By Tom H. Brooks 3

(In case you missed it…)

I was having a vivid dream…
some kind of bizarre solar storm or magnetic field had knocked the Earth off its normal orbit around the sun.  Exceedingly drastic
weather changes were taking place all around the globe as we spiraled ever closer to oblivion.  It was like that old “Twilight Zone” episode; desperate mobs of people, no fresh water, rising seas, smoke, fires, screaming- terror in the streets.  Everyone was fighting and sweating for survival as we fell towards our burning star…
In accord with the nature of dreams, for some untold and senseless reason, I was at the top of a giant skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles.  It was some kind of penthouse or lush office.  Just poor me and two beautiful women.  Indeed, no sense to it at all…just the way it was, in the dream, that is.
With a certain disturbing detachment, we calmly watched the chaos unfold all around us in the city far below.  LA sprawled endlessly in flames.  We sipped vodka-tonics and martinis while having off-the-wall, stupid conversations on trivial topics that were outdated and no longer relevant at all.  We even had ice!  Go figure…
“So you actually like Sammy Hagar better than David Lee Roth?  What, are you nuts, woman?!?,” I said to the leggy blonde with the green eyes.
“Yes, I do,” she replied, smiling, “I think he has a better voice.”
“HA!  Well, that’s just insane, girl!  I think his voice sucks, not
to mention,  Diamond Dave was a showman.  When he left Van
Halen, they were finished as far as I’m concerned.”
“I agree with you, Reverend,” said the brunette with the glittering dark eyes and velvety black hair, “and Dave was way sexier”.
I raised my eyebrows in mock contemplation, “What about now?”
She didn’t answer.
“It’s like when Lionel Ritchie left the Commodores…those boys were done.  Alright ladies, I got one for ya…who would win in a fight; Batman or Superman?”
The dark one says, “But weren’t they Superfriends?  You know, the League of Justice and all?”
“Good point, babe, but forget that-  this is just speculation…what if?”
Blonde says, “Well, theoretically speaking, I think Superman would win, without a doubt…he’s like…invincible.”
The brunette replies, “True, but what about all those cool gadgets Batman has?  You know, he’s a thinker…wouldn’t you assume he’d be clever enough to grab some kryptonite?”
Blonde replies,”Well, honey, it’s not as if you can just buy
kryptonite at the CVS…I mean, doesn’t it come from another planet?”
“aaahhhh, there’s the rub…” I say.
Brunette: “Wait, what about Robin?  That’s two against one..”
“Robin’s a pussy!” I snap.
“Good point,” they reply simultaneously.
“Hmmm…nice….valid arguments, girls.  Spoken like true
professionals.  Oh well, I guess we’ll never know for sure.  After
all, the Earth is spinning into the goddamned sun.  Surely, our time is limited.  We could be dead any minute now.”
Indeed, every minute was getting hotter and hotter.  We had been moving closer throughout our rambling conversations on a plush leather couch.  Their soft bare legs thrown over mine, ice clinking in glasses beaded with droplets of moisture.  Sweat, hot breath, suddenly a blur of flesh, limbs tangled in passion, reaching for something new, something better, something real and spontaneous and beautiful- reaching for the sun, as it were.  Amazing, fascinating, twisted……
Later, we lay in one another’s arms, I between them, breathing and listening as our planet hurtled gracefully into a ball of fire.  We stared out the giant picture window.  We held each other, the three of us, and at last, that calm, detached feeling was stripped away, layer by layer.  A nameless fear began to take over.  The sky was filled with thick, black smoke.  A helicopter fell from the heights like a burning stone. It was so very hot.  The sun had gotten so big, that it filled the window, gigantic and red and terrifying, a searing ball of flame and gas that burned out our eyes as we stared into it in horror.  The window exploded and we were showered in broken glass.  Our skin began to melt together.  The girls whimpered hopelessly but somehow, I found
a hidden well of strength within.  I whispered,
“Don’t worry, my dears…everything will be better now. Everything will be just fine.”
And I meant it.  I think I smiled about then.  The light filled my
blinded eyes and for a minute, I could see again…
With a start, I woke up.  I was in the living room of a house in the hills with all my clothes on and one shoe missing…utter confusion. I was lying sprawled in the corner of the room, bathed in a morning sunbeam.  My head was pounding and I was a sweaty mess with a plugged-up nose and blazing red eyes.  Alcohol still coursed through my veins and music reverberated in my seemingly hollow skull.  I was insane and vital and alive and filled with crazy ideas and half-baked dreams.  I always had been.  What a disappointment though;  to wake up in a daze on a rug in fucking Hollywood.

So my car was stolen a while back, maybe five months before.  Fool that I am, I had no theft insurance. I laid around a month or two and then, on a whim, I traveled with a friend by car to deepest Mexico. Just two crazy clowns in a Scout International truck, hell bent for Colima.  There, I spent three insane months but that is another story of volcanoes and Toltec ruins and sugarcane fields and shantytowns. When I returned home, I was immediately reminded of how much it sucks
ass not having a car in Los Angeles.  I’d spent most of my money south of the border so I accepted the fact, that for now, I was just going to have to work and wait awhile before I could get a new automobile. And next time, I planned on getting theft insurance!
So it was on that fine, sunny day with a vicious hangover, that I
wandered down out of the hills on foot and found myself standing at the side of the road in Cahuenga pass, with two shoes on, of course.  I saw the people driving by, helter skelter, two out of three on cell phones, and when the light turned red, they all just stared at me like some kind of zoo exhibit.  Every once in a while, a lady would do a double-take, looking at me twice with what I’d like to think was lust in her eyes, but more likely, it was disdain.  To be standing at a bus stop in this superficial and materialistic metropolis- a city of cars
and drivers- well, frankly, it was embarassing.  I might as well be
holding a cardboard sign that says “ugly, broke and stupid…please help.”
I didn’t let it bother me too much though.  My mind is usually elsewhere anyway.  Some ladies would roll their eyes and screech off in a cloud of dust.  Others would smile with just a hint of something like pity in their eyes.  I never knew what to expect.  Sometimes, people would give me rides…male or female.  I never hitchhiked, it just happened.  I’d been picked up by Mexican gardeners, strippers, a plumber in his company truck, queers, a particularly lovely Thai girl, some older German woman, two backpackers from Sweden…and any
number of characters…denizens of the city.  The funniest was the time I got picked up by an Iranian tweaker in a black IROC sportscar.  He was jabbering nonsense and hitting the meth pipe with his bad skin and black hole eyes as we drove down Highland into Hollywood.  Now, that shit was funny.
Finally, the bus came rumbling out of the smog of the San Fernando Valley.  I looked behind me and saw a gorgeous brunette in a silver Benzo looking at me.  Suddenly ashamed, I turned away and stepped on the funny wagon.  It
was filled with mutants.  I sat down wearily with a sigh of angst and tried to figure out exactly where the hell I was going.  It didn’t
really matter anyway.  We were only on a fucking bus in Hollywood, CA- land of plastic dreams, silicone tits, and shattered hopes…we rolled down the hill and into it.
Later, I sat there at Canter’s with glassy eyes, staring at my Eggs Benedict.  Before, I’d had a craving, but what the hell was I
thinking?  This place was only good at 4am after a night of drunken debauchery.  I continued staring listlessly at the runny eggs swirling like giant yellow eyes boring into my soul until my own eyes glazed over and I blinked.  The waitress interrupted my trance,
“More coffee, hon?”
I looked up slowly.  Holy Mother of God, that waitress was old!  She should be retired, playing Bingo or Bridge with her friends at the convalescent home or baking cookies or apple pie for her video game playing, bratty grandkids.  She should be in Punta Gorda, Florida, playing shuffleboard…not here…anywhere but here.  It just isn’t fair.  They’ll steal your soul if you let them.
“Sure,” I replied from a distance, “thank you, my dear.”
“First time I’ve been thanked today.” she grumbled as she limped away in her white, orthopedic shoes.
The crazy ceiling in that place was starting to spin and the walls
were closing in on me.  I broke out in a cold sweat.  I ate a piece of toast, drank three glasses of water, paid the bill and got the hell out of there.  I lurched out the front door and was again blinded by the sunlight.  In that insane dream, it had seemed fascinating, like an epiphany.  But at that moment, I was very glad to have my sunglasses.  Shaded from the light, I began to walk up Fairfax and I instantly lapsed into one of my cartoon-vision reveries.
So, there I was again, sitting in some bar on Hollywood
Boulevard…was it the Frolic Room?….ahhh, no matter.  There was booze.  It was sometime after midnight and I’d been at the scotch for hours, chain-smoking, thinking, sulking, and talking to random weirdos.  No clubs for me- no trendy nightspots with red velvet ropes and stupid looking bouncers wearing headsets and drenched in Drakkar cologne.  No Paris Hilton, no Lindsay fucking Lohan.  Just me and some cheap scotch in a stinking dive bar.  A little slice of heaven, no less.  And even here, the Industry talk.  She had me cornered. She had been yapping for fifteen minutes straight without taking a breath; just babbling on and on about herself, her imminent acting superstardom, name-dropping…oh yeah,baby, the WHOLE BIT.  Needless to say, it was a pleasure.  My mood was going downhill fast, a runaway train…I was getting desperate.  I retained about 2 1/2 percent of her tiresome, inane ranting and raving.
“So, Billy Zane is a good friend of mine and he turned me on to this acting teacher, but she’s soooo expensive.  She’s really good though, she’s changing my life, I’m definitely improving my performances, and I guess the money doesn’t matter, my daddy’s paying anyway.  I’m actually taking five classes a week!  It’s like a full-time job, it keeps me real busy, but I REALLY want to be a famous actress.  It’s like I’ve known for…”
“Do you want a star on your door?” I interjected.
She hardly paused or slowed down.
“Well, YES, of course I do!  It’s like I’ve known that I was
talented since I was 4 years old.  When I was a little girl, I used to put on little song and dance shows in my living room for my family and neighbors, so I guess it’s all meant to be, it’s just in the stars, you know?  Anyway, I was at this party in Malibu last Saturday.  I was talking to Tori Spelling when Christina Applegate walks up and says….”
Great Caesar’s Ghost!  I have GOT to get rid of this lunatic bitch, what is she on speed?!?  I think, maybe if I hit her with some gibberish, she’ll go away.  Or maybe I should just hit her.  No, no, calm down, Tom….there’s got to be a solution here.
I look at her with dull, glazed eyes,”Your breath stinks,woman…”
“What did you say?” she says.
“Your WHAT hurts?!?” I reply.
“Oh, you’re so funny…” she laughs, and continues her monologue.  She’s not biting.  Oh fuck, time to pull out the big guns….
“Do I know you?” I say.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s simple…have we met before?  Are we intimate, lifelong friends?  Because if not, I’m a little more than baffled about you giving me your instant autobiography, your life story about your long road to the Academy Awards.  You’re a walking Wikipedia! “
I couldn’t take it anymore.  It felt as if my head was going to
explode.  This girl was a vampire, sucking the life out of me.  I was suddenly really exhausted, although, to give her just a little credit, it could have been the scotch.  Nonetheless, I was in a vacuum.  All semblance of reality and/or reason was long gone.
“I mean, come on, girl, did I ask for this wealth of valuable information?”
She was dumbfounded.  She looked like a deer in the headlights.
“Huh?  I mean…no…I guess you didn’t.”
“TRUE.  I did NOT.  And do you wanna know why?  Because I don’t care…not even a little bit.  Your story interests me about as much as old reruns of ‘Who’s the Boss’.  I’ll bet you know Alyssa Milano too, right?  I’d rather be at a Bible study than listening to you! I’d rather join the church of Scientology and read ‘Dianetics’ with a bunch of brainwashed lunatics while waiting for the spaceships.  I’d rather put on Nikes and drink poisoned kool-aid.  I’d rather be home, reading a Hustler and smoking weed, staring at the cracks in my ceiling. I’d rather be listening to Huey Lewis and the News and shooting China White into my fucking eyeball while getting my cock sucked by a 47 year old Reno whore!  Anything is better, than listening to your stupid acting stories!….”
I pointed dramatically across the room,
“Hey!  Is that Val Kilmer?!”
I made an abrupt exit.  She was left standing at the bar looking as bewildered as a Pygmy tribeswoman dropped off in Flatbush, Brooklyn.  Looking back on this incident, I suspect I might have been a little hard on her.  I doubt she lost any sleep over it.  She probably just found another victim to torture.
She probably thought that I was the one on speed.

What the hell am I doing?  Is this what it’s all about? Is there no
end to this madness?  Sometimes, I’m so tired of struggling, that I just stop trying entirely.  I just sit around and wait to see what
will happen next.  I let it all come to me at random. After all, what
would life be without the element of surprise?  And in the end, Death; and who really knows what that means?  The black door, the Grim Reaper knocks suddenly, black cloak and all, no appointment necessary…time to go….Time has no meaning, except the meaning that we give it.
The streets of Koreatown were quiet and empty. streetlamps in halos of night mist.
A single night mockingbird sings songs of loneliness.  The moon is a burning stone in an uncaring and starless black sky.  My footsteps fall softly on the dirty sidewalks.  There is no one but me.  I enter my shitty apartment building just north of Olympic on
Catalina.  The halls were dark with dingy and frayed wine-colored rugs, half the lamps burnt out.  It smelled of cigarettes, cheap liquor, and spicy food.  It may be Koreatown, but my building was full of Mexicans.
I opened my door and it hit my bedframe, as usual.  I entered my 12 foot by 14 foot studio.  I live in a box, I thought.  I looked out my dusty window at the little courtyard 2 floors below.  There is a single pair of filthy gray boxer shorts flapping on the clothesline in the faint night breeze.  I was a man standing alone in a window in the wee hours of the morning, staring at dirty underwear.  The moon watched me in disinterested silence.  I sighed discontentedly.  The death clock was ticking.  A cockroach scuttled across the wall.  I didn’t bother to get up and kill it, his time would come soon enough anyway.  There’s plenty more where he came from.  I poured a belt of Cutty Sark scotch in a glass, took a slug, and flopped down on my bed.
I laid there, staring at the cracks in my ceiling.  Looks like I got
my wish, see?  Dreams DO come true.
At this juncture, it seems like this story should be going
somewhere, right?  Perhaps a car chase, or a shootout, or a sex
scandal. Yeah, sure, maybe I should turn this into a real Tom Clancy superspy thriller.  Maybe I’ll just sit here and blow sunshine up your ass.  But……no….I think I’ll give it to you straight instead.
How the fuck we get up everyday, I do not know.  Maybe it’s
curiousity…what’s gonna happen today, you know?  Where does it all lead?  Often enough, I find myself thinking how sad and meaningless it all seems.  Why do we do it?  For love or money or fame?  Necessity?  Because we are here and we have no choice?  Most the time we’re just slaving away, trying to keep our heads above water….so it can’t be for fun.  Me on a tropical beach somewhere with a beautiful woman, a good book or two, some cold beers and the sun shining down upon us….these are my greatest joys…..so simple, really…
Otherwise, I might as well watch TV until my eyes bleed.  In any case, something is bound to happen soon, right?
You’d think.
But let’s face it, people…day to day life can be pretty ordinary.
Routine; the slow and silent killer.  We watch things happen on TV or in the movies, we screw around on our computers–fiction or reality, no matter.  We wait, we wonder, we watch.  We use up our time on this Earth doing nothing at all.  When something does happen, we wish everything would go back to normal.  We long for our security and our comfortable routines.  We live in our shells, safe and sound, always screaming for more….MORE.  This is the paradox of living.
Life goes on, and even in our idle monotony, we are living it….





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