Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The First Time I Think I Was Insane

Nope, come to think of it, there was a time before that. Ok, let's just say insane for more than a few moments, a sustained insane event. More than say 24 or 48 hours. Anyway, this was one of the times. 

There was an adult bookstore in Silverlake called Circus of Books. First off, L.A. is insane. Everything that happens outside of a building or a car is tawdry, violence, drama, the ugly spectacle of life. Except at the beach, where it's all the ugly spectacle of life, inside and out.

Circus of Books was supposed to be a great place to meet guys, and I was lonesome as hell for a man. You had to go through like these saloon doors. You'd hear them creak, and you get a blast of hot shame sure as the AC effect stepping into a supermarket out in Temecula or Palm Springs. You're supposed to stand there and look at feminine buzzers or paperbacks until there is some verbal but probably just non-verbal cues happening between you and the dream guy. You know how sex works. Even your breathing speaks volumes.

There was a guy, and we did all the steps and somehow knew to just buy some gum and then meet on the sidewalk. Well, all the real estate out there was strewn with really drunk down-and-out sex-worker dudes, so we ended up just going directly to exotic maybe persian-y and cocky hot firm gentleman's hooptie to hang out. We'd both driven there of course, so I had to follow him after we decided to go to his place, and I remember thinking as I was coming up to a bluff above his subdivision and looking out at the endless mud-colored waves of rows of honeycombed townhomes that "I will probably never find my way out of here."

I wasn't crazy yet--that fear was reasonable--except probably I was crazy before even driving on down to the Circus. The insanity was just having a smoke in the back of my head and centering himself. But wow, what a man I'd found. We wilded out on his bed--I guess it was a studio--and then I attempted to pry into his personal life. 

He was hesitant or feigned hesitancy and finally almost like I deserved it for being nosy, he says "I'm a hit man." That was like the first funny he'd made during the whole relationship, so I laughed pretty hard. But then his face turned to an open snarl. "I have a weapon, and I kill people. All over the Americas. South America, Central America, Mexico. I have a uniform. Do you want to see my uniform?" He went to the closet and pulled out a legit camo uniform, and not in a nelly way at all. With the other hand, he produces a military rifle with a sight attached. 

My eye lingers on the ceiling fan's twirling reflection in the cantilevered scope mount's rainbowy glass.

Then we had sex a second time, which I never did even at that randy age. Then the panic started setting in. All I remember is driving away and looking in the rearview mirror at the honey-colored townhomes and knowing that I would never be able to identify the guy or which of those places he lived in if I ever had to call the FBI or whatever. 

Then I called the FBI--from a payphone outside the General Hospital building, which is a hospital. I confessed to an agent--I confirmed that he was an agent--everything that had happened, and we both spoke in our deepest voices. This call ultimately went nowhere, but it seemed like I had at least completed some important action.

When I got home, I felt vulnerable. I was renting a tiny 1920's cottage up in the hills above Angeles Temple and hidden behind a 1930's six-flat and under Victorian bottlebrush trees which camouflaged the roof with furry red strands. Yet I could feel a target on my back. He had shown me the black rifle, the uniform, the telescopic lens. His car his apartment were completely anonymous in color; he himself could have been mistaken for nearly any non-white designation. I didn't even know his name. Perhaps Mario. So many Marios. 

As night fell, garish shadows rose across the 50's B-movie posters in my livingroom. I dared not turn on the lights. I climbed into bed and listened for a long time. There was some rustling, and then a snap. I carefully pulled back the sheet and stepped into the livingroom and stood invisibly still, in my briefs, holding a breath. It was completely quiet now. So I had to be extra careful taking a few more steps backwards and over to situate myself behind my overstuffed chair in the corner. There, I ducked down and waited. 

It felt great. Safe. I started to feel very sleepy. I was surprisingly generous in my lack of judgement towards how I was behaving. I gathered the courage to snap out of it and walk a little bit more confidently back to bed. When I woke up, pinkish sun permeated the same rooms that had been a scene of terror.


For the next couple of days, I was alert and mature. I drove back and forth to work with the warm wind in my hair, accompanied by a new and easy peacefulness. There was the sense that I'd done something for my country, that perhaps I'd even earned my place in paradise. 

I was relaxing on the phone in my little dayroom on a futon chaise and found myself telling a friend about a letter I had received from the famous author Tom Clancy. It was a response to a note I had sent him on which I had drawn a large purple swastika in response to one of his many public antigay comments during those days. 

My grandfather, who'd been on the board of regents of a university, was once accused of nazism in a letter that included a swastika. It hurt his feelings deeply, so I wanted to try it on Tom. Clancy's reply was something like, 

That's not a swastika. You drew it backwards. It's a blah-blah cross representing the blah-blah band of warriors in butt-fuck blah-blah white-people land from Century blah-blah. And all those Nazis were gay. 

It was not signed, and there was no return address, but I wanted to save it anyway. I tucked it into one of the letter holes in my great aunt's desk. No one would believe that he'd written me a letter. That was the idea, I guess. He may have thought he was safe sending it so anonymously although my name and address were written by hand. It might still be valuable someday. Maybe so valuable that Clancy himself would get paranoid and want it back. Those paramilitary guys are crazy.

I was telling my friend ya, I have the letter right here. I stretched the phone cord to make it over to my desk, and there was no letter in the hole. It wasn't anywhere. The letter from Tom Clancy was gone. There had been no guests or cleaning personnel in my home. Only one night when I thought that I was being stalked by a hitman because I knew too much, was so sure that he was lurking outside my windows, but then got tired and drifted off to sleep.

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