California Dreaming

To read other stories from CALIFORNIA DREAMING click on the underlined titles below.

"Queenie and the Racoon" "Ships Passing in the Night" "Summer Journey" s "A Surfers Gift" "Volunteer Memories" "HOME"



Ships Passing in the Night: An Evening at the Novel Cafe

By D."Darteo" Sommese

I have dragged myself to the ever groaty Novel Cafe, which looks more like it should be in North Beach, San Francisco, rather than the ever so cool, plastic fantastic, Los Angeles. This is where the bohemians congregate to drink coffee and read books over unwashed tables. I always see lots of people here tapping away on their laptops, all looking very serious and not wanting to be disturbed. Somehow a loud noisy place is the best place to try and get some work done. Perhaps it is just a break from the lonely isolation of living in Los Angeles that brings them all here. All purport to be screen writers. One night while I was sitting here, some joker was walking by and yelled in the door, "How many people here are published?" Not a person answered. "I thought so." he said, a went laughing on his merry way.

There is a sort of bond that does exist among the writers here, who mix with UCLA and SMCC students, who come here to study. Perhaps getting lost in the din of loud music is better that than the annoying wife, mother, husband, roommate, distractions at home. The best thing about the place is that there are electric outlets near every table. The management is ever so kind, and allows those of us who are poor, to nurse a cup of tea or coffee all night. Once in a while the silence is broken by someone asking to spell a word and a conversation will begin. Conversations once they start are always interesting. The mix of people here is rather fantastic. Characters out of books, come here to read books.

Loud music blasts into the damp night air which comes through the door mixed the stench of tobacco smoke. The smokers all sit outside. Thank God, California is civilized. I can actually smell my onion bagel toasting as I sip my ginseng tea. I wonder why the young woman behind the counter always seems so grouchy. Maybe it is not even the same young woman, the personnel here seems to be ever changing. Ships passing int the night.

Across the room is a guy on his cell phone calling everyone he knows wishing them a Happy Valentines Day. He is talking about his cold and TB test and possible walking pneumonia. Oh... he has just returned from India and one of his friends just died in New Mexico. He seems to think nothing of filling the room with his phone conversation, over the music. Maybe things are different in India. I suppose he has some free time on his cell account and we will eventually exhaust all the names and numbers in his phone book, before any of us will be able to get some peace.

So what am I doing here all alone on St Valentines Day listening to some moron on his cell phone burning through all the names in his phone book. I am not alone, many people seem to be alone here tonight. Oh..... here 'he' goes telling us about the DDT poisoning he got over in India. Some one sprayed him with DDT. I guess they were trying to get him off his cell phone. Some guys don't get the hint. He was involved in the Earthquake as well. DDT and an earthquake did not stop him, so I suppose that I will hear every detail of his life before the night is through.

He is actually and actor of all things. Why doesn't that surprise me? Isn't every 3rd person an actor in this town? I guess it has something to do with his booming voice. He is telling the person on the other end of the phone that he is going to Hawaii, then on to Ireland to work on a film. They wont give him the script until he gets on the airplane, because they want to keep the details secret. I guess they are being smart in his case. Oh!... he does massage as well. One of his clients used to work on Bay Watch and was perfect until she broke her tail bone. Now she is skinny and ugly, because she can't work out.

That makes sense, every actor here moonlights as a waiter or a masseur. Oh... he is going to get new pictures taken because he now has a beard and long hair after the trip to India. I suppose if the DDT and the Earthquake didn't get him, he is most likely impervious to getting his brain cooked, from using his cell phone too much. I wonder if he is connecting the problem with his lungs, to being sprayed with DDT? I think I will have to go over to him later and suggest that he check into that. I wonder what DDT does to the brain? It almost wiped out the California Brown Pelican, I guess we wont be so lucky with this guy.

Between this and the last line an hour an half has passed. A woman came over to me out of the blue. She just came and sat at my table. Me typing on the laptop did not stop her. We became immediate confidants from word one, you know the kind of intimacy people allow themselves when they travel. She is my age and she is in a marriage that does not satisfy her. She tells me personal things about her husband, who I hope I will never meet. It seems he is not into sex very much and she is perplexed by it. The marriage is 8 years old. She wonders if she should end the marriage and go off on her own. He has given her permission to have a fling whenever the spirit moves her. (hmmmm) This does not jive with her idea of marriage and she wonders why he didn't tell her about this situation before they were married.

I told her that trying to go off on your own at this stage of life may only make her situation worse. It is not easy to fly solo. She suffers from depression and I think a woman always feels like there is something wrong with them if the husband does not seem attracted. Her and her husband are friends, but she does not feel this is enough. Yes we want it all, but the wise person must understand that concessions must be made. I advised her to try and fulfill herself in other ways. Sexual stimulation was not designed to cover all our needs for stimulation. It is a momentary and fleeting relief, you really must have more going for you to have a complete life.

Justin, breaks the trajectory of her pitch, by stopping at my table. He is here writing the great American blockbuster film. He gave us about 15 minutes of his time, which is a long visit by LA standards. The conversation was lively and very LA, discussing the latest films.

At the moment I am overhearing a conversation of the couple a few tables away. A very troubled, long haired young man, is going on about not being able to bring down the people he hates with his mental energy. He is frustrated by the fact that he does not have the mental energy to have them all combust. "I want them all to burn", he keeps saying. He speaks about it as if he believed it were truly possible. "You have no idea how I hate these fucker's", he keeps saying, in a voice so loud the rest of us can not help hearing and being disturbed by it. (I am discovering I know of the person he is talking about!) He sounds like a babbling, budding mass murderer. The girl he is with is saying nothing, hoping he will forget it, no doubt.

There is a flop house in Venice, owned and run by some alcoholic, self appointed, 50-ish demi-god. He takes in homeless people and charges them as much money as it would cost them to rent a room, just for a spot on his floor. He also dips his stick into all the young drugged out girls who pass through there. This alcohol soaked guru, spends the day on the board walk among the thirty or so hand written signs which blaspheme in long harangues everything that is holy. They are full of the most absolutely vile drivel you have ever seen.

The people that come to him are all the walking dead of druggies. Desperate, they trade their self worth for a spot on his floor. I had a long talk with an absolutely broken-in-spirit woman, I met here one evening. She was positively hooked on this Guru and hated him as much as this troubled young man does. But she was absolutely unable to leave him. Whatever power he has over people, I have a feeling that it might get him in trouble one day.

The hours tick by, the ebb and flow of people is tremendous and constant. The espresso machine hisses, a different girl has taken her place behind the counter, her songs to played from now on. The music is always loud. Jungle rhythms float out the door on the damp night air. A fog has rolled in off the ocean. Each street light has a halo, as bums in sleeping bags snuggle up in their favorite doorway. Is that I foghorn I hear blowing? No, that is just the sound of LA...ships passing in the night.

To read other stories from CALIFORNIA DREAMING click on the underlined titles below.

"Queenie and the Racoon" "Ships Passing in the Night" "Summer Journey" s "A Surfers Gift" "Volunteer Memories" "HOME"

Copyright D."Darteo" Sommese 2017

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