That night - like many other nights - reeked of marijuana and 40 ounces of beer - sucked out of the green bottles of Mickey's that we always favored. "The green death," we used to call it. In the back of the event at the old city jail - with the yellow paint that stated "Inmates follow yellow line" - ghosts stared out of windows, walked corridors of haunted jail cells that Hollywood filmmakers would rent out as sets in the daytime - but never at night. I could almost feel the eyes of my great-grandfather's ghost there, who had been picked up over 50 years ago after the bombs came to Pearl Harbor - before the dusty roads that led to places like Camp Tujunga, Fort Missoula, Santa Anita, and Rohwer. There under his watching eyes - we stood around - too poor, cool, or antisocial to go inside.
That night I had brought my new girl, Monica, with us, and in the darkness underneath the old jail we had gone exploring and I had pulled her to me and we had searched each other for lips to press against. Once outside, we had waited in drunken bliss, and Monica had sat in Chuey's ride. Javi, who had hooked up some bud, and some other heads sat in a circle, blazing it. "Spark it up," someone had said, and I pulled the sack out and was rolling a J when Javi slipped into the car next to Monica and started making moves. Monica was out of it - too much booze and too much bud; she wasn't used to hanging with the homeboys. Javi's hands went over her legs and she feebly protested. I was like "Hey, cool out," and continued rolling the joint. He kept going. Javi, the banger with a bullet wound in his belly that he had eagerly shown me the first time we had met.
I reached in and took his hand from her leg, "That's not cool," I said and he looked at me crazily. I repeated it, "telling him to lay off." I was ready and had to expect anything. He stopped and got out of the car. Chuey spoke to Javi in spanish, something like, "be cool, cause he's my homie," and Monica slumped back into sleep - or at least feigned it.
Too much beer, too much bud, the appearance of a woman, and a fight could've started. Instead we stayed on, and watched the trains make their way around the curve of Griffith Park, past the hills that are supposed to be haunted by a shining woman who searches aimlessly along the hillside paths for her lost child.
© Ryan Masaaki Yokota
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Copyright © 2002 Buddhahead Productions