Venice Beach 1965 or something

“I’m hip to this,” he insisted, knuckling at the screen door.

The sound roused Big Lori enough to grunt and heave her pink bulk away from a spike of daylight.  Lolling in his floral chair, Sandy flicked away sweat. This couple had just barely sunk into the wooly shadows and independent dreams.

Still, the flimsy door quaked under the stranger’s fists that drummed away behind Sandy’s eyeballs.  The girl dove herself deeper down into the orange rug clapping dusty cushions over her ears.   She was tickled by hunks of fetid shag grazing her dimpled thighs.   At each knock, Lori futilely stuffed herself under the couch.  Only the French curve of thick arm and a disembodied frond of matted pony tail sprouted above the table-scape.

The fury of her scratching made a pea green rosette of mold cringe in its coffee cup lake and the chipped wine glasses trembled, too, setting off a cigarette butt tsunami.   Surrealistic Pillow wobbled ominously, shifting its payload.  Meanwhile among spent matches and a singed teaspoon the eyedropper rolled off and that propelled two needles and wads of spent cotton onto the floor.

Even if Sandy could not make out what was being said, he fumbled for his belt somewhere on the messy table’s surface.  It seemed the distant voice had alarmed Sandy although Lori dreamt on. He  hissed urgently at her to hide the “works.”

Lori could hardly see but vainly slapped after the singed teaspoon.  Detritus flew off of the Airplane. The belt slithered out of Sandy’s limp hand as he snuck a peek through the blinds.

Outside the flower covered bungalow, ”hip” guy appeared to be half passed perky in his seersucker suit and straw hat.  Paranoia flared and beat at Sandy’s sweaty temples and cleared his dull eyes.   The stranger looked too much like Bert Parks and to be cool.

“Shit.” he summised, “Narcs.”

“What’s the noise about, Sandy?” asked Roxanne nervously.  She had emerged from the ”counting room” when the pounding rattled the board and batten house.

“Dunno.   Maybe trouble…”  Sandy responded in his officious way.  But, now he was snatching up the “works” and stuffing them in the dead plant.

Sandy had somehow made himself important to Roxanne because she had misread his déclassé Bronx accent as “Eastern establishment.”  Despite his utterly grubby appearance and his being  “over 30” he had spoken about a New York she had never seen.  She fancied him a Yalie instead of the junkie he, was.   Roxanne was proud to have him around as he added a kind of gravitas to the otherwise very young house that she supported.

She stepped over to the door and listened for the knock to come again.

“I’m hip to this.”  The stranger pleaded.

“Hide the rest of your paraphernalia.”  Roxanne ordered, motioning to the “evidence” strewn on the floor near Lori.

“Lori? You okay?” she shook the plump, drowsy girl by the shoulders.

“Yeah. Yeah.”  Lori replied, hoisting herself on to the couch.  “What’s this is the ‘master bring-down.’ ”  she asked.

Roxanne opened the inside door leaving only the hooked screen door between herself and everyone else’s fate.

“What are you selling?” she inquired as straight as she could make herself sound

Bert Parks guy replied, “I am your neighbor and a hypnotist.  Can I come in?”

Rosanne appraised Bert and at once judged him both harmless and a possible client for her pot business.

“Sure, come on in.” she said cordially even though on second look he appeared to be way way too old.   But,  she knew too little about hypnosis to refuse such an opportunity to find out.

The seersuckered guest removed his skimmer and adjusted his eyes from the glare to the barely ambient light.

Outside, the Pacific shimmered less than a block away.  But while the ocean was waving in the California sun, inside of 39 Washington Blvd. was a floral draped eclipse.

Sandy had skittered away–probably out the back and, then, across the canals; leaving Lori and Roxanne to deal with the “bring-down” / “Narc.”

Roxanne had instinctive manners and so, she offered him Sandy’s vacated chair.

Lori had fluffed some grubby cushions on the couch and flopped out on it to resume nodding.  This guy was harmless; the danger had passed, again.

Roxanne was not seeking to make any “impression.”  So, she really took no notice of any chaos, filth nor was she particularly mindful  of the “evidence.”  She settled into the chair next to “Bert” and reached under it for the rolling tray.

“You want a joint?” she offered, scratching at the leaves and seeds hospitably.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you want to smoke some pot?” she clarified.  It was the early 1960’s and she understood that not everybody knew the language as it was spoken in the Albert S. Hoffman living-room.

“You want some Mar-a –wanna?” she inquired carefully enunciating every syllable.

“I’m a hypnotist.” he answered.

“Okay.  Do you want to hypnotize me?” she offered, playing along.

“I charge for that.”  He countered, lightly touching his bland bowtie.

“Do you want to trade?”  She countered, she was losing interest and fast.

“What do you mean?”,  he asked.

Roxanne was getting annoyed.  She was speaking California English for krisakes.

“What do you want?” she asked as politely as she could when triggered.

“Do you have wild sex over here?”

“What do you mean?”  Roxanne asked Bert in a sharp voice.

“I heard that hippies have wild sex.” He enthused.

“I gib jews a  blow job por cinquenta, Senor.”  Lori offered this service in all earnestness and in her faked Spanish accent.  She wasn’t kidding.

Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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