Wednesday, October 14, 2009

J MARZ WUZ HERE text & photos by Walt Cessna



I’m sitting in the waiting room at the Tom Wadell Health Clinic for the third day in a row and getting seriously twitchy. Itchy mother fuckin’ ag-gi-ta twitchy. I’ve gotten the red tape run around up to here and there’s no where else to go. That’s how bad I fucked it up this time. All I got left is a chance at a twenty-one day drug & alcohol detox. It’s so not Betty Ford, but I suck in my judgmental-ness and try to assume as little presence possible amidst my fellow fucked up compatriots, all of whom surrender to the junkie nod, the black-out hustle or my personal favorite, the shit eating tweakalina the tweaker grin.


I just got off of a banjee two-week binge. Two thousand dollars in good, honest hustling money and the desire to get extremely twisted can inspire a lot of sick shit. And that’s just where I found myself, once again, participating in my non paying, but always starring role on the Freak Files, a daily journey into the deep abscesses of my own decline.


After ten funky ass tricks, twenty bags of so-so coke, ten bags of dope, sixty-six Xanex’s, ten eighth’s of weed (a dude’s gotta come down eventually), twenty pints of Johnny Walker Black, three stanky johns who needed their fuckin’ heads bashed in, at least eight hundred Kool cigarettes and a goddamn partridge in a pear tree, I came to the crashing conclusion that A. I had spent every last cent I had. B. I had blacked out every single night and could only remember my binge in flashbacks and C. I had finally scared the shit out of myself and knew that if I didn’t put an end to this now, I might never see my twenty-first birthday.


My name is Jefferson Marshal, J. Mars for short. Only my street friends call me that, though. That or tattoo dude, due to the fact that I am a completely tattooed young man, face, chest, arms, legs, feet-n-fingers, ears, ass, crack and cock. I started getting inked when I was thirteen, right after I had runaway from home in Queens, New York to San Francisco. I was just a scrappy young punk then, dyed blue hair, earring and a nose ring, both self-administered. But I was cute, pale skin, big green eyes and an ass that defied description. I immediately found myself on Polk St. in the Tenderloin where I met Olie, tattoo God and messy, young boy lovin’ lush.


Over the next three years I lived in the back of his shop and let him fuck the shit out of me all night and then tattoo me almost every morning, sometimes for ten hours at a time. I became his obsession, his most prized piece of living art. I sank into the whole scene eager and full of anticipation. I was so willing to take everything to the edge, even though I was barely a teenager and had no idea what the fuck I wanted to do with my life. At the time, becoming tattoo dude seemed enough.


We did a lot of drugs in between all that, which is why I finally had to leave old Olie, right before he was about to finish his masterpiece by finally tattooing my still porcelain white face. My body was in a constant state of healing, which was rather uncomfortable at times. So just before he was set to ink my mug, I snuck away with this speed freak I had met at some tweaker club called The End Up. We stole away on his motorcycle, a hit of E hastily shoved down my throat and the sick satisfaction of knowing Olie was going to freak the fuck out, a fact that I was enjoying immensely, unaware of the consequences that might follow.


Greg had long dyed blonde hair that didn’t really work on him and he carried it like a chip on his shoulder, full of stubborn resolve and unsolved questions. He constantly looked perplexed, but it was most likely the bewilderment of too much crystal clouding his brain. He was easy to manipulate which made him easy fodder and I never saw a piece of fodder I didn’t like. Plus he rode a motorcycle, a certain fetish of mine that literally made me cream my jeans every time I heard the rumble of his bike pulling up.


He hooked me up with a new tattoo artist south of Market, a skinny guy in nerdy black Buddy holly eye-glasses going by the name of Trasher and I let him cover my entire face with literally hundreds of tiny characters, all resembling Brownies, Fairies and Sprites. It was my homage to my inner Tinkerbell, but Olie found out and as predicted, freaked the fuck out that somebody had tampered with his piece de’ resistance and shit.


He was pretty pissed and came damn close to nearly killing me, if I hadn’t of killed him first. That pretty much cemented my future right there. I mean there’s not too many options open after you kill someone, even if it was in defense. I knew this guy with some really skank pit bulls that lived over in the projects in Western Addition.


So I bagged old Olie up and schlepped him over to the dudes house who just says to toss it in the basement, which I do, not closing the door until I’ve heard the final body bump hitting the bottom of the pitch black staircase. I look over at the dogs that can smell the blood and are starting to get all uppity and shit. That’s when I blew the fuck outta Dodge. No need to witness the Kibble and Olie bits midnight munch out.


I came home to find Greg and Trasher passed out on the couch, the remains of a speedball and a warm forty sharing coffee table territory. I licked up some of the coke carelessly fanned across the tables surface and spend the next four years getting more and more fucked up until I’m finally selling my ass to support my habit.


Greg OD’d pretty early on and I ended up alone in a flop house residential hotel on Ninth and Market called The Chase, tricking and hanging out at bars and clubs. Or my dealers house. That was until my final bottom, the two-week binge that I can’t even fuckin’ remember. It isn’t until a tall, fat black fella’ is standing directly in front of my day dreaming self and bellows my name at the top of his lungs, that I snap out of my bad dream and realize it’s me he want’s.


“Jefferson Marshal!”


“Yessir!’”


“Follow me son.”


And with that I am escorted up and entered into the process of the San FranDisco’s free city detox program. After a few blood draws, TB test, chest x-ray, urine sample, crab & lice screening, height, weight, temperature and blood pressure check, I am led to a long lonely hallway, where I shall await my ride to the detox house they have chosen for me. Turns out I’ll be going to Eighth Avenue House (where I tried the program a year earlier but freaked out after two days and escaped), an oasis of fucked up freakazoids shaking whatever monkey they had allowed to take up permanent residence on their backs.


My monkey ended up being a combination of everything, resulting in my total breakdown. I actually cried as I sat there waiting and didn’t stop until I had been picked up, brought to the house, showered and changed into a pair of pajamas and eaten a bowl of micro wave oatmeal. Then they gave me a Librium, some Benadryl and put me to bed where I sobbed myself to sleep. I didn’t even realize I had a roommate till I awoke in the middle of the night and was faced with the image of my cellmate towering above me. I quickly flicked a light on, which forced a shrill, girlish scream out of this big ass queen hovering right next to my face.


“Who the fuckin’ frig are you?”


“I’m Redwood...we’re roomies!”


He was the strangest, saddest, cutest looking big fat old queen I had ever seen. He was wearing a green hospital gown and a leopard print robe as he clutched a hospital gift shop stuffed orangutan and smiled a slow demented smile, drool curdling at the sides of his cracked, dehydrated lips that parted to reveal tobacco stained teeth. I was in hell. Let me burn quickly and get this fuckin’ freak the fuck away from me I thought.


Little did I know I was about to forge a friendship unlike any I had ever known. Redwood would soon become my confidant, protector, savior and so much more. At that moment though I had no knowledge of what was about to come my way, or the roller-coaster ride my life was about to become. And I would always have Redwood to thank for it. If he just hadn’t of lost his temper that one last time then maybe my life wouldn’t have gotten...but that’s rushing the story. Let’s get back to those first five minutes.


I was full of dread, unable to appreciate the nuance or differentiate it from the nuisance I sensed instead. He sat down on the edge of my bed and quickly pulled out a Paul Mall filter and lit up right in the mother fuckin’ room, a strictly forbidden and huge no-no in a detox. At least he has balls, I thought to myself as I propped myself up and leaned back against my bed board. He offers me a cigarette which I greedily take, lighting it with his jewel encrusted lighter that looks like something from a bad pirate movie but even gaudier.


“Like it?”


“It’s unique, I’ll give you that.”


“I got if from my lover the night I debuted with The San Francisco Ballet. I was 19. He was 35. It was heaven.”


“That’s so...special. I’m touched.”


“Don’t fuck with me kid. What are ya in for? Boozer? Junkie? Pill popper? Which will it be?”


“I plead to being guilty in all above categories and probably a few we haven’t even gotten to yet.”


“Ah...a true stalwart and fucked up companion. I was gettin’ lonely. Everybody here hates me you know.”

Now I was even more curious. I thought I was going to a detox with nothing more intriguing going on than the nurse’s change of shift and taco’s on Saturday. All of a sudden there was this drama awaiting my always-distracted mind and I was more than willing to slightly delve into it.


“Why do they hate you Redwood?”


“They’re jealous because I’m rich. I have a huge inheritance.”


“What’s huge?”


“Big.”


“How big. Small, medium, large...very large (hopefully).”


“Well, 20 years ago it was over two million.”


“And what is it now?”


The silence that followed was deafening. I had to break it.


“Do you have anything left?”


“$35,000. It’s all I got left in the world.”


“That’s not so bad. If you knew how to work it you could triple your effect real quick. Did you ever deal? What are ya in here for anyway?”


“I was a crack head. Yep. A plain old pathetic crack-head.”


“How’d ya end up here?”


“I was in a hospice because, well you see...I’m dying. I have Aids and Cancer in almost eighty percent of my body.”


“Are you on Morphine?” I choked, suddenly concerned for this strange creature who was now standing up with the aid of a cane that he seemed to pull out of nowhere.

“Liquid. It sucks, I’m constantly falling asleep or nodding off at the most inappropriate times. That’s what happened at the hospice. I was having a crack party for all the patients out on the patio when they started crawling out of their wheel chairs and tweekin’ on the ground. I would have done something, but my Morphine kicked in and I was out like a light. Let’s just say the staff wasn’t very pleased with me after that. Well I’m going out to the porch for a smoke. See ya later.”


And then Redwood was gone, almost as quickly as he had appeared. As he hobbled out the door and slammed it behind him, I sunk back under my sheets, only now I wasn’t crying. I was giggling, crazy thoughts racing through my mind. $35,000 might not buy him some time, but it sure would buy me a copula’ extra fuckin’ minutes and that was when I began to hatch my plan.


I didn’t wake up until noon the next day, as an Indian nurse named Flo (it was printed on her nametag, stupid!), shook me up and scared the shit out of my numbed senses.


“Time for your Librium sweetie,” she chimed, sounding like a bad dream in sensaround. More Librium? They sure like to keep you out of it I thought to my very out of it self. I opened my mouth and swallowed the green and blue pill as Flo took audible note of my tattoos, which she gave a kind of awkward thumbs up to, like Fonzie goes Hindu training school and shit. I came to the conclusion that I was still in hell when Redwood burst into the room and began to berate the Paki princess of nursing terror.


“What the fuck are you doing to him Flo!”


“Calm down sweetie...calm down. He’s just getting his Librium. Are you ready for your pills?”

“Never mind my pills, why are you doping this poor kid up? He needs to wake up, not sink further into sleep!”


This was truly weird, I had never experienced a force quite as unpredictable as Redwood. Flo was obviously used to the drill for she scurried out of the room, screaming for the head doctor once she thought we were out of ear range. Within seconds a tall skinny fag dude with a diamond stud earring and a bad toupee whips into the room and shoves Redwood down onto his bed.


The threat of impending terror hangs in the air like stale cigarette smoke until Redwood pretends to snore like a baby, acting the non-threatening infant role the doctor seems to prefer. After a second I am once again alone in the room with this maniac. This maniac with $35,000, I suddenly remembered and put my plan to work. Redwood almost beat me to it.


“Let’s get the frig outta here.”


I wasn’t hearing things, but the thought had crossed my mind. My hangover was gone and thanks to the Librium I actually had managed some sleep. In other words, my junkie body had finally rebounded and the thought of getting high burned through me like the hottest fire. $35,000 buys allot of drugs I thought. Redwood snapped me back to attention as he stood up and methodically packed up his things in a pillowcase and threw on a leather jacket over his leopard robe. He then slid his big, lumpy feet into a pair of faux Birkenstocks that revealed each one of his gnarly, fucked up from dancing toes.


“I’m outta here. Are you coming?” Redwood grabbed his stuffed orungatan and I just looked up at him and smiled as he placed my things in another pillowcase and pulled something out from between the mattresses.


“What’s that?”


“It’s a Bon Voyage treat. We have to celebrate our impending freedom.”


“Naturally,” I say as I take a small blue envelope out of his hands and spill it’s contents upon my bed. Five waxed paper wraps with white powder. E? Coke? Oh please not Heroin...I slip my pinky in and taste it, realizing it’s pure MDMA and I let it melt slowly on my tongue, tasting vaguely metallic.


“Where’d ya get it Redwood? They confiscate everything at check in.”


“None of those mother fuckers wants to touch me, so I didn’t exactly get strip searched like you did. I’ve been saving it for when things got overly monotonous, but this seems like a better time.”

“I like the way you think Redwood,” I nearly purred as I spilt two bags out on our night table and then placed my nose down in Hoover position till I had greedily sucked up both piles. I then spilt out two other bags and allowed Redwood a repeat of my ritual. I pocketed the last bag in my pajama shirt pocket and smiled at Redwood who was wiping E from underneath his nose and sucking it noisily off his fingertips.


“C’mon Redwood, Let’s get the fuck outta here!”


2


Jumpstart, up jump da boogie...hit meeeeeee! That’s right, a little shift of the gears here. Somewhere, on the other side of San Francisco in a badly lit bookstore stuck in the gorgeously god forsaken North Beach district, two odd characters sit drinking coffee out of worn, cracked 50’s mugs, permanently stained with other people’s lipstick and tobacco smeared edges.


Puppetman is in his early twenties and is working a new age punk, poetess, Rimbaud on Acid angel of death look. It’s most effective when he’s brandishing one of his many hand made puppets that eerily take on a life of their own, terrorizing the unfamiliar through black socked faces stretched to reveal absolutely nothing.


Rainbow Bryte is giggling, something he does on a pretty regular basis. His shoulder length Beach Boys goes grunge shag is striped all the shades of the rainbow, the ends dipped in bright white just for the sheer fucking effect, man! He’s smoking his fifth joint of the day and has a personality that can best be described as contagious. It just depends on how sick you care to get.


They work at the bookstore three or four days a week and spend the rest of the time skating on their customized long boards that sported brand new Kryptonic wheels and massive chunks of spiraled grip tape that gave their tools of transport a surreal, optical edge. They like to drink coffee, black, smoke, Camel’s, and they lived for the ironic one liner or strange deja vu moments so impervious to most mere mortals, but stained into their consciousness forever.


They knew J. Mars, the tattoo guy, simply because he was their only weed connection. J. used to laugh at them and spit under his breath, “speed, weed and alcohol...that’s what killed my daddy!” Then everyone would laugh their asses off as they proceeded to get really fucked up.


They were supposed to hook up with secret agent Hong Konk Fooey man on the N—Judah after work and pick up a very tight little stash of liquid opium. It was a surprise for J. Mars, but nobody had seen or heard from him in almost two weeks. Words was out though that he was on a classic bender and if you wanted to join his bottomless pit, you better have a fucking huge stash of something to join in on the party games.


Rainbow & the Puppetman were stoners, pure and simple, so they tended to avoid J. Mars when he was going off a particularly deep end. Still, it had been days since anyone had seen or heard from him, so a sense of worry and dread slowly filtered it’s way in. As they finished their coffee and went about the drudgery of closing up shop, both couldn’t help but wonder what kind of shit J. Mars had gotten into this time. Little did they know, they were about to find out.


The N-Judah was retarded as usual and it seemed as if almost three out of service trains had roared through the Muni station at Ninth and Irving before an N finally arrived. They had spent the day hanging out at Rainbow’s apartment in the Sunset getting stoned. Puppetman was working one of his dolls, a particularly disturbing, gnawed at victim that looked more suited for a Marilyn Manson video than public transportation. However, no matter how weird or spooky his dolls were, he always pocketed at least twenty bucks from strangers either truly intrigued by his self-made madness or desperate for an instant reprieve.


Hong Konk Fooey Man was always standing in the back car. Usually dressed in tan polyester creased front pants, wide spread collar matching shirt and a pair of women’s white sunglasses that featured hugely oversized lens frames that gave him the look of Jacqueline Susanne does dragon lady goes weird short Asian dude.


They jumped onto the train and quickly made their way through the rush hour crowd to the back car. Fooey Man told the boys to get on at exactly 6pm and sure enough, there he was. Big funky ass sunglasses and all. Rainbow gives him the high five but Fooey Man coughs at the boys instead and motions for them to sit down across from him. He then turns around and faces them, removing his black, Badtz- Maru backpack and hands it over to Puppetman. Rainbow pulls out two carefully folded $100 bills and discretely slides them into the long slender fingers of the friendly neighborhood Muni dealer. He smiles to reveal jagged, shark like teeth and laughs slowly as he simultaneously hacks up a chunk of phlegm that he then spits out almost at their feet. Sweet.


A few more stops down the line is when we decided to jump into the picture. It’s me, J.Mars again. My two buds have hogged the spotlight for a bit too long, so I’m gonna move things along. You see me and Redwood had snuck out of the detox that afternoon and were hiding out in Duboce Park until we could figure out what to do. We were hard core trippin’ on the E and I soon came to believe that I actually loved Redwood who was giving me the same Seratonin sapped E speech.


Redwood goes to the nearest bank machine and takes out $400 while I selfishly snort the last bag of E, visions of sugar drug plums dancing in my head. When Redwood returned with the money we left the park and hopped on the N as it pulled in. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My two home slices, Puppetman and Rainbow Bryte were chilling right on the very mother fuckin’ same train. But why were they engaged in conversation with Hong Konk Fooey Man, a drug dealer from my Olie days who I hadn’t seen since the murder. Or disappearance, since no one ever did find the body.


Honk Konk Fooey Man notices me as Redwood and I approach the boys and proceeds to continue his strangled, hoarse laugh, narrowing his eyes through the sunglasses as if no one can notice. I keep thinking he must be gay, I mean come on, those tacky sunglasses. But there was something very evil that emanated from him and it made me profoundly disturbed.


He muttered something at me and held out his arm to block us from getting any closer. I couldn’t make it out, but Redwood was already pissed and slapped Fooey Man’s hand out of the way.


“Girlfriend don’t play like that,” Redwood snapped, causing Puppetman and Rainbow Bryte too finally take notice of us.


“J. Mars! Dude! We were just wondering when the fuck you would show your ass up,” chirped Puppetman, as Fooey once again raised his hand to stop us from approaching further.


“Do you know this boy,” Fooey asked, finally in a clear yet slightly mangled voice, surprising the shit out of me. What the fuck is he up to and does he suspect anything with old Olie? I start sweating shit bricks and try to look as innocent as possible, a feat I hardly succeed at.


Rainbow & Puppet looked perplexed, but got up anyway and gave me two deep hugs. I then turned to introduce Redwood, but it was too late. He had grabbed Fooey’s hand and was holding it in a vice like grip behind the dragon lizards back.


“I told you not to play like that,” Redwood seethed as Fooey screamed in pain and a general panic took over the train car.


“You haven’t been seen since your old master Olie “disappeared”! Fooey was hissing now, clearly in agony, but still focused on me and my supposed secret that nobody really knew about but me anyway, so what’s the big deal your thinking? Me too, but I never even get a second thought for Fooey has pulled a pistol out of his back pocket and has it placed directly up my nose, left nostril to be exact. This was not quite what I had on my agenda for the day, nor Redwood’s for that matter.


3


Daizy was pissed. Seriously pissed. J. Mars had stood her up for the last time. This was ridiculous. She knew he turned tricks and was a total drug addict, but he was also her best friend and she had a gigantic crush on him to boot. They made a striking couple, Daizy with her perfect black Louise Brooks bob and red bowed lips and huge Keane child eyes. Her small stature was bound by pearl white skin, the perfect contrast to J. Mars tattoos and scraggly demeanor.


There was a rumor that J. Mars was on a deep bender and that the cops had finally got him, but Daizy knew better. When he was done with whatever little fucked situation he was up to his neck in now, there would be the familiar knock on her door and the shy giggles coming from behind it. J. Mars always came home and Daizy was his surrogate mother.


This annoyed her almost as much as his tardiness, but she had resigned herself to the fact that as long as J. Mars was in her life on even an occasional basis, it would have to be enough. Trouble was for Daizy, nothing was ever enough. She had convinced herself that one day the two of them would escape from San Francisco and go back to her hometown of New York City.


There they would lead a life of quiet yet decadent luxury, sharing spliff’s in Washington Square Park, dancing to punk bands at CBGB’s, living in one fleabag after another and hopefully (if he could ever get it up for her), fucking like horny little bunnies all night and then sleeping like babies until the afternoon. Yeah. Sure. The only thing Daizy could be certain of when it came to J. Mars is that things would never be boring and since she hated anything routine, that almost served to satisfy her.


She walked to the kitchen of her upper Haight apartment and grabbed the kettle off the stove. As she placed it under the faucet and filled it nearly to over-flowing, Daizy let out a long, uneven sigh and then deposited it carefully on the range, turning the pilot to high. J. Mars had better show his ass up by the end of tonight. And it better be alone. Daizy was not featuring his strung out friends and fresh picked rag bag acquaintances tonight. She wanted some loving, even if it didn’t include penetration.


As she waited for the water to boil, the phone rang, knocking her out of the self induced trance she had been wallowing in and filling her with the hollowless thrill that it might be J. Mars. She was only slightly surprised by the syrupy twang of her best friend Destroya’s voice crackling across the phone line.


“Daizy, it’s Destroya...”


“I know. It sounds like you’ve been chain smoking asphalt.”


“Only you would know. Anyway, I’m on my way over.”


“I’m waiting for J. Mars, it’s really not a good time,” Daizy seethed, aware she sounded false and defensive.


“That’s like a old bitch waiting for her period. Face it, it’s never gonna come. But I am, so I’ll see ya in five.”


Daizy hung up the phone just as her kettle started to whistle. Destroya was a determined girl and there was no stopping her once she had hatched an idea. As she poured the steaming fluid into her teacup she allowed herself a slight smile. If J. Mars was gonna keep her waiting, at least Destroya was coming over to break up the distraction. That and eating her pussy out for a few hours might just alleviate a bit of her boredom. Maybe.


4.


The sound of Hong Konk Fooey Man’s neck snapping was twig-like, not the loud snap I expected the second I noticed Redwood wrapping his large Cancer tumor and Aids sore laden hands around it.


Fooey dropped, sagged actually, to the floor. He looked a puddle of despair laying at the feet of several very freaking out Muni passengers. By the time we reached the next station, all hell had broken loose. Everyone was screaming and Redwood found himself fending off several freaked out testosterone types as Puppet, Rainbow and I frantically waited for the train to stop so we could get the fuck outta there.


We never expected to see two of the biggest cops I’ve ever run across in my police riddled existence. And boy oh boy, did they notice us. Unfortunately the first sight they were met with was of me shaking Fooey like a rag doll, hoping to resuscitate him. And little did I know that by the next day’s Examiner, the search for the “Tattooed Muni Strangler” would be on.


But we’ll get to that. You’ve gotta pardon my excitement. Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that Rainbow had picked up Fooey’s gun and was waving it excitedly like a little kid with a brand new Power Ranger. As the doors slid open, I dropped dead Fooey on the floor and made a break for the exit with Redwood, Rainbow and Puppet in tow. The cops were about five feet to the right of us, but I just closed my eyes and ran like a scared mother-fucker, until I had reached the turnstiles, hopped the fuck over them and bound for the stairs leading up to the street.


I didn’t even stop to notice which station we were at until I had reached the top of the stairs and ran smack into a Hasidic Jew and his entire family. This left me a bit dazed, but I could hear the cops yelling at us in the background. The sound of a gun going off ground me to a halt and I feared not only the worst, but impending doom as well. I spun around in time to see Redwood’s massive leopard robe draped frame swinging a pistol in the air and then letting off with three more shots. How the fuck did Redwood get the gun? Last I had seen, it was in Rainbows hands.


The ensuing panic was enough to keep the cops off our ass and once Redwood had finally caught up with me, a trail of drool spilling from his cracked lips, I came to the conclusion that there were no more conclusions left to come to. Redwood seemed lost in the excitement and it certainly wasn’t the most opportune time for a quick Q & A.


Stopping only for a second to make sure Rainbow and Puppet were right behind us, I grabbed Redwood and ran across the street and got lost in the sea of tourists that occupy Powell St. like a swarm of fashion starved locusts. There was only one place to go. One thing to do. We had to get to Daizy’s which was all way up the Haight, on Carl St. The shrill pierce of a policemen’s whistle knocked me back to my senses and I motioned for Redwood, Rainbow and Puppet to follow me as we jumped onto a bus pulling into it’s stop. Luck was on our side. It was a 71 Haight Noiriega, which would take us almost right up to Daizy’s ever loving door. I could hardly wait.


5.


Destroya had just finished blowing out a jet stream of pot smoke when the familiar knock skated across Daizy’s front door. Like an over excited child she leapt up from the couch and almost trampled Destroya in the process. She flung the door open as if it was a Christmas present, but as soon as she saw the look on J. Mars E crazed face and the fact that he was hardly alone, she felt as if she had just opened a time bomb about to explode.


“What the fuck...”


“We had a little bit of trouble on Muni, sweetie pie, but don’t worry, we got away.”

I had lied to Daizy before and she had bought it every time, but something in her eyes, which were blazing and desperate for love, made me weak in the fuckin’ knees and I buckled as soon as we had safely spilled into the room. Redwood was exhausted and immediately puked on the spot, while Puppet and Rainbow joined Destroya and her joint on the couch and I shrunk like a worn paper bag into Daizy’s rigid arms, feeling the last effects of the E and getting scared that she doesn’t buy my bullshit.


“I’m not buying yer bullshit J. Mars.”


Daizy. Right on target as usual. This girl was the real deal and majorly fierce, but J.Mars didn’t feature pussy, no matter how many times she tried to shove it in my face. I knew she was fed up with me and was soon to realize her eternal fag hag presence in my life, which was not going to be a pretty picture. There had to be some way to maintain our friendship without having to fuck her. Why did every freakazoid that fell fucking in love with me since Ollie went his, um way, have to insist on sex? I just wasn’t interested in the majority. I figured I was a tattooed freak and decided that after good ol’ Olie, I was gonna get all-chaste and succumb from the passion and shit.


Then I meet Daizy and I gotta admit, kissing her is like an amusement park ride, quick and a sheer thrill. But I just can’t get it up for her. Why can’t she be a guy? The sound of my face being slapped struck me before the pain. As I tumbled backwards, I noticed that Daizy was wearing the most amazing pair of Miu Miu platforms tucked into cherry red tights, black leather hot pants and a white little boys shirt and black satin skinny tie. Mod Bitch. It suited her.


Redwood had stumbled into Daizy’s bedroom and collapsed on the bed after tossing his leopard robe and cane onto the floor. From the corner of my eye, I conveniently noticed that his bankcard had fallen out of the pocket, to which my detox escapee buddy was oblivious. Even after all the crazy shit me and the boys had just been through, all I could think of was the last remains of Redwoods inheritance. Only now, instead of it subsidizing a super long binge, there was another option. My escape.


Daizy sensed my relapse into daydream land and smacks me upside the head one more time. If Rainbow hadn’t of interrupted us, I’m sure she would have struck again. And again.


“Dude, check it out. Me and Puppet got a little present for you,” Rainbow giggled as he unzipped the Batz-Maru bag and handed me the bottle of liquid Opium. Yum! Daizy just shot me a look of disgust and pointed towards her bedroom.


“What the fuck is that thing sleeping in my bed and what the hell kind of fucked up shit did you get yourself into this time?” fumed Daizy as she walked over to Destroya on the couch, plucked the joint from her fingers and took a long deep drag that seemed to last as long as her impatience.


“That things name is Redwood and he saved my life on Muni today, that’s what he is,” I answered, hastily unscrewing the bottle of Opium and preparing to take a long swig.


“Yeah, you should have seen him snap that guy’s neck,” Rainbow offered as he watched me down a good chug. I handed the bottle to him and he proceeded to do the same, until Puppet made his way over and grabbed it for himself, greedily sucking down an extra large portion. “We scored this shit from some guy who knew J. Mars back in the day. Who the fuck is Olie dude?”


Destroya’s curiosity was peaked and much to Daizy’s dismay she joined the ration line and eagerly accepted the bottle when Puppet passed it to her. After an initial grimace, she gulped down a fair share and walked right up into my face.


“I didn’t know you had history in this town J. Mars?” Destroya purred, but I ignored her and grabbed the bottle from her hands and walked over to Daizy with it. “Here Daizy, try some. Liquid Opium is beyond anything you’ve ever tried before.”


“I’ve tried you, isn’t that enough?” she replied, passing the joint to Rainbow and joining us. “Give me that shit.” Daizy grabs the bottle and takes a healthy sip, stopping only when she notices that Puppet has pulled one of his creations from his bag and begins to recreate the scene on the Muni.


“So J. Mars and Redwood get on the train right after we make our score from Fooey,” says Puppet. “But this guy doesn’t like J. Mars or something cause he starts asking about some Olie guy and next thing we know he’s holding a gun up to J’s head. But this Redwood dude, he’s not featuring somebody getting up in J’s shit cause next thing you know, old Fooey boy is flat on his back, not a peep coming out of him. “ With the last sentence, his doll collapses on the floor, followed by Puppet who is obviously starting to get off on the Opium.


Everyone is and before long the mood of the evening has been shifted and everyone is giggling, rolling around the room and getting off. I look over at Destroya and wish she wasn’t here, though. She puts me on edge. She’s extremely striking, with jet-black hair rivaling Daizy’s own and sarcastic looking eyes the shade of dark green moss. A small scar cuts across the edge of her left eye, giving her a streetwise yet not too tough look, while her lips were thin and curled like The Joker, appearing even more cartoonish the harder she laughed or the deeper she frowned.


She was skinny with no visible hint of a curve whatsoever; sheathed in a long burgundy skirt that was slit up the middle almost to the crotch and worn with a form fitting black knit turtleneck. I watched as she swayed across the floor, occasionally whispering into Daizy’s ear and that’s what made me nervous. Destroya and I had been drug buddies way before I met Daizy and she prided herself in thinking she was the resident expert on what made me tick. But she knew nothing of my past and had been attracted to me for the same reason everyone else was. I was tattoo dude and she just wanted to be friends with the newest freak on the block.


I had gotten tired of her drama pretty quickly, but she did know where to score some pretty decent shit, so I maintained her as long as I could. Then I met Daizy and Destroya pretty much got the back burner after that, which pissed her the fuck off. She felt betrayed that I had hooked up with Daizy and dropped her ass so surreptitiously. To my chagrin however, the two had become buddies, especially since I had this habit of disappearing all the time and when I did finally show my face I was usually a fucked up mess.


If she had her way, Daizy would lose me not only as a potential boyfriend, but also as a friend period. I knew they were fucking around and really couldn’t blame Daizy since I certainly wasn’t giving her any relief in the pussy department. But the one thing I couldn’t afford was Destroya getting anyone interested in my past. Having one dead body on your resume is bad enough, but two could get people talking.


I walked up to Daizy and led her into the kitchen where I opened up the freezer and pulled a bottle of super chilled Kettle One out. After pouring two glasses for us, I motioned for her to sit at the tiny kitchen table against the window. Then I slowly explained everything to her, starting with my binge before rehab, meeting and escaping rehab with Redwood and the unfortunate incident with Hong Kong Fooey Man on the Muni. Daizy was so high, everything washed over her like a dull rain and I could tell she wouldn’t really remember too much by morning. Unfortunately, Destroya had sneaked in behind us and had heard the whole thing. Destroya never forgot anything, especially my bad luck.


“So J, now that you’ve actually killed someone, what do you plan to do for an encore?” Destroya said, smiling like a beauty contest winner on speed.


“Redwood killed him, but I’m the one the cops saw next to him. I was trying to revive him when the train pulled into the station.”


“Sure you were. And I personally ate out Madonna the other night.”


“Shut up Destroya.” Daizy surprised me by cutting her off, but I was grateful. That’s when I got the confidence to let Daizy in on my plan.


“Redwood’s got a shit load of cash. $35,000. It’s not a million, but it could sure help me get lost if the cops are looking for me.”


“If the cops are looking for you? Oh yeah, like a totally tattooed man seen hovering over a dead body on Muni isn’t going to become a focal point for the police,” snapped Destroya. “Your lucky they didn’t follow you here to Daizy’s.”


The Opium was kicking my ass big time and I didn’t know whether I should just allow my eyes to roll into the back of my fucking head or try to salvage the situation at hand. Daizy was growing noticeably uncomfortable and it appeared that Destroya’s last comment had gotten to her. A booming voice from the kitchen doorway spooked all three of us at once. It was Redwood.


He was clutching his orangutan to his chest and wiping boogers out of his crusty eyes. “I’m hungry and I need to take my morphine, but I forgot it back at the rehab.”


I got up and walked into the living room where I found Puppet and Rainbow passed out on the floor in front of the TV watching public access. I spied the Opium lying between them and scooped it up, then brought it to Redwood.


“Drink this. It’ll ease your pain until we can get some morphine. Meanwhile Redwood, we need to talk.”


“Sure, I love a good conversation.”


“This is more than conversation my friend. This is called searching for a solution.” I downed my vodka and sat down on the kitchen table. “You see, we’re in a lot of trouble because of that stunt you pulled on the Muni earlier. I know you were trying to save my life, but you killed Fooey dude and I have a feeling that were not gonna just walk away.”


“But we got away, nobody followed us on the bus...” Redwood whispered before Daizy cut him off.


“Yeah, but a whole train load of Muni passengers saw what you did and probably gave the police good descriptions of all four of you. I mean, it’s hard to imagine a guy with rainbow striped hair, a guy who plays with puppets, a big fat cancer riddled queen clutching a stuffed orangutan and a tattooed man going unnoticed.”


Destroya started laughing, cackling actually, until I spilled the rest of my drink over her head. She jumped up and completely freaked, knocking me off the table before she ran to the bathroom cursing me with every step. Daizy followed after her, but not before giving me an unpleased look and rudely brushing Redwood aside. This was fucked. Destroya was gonna try anything to get between Daizy and me and I had just given her the ammunition. I looked at Redwood and noticed he was crying.


“Listen Redwood, we may need to get the fuck out of San Francisco. What would you say if I asked you to make a rather large withdrawal at the bank tomorrow and then we hop a bus outta dodge?”


“Like forever?”


“And ever and ever.”


“I’d say it was the least that I could do.”


6.


Destroya woke us up the next morning brandishing a copy of The Examiner. Sure enough, the headline I feared slowly came into my early blurred eye view. “Tattoeed Muni Killer Flees Cops”. I felt as if I had awakened from a bad dream into an even worse one. Daizy mercifully remained asleep, so I crawled out of her bed, grabbed Destroya’s hand and dragged her into the living room where Redwood, Rainbow and Puppet were sprawled about sleeping off last night’s Opium.


I started to read the front-page story and stopped once I had finished a rather accurate description of the four of us, starting and ending with me. A look of I told you so was spread across Destroya’s face, but I tried to not let her get to me. Trouble is, she was trying even harder. It had taken me almost two hours last night to calm Daizy down and get her to curl up with me and go to sleep. Destroya had left for her own place and I was really hoping she had stayed there. Destroya never did what anybody wanted though, so I wasn’t too surprised to see her.


“What the fuck are you gonna do now,” Destroya asked between bites of a Noah’s bagel with scallion cream cheese shmear. It looked good so I snatched it out of her hands and took a bite before she grabbed it back.


“Have you ever heard the word please? Damn J, you’re still the same greedy little bastard I met four years ago. It doesn’t matter if it’s drugs, dick or cream cheese. You just take whatever the fuck you want.”


“Oh and your so pure? I can remember several occasion’s when you have been even piggier, if not more.” I walked back into the kitchen with Destroya close on my tail. I opened the freezer and went straight for the Kettle One, ignoring her knowing look and swigging straight from the ice- cold bottle. Not that I was nervous or anything, well OK, I was hella nervous. There was a composite sketch of me on the cover of The Examiner for Christ’s sake and this vodka was hardly giving me solace.


Destroya was studying the sketch of me on The Examiner cover in between the last bites of her bagel. As she popped the last bite into her Joker shaped mouth, she joined me at the kitchen table and poured herself a glass of vodka. Vodka and bagels, the breakfast of champions, or at least Muni stranglers I thought.


“At least they got your tattoos all wrong.”


“Yeah, at least.”


“J, do you mind if I ask why that guy was going to kill you?”


“Yes, but if it will satisfy your curiosity, let’s just say he’s someone I’m glad isn’t around anymore.”


“Too bad everyone can’t have that kind of convenience. I mean, what would you have done if Redwood hadn’t killed this Fooey dude?”


“Destroya, could you just cut it. I’ve gotta lot to figure out before the bank opens this morning.”


“So you actually convinced your freak friend to turn over his entire bank account to you?”


“Not exactly. He doesn’t know I want all of it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get it.”


Destroya laughed right in my face and finished her drink before getting up and heading out of the kitchen. “And where do you think this bundle of cash is going to take you J? Don’t you realize that it’s impossible to hide from the world when you’re covered in tattoos? There’s barely an inch of un-inked skin on your entire body. Where do you think your going to hide? Some traveling freak-show? Or how about you go down to L.A.? They’re always looking for extra video trolls.”


“Then why don’t you go, you’re the biggest troll I’ve ever met.”


Destroya gave me the finger and stormed off to the bedroom. I took her absence as a sign it was time to wake Redwood the fuck up and get things together. However, I never realized how difficult it would be to wake up three guys who drank an entire bottle of liquid Opium the night before. I could barely budge them.


Redwood was the easiest, but it was probably because he was in severe pain. Besides forgetting his liquid morphine at the rehab, he had also neglected to bring any of his other medication. He pulled himself up from the floor and landed on the soft cushions of the couch without much trouble. But I could tell from the grimace on his face that I was going to have to figure something out and quick.


“I don’t feel so good J.”


“I can tell, Redwood. I wonder if there’s anyway to get back into the rehab and get your drugs?”


“There’s no security at night. We could break in later, but what about the night nurse? We also have to think about the counselor, even though he’ll probably be asleep.”


“We’ll help you guys distract the counselor,” said Rainbow, wiping sleep from his eyes and doing his best to stifle a yawn. Rainbow nudged Puppet until he started to stir and the two of them joined Redwood on the couch.


“Thanks Rainbow, but are you two sure you just don’t wanna go your own way?” Then I handed them The Examiner and all three of them proceeded to read it in silence. When they were finished, Puppet crumpled up the paper and threw it across the room.


“Doesn’t look like we’ve got anywhere to go dudes,” said Puppet. “I mean, those descriptions of us are pretty accurate. I think our best bet is to stick together and get the fuck outta town.”


“But where are we gonna go? None of us are exactly rich and I’ve never even been out of San Francisco except once when I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge high on acid,” Rainbow sighed.


“I’ve got money,” offered Redwood. “All we gotta do is get to the bank and take some out.”


“I was gonna talk to you about that Redwood,” I said, then mustered up as much courage as my addled mind could find. “Redwood, were gonna need a lot more than just the daily ATM limit. In fact, I think we should go to the bank and close your account.”


“What, is Redwood some sort of millionaire?” Puppet asked as he pulled out one of his creations and started playing with it.


“I used to be,” said Redwood.


“What does that mean? The four of us can’t exactly blow town on a couple hundred bucks,” said Rainbow.


“Oh, I’ve got more than that. I’ve got a little less than $35,000 and it’s all yours.” Redwood was hunched over in pain and barely even got the sentence out.


“$35,000? Shit man, we could go to Hawaii or something on that kind of bread,” exclaimed Puppet. “Anything to eat in this little love shack?”


“Yeah, sure. Go check out the fridge. Just don’t eat Daizy’s yogurt. She’s pissed off enough with me as it is.” As Rainbow and Puppet rushed to the kitchen, I turned my attention back to Redwood. “Do you really mean that? I never expected you to part with all of it,” I lied through my teeth.


“Of course I do,” moaned Redwood. “If I’m lucky, I might last a few months, but that money isn’t gonna buy me any happiness. We’ve got the fucking cops after us now. There’s nothing else we can do but run and at least with that money, it’ll make things easier.”


“Your right on that one. Listen, we’ll get Daizy to take you to the bank and then we’ll leave tonight. First we’ll make a pit stop at the rehab for your meds though.”


“Thanks J. Look, I just want you to know I’m sorry for getting you into all this shit. I really fucked up.” Redwood was crying now, a mixture of pain and pity rolled into one big blubbering mass of overgrown leopard robed queen. I couldn’t believe how fucked up I felt. I was gonna rip this poor guy off before I had even gotten to know him. Now, here I am twenty-four hours later and not only has he saved my life, but he’s about to turn over what’s left of his fortune to me as well. I felt like low life of the year, but I’d have to get over it. We had work to do.


Daizy and Destroya walked into the room and from the look on their faces, I could sense something was up. I walked over to Daizy and tried to give her a good morning kiss, but she turned the proverbial cheek and walked over to the crumpled Examiner in the corner instead. She took her sweet ass time reading it and then threw it back where she had found it in disgust. The words I had been dreading poured from her mouth like dribble from a cup. She practically spit out each syllable.


“J. Mars, I think we have finally reached a fork in the road. All you have done is brought trouble into my life in one form or another. At first I thought I could make you into something even you might respect, but I’ve come to realize that you don’t even respect yourself. To make matters worse, you show up at my door with three of the motliest creatures I have ever encountered, expecting to crash in my apartment and then have the nerve to disrespect my best friend.”


“Your best friend?” Since when is muff-muncher synonymous with best friend?” I looked at Destroya who apparently wasn’t offended. In fact, she was smiling like a game show contestant that had just won it big. Just how big I was about to find out.


“At least Destroya pays attention to my pussy, which is a lot more than I can say for you,” hissed Daizy. She walked past me into the kitchen and brusquely removed Rainbow and Puppet from the open fridge that they were staring into as if it were playing the last picture show. They moped back over to the couch and sat down next to Redwood, whom was moaning audibly enough at this point to even start grating on my nerves.


“Isn’t time for me to go Daizy?” I mean, I should get going. I haven’t had my caffeine yet today,” interrupted Destroya as she gave Daizy a kiss on the lips and headed for the door. “You know how I hate to see tragedy up close and I have a feeling this about to turn into a real depressing scene.”


“Yeah Destroya, I’ll meet you in a little while. Get me a coffee while you’re waiting.”


“Whatever your heart desires, honey. Whatever your heart desires,” purred Destroya as she made her way to the door, but she couldn’t resist one last parting shot. “See ya later J, like real later.”


“I’m already counting the days Destroya.”


Now I should have figured something was up, but I was kind of preoccupied, if ya know what I mean. I’ve got my picture plastered on the front page of the newspaper, I’m jonesing something major for a fix, Redwood is practically dying right in front of me and the last person on earth I actually cared for was about to give me my walking papers. This was not looking good. Once Destroya had left, I grabbed Daizy’s hand and led her into the bedroom. Redwood was slumped over on the couch and Rainbow and Puppet were rolling a joint out of Daizy’s pot box.


“Is this really it Daizy? I know I’m a pain in the ass, but why should we ruin our friendship?”


“Friendship? What have you ever bought to the table unless it was something you were gonna eat yourself? You know what the sad thing is?”

“What?”


“Until you showed up here last night with your posse of trouble, I was actually going to give you a second chance. No, I take that back. I was gonna give you a thousandth chance, since it seems I’ve given you at least that many. I thought you’d come around eventually, but all you do is get more and more fucked up. If you can’t drink, shoot or snort it, then it doesn’t matter to you.”


“You’re right, I have been an asshole. But don’t you understand that things are different now? I really fucked up this time and I’m gonna have to leave town. I really need your help.”

“I can’t offer you anything but my condolences J. You and your buddies are gonna have to leave and to make things easier for you, I’ve made a little phone call for inspiration.”


“What kind of inspiration?”


“Like I just called the police and told them that you were seen in this building inspiration.”


At first I thought she must be kidding, but when she got up and grabbed her purse to leave I knew Daizy wasn’t fooling around. It also explained Destroya’s sudden need for coffee. I had never hit a girl before, in fact, the only person I had ever struck was Olie and he had it coming. But at that second I wanted to strangle Daizy until her eyes popped out and her tongue hung a good foot or two out of her mouth.


“If you leave now, you should just make it before the cops get here.”


“Cops?” said Rainbow as he fished licking the joint and started to gather his stuff and shove it in his bag.


“Yeah, cops,” Daizy said as she shrugged on a long bottle green leather jacket with Velcro closures that reminded me of Brillo pads rubbing against my skin every-time I used to hug her when she put it on. Guess I wouldn’t be feeling that anymore. I looked at her for a good five seconds, inspecting her long red stocking legs and the pointy witch looking boots that went all the way up to her knee. She was wearing an orange shaggy dress underneath that reminded me of a bathmat with attitude. Nobody put outfits together like Daizy. Then I realized how sad it was that the only thing about her that I was actually going to miss was her fashion sense.


“You certainly are an inspiration Daizy,” I said as I walked over to the door and opened it for her.


“Whatever.”


Ouch. She walked over to her pot box and pocketed a quarter bag, giving Rainbow a dirty look for using so much. Then she walked out of the door without even a goodbye or once last look. I wanted to run after her. I wanted to kick the shit out of her. I wanted to kiss her. It was like so many things all at once and for the first time I realized how scared I was and that maybe there was no way out. I slammed the door and looked right at Redwood. Then I remembered that his bankcard was on the bedroom floor. Then I felt sick with premonition. I thought I was gonna upchuck on the spot, projectile vomit and shit.


I walked into the bedroom and looked for the bankcard. Nothing. I walked back out into the living room and looked at Redwood, trying to keep from freaking out.


“Redwood, do you have your bankcard?”

“Of course I do. It’s in my wallet.”


“It wasn’t last night. Did you pick it up from the bedroom closet and put it back in your wallet?”

“No. I didn’t even know it fell out.”


“Check your wallet. Check it NOW!”


Redwood struggled up off the coach and hobbled with his cane to the kitchen where his leopard robe was draped over a chair. He looked through the pockets but I already knew he was going to come up empty-handed. I thought of chasing after Daizy, but I knew even she wouldn’t stoop this low. It was Destroya, that fucking vengeful bitch. Without identification there was no way Redwood could close his bank account and it would take a least a week for him to get a new ID. Redwood read the expression on my face and I read his. It was doomsday and we knew it. Puppet sensed the tension in the air, the perceptive one as always.


“She stole his wallet didn’t she,” Puppet said as Rainbow shook his head and lit the joint. God, what I wouldn’t do for a bag of dope right now.


“We’re fucked,” said Redwood.


“Super fucked,” said Puppet.


“Super fucking duper fucked,” said Rainbow as he passed me the joint.


I loved it. Only my crew of walking disasters gets high just before the police come to arrest them. At least I’d go with a smile on my face I thought as I sucked hard and coughed even harder. We had to get our asses in gear.


“Listen,” I said. “Let’s not completely give up hope. Yes, we have just been royally fucked and yes, things look bad. But we still have about four hundred bucks on us and I know how to get out through the back alley door. Let’s grab what we can use and get the fuck out of here.”


“Where are we gonna go?” asked Rainbow, stealing the joint back from me and bogarting it from the others. Puppet ripped it away from him and took a good long toke, then passed it to Redwood. Redwood sucked it down like a pot vacuum, leaving nothing but a tiny roach and what seemed at the time to be the perfect idea.


“Let’s go to the Sony Metreon. We can hide out in the movies. I really want to see Harry Potter anyway.”


Puppet and Rainbow exchanged stunned, stony glances and I weighed the options. Since I hadn’t thought of any myself, the movie theater idea seemed pretty good.


“We can hide out there until later tonight and then go to the bus terminal. It’s only a block away,” I said.


I raced into Daizy’s bedroom and rummaged through her dresser until I found what I hoped would be the perfect disguise. A pair of black oversized Gucci wrap around sunglasses and a purple knit cap. Then I wrapped a rainbow-striped scarf around my neck, covering my mouth and walked back into the living room.


“Aren’t you going to be a bit warm?” Rainbow asked.


“It’s a disguise stupid. I have to cover my tattoos. I just wish I had a pair of gloves.”

“I’ve got some,” Redwood croaked then pulled a pair of leopard shoulder length gloves from his robe. I was starting to look like a big fucking drag queen, but there was no other choice. It was San Francisco after all and I’ve seen people walking down the street practically naked and never even draw a second glance. I would just look like a very mixed up fashion victim, which in my book, was hardly a crime.


“OK dudes, get you’re shit together and let’s blow this Popsicle stand.”


It took awhile for Redwood to get his stuff on and I began to realize that he was going to hold us up big time.


“Redwood, I know your in pain, but your going to have to move it as fast as you can.”


“I know J. Don’t worry, I’ll keep up.”

Slightly convinced, I headed us out the door and down the hall to the back stairs. It was just as we were walking through the door that I heard the voice of a cop calling after us. Somebody must have buzzed him in, cause it took me totally by surprise. That was the first time I had thought about the gun since yesterday. Last I remembered, it was in Redwoods possession. Then I heard a gun shot and looked over my shoulder just as the cop hit the floor. I looked to my right at Redwood and saw him holding himself up with his cane with one hand, pointing the gun with the other. Fucking fabulous. Now we’ve killed a cop, I thought to myself as I herded us through the door and down the stairs not knowing what the fuck to expect.


7


Daizy had actually opened the door for the first cop. His partner and him conveniently arrived just as she was leaving. She didn’t tell them that she was the one who called and feigned surprise when they ask her if she had seen anything. She could hear the scream of sirens approaching from blocks away and figured that J had a good two minutes if he moved his ass quick enough. It wasn’t like she was lying either. It was Destroya’s idea and she had called the cops. All Daizy did was nod her head and agree. She had no idea that Destroya had stolen Redwood’s wallet however and she never would. Once she got to the Starbucks down the block and took a seat next to Destroya, the only words offered to her were unspoken.


Destroya kissed her hard and with so much force she felt as if her lips were being mashed like potatoes. She broke free, forcibly and took a swig of Destroya's coffee.


“I thought you were gonna get me one?”


“I forgot. Did you get out all right? J didn’t try anything?”


“Not a thing.” The cops got there just as I left. By the time we get back, they’ll have either gotten the super to let them in to all the apartments or just broken in. Either way, they’ll never know they were in my apartment. I wonder where they’ll go?”

“Who the fuck cares,” Destroya said as she got up to order another coffee. “Four less freaks as far as I’m concerned.”

But Daizy was only concerned with one. J. And now that she had pulled this; there was no way they would ever be together. She may have talked a tough game back in the apartment, but now she was starting to regret it. She didn’t think she would feel this bad. This sad. This alone. Destroya walked back with a coffee, but kept it for herself rather than offer the fresh one to Daizy. Daizy took another sip of Destroya’s backwash coffee and wondered if he had just traded in one loser piece of work for another. Out of nowhere, a half dozen police cars raced by with their lights flashing and sirens sounding, cutting her off from thought. The cavalry had arrived


8


It was only three flights of stairs, but when you’re stoned, it seems like twenty. In other words by the time we got down, the other cop was in the staircase and taking shots at us. Everything seemed fine and fucking dandy as we raced out the back alley door. To my relief (thank you dear God almighty), there were no police cars waiting for us and we managed to run two blocks towards the bus stop on Haight Street. When the sound of sirens almost stopped us in our tracks, we simply snuck into Buffalo Exchange and pretended to look through its racks of used clothing.


I pulled two hats for Puppet and Rainbow and then I pulled a simple blue terry cloth robe for Redwood. I got on line and when it was my turn at the register, the police cars zoomed by us, obviously headed for Daizy building in search of us. Oh well. Guess we outsmarted them for a bit. I pay for the gear and everybody puts they’re stuff on and Redwood donates his leopard robe to the store. A confused salesclerk accepts it and even gives him twenty bucks for his departed treasure. I love it. Life that is. Sometimes it just tickles me fucking pink.


So the police cars have zoomed on and we casually walk out of the shop, all secret agent like and shit. The freaks are out, the upper Haight Street scene. Lost children of the rave, tourists, heads, hippie-hoppers, Jap fashion trash and the obligatory poser. We fit right in. The bus pulls up and we ride it in relative peace all the way down to Market and Third where we jump off and walk the block down to Mission and The Sony Metreon. I hope something good is playing.


No cops in sight so we saunter in, Redwood struggling a bit more than us, but managing valiantly. We ride the escalator up to the theater and choose our poison. Julia Roberts or Monsters Inc. HHHHMmmmmmmmm. Of course the cartoon wins. We stock up at the candy bar (fuck I wish I could get something to fucking drink!) and then find seats as the theater darkens

and settle back for the show.


We never hear the sirens outside the Metreon. We aren’t aware that about twenty police officers have just entered the Metreon and will be checking every square inch of it because I was feeling cocky and took my cap off while I was paying for our movie tickets. The ticket taker was suspicious and called the police. They got there about fifteen minutes into the flick, but didn’t enter the theater until we had just gotten to the coolest part of the movie, when Boo is being kidnapped by the weird evil Salamander Monster.


Puppet notices them first, a couple of cops with flashlights walking down the aisle and pointing them in peoples faces. Rainbow gets freaked and tries to get up and go to the bathroom. A cop stop’s him and he panics, then takes off his hat. It’s like a bad movie and we’ve got starring roles. He struggles and tries to run away, but the cop shoots him and Rainbow goes down. Over and out motherfucker.


Well, I never thought they would actually find us, so seeing Rainbow go down was really fucked. The three of just made like mad for the side exit and the only move I make is for the gun Redwood has in his hands. I pull it from his grip and take aim at the cop, firing off two shots, both of which hit him in the chest. He’s down and we’ve killed a second cop. And twenty of his friends are now pointing flashlights at us and getting ready to fire their weapons in our direction. We make it out the door and race down this shit dark hallway until we get to another set of doors and find our way out on the street. We only have about thirty seconds before the cops get to the door.


“Let’s split up. Puppet you head for Cal Trans down South Of Market and Redwood and I will go over to the Greyhound Station on First and Mission”.


“J, are you sure, how will I reach you? Where are you gonna go?” asked Puppet, crying a bit and clearly not digging a separation.


“Were going to LA, I guess. I can’t think of anything else. At least the weather is warmer. Better for Redwoods condition. Here’s two hundred dollars. Now we have to go, there’s no more time...I love you.”


“Love you too, dude. Like it’s been completely crazy, but cool in kind of a fucked up away. I guess I kind of enjoyed it. See ya!” Puppet tore down the street one way, us the other. The Cops stormed out of the exit, but we were long gone. We had made it to the terminal and I bought two one way tickets to LA and headed for the gate. Luck was on my side again that day and believe you me, we did not take it for granted. In fact, that had become my temporary mantra, take nothing for fucking granted, Amen and so fucking be it.


Redwood had puked a couple of times, but it didn’t draw too much attention. Twenty minutes passed and not a single cop noticed us. The bus pulled in and I helped Redwood get on it, struggling with his weight and the awkwardness of his cane. We took the last two seats in the very back and sat down and prayed. Well at least that’s what I did. I thought to myself, fuck it. I may have to leave this town, but at least I left my mark here. I mean, they’ll always be able to say J. Mar’s wuz here.


Another twenty minutes passed and Redwood is really in pain. He’s moaning and cursing and pissing and complaining and some of the other passengers are paying a little more attention than I’d like. Just when I think things can get no worse, they do. A cop gets on the bus and flashes his light down the row of passengers, stopping at us in the back. It’s a tense thirty seconds, but he finally leaves, convinced that the tattooed terror isn’t aboard. Thank God for Gucci wide frames. They are the official murder on the run sunglasses.


We fall into a deep sleep the moment the cop gets off the bus, as if possessed. As the bus driver boards and we head out of the station, I dream of palm trees and movie stars, Hollywood signs and gorgeously decadent street style. Redwood’s head falls onto my shoulder and we share our snores and dreams, becoming one in the night, our journey, unbeknownst to us, almost over.


I wake up and it’s morning. We’re on the open road. Redwood looks like he’s still sleeping, but he’s smiling all nutty like. I’m hungry, but also excited by the fact that we got away. I look out the window and see nothing but fields. Fields of marvelous empty. Open promise. New beginnings. Could it be possible for me, a tattooed man to find another life? I took a deep breath and realized that I was ice cold. I looked next to my seat and felt Redwoods body all upon me, hunched over and freezing.


He was dead. He had died in the night while we were sleeping. Our eyes closed and the stars above our heads, raining down destiny upon us and glimmering as we slept. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and there was a piece of paper in his hands. It was a crudely ballpoint scrawled will, leaving everything to me. I started to cry and threw my arms around his body. Tiny sobs turned to racking cries and all I could think of when the bus driver pulled the bus to a stop was how fucking surreal the whole mother fucking thing was. But that was my life, a tornado capable of doing a tango with the wind. And remember, I’ll always be able to say, J. Mars wuz here. Sucka.


END

1 comment:

Lily Strange said...

The descriptions of the tattooed main character bring to mind a gritty, debauched Illustrated man. There are vague elements of My Own Private Idaho and Set It Off, yet it goes much deeper. Decline, excitement, exhileration, and sadness, grittiness and beauty. Somehow, some way, you must get this stuff published!