One Day in LA  (2)

March 12, 2023     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage


Peace Corps

​February 12, 2023     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage


It took five days to reach the west coast from Chicago; two days driving south until I didn’t see any more snow, two days across Texas which was full of mirages and hallucinations, and a day through Arizona where my car was strip searched a few times by fruit agents looking for live plants and vegetables. I’d like you to find something because I’m hungry.

Next stop was Los Angeles, where I bunked in with a friend. I had a look around town the next day. My car had no idea what I was doing of where I was going. We just drove until we turned, then drove some more.

At a traffic signal, I pulled up behind a Corvette with a custom license plate that read “KEPT”. A single figure fluffed her blonde hair in the mirror. As the light turned green, I noticed a bumper sticker on her car that read, Honk if You Love Jesus. I honked. The lady slammed on her brakes. My car skidded to a stop behind her. She threw a long slender arm out the window that held a foot long finger erect toward the heavens. Ouch! I guess I scraped a sore spot there.

By early afternoon I found myself in Santa Monica at another traffic signal. My car idled in the first spot in the right lane. I intended to follow the cliff over the beach north for a while to see where I ended up. A group of pedestrians started their trek across in front of me. A man holding only a 12X12 cardboard box around his midsection walked confidently among them; no socks or shoes, no pants or shirt. No one else seemed to see anything out of the ordinary, so I assumed it was business as usual for California and turned right when it was safe to do so.

However, after these encounters I realized it was time to walk for a while. I found a parking space near Hollywood Boulevard and thought I would see some stars along the sidewalk. A guy walked along toward me, occasionally stopping to pick up something. I couldn’t see what it was, but watched him closely as he got closer.

“What are you picking up?” I asked when I got his attention.

“Common sense,” he replied.

“What?”

“Common sense,” he repeated. “It would surprise you to know how many people just toss it away these days.”

I looked down, thinking I could always use more common sense.

“Look. There’s some more,” he said, pointing to the ground.

I walked on down the street with my eyes hoovering the sidewalk for some of that common sense, until I glanced up to see a small crowd gathered close into a vacant lot. Curious, I snuggled into the group to see what was going on. An intermittent bit of fire topped the audience as I slithered my way to the front. I finally stood watching a rather unique street performer lighting, smothering, and relighting torches as he juggled.

Two teen girls were also punching their way through the crowd behind me.

“Come on, let’s go,” said one.

“No wait, I want to see what’s happening here,” replied the other.

“It’s just another guy eating fire,” said the first.

It was an everyday affair in LA, people eating fire in a vacant lot. I've got to see more. I liked it so much I decided to stay for 15 years.