L.A. Street Scene - Jose Gonzalez




Under a southern California morning cloud canopy, Frank and me are following Nina and her boyfriend Joe up the 605 freeway to Alhambra to score some acid.

Joe whips a ’64 Rambler American in and out of lanes like a fucking maniac. I do my best to keep up as he races onwards. Sometimes he’s five or six car-lengths ahead. It’s almost like he’s trying to lose us.


“Shit that thing sure goes fast for a six banger,” I mumble as I slip into the fast lane passing a family in a late model Ford. I get held up for a moment tailgating a station wagon. The family catches up and cruises along directly beside us with dad at the wheel and what looks to be grandma in the passenger seat. An attractive mother whose attention we’ve caught sits in the back with two adolescent girls to her right. The woman stares directly at Frank, the surfer, with his long blonde tangled dreadlocks and all for a prolonged period of time.

Frank pulls his fore and middle finger to his mouth making a “V” shape. He sticks his tongue out wagging it simulating oral sex. The woman stops looking at Frank pulls a necklace up from her chest and examines it closely.

We race on towards the freeway’s end in Alhambra still barely keeping up with Nina and Joe. We manage to not lose sight of the Rambler. I pull up behind it as Joe parks outside of a trailer park.
*
“I heard this guy is some old dude that just hangs out in his trailer makin’ acid trippin’ on the Discovery Channel all the time,” Frank remarks sitting on the fender of the Cutlass.

“Sounds like my dream life,” I laugh.

We endure a little paranoia. Time stretches as we wait for the acid. Stare into the maze of trailers.

Finally Joe and Nina emerge from the park and we quickly make the transaction.

“Maybe see you guys there,” Nina yells out the passenger window as the two speed away.

Frank and I get in the Cutlass. We slowly make our way towards downtown Los Angeles to the L.A. Street Scene.
*
We park a good fifteen minute walk from the event pausing for a few seconds to eat the acid. The sun finally starts to show itself peeking out through the burn-off.

As we make our way through the Street Scene crowd a black woman spots Frank.

“Ooohh…, nice buns…! I like that stuff,” the lady coos.

Frank smiles, walks along underwear-less, with big holes in the back of his 501 jeans.
*
A girl more than a little attractive carrying a tray struts towards us. The acid has begun to hit. The tray’s full of half-sized free Camel cigarette packs.

“Are you a smoker?” the cigarette girl asks looking me in the eye with plenty of inflection and innuendo. Her expression infers that if I am a smoker, I might have a real good chance at getting what she’s got between her legs. I shake my head ‘no,’ as with the acid in my head I just can’t fathom the idea of smoking.

Soon the drug is in full gear. We just wander around frying our asses off for a couple hours.

We run into to more and more cigarette girls. Each one sends Frank into a frenzy of mock repetition. He voices the question with every kind of intonation possible, “Are you a…, smoker? ARE…, you a smoker? Are you a smoker? ARE YOU A SMOKER?”

We wander around L.A. streets through the crowd past families out for the festivities. Panhandlers with pleading distraught expressions. Staring Latino gang members. And some tough looking punkers with creased angry faces.

A skid row drunk on the corner with a brown, bagged Schlitz Malt Liquor in hand mumbles, “Cal Tjader…yeah man…Cal Tjader. Usedta drink with him at my place ... Jus’ ‘cross the street from where they come and took Billy Holiday away.”

“Fuckin-fryin-so-hard-dude,” Frank talks a little fast. “That dog’s mouth got so big when it just yawned dude. Like as big as the whole fuckin’ world. Then it closed and went back to normal.”

The both of us sit on a park bench. A blues band plays on a stage set up in the street nearby. We decide to get some alcohol in us to take the edge off the acid and head off looking for a liquor store.

“Let’s drink it over here,” I point to a parking structure. I’ve got a pint of Popov vodka stuffed half down my jeans concealed by my t-shirt. We climb a flight of stairs then sit on the steps between floors.

“Fuck…, nobody’s here, should be alright,” I place my hand on the cap of the bottle. At that instant two cops walk down the stairs.

“Well… Hah…! Looks like somebody’s havin’ a party here,” one officer jeers.

“We didn’t open it yet… It’s not an open container,” I hold the bottle out to the guy fearing an arrest or at least a hefty citation.

“Well…, let’s see…,” he examines the bottle then stares seriously at the both of us. “Paper seal’s broken.”

“We didn’t even have a drink yet!” Frank implores.

The officer steps down several rungs to the second floor of the parking lot. He unscrews the red plastic lid from the vodka then turns it over spilling the entire contents onto concrete.

“We wouldn’t want you guys gettin’ all drunk and gettin’ inta some trouble… Then we might end up havin’da crack your fuckin’ heads in… That wouldn’t be any fun would it?”
*
We stand for a while at the back of a crowd watching the mod band the Untouchables play. It’s then that I notice Joe and Nina standing a little ways up in the crowd.

After the band finishes, the four of us sit at the top of a grassy bank bordering a small park. Nina suddenly rolls down the grass embankment curled up in a little ball.

“Fuck…, just like an oompa loompa!” Frank laughs. “See anybody else here?”

“No,” Nina brushes grass from her hair. “Gonna meet Lara Stockton in Hollywood tonight.”

We walk around with Nina and Joe looking for anybody we might recognize. After a good forty-five minutes we don’t see any friends. We do see the angry punkers Frank and I had passed earlier. We don’t think anything of it, but after moving on a ways it appears they are following us. We ignore this, deep in our acid high for a while.

“Whatta those guys want?” Frank mutters when they get closer.

“You guys Lads?” one of them approaches us.

“Lads…? What’s a fucking Lad?” Frank answers then instantly realizes what a Lad is. “Oh…, no dude, we’re not Lads.”

“Well we’re fuckin’ Suicidals... You guys at the Olympic last night?”

“Yeah.”

“We’ll our friend got killed by some Lads there.”

“We’re not Lads,” Frank calmly reiterates walking away from the dude.

“We’re not in any fuckin’ lame-ass fuckin’ punker gang!” Frank snarls to himself as our group moves down Sixth Street. We again, disregard the situation at hand. But I glance back and notice the guys are still following us.

Then we spot Robbie Blount and Mark Cellini up ahead talking to one of the cigarette girls. As we get closer we see that Mark is hitting on the girl. He’s got his hand on her shoulder bragging about his manhood.

“Well at least give me your phone number baby,” Mark goes and the girl complies.

We walk up to Mark and Robbie. The girl moves on with her Camels and our gangster buddies soon catch up with us.

Our group moves along with the Suicidals not far behind. It becomes obvious to us that these guys aim to fuck our shit up. For the most part me, Frank and the others in our group, though not altogether against it, are rarely looking for a fight. Mark, however, might take a more positive stance towards a brawl. But with this situation, there is no way any of us want to get into an altercation with these knife wielding fuck-ups.

We continue towards the main stage with the vengeance bent gang members a mere ten feet or so behind. Noticing a group of police officers we mosey in their direction, we stop standing behind them. Somehow the cops realize what is going on.

“Get the fuck outta here now!” one of the officers yells.

“You guys Lads…? Are you a Lad?” one of our would-be attackers, a few feet away addresses Mark after we move away from the peace officers.

Mark stops and walks back towards the group. “Dude…, we’re from Garden Grove,” he engages the guy casually motioning towards Robbie and himself. “And they’re from Long Beach, and he’s from Huntington Beach.” He points to Nina, Joe, Frank then me. “Everybody knows the Lads are from Lakewood and Downey… I just got off a plane from Oregon this morning so there is no way I could’ve been at the Olympic last night.”

“Where were you at in Oregon?” the Suicidal asks.

“Bend…, I was stayin’ with my brother up there.”

It turns out the guy is originally from the Bend, Oregon area. Somehow, because of this situation, the guys stop following us.





Jose Gonzalez has been published in Cicada, Shotgun Solution, Born Too Loose, and Charlene Syndicate. His novella “Soup, Soup, Beautiful Soup” is coming out later this year from Ditch Witch Press.