Los Angeles, CA
I had a cocktail or three in me. I was a little schwasted as I made my way down the palm tree-lined street. I had lots on my mind with very heavy topics weighing me down.
I had finished a long session of day trading. I never thought I'd return to grinding out a few bucks as a day trader, but with no more online poker and a reduction in my client roster, I didn't have much of a choice, or so I thought. I always considered myself an opportunistic investor, so wanted to take advantage in the latest downturn in the commodities market after a couple of months of the most startling leap in silver prices since the Hunt Brother attempted to corner the market in the 1980s.
To say I was in a bad mood is being kind. It's easy to stay pissed off at the world when you lock yourself inside your own mental prison. All I wanted was a Big Assed Iced Tea to perk me up before I settled in to watch the basketball playoffs. After grinding it out all day in my office, all I wanted was some mindless entertainment to cool down after getting my ass kicked trading commodities.
That's when it dawned on me that I'm betting on almost every aspect of my daily life -- in one way or another -- especially in a murky, confusing, landscape-altering environment after the DOJ indicted two of my biggest clients.
I should have been happier because I'm alive with the California sun smacking in the face. That's why I needed to leave my music-less apartment. My iPod broke and I've been on minorlife tilt ever since then because I don't have access to so much kick ass music that pulls me out of the doldrums, or gets me fired up to write.
But I wasn't happy in the slightest. I had a bad day at the grind and I was pissed off that I wasted most of the week chained to a laptop looking at numbers instead of writing. I escaped Las Vegas because I wanted to live a life without constant reminders of greed and envy, yet I washed up in the City of Angels stuck in the same rut, despite my many protests, which always seemed to spark a rift with Nicky. She loves the city of her birth, yet I loathe it. We both want to live in NYC, but it's too expensive considering we're both out-of-work writers. Who knows if we're even going to get paid for previous invoices and future ones? To live in NYC without any worries, you need a consistent paycheck coming in, or you have to be uber-wealthy. We are neither and sadly, the Slums of Beverly Hills are cheaper.
The reason I moved to SoCal and left Vegas was because of the weather (nothing beats SoCal in the winter), amazing marijuana, and close proximity to Las Vegas. The last bit was necessary for my job as a gambling reporter and poker writer.
But a new voice was whispering in my head, "Move."
If the DOJ altered poker's landscape, then there's no need to be so close to Las Vegas. Now, more than ever I want to escape Los Angeles. I have zero chance of selling a screenplay, so why am I staying here? The choice to move in with Nicky in the Slums of Beverly Hills was a middle ground and and compromise I made a couple of years ago. But ever since I finished Lost Vegas, I achieved a level of personal closure in the poker world and Las Vegas aka America's Playground.
Shit, the last thing I want to do is ride out the Apocalypse and Armageddon in a vapid city like LA. Hence, I'm feeling something... that's pulling me away from the West Coast and somewhere Eastward... as far as New York City or as centralized as Colorado. I'm a betting man, so if I were you I'd bet good money that I'm not in LA one year from now.
I opened the door to Jack in the Box and it smelled like old people and stale grease. I walked up to the kiosk because I want to help Jack in the Box eliminate cashier jobs by using their computer system. Ironically, once I placed my order (Big Assed Iced Tea), I had to wait at the counter for someone to hand me an empty cup. I could've leaned over the counter and grabbed it myself, but I patiently waited for someone behind the counter to finish up making seventeen chocolate shakes for a drive-thru order.
"What size are you?"
The guy wore a Hawaiian shirt, blue cargo shorts, and vintage Air Jordans. He looked like that Viggo actor and pointed down at my feet. He kept sniffling. He either had bad spring allergies or was a cokehead. At this time of year, I presumed both were accurate reads.
"What size sneakers are you?" Viggo asked.
I learned something about living in LA... sometimes you see celebrities in the strangest places. In any other town, you could say, "Oh, that looks like Viggo Mortensen" but in LA, chances are it is Viggo.
But that time, I was dubious. For one, why the hell would Viggo be in Jack in the Box? And why would he be asking about my shoe size? Unless he's a queer and this is some sort of postmodern pickup line that homosexual men in Hollywood engage in during the middle of the day -- walk into random fast food joints and try to pick up guys by asking them their shoe size.
"Um, I dunno... 10 and a half? Maybe 11."
"Shit, that won't work," said a dejected Viggo. "I have an extra pair of Jordans. Size 13. I also have a size 14."
He lifted up his right foot and sorta curled it so I could see the Nike swoosh. I had the same pair of sneakers in 1986 when I was in the 8th grade. That was my first ever pair of Nike's. I had fake Jordans from PONY which I beat the hell out of the previous year, but for my birthday, I was lucky enough to get a pair of super expensive sneakers. My old man wanted to make sure I didn't hang out at the projects down the hill because in the mid-1980s, we were in the middle of the crack epidemic in the Bronx. He was worried that I'd get my legs cut off by a Jordans thief since they were hot sneakers.
"No thanks," I told Viggo as the teenager behind the counter handed me an empty cup.
Viggo shrugged his shoulders, grabbed a couple of taco sauce packets, and walked out the front door.