanks”, I gagged, “I’ll remember that”.
As soon as he left I double-locked the door like an old lady biddy grandma.
The rent was due and a single apartment back then went for $150 a month. Since I was out of work and assisting fuckface junkies on weekdays for free $150 may as well have been $500, 000. I had two gigantic PA speakers in storage (4 feet tall each) I remembered that weren’t being used so I decided to put them up for sale. The looks I got when I wheeled them through the lobby and up to my place were priceless.
“Andy, playin’ a show at your place tonight?”
“Yeah”, I joked, “didn’t you get the flyer?”
Until I sold the speakers I may as well put them to work, so I hooked my PA speakers up to my stereo. It was like hearing intermission records at the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre, and the neighbors never complained, because they were illegals who played their cha-cha-cha ranchero shit at ear splitting volume, too.

One day I was walking by the Masque and Holly was hanging out.
“Andy!” Holly yelled. We hugged and then I said the inevitable.
“Hey, Holly”, I said quietly, “what are you doing right now?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Hang out with me for awhile. I’ve got some records I want you to hear”, I smiled and then she smiled.
We got to my place. “Cool speakers!” she laughed. The speakers were so large they went all the way up to my Murphy bed with little room to get to the kitchen and bathroom.
“Get on the bed and I’ll put something on”, I ran over to the stereo and put on Kraftwerk, not too sexy, but powerful out of those big speakers. I got back on the bed and we both lay there on our stomachs.
The music began, rhythm machines and synthesizers booming out of the 4 foot speakers in our faces, our hair bouncing on our heads from the vibrations of sound. DUT-DUT-DOOT-DUNN! BOW-BOP-A-DOOP!
“Well, Andrew”, Holly purred, “That’s a quite a punchy bass frequency”.
The walls trembled from the music bouncing off the walls. We both started laughing from the vibrations tickling us from the PA. I got real quiet, tapping my foot to the music, and glanced at her. She looked at me with that “What are you waiting for, sailor?” look.
I turned closer and kissed her, she kissed me sweetly and we continued handling each other to the strains of thunderously loud Teutonic techno.
I was watching TV on a Sunday night and people were yelling loudly in the hall, nothing new for this place, but this time doors were getting banged on. My door got banged on quickly.
“WHAT?” I yelled. The hallway smelled badly and was bathed in smoky red light.
“FIRE!” a fat black woman yelled at me.
To the left of the hallway the sofa that had been sitting there for 3 months was on fire, and the flames spread. People were running around, screaming, the alarm bell was deafening, and I ran back in.
QUICK>QUICK>QUICK, what will I take with me? I immediately grabbed my saxophone and a painting I did of a boy pulling a spitting cobra out of his zipper. I raced out the safe side of the hallway thinking, gee, I hope my neighbor Pat’s okay. Pat played saxophone, too and lived next door and like to dress like The Invisible Man, bandages and all, when he performed. The flaming sofa was right by his front door! I ran out to the parking lot and looked up at my apartment window to see if my place caught on fire. Much to my horror Pat was hanging out his window looking down.
“Andy!” Pat yelled. “I’m fucked!”
“Shit!” I yelled back. “You might have to jump!”
“Fuck yeah!”
“Well, look, there’s two cars that’ll break your fall, you can do it, god damn it!”
“God damn it!”
There were a few cars under the window from the rather high Second Floor that would break his fall, but his ankles would take the painful shock, no shit.
The fire trucks raced right up to the building and they charged up to my floor.
“Hey, maybe you’ll have to jump into one of those trampoline things!”
“I hate those fucking things! I’m scared of heights!”
Before I could get another stupid helpful suggestion I could see firemen smashing in Pat’s door down behind him, throwing a blanket over his ass and pulling him back into his room and racing him out of the building.
Two hours later I got to go back to sleep in my smelly burned toast apartment, everything intact, paintings, saxophone, and even sexy PA speakers intact. And I sold the speakers and made the rent.

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