It’s been raining in Los Angeles. The creek in my backyard flooded. As I look at the creek, this is the type of shit that runs through my head.
“See out there? That’s where the flood came through. You can tell the water level by the flattened grass on the banks. All that water rushing down, bringing with it uprooted trees, scattered trash, belly-up animals, and, Jerry, I shit you not, I saw riding the current on its back like a luge the naked body of woman…….So I followed the body as it went down stream. Eventually, it got stuck at the base of a tree in the Henderson’s backyard, just beyond their fence. So I hopped the fence and went to take a look……Do you remember Jennifer Johnston? From high school? The one who had hair as black as a watermelon seed? It was her, Jerry. Except her hair was bright blonde, like a lightbulb almost. She was the deadest thing I ever saw. I dragged her out of the stream and onto dry land. She didn’t have a single bruise or a cut on her, no nothing. The sun had moved from behind some clouds as I was inspecting her, and it broke in streaks through the bare branches of oak trees. Her skin glowed white, as if from beneath it were lit like a television. She looked like an angel, all peaceful, her eyes closed. I poked her a few times with my boot, just to make sure. She was dead as a doorknob, I’m sure of it. What a sad, sad day.”
“What was the point of that story, Earl?”
“Well, the point is, that I’m sad and confused. We knew her, Jerry. She was our pal, sort of. And now she’s dead, floating down the creek with all the animals and dislodged branches and trash. Don’t it make you wonder what happened to her? How someone so innocent and beautiful could die without a mark on her, as if in her sleep she rolled into the raging creek and got drowned while she was dreaming? What did she do to deserve that?”
“Last I heard she was in prison for attempted murder. Her and Lou Graff tried holding up a bank with nothing but slingshots on them. Apparently, as the story goes, Jennifer got real fed up with one of the clerks and launched a nickel at the clerk’s head, hitting the clerk dead in the eye and going through the eye, almost to the brain. You tell me what sort of person tries killing someone with a nickel, and I’ll show you someone who floats dead down a creek.”
“She did that?”
“I think so.”
“Hmm. Still. She looked so damn peaceful.”
Written at 7:40 at night, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA, while contemplating the level of drunkness I intend to reach tonight. From a scale of 1 to 10, I’d predict I’ll hit a 4.77. We shall see.