Time (part 11)

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“Kelly,” I said.

The other me turned around and looked at me dropping her popcorn when she saw me.

“I…..I’m ….”she gasped.

“It’s okay. Let’s just go somewhere and talk,” I said.

We exited the theater silently and began walking down the street. I noticed that she was shaking life a leaf.

“Is there a coffee shop around here, “I asked.

“We should just go to the park” she said. “We shouldn’t be anywhere where there might be cameras.”

We walked a few blocks to a small park and sat down on what I’m pretty sure was not real grass.

“What year are you from,” She asked me.

“October, 13th 2013 sort of…” I began.

“That’s where I came from,” she said.

“I know I originally came from 2014…it’s….I. I was in 2014 when I discovered the time machine. My …our life was a mess so I went back to 2008 to change a big mistake we made.”

“What mistake,” she asked.

I proceeded to tell the story of how we had the successful psychic business and the secret blog. About how we met a boy who was an auto mechanic, who was mean to us and eventually dumped us and how he outed us as being a fraud on the internet and we ended up losing the business and ended up as Tom’s roommate rather than his girlfriend. I told her that I went back to the past and simply sat in our apartment and did nothing on the day I had bought the car that would lead to meeting the mean boyfriend, figuring that if I never bought the car I (we) never would have met him.

“When I got back to 2014 I went to check my Facebook to see if what I did had changed things. I saw that I still had my ..our business but I noticed that the last post was on October 13th 2013 and so was my last email and my last tweet.”

“That’s weird” she said.

Tom and I went back to October 13th 2013. We found out we were boyfriend and girlfriend and we found your note saying what year you were traveling to and the name of the shop you were going to. I followed you.”

We sat in silence for a moment as she tried to comprehend everything.

“I guess I should thank you,” she began. I’ve always traveled to the future in the time machine. At first Tom was against my selling things, but I thought it made for a good retirement plan. I mean, we’re going to need it being in business for ourselves.”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier to just go forward a day, buy a paper, get the lottery numbers and win the lottery? That’s what I ….I mean or we…” I began.

“I know, exactly. I always wanted to do that but Tom wouldn’t let me. He was very paranoid about that kind of thing.”

“How did you …did we get together with Tom?”

“He came to a party where I was doing readings. He said he wasn’t doing well at work and needed to make a sale or he would get fired. I told him that I sensed a company in the valley needed a new camera equipment provider. Actually, I knew they needed one because I did a reading for a man from that company. He called them and made the sale. I saved his job.”

“I see. “ I said. “Well, if you’re selling things, isn’t he afraid that you will accidently pass money from the future,” I asked.

“I haven’t been saving money. Just buyer points.” She said.

“I noticed something about that on my Subway receipt. What are those?”

“It’s a long story, but from what I have learned since I’ve been here it’s part of a new world order. In 2014 Sony was hacked by North Korea because of the movie The Interview…” she began.

“That was on the news the day I found the time machine,” I interjected.

“Well once the movie was actually released it was a huge hit. It broke all the records. North Korea got even angrier and began hacking into all kinds of American businesses. At around the same time there was a terrorist attack on a French satirical magazine by radical Muslims. Pretty soon there were more attacks on satirist and writers all over the free world by both Muslim and North Korea and it went on for ten years. They would hack attack us and we would bomb them. They eventually formed an alliance. ‘The War Against Humor’ the media called it. For a couple of years it looked like we might go to actual war. President Clinton attempted to impose more sanctions.”

“Hillary?” I asked.

Yes, well, congress blocked the sanctions and she lost popularity because of her inability to stop what was happening. Sarah Palin got into office and we send troops into Korea as well as several Middle Eastern countries and this brought about worldwide economic devastation. That was when the UN had a summit and decided that countries should work with each other rather than against each other. It was decided that each country would do what it did best. Japan and Israel invent things, things are manufactured in developing nations and most of the Middle East is a prison. It is the job of Americans to consume things and buy things. We now have one world leader that was elected by the UN. They appointed Apple Paltrow in part to appease the Koreans as she is genetically incapable of humor.

“Wow, people didn’t protest?”

“A few did, but the media didn’t really cover it. There’s nothing about it at the library now,” she told me.

“So basically it’s everyone’s job in America to buy things and you get points when you do?

“Yes, you used to be paid for the point in money, but they are phasing that out. Everyone will have their points loaded on to their arm GPS and everyone has to get one by January You can just take your receipts and they put the point on. So I won’t be going any farther into the future than that. I’m saving the points in a drawer at home.”

“Were you planning on quitting social media as of today or something?” I asked. “I mean today in 2013?”

“No” she said.

“Well then, I think for some reason you came to this day and didn’t get back. Is there anything that could have stopped you?”

“I don’t think so, “she said.

“I think we need to find out,” I said getting up.

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Time (part 6)

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The first thing I saw when I came to was Tom concerned face bent over me, he handed me a glass of water and sat me up.

“Where am I, “I asked.”

“You’re in the other room watching TV.”

“Oh, did I say anything about what year I was from?

“She…I mean you said she came from 2012, Then 2015 and now she’s here. Do you want to go in and talk to her?”

We walked into the spare room where I was quietly sitting on the bed and drinking a glass of water.

“Hi I said to myself.”

My other self got up and started to come towards me with her hand extended.

I cautiously took it, wondering if something bad could happen if we touched.

“I don’t even know what I should ask first,” I began. “How did you first discover the time machine?”

“I went to bed one night, in my….our apartment on June fourteenth of 2012.”

“The one in Beverly Hills,” I asked wondering just how much my little trip had screwed everything up.

“Yes. I went to bed and when I woke up I was here in this apartment and the year was 2015.”

“Did you freak out, I mean I think I would have.” Tom said.

“At first I just thought I was having a strange dream. Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom and that struck me as odd because I’ve never had to do that in a dream before. Then I crept back to bed and took a good look at you expecting to find someone I had a crush on. But, well even though I thought you were cute and everything. I realized I had never seen you before. I thought that was weird because it was unlike me to dream about being with a stranger.”

“”You mean we were…I mean you were…I mean um.” I said pointing at Tom, than to me than to her.

“Oh. My God are you guys ..I mean, you’re not together yet?”
“We’re roommates, sort of. I mean we were roommates, Tom let me use the time machine I went back five years and screwed everything up.

“So anyway, go one with your story,” Tom said clearly wanting to ignore what he just heard.

“So I nudged you and you woke up. You kissed me and you asked me if I was going to work. I slowly began to realize I wasn’t dreaming. I asked you who you were and you told me you were Tom, my boyfriend…”

Tom and I gave each other and embarrassed sidelong glance.

“You didn’t seem the least bit shocked that I didn’t know you and seemed disoriented. You told me about the time machine and I didn’t believe you. You showed me where it was I got in it and before you could stop me I got in it and set the dials. The next thing I knew I was here.”

Tom and I both just stared at my other self for a moment, uncertain of what to do.

“You said you came from 2012,” I said.

“Yes, that’s right. That’s where I started anyway.

“How was the business doing?”

“Okay, a little slow, but not bad.”

I fought a smile.

“Did you, I mean did I have a boyfriend?”

“Np, not a recent one.”

“Do you remember a boyfriend named Steve? He was a mechanic.”

“No, I never dated a Steve.”

My smile broadened and then I remembered that I still didn’t know how I had ceased to exist.

Time (part 3)

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I arrived at the posh apartment building at 8:30 PM. I was greeted by Mr. Peterman who led upstairs to the penthouse. I began setting up my table. My hands shook a little as I pulled out my old purple velvet table cloth. My eyes welled up a bit, I didn’t realized how much I’d missed this. It seemed so silly, I mean it was all a bunch of lies anyway, but as I set out my candles and my tip jar I realized what I missed the most was the respect I got when I did a reading.

I’d never gotten much respect back in the Midwest, they’d taken one look at my pale skin and noticed the tremors in my hands and thought that I was someone to kick. It was the same way in Los Angeles at first, in fact it was worse for the first year, and then I’d started doing readings. After I started getting well know, a rumor had started that my skin was so pale because of the light inside me and my hands shook when the spirits were speaking to me.

Although I always sniggered at the delusional minds of Angelinos, I secretly understood. I had always found reality to be horribly depressing. I wished that I could believe in magic, but I just couldn’t. The people who came up to my table always went away happy, knowing that something good was coming their way, that whatever happened, happened for a reason and that the universe was fundamentally a just place.

I knew what a bunch of hogwash I was selling. I knew that everything happened for a reason and that reason was that people were greedy shits. I knew how dangerous it was to think that everything that happened, just couldn’t be helped. I knew how lazy and complacent that way of thinking could make people. At the same time I wanted the money and I liked the power. Every time I thought of quitting I remembered what it was like to be poor. Every time I felt guilty about lying, I remembered how people treated me when I was honest.

I sat down at the table and the party began. As people came up to me I started to remember details of this particular evening.

There was the guest of honor, a short man who reminded me a little of Dustin Hoffman. He wanted to know if he should start his own business. I had Googled him and I knew that he was a manger of music for a big company. I had remembered that five years ago I told him he should wait another five years before starting his own company and if he did wonderful things would happen. I wanted to give him something to look forward to. This time I told him that he should start the company in one year.

A lady with auburn hair came up to the table and sat down. I greeted her as if we were old friends. I remembered that she had started off by asking if she should buy a beach house and then confessed that she thought her husband was having an affair. I told her that no matter what the universe would provide for her. I also told her to get the beach house and put it in her name.  A year later she’d found a receipt for the Beverly Hilton in her husband’s wallet for December 2nd when he said he had to work late. She confronted him and he left her and she was living in that beach house. This time I was more specific.

Before she could even ask about the beach house I said, “I see a woman with blond hair and green eyes, she and your husband are at a play. I’m getting 12’s and twos after that.”

She turned white when I said it. She grabbed a drink off a passing tray and began to cry. I told her that amazing things were going to happen to her as a result of this tragedy.

The next man I talked to was a producer of reality television shows. I told him that I was picking up on a vibe that his next big star was a soon to be divorced trophy wife who was somewhere in the room with us.

I headed home in the cab with $600 in my purse. The next day I sat in my old apartment all day. As far as I knew all I had to do was simply not buy the car.

While I waited I watched TV and surfed the net remember all the various celebrity scandals that had happened five years ago. I checked e mail and was glad to see that I didn’t have anything that need attention that day. I hesitantly went to my old blog. There it was, Confessions of a Fake Psychic. The only picture was that of a pink hat that I found at the bus stop the first night I did readings. I kept my identity and the identity of my clients well hidden, it was the only place I could really say what I thought and it was my way of reminding myself who I really was. I read a couple of the entries. I hadn’t even written THAT entry yet. I looked at the blog hits, it was pretty ironic how I hadn’t even gotten twenty hits a day. I thought about erasing everything, but I thought better of it. If I didn’t buy the car it wouldn’t break down. If the car didn’t break down there would have no reason to go to a mechanic, if I hadn’t gone to the mechanics, I wouldn’t have met Steve.

I lay in bed that night waiting for the 6:00 AM alarm to go off. I wondered how I checked to make sure I had the key to my future apartment at least 30 times. I hoped the key would work, I tried to make a plan if it didn’t.

Time (part one)

 

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I felt hopeful when we saw the ad for a roommate in North Hollywood. My unemployment check did not begin to cover the rent on my Beverly Hills studio and what little I made from audience work and blogging just barely made ends meet.

I’d only met Tom, my new roommate briefly. Tom’s last roommate had run off without paying the rent and he was desperate to find someone new. I noticed that he was kind of nice looking, tall with dark hair and around thirty five. I’d felt a bit inferior being short, a little plump and pimply with hair that refused to do what I told it to. He told me he was in the business of selling travel packages and I told him I was unemployed . I decided not to mention my former career until I got to know him better.

I drove the rental car that was loaded with all my worldly possessions to the small two bedroom on Van Nuys Blvd. A few days after I moved in Tom went to Arizona on business   and I had some time to set up my room, unpack my things and snoop though Tom’s room.

At first, I was a bit disappointed. There was a plain storage bed with a non-descript blue bedspread flanked by two night stands. I snooped through the draws and found tee-shirts and blue jeans, a few Playboy’s, condoms and a copy of On the Road.  There were pictures of family and a movie poster or two on the walls. In the drawer there was a picture of Tom shaking hands with a young Andy Kaufman and a poster from a Dali exhibit in San Francisco.

I entered the closet only to find, a couple of nice suits and many button up shirts and Dockers.  I moved an empty suitcase out of my way and that’s when I saw a door with a golden nob. I opened it and found myself in a small booth. On the wall of the booth were three dials one said day month and year, another said time of day and another still said location.

I quickly shut the door and replaced the suitcase. I went back to my room and thought about what I just saw. It couldn’t be. It had to be some sort of joke. Maybe the apartment had been used in a movie.

The next day I went to a French fry tasting focus group. I got back, with $75.00 in my pocket, feeling very full and wanting a nap. I realized Tom would be home in the morning, so I snuck into the room for one more look.

I opened the closet door and went towards the booth. I heard the apartment door open and shut outside.  I started for the door of Tom’s room, but it was too late. He opened the closet door and saw me.

“Tracy,” he said confused.

“Hi, I just…I um …I … I mean um…I want you.” I said.

“What?”

“I want you…I was just I was going to you know sleep in here be here when you came back.”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and I wasn’t coming home til tomorrow morning; you were going to stay in here the whole time?” He eyed me suspiciously as he came towards me.

“What were you really doing in here, looking for money,”

“No, I swear,” I said.

“You want me? Okay, fine…Let’s go.”

“Well, I . I mean um. Okay um…let me just jump in the shower I guess.”

“Oh relax, he said. You obviously know about it.”

“What is it? I mean it looks like a replica of a movie time machine.”

“It is a time machine…a real one.”

“Oh come on.”

“No, really. I found It here when I moved in.”

“How does it work? I mean if you have to be in the booth to use it, how do you get back?”

“That’s the frustrating part. You see it has limited abilities. I can travel back in time but the place lever is stuck in Los Angeles and not only Los Angeles, but this particular apartment which was built in 1976 .

“You can’t go back further than 76,” I said disappointed that I would never meet my uncle Marty.

I can’t travel anywhere on a plane or rent a car because my driver’s license was issued in 2014. I’m afraid to spend too much money for fear of calling attention to myself.”

“Cant you just go back a couple of days. I mean you could win the lottery. In fact today is Friday, the lottery is on tonight. I said hopefully.

“Look, Tracy I know it probably sounds a little silly, but I don’t want to mess with fate.”

“What makes you believe in fate?”

“The same thing that makes me believe in time machines.”

“oh.”

“You can try it if you’d like. I would just ask that you tell no one and that you don’t do anything that could affect history too much.”

I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I could go back to any time in my life after the age of one. The possibilities seemed endless. I decided to go back five years when I had made a terrible decision to buy a used car that was a total lemon and that I had totaled in an accident.

Tom set the dials while I watched. He exited the tiny room and closed the door. I pushed the start button and the room started to vibrate. There was a loud screeching noise and then, nothing.

“Tom, I think it stopped,” I said.

There was no response. I stepped out of the tiny room into the closet. This time it was packed full of women’s clothing. I crept to the door and opened it to find a very pink bedroom decorated with elaborate pillows and a Johnny Depp poster.

I walked out the door and started towards the living room. I was stopped when I felt a pair of eyes on me. I turned to see a red-headed woman wrapped in a towel staring at me in horror.

“ I….I said I’m sorry.”

I ran out the door and into the street toward the train station.

Casual Encounters?

 

 

 

craig

Melody took a deep breath and pushed the elevator button. Her heart raced as the elevator rose to the tenth floor. She’d made sure to take a picture of the hotel and post it on her Facebook page with no comment, she wanted to let people know where she was without telling them, just in case anything went wrong.

She was fairly new to Craigslist. She’d looked for jobs there before, but she’d never looked at the personal ads. It had been almost a year since her horrific break up with Sam and she still could not stomach the idea of having an actual boyfriend again. For several weeks all she could think about was sex or her lack of it. She spent her evening reading Erica Jong and Anais Nin and trolling the internet for subtle but thought provoking videos. She’d started reading Craigslist casual encounters the week before. At first she’d just looked at them never intending to do anything. At night he would fantasize about doing everything in the ads. She imagined the men as being ruggedly handsome, not wanting to think about what the men looked like in real life.  She realized that it was just a fantasy and she was sure a murder, rape or mugging awaited anyone who would answer such a thing.

Then on Saturday she saw an ad that she couldn’t get out of her head. “Let’s just make out I’m in town for a week, come to my hotel room! I’m staying at the Plaza.”

Something about the ad sounded safe and sincere. They had exchange e mails. He had sent her a picture of himself, but it was very shadowy and distant and in it he was wearing a “No Fear” T-shirt. She’d asked how recent it was and he admitted it was ten years old. He told her he was forty and she’d confessed to being thirty five. They arranged to meet the next afternoon at one. She’d told him she was too paranoid but described herself, a petite brunette, considered fairly attractive.

She got off the elevator and walked towards his door. She stood there for a full five minutes before getting up the courage to knock on the door.

“Come in, “a voice said.

She walked into the room leaving the door wide open as she went. There, in bed, wearing a vintage Spud’s Mackenzie tee shirt and acid washed jeans was Ryan Bisc a partner in the law firm where she worked.

For a moment they did not speak. He looked as though he was trying to place her.

“Do you work for me?”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m Melody, I work in research”

“So you saw my picture and you decided to come and maybe work some kind of deal or something?”

“No, the picture wasn’t very clear and it was old. I work in a different part of the building and I only see you like one a month. I thought you said you were from out of town?”

“I guess I just…I’m sorry. Could you close the door.”

Melody closed the door and sat down.

“Are you married,” she asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because, I don’t know I just thought that…”

“Are you married,” he asked.

No, I’m not even…no.

“Well, I should go..”

She got up to leave and he walked her to the door. On impulse, she grab him and kissed him. He resisted and first and then pulled her towards the bed. Suddenly his cell phone went off.

He jumped up and answered it.

“Uh, huh…..Okay…okay. Did we ever get the witness statement? Well, it’s a lot different if she actually broke something. Before we were told she just had a black eye….uh huh….uh huh.”

Melody sat up. She tried to signal to him she realized they were talking about the Robinson file which was sitting open on her desk. She tapped Ryan.”

“Ryan, I…” she began she slapped a hand across her mouth.

“Well get it to me as soon as research finishes it.”

He hung up the phone.

“Were you working on that file.”

“Yes, I have the witness statement on my desk.”

“Oh well the defendants attorney needs to see what we have,” he said.

“Um, I said I would be back from my dentist appointment at 3:00.”
“Oh, yeah I guess it would look kind of suspicious if you went back now.”

They sat there in silence for a moment.

‘Dentist” he said with a chuckle, “did you ever see the movie M.A.S.H?”

“I didn’t.”

Oh, Well you should.”

She looked at him confused.

“Wanna watch a movie,” he asked her.

They sat on the bed and watched Rain Man until it was time for Melody to go to work.

When she got home she went on Craigslist again, this time looking in the legal assistance section.

Luck

pills

 

 

Jennifer Pallyworth sat in the passenger seat of her agents care texting her boyfriend. She glanced up at the rear view mirror to see the camera crew following several cars behind her.

‘On way to tard’s see you tonight,’ the text said.

‘XOXO weer the red pantees,’ her boyfriend wrote back.

“I talked to her mother this morning, she said the whole family is really looking forward to meeting you,” her agent said.

“That’s cool,” Jennifer said looking back down at her phone.

“We got a call from Time they want to do a feature story on your work with CP kids.”

“Oh, I mean …they want to talk about the CP thing….what about the show?”

“Well, oh course you’ll talk about the show. You’ll talk about your work with CP kids and then the tie in to the show.”

“What tie in,” she looked up from the phone.

“When Trisha comes on the show, there’s gonna be an episode about CP. You guys are gonna go visit a farm and the daughter is gonna have CP.”

“Whatever,” Jennifer said.

They rode for a moment in silence.

“It’s just that it seems like it would really, I don’t know that it would make people uncomfortable, ya know. I mean they come home and they just want to relax or something and then …they turn on the show because they wanna look at hot people and then there’s this I don’t know like handicap person and so they get get depressed and watch something else.”

“Well for your information, there have been several shows that have featured people with CP . Facts of Life, that Life Goes On.”

“I thought he had Downs Syndrome,” Jennifer said.”

“Oh, well sorry they’re basically the same thing.”

“Well, did they have one on Friends, no Will and Grace, no How I Met Your Mother, no. People hate reality,” Jennifer said. “I’m just sayin. It’s not the 80’s anymore no one wants to think about that shit.”

“Honey, It’s probably only gonna be for one episode.”

“Why can’t I just do the Ice bucket thing? I paid a lotta money for my tits, ya know? Plus it takes like two minutes and it doesn’t cost anything.”

“That ALF.”

“What the fuck is ALF?”

“I have no idea, but it is not CP and our contract is with the CP association.”

 

“Do you have any Ambien,” Jennifer smiled.

“That’s my girl,” her agent said reaching into her purse.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Trisha looked out the window of her bedroom. She wondered what was keeping them. She just wanted to get this over with. The SAT’s were in a week and this was cutting into her study schedule. She had watched Day Job’s last night and she had been horrified at its moronic humor. She wished she’d never agreed to meet Jennifer Pallyworth, but realized it was the only way to put her branch of Students with Physical Challenges on the map. She needed this for her extra-curriculars. If she could be the first high school SPC president to get on national television she was certain to distinguish herself from the other applicants. She headed downstairs carefully griping the railing tightly as she went.

“She’s late, “she said to her mother.

“Five minutes,” her mother retorted.

“Did you see the show last night, did you watch it? It makes Saved by the Bell look like a cinematic masterpiece.”

“Honey, it’s a great way to raise awareness…”

“She must be a true intellectual to participate in something like that.”

“You’re participating in something like that.”

“Well, it’s not like I can go out for track.” Maybe she’s not dumb maybe she’s just a sell out.”

“Maybe she’s just an actor trying to get her foot in the door,” her mother said.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” Trisha said.

Trisha was washing her hands when she looked out the window and saw them. Jennifer was standing outside the car texting and her handler was talking on a cell phone. Her stomach knotted. She could feel the stares and the looks of pity already. Worst of all she could just hear them talking to her very slowly, widening their eyes as they talked. She always wanted to use a lot of big words when people did that, but her speech impediment made it impossible for such things to have the proper effect.

She opened the medicine chest and reached for the Ambien spilling them as she went.

“Shit,” she exclaimed stuffing them back in the bottle and swallowing one on the way.

She walked back out into the living room where the camera crew was setting up.  Phil, the director greeted her as she entered the living room.

“Hi, Trisha” he said sounding slow and surprised and overjoyed to see her.

“Hi,” she said.

“So in just few minutes the doorbell is going to ring and your going to open it and let Jennifer Pallyworth in. Okay?”

‘What’s the doorbell,’ Trisha wanted to say, but though  better of it.

“Okay,” she said. She looked out the window and saw Jennifer put her cell phone in her purse. A makeup artist touched up her lipstick. She pasted on a fake smile and walked towards the door. She seemed to be staggering a bit.

Trisha thought she was probably on something; she smiled to herself realizing this was the one advantage of her condition.

Phil yelled action and she walked to the door.

Aesthetic Inequity

heart

 

 

Claire sat in her apartment waiting for the doorbell to ring. She had spent most of the day cleaning her apartment and the last two hours trying to make herself presentable. Her stomach knotted when the clock struck 7:00. She’d told the service to send him over an hour before the party, so they could get their stories straight. She’d seen the Rent a Buddy ad in LA Weekly and called out of desperation. She hoped he wasn’t too good looking, she’d instructed them to be realistic.

She got up and looked at herself in the mirror again. There she was, plain and pale with thin blond hair and bad skin and ten pounds overweight to boot. She wasn’t sure what was more ridiculous, the problem she was having or the solution to the problem.

The bell rang and she opened the door to find a tall dark haired man with perfectly chiseled features standing in the door way.

“Claire?” the young man asked.

“Are you Tim,” she asked without a smile.

“Yes,”

She stepped aside and he entered. He sat down on the sofa and she offered him a root beer. She studied him suspiciously as he drank it.

“How old are you.”

“Twenty Seven,” how old are you?

“Thirty three, If anyone asks I’d like you to be thirty.”

He shrugged.

“How much do you pay for this place,” he asked.

“$1000 a month.”

“Am I supposed to live with you?

“No, we’ve only been dating for a month.”

“Are you trying to make someone jealous,” he said with a note of judgment in his voice.

“No, I’m trying to discourage someone. My boss wouldn’t leave me alone. I’m not used to that sort of thing and I didn’t know how to handle it. I told him I had a boyfriend.”

“Why didn’t you just sue the company?”

“Well, It’s only a temp job and, I don’t know It didn’t seem worth it I mean sometimes those things make the news and they make the woman sound nuts “She said looking at the floor,afraid to meet his glance.

“Look, I could use something stronger. Do you want some whiskey,” she asked.

“Sure,” he brightened. “So tell, me about myself. What’s my name what do I do?”

“You’re a paralegal.”

“Not just one,” he chuckled and she looked confused.

 

“I told them you worked in the legal department of  BOA. I didn’t want them asking too many questions. Your name is Greg and you just moved here from Denver and you moved here to be closer to your family.”

He took a moment to absorb this.

“What is it you do,” he asked emptying his glass.

“Telephone customer service for a video production company. Their normal girl is on maternity leave she’ll be back at the beginning of February, “she said refiling both of their glasses.

“How did we meet,” he said draining his glass and pouring another.

“We met at a party of a guy in your building. We bounded over a love of Robin Williams movies.” She paused to refill her own glass.

”That was how I ended up mentioning you, actually. My supervisor, is this really creepy guy and we were talking in the break room and the subject was 80’s movies. He said he loved Mrs. Doubtfire and that it was playing at the Beverly, I panicked and said something like you know who love’s Robin Williams, my boyfriend! Were gonna have to go see that movie! Thanks for telling me about it. I said something like that. So then he started asking me about you. I just got deeper and deeper into the lie.”

She began to feel a bit more confident and everything in the room seemed softer, even their aesthetic inequity,

“I did like that movie.” He smiled.

She smiled to herself feeling a bit superior in knowing that the film was a trite piece of shit.

”Do you have any smoke?”

 

They both sat in silence for a moment smoking from Clair’s cheap glass pipe. More alcohol was consumed.

“So, how did you get this job,” she asked with a laugh.

“I just came here and I was looking for a day job while I pursued acting. My roommate told me about the company, he said fighting of a slur.

They both began to giggle.

“We should go,” she said. She staggered to her feet.

Realizing they were too drunk to drive they got into a cab a rode to the restaurant where the office Christmas party was being held. By this time they were both quite jovial and a bit speech impaired.

Tim laughed at the sight of palm trees with lights on them.

“I miss snow,” he said.

There was a light rain that pounded the cab and made the filth on the street shine and rise and run into the gutter. The lights from the cars seemed bright and magnetic to Clair she wanted to follow the light itself as it sank back into the world of the car.

They arrived at the party fifteen minutes after it had started. They made a bee line for the bar to get their two allotted free drinks, they ordered Jamison’s and went over their details as they drank.. After a moment, Randy the supervisor that Tim had been hired to fool walked. In the door. He took off his hat to reveal that a bare pate sat above the chubby exterior which was clad in a cheap, powder blue suit.

“He’s here,” Claire jumped up and almost fell to the ground in the process. Tim giggled hysterically and caught her. Claire felt a warm rush go through her body as he pulled her to her feet and put his arm around her, leading her towards Randy.

“Hi, Randy” Clair said.

“Hey…” Randy began.

“I’m Ti…..Greg! How ya doin’ man!”

“I’m doin’ well. So you….

“I’m a paraplegic in a firm.”

Claire looked horrified.

“You’re a what.” Randy said confused.

“I’m from Denver” Time screamed.

Clair began to laugh. Tim slapped her butt and kissed her with an open mouth.

Randy looked confused but a little aroused.

Clair and Tim stagger out into the street. Tim began to run along Melrose Ave as fast as he could. Weaving in and out the passers by who regarded him with curiosity. Clair chased after him trailing a block behind. He stopped at a vintage store and waited for her to catch up.

“This store sells Fruit Loops T-shirts for fifty dollars apiece” he said. “Throw a rock!”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Do it and I’m free”.

“I already paid,” She said.

He kissed her, this time more seriously. She picked up a rock and aimed at the window.

.

Financial Freedom in One Easy Step

dol

 

 

 

Ortha Wistler sat in a comfortable leather chair that rested atop the plush carpeting of her tastefully decorated high-rise apartment getting the worst news of her life.

Molly Wong sat across from her with the incriminating letter in her hand and a smug look in her eye.

“Your buddy Martha Stewart went to jail for this for a long time,” Molly said with a mean smile.

“You’ll never be able to prove that letter was to me or that I acted on the information in it,” Ortha said

“Bullshit”, this e mail came directly from his URL to yours, and I’m sure there’s a record of your investing in what he told you to.”

“You realize I can afford the best lawyers on the planet, “Ortha retorted. “”You realize people love me.”

“People hate you just as much,” Molly said. “I used to watch your show, I was even moved by it occasionally. But, then I had the misfortune of finding out what it was really like to work for you. You made a horrendous mess every day, no tips you complained about the kind of cookie left on your pillow….”

“Okay…okay…What do you want; how much?”

“I don’t want money …I mean I do, but it’s not that simple….”

“Well, then what do you want?”

“I want your endorsement.”

“My endorsement of what?”

“I’ve written a self-help book”, I want you to endorse it. I want to be a guest on your show and I want you to tell everyone that it changed your life.”

“It isn’t just up to me,” Ortha said.

“Bullshit, they’ll do what you say.”

Ortha asked Molly to bring her the book and a large glass of whiskey. She sat and read it while Molly watched TV. She finished it quickly as it was only two hundred pages, she was accustom to reading several books a week. She asked for more whisky as she read. She couldn’t believe the shear idiocy of what she was reading.

The book said that you could have anything you wanted by bathing in baby oil for an hour every night in the dark while screaming positive affirmations and tossing the towel you dried off with into the nearest body of water. Ortha was shocked not only at the sheer lack of imagination or a core philosophy, but at all the grammatical mistakes.

“Well, what did you think,” Molly asked.

“I think it was the most horrendous piece of simple minded nonsense I ever had the displeasure of reading. I wish I could wash my eyes. Do you honestly think anyone will take you seriously? You think you can be a self-help guru? What are you twelve? What experiences have you had? What have you overcome; Any real self help guru has a story of strife.”

“I was a maid”.

“You were a maid in a fancy hotel, on summer break from Brown.”

“I have a degree in Sociology.”

“Which is a blow off class,”Ortha sputtered. “People will think I’ve gone off the deep end if I endorse this.”

“No they won’t It’ll sell like hotcakes if you endorse it even if it is stupid. Okay, I was only a maid for a short time, but the one thing I learned is that there’s nothing worse than being poor. My coworkers were miserable. They all hated you and your ilk, but at the same time they wanted your money and your power. They all watch your show, some of them even cry when they see it. There desperate to believe they can have what you have and will believe any ridiculous nonsense at all because the truth is too depressing. They want to think that they are just like you save for luck. You’ve done a damn good job of making yourself look like an ordinary person. You use ordinary language and if you want to talk about stupid let’s talk about some of the movies you say you like. How come you’ve never made your IQ score public, it’s off the charts isn’t it?”

“Well, I…”

“It’s not like I’m corrupting your integrity here, Molly said.

Ortha took another drink and stared at the wall.

“I’ve seen the books you endorse on your show and I also had a peak at your Kindle when I was cleaning up. It’s amazing that someone sitting around reading Voltaire for fun on their vacation is the same person who recommended, The Successful Sisters Guide to Self Esteem. But your appeal isn’t limited to the greater proletariat, you also have a large following among the upper class.”

“Yes, and there the one’s who’ll be too smart to listen to this garbage, you impudent fetus.”

“Bullshit. I grew up around those silly bitches. My mom was one. Some hot chick marries a rich guy in her late twenties. At first life is great she enjoys the material pleasures she’s given. Her trouble starts around the mid-thirties. A slight sense of insecurity begins. She has plastic surgery and he has an affair. Then the forties hit, he leaves her for someone younger. Her kids are entering junior high. The child support will be gone in eight years and by that time she’ll be pushing fifty. She realizes she can no longer trade on her looks and she is too lazy to read a book so she turns to spirituality, nothing is more pathetic or gullible than the aged hottie. “

“I could send you to jail for blackmail.”

“Not without saying what I was blackmailing you for, “Molly pointed out.

A week later Ortha stood back stage staring at the two empty chairs on the set. She took a deep breath and prepared herself to sell The Truth.

The Audition Workshop Salesman, The Church of Scientology and My Life of Crime

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Chris called me and told me the good news the first week of July. He got a job working for a special effects house in Los Angeles. He was basically going to be a PA, but it was something; I was happy for him.  I thought the new job would put him in a better mood.  He told me they were working on the effect of having Cinderella come out of her dress and going back into rags for some video. He said it could lead to a permanent job

In the meantime, I got some good news of my own, petition circulating was starting up again and there was an audience job on Saturday night.  I would be able to eat regular meals again. When I told this to Chris he was unimpressed.

“If you didn’t live in San Pedro you would get audience jobs every day and the petitions don’t pay anything, “, he said angrily. You should look on Craigslist under labor if you want a job in the industry.

“Who said I want a job in the industry? I don’t even like the industry”.

“Well you could get something better than what you have right now if you didn’t live in San Pedro.

We spoke several times on the phone over the next few days. Once again, he got more arrogant with every phone call. He told me that he was going to visit his friend in Big Bear that weekend and couldn’t see me at all. Eventually we just stopped calling each other.

I was scared and wondered where I would live if I lost my job. MacBeth had yet another ear infection and  was scratching himself everywhere constantly . He had to be taken to the doctor which was located in Torrance a ten mile walk from where I lived in San Pedro . The only place I could afford was a discount veterinarian that was open odd hours.

When I got there the doctor recommended that a blood panel be done to determine exactly what it was MacBeth was allergic to. Even the ear infection cost $100 to treat. I knew Macbeth would never let me put the drops in his ears when we got home.  I sprung for a cab on the way back which was $30.00.

I had no choice but to book several audience jobs after work that week I couldn’t afford a dog sitter and I didn’t trust any of my neighbors so I carpeted every inch of the tiny studio with doggie training pads and left out an enormous bowl of food and water.

One of the tricks abject poverty had forced me into was steeling free rides on public transportation. When I couldn’t afford a $5.00 day pass and $1.20 highway express bus fee,  I would often take the commuter bus from San Pedro to Long Beach which was only $1.20  with a transfer to the blue line to LA. Once in LA  I would ride the purple line for free to K town. At night  I would take the train all the way back to Long Beach for free and ride the bus home for $1.00. I never got caught doing this and I must have done it at least a hundred times. This is a common practice among poor Angelinos and the one  advantage of being in a city where the cops were unusually slow and lazy even for cops.

On Tuesday of my long week of after work audience jobs I stole  a free ride on the Red line from K town  to Universal Studios. From there I walked a good five miles to NBC  Studios in Burbank. As I was walking past the old school studios and famous restaurants that lined the street a blond man who appeared to be just a bit younger than me fell into step with me.

“Hi,” he said.

Hello, “ I replied wondering if I should be scared.

“Hey, I was just wondering are you an actress?” he asked.

(As I’ve mentioned, I resemble Tom Petty).

“No, I’m a telemarketer, I said plaintively.

“Oh, common everybody in Hollywood is an actor.”

“World’s a stage”. I replied.

“Hey, would you like to go to an audition?”

“What  for?”

‘Well, you can take these audition workshops. They like acting classes, but they’re taught by real casting directors. If they like you they put you in a part. That’s how a lot of actors get guest starring roles on TV.

“And you’re selling admission to these workshops?”

“Well, yeah I am helping out a buddy of mine who’s a casting director. I actually take the workshops and I’ve gotten several guest stars that way.”

I didn’t say anything to this. I have known several actors in Los Angeles who have taken these “workshops” which cost around $45 a pop. Almost no one ever gets a job that way. When they do get something its one line on a crap TV show. They do get something like $500 and a SAG voucher in the unlikely that this happens. But, by the time you finish auditioning and going for the call back and filming the thing you could have earned $500 at a regular job. It would be one thing if you were doing it because it was a project you believed in or something with beauty and integrity, but a one in a million chance of being on a  crime show; give me a break.

I didn’t vocalize any of this I just said no thanks. He asked me where I was off to and I told him I was working Jimmy Kimmel at NBC.

“Do they need anyone else? I may just come with you.”

“Well you had to sign up, but I’m sure they’ll be a spec line. “
(“a spec line” a line for people not booked for the show. If someone who is booked doesn’t show up or shows up one minute late a spec takes there place.)

He decided against coming with me.

“You’ve got to be an actor with those eyes.” He said handing me a business card and heading into Big Boy’s when he noticed Drew Carry sitting at the counter.

The casting call of Jimmy Kimmel had called for 18 to 30 year olds. I was a bit nervous I would be turned away at the door. As I was admitted into the theater I thank the universe for having a baby face. All the pretty people had to stand around the stage and act like they like the bubble gum band that was playing that night. We goofy looking people all got to sit in the back. I chatted with the man sitting next to me .who was in Los Angeles pursuing a career as a professional skateboarder:only in Cali.

After the show I returned to San Pedro on the bus. I ran into my friend Alex who had long been my bus buddy. Alex was a barista at a Starbuck’s in Santa Monica and made the three hour bus journey from San Pedro every day. He was an aspiring musician who had attended Hollywood High. Half of his classmates were the sons and daughters of film crew people, gaffers casting directors and the like. Many of them had been raised in the Church of Scientology.

Alex was constantly trying to scare me with stories of their strange and violent customs. He told me that all of their children were illiterate and got punished if they questioned anything. He told me that if you were bad they locked you in a closet without food or water.

I looked forward to our bus rides together, I had a little crush  on Alex in spite of the fact that I was ten years his senior. It was rare to meet someone in LA who hated Scientology and was willing to admit it. Unfortunately, he lived with his girlfriend who was the daughter of a rich Beverly Hills doctor; one a year the family took Alex with them on a fabulous vacation.

Scientology is a major influence in Hollywood and even though most people in Los Angeles don’t actually believe in it they are afraid to say anything bad about it. A lot of people join the church to get a head in show business; they even offer acting classes to young minions.

Some people join out of desperation. An old Nielsen buddy of mine was going to join to get a free SRO  room. The church owns several buildings in Hollywood and it is rumored that one can get a free room if one is willing to stand on the street and recruit people.

My Nielsen friend went to the church one day to take a free personality test. They asked him for his driver’s license and social security number.  He said he left them in the car and ran out the door. Apparently he was so freaked out by the questions that the prospect of a free room no longer seemed so enticing. The first time I ever visited LA I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard alone when an overzealous minion seized my arm and asked me if I was happy.

The reaction to Scientology is a microcosmic example of morality in LA. Everyone knows how evil they are, everyone, except the truly crazy knows how idiotic Dianetics is; but no one speaks out of fear. Many actors and writers are afraid of ending up on a mythological blacklist if they should ever say anything bad about anyone let alone anyone as vengeful as the Scientologist. Artist in LA are in fact hesitant to say anything bad about any corporation, religion political group or blatant scam for fear of “the black list They become so determined to be sycophant to anyone in power that they lose sight of why they wanted to be an artist in the first place. It is the job of the artist to rebel against everything.

Petition circulating began again with a dull auto insurance issue and a sexy petition for legalizing pot. I headed to West Hollywood to circulate them. I never had one single person who actually stopped to talk to me refuse to sign and yet it didn’t get passed into law, h’mmm .

I had a little windfall. Several petitions made their way on to my clip board  and I circulated them on the weekends; I never had to do audience work again. I participated in several market research groups and  was in another psychological study at UCLA.

I was glad of this as things were going south at Janitors Inc . It has been about a week since I set  an appointment. I was completely burnt out on the commute and the job itself, I couldn’t believe I had been doing it for nine months.

Mary Jo and Joe got crazier and crazier as time went by she seemed to think I wasn’t trying even though she could hear me calling places giving the same old pitch I’d always given. If she gave me a lead she would ask repeatedly if I had called it. Joe would come in and stand over me while I worked as if that would help. They hired a new girl named Liz and I knew my days were numbered.

I continued to send out at least ten resumes a day. One day I got a call from a company in Torrance that sold vitamins. After a brief telephone interview I went in for an in person interview. I talked to a woman named Julie who was definitely a member of the homely girl sisterhood of which I consider myself a member and A woman named  Tina who I instantly nicknamed Dr. Hibbered in my mind because she chucked after everything she said.

One week later I was on my way to the petition office when I got a phone call offering me an eight to five job at the vitamin company that paid $15 an hour. I felt as though I’d won the lottery, but I was about to enter the land of magic beans.

John Cho, Fake Blood and the Purse Controversy

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Chris found the advertisement in Working World magazine; “US Census takers wanted $17.00 an hour. “ According to the ad all you had to do was take a test, go through training and then you would make $17.00 an hour, full time for three months. Chris’s drug dealer, Brian told him that he had been a Census taker four years ago. He’d said that so long as you passed the test, you got the job.
Chris and I both signed up to take test, Chris was going to be first, and He took his test downtown. He told me he failed the test and had to go back and take it again the next day. He said half the class failed. He passed it the second time. I took the day off from Janitors Inc. to go to Long Beach and take the test. I couldn’t imagine anything that could read failing this test. I got a 98 percent and was told that I was almost sure to get a job. I asked when it was starting and they said it should be in about a week.
I walked back to the train station. I felt lovely, like everything was finally going to be okay. I even stopped at a restaurant and treated myself to lunch. I got a call from Ahmina saying that she had a job for the following weekend working on a political campaign. We would be going door to door working on a political campaign for a local politician. It paid $100 a day for six hours of going door to door in Westwood and asking for people to display a lawn sign for the politician. I went home and purchased a scratch game ticket on the way, I won fifty dollars. I called the Central Casting line and found that they had a weekend job on the pilot of a show called Flash Forward, it was rumored to be the most expensive pilot ever made. I was told to wear old cloths as I was supposed to have been in a car crash.
The job was in downtown LA and started at 5:00 am. I hired a dog walker and spent the night with Chris. He walked with me to the Hollywood freeway entrance where the show was being shot. We arrived to find several junk cars overturned and an overturned truck with oranges spilling out of it. I was told to visit wardrobe and then make up. Everyone was wearing their oldest grungiest rags just as the casting line had instructed.
The wardrobe women seemed to have a different Idea they were handing out outfits to everyone. Almost everyone was walking away with arms full of beige kakis and matching rain coats. I got up to the front of the line.
“size six”? the wardrobe lady asked me.
“Size eight”, I said .
“You look more like a six she said, shoving a pair of pants, t shirt and rain coat at me.
I went into the tiny changing trailer where there other girls were already putting on their beige khakis. I almost fell over trying to cram my fat ass into the tiny pants. I walked to the make-up trailer as quickly as the pants would permit. I asked the make-up lady if I could be dead. She did me proud. I looked like I‘d gone through a windshield when she was finished with me.
I walked out of the trailer and was told to report to the middle of the highway entrance where several other people in Kakis and beige rain coats waited. I was still carrying my zebra print purse it didn’t exactly go with the outfit, so the production assistant guy told me to stick it in the back of one of the cars.
The shows premise was simple, but clever. Everyone in the world was supposed to have blacked out at the same time for two minutes. Everyone had a vision of the same day in the future. The scene we were filming took place right after the accident. We were all wandering around in a daze after the blackout. The scene had been shot before and we were just doing pick up shots.
I chatted a bit with another background extra who told me that he was an actor. He told me had been in the touring company of “Rent” and I’m not even making that up. Even though I knew that he was lying to me because he was sick, I couldn’t help but feel that he has insulted my intelligence with the outrageousness of his fabrication. Why not tell a believable , lie “I had a line on a TV show once”, or something?
I asked the PA if we were all supposed to be in the same cult and he just looked at me funny. I knew the show had all kinds of special effects I just assumed that they were going to do some sort of cool digital effect with the wardrobe; certainly, a big Hollywood production would never allow all the extras in the big scene of its first episode to be inexplicably dressed in identical rain coats on a day when it wasn’t supposed to be raining. We all wandered around looking left and right for about two hours and then we broke for lunch.
This isn’t so bad I thought to myself. I’m getting paid to walk around in a daze covered in dirt and blood, I’d always wanted a job like that. There were some yummy chocolate chip cookies served at lunch and the show’s star John Cho , who played Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies said hello to us as we were standing in line.
Maybe I had been wrong. Maybe Hollywood wasn’t so bad. I grabbed my purse and headed back to the freeway entrance. This time the PA led me to a totaled car and told me to lie underneath it.
“Do you want me to put the purse in back of one of the cars”? I asked sincerely.
“Naw just toss it by your foot or something”, he said.
I tossed it beside me and flopped down on my back. The sun felt good. I was dead and I was going to be a part of television history. Why maybe…
“Excuse me , miss”? I heard a voice over me say.
I looked up to see the tall, white haired assistant director from Ghost Whisperer standing over me and looking down with an angry glare.
“Did someone tell you to lie there?”

 
‘No, brains, I just was waking by the set and decided to take a nap under this car. I decided to help myself to some of the blood, just for giggles.’ I thought.
“Uh yeah, it was that guy over there.” I pointed at the P.A. The PA came over.
“You said you wanted a bloody person laying there she’s the bloodiest person we’ve got.”
The AD grimaced at me with great disapproval.
“Is that your purse”? He said.
“Yes”. I said.
“What”, the PA said. “People carry purse. “
“Okay, “ the AD said and stalked off giving me a glare of raw hatred as he went back to his monitor. I lay down and tried to take a nap. It was hard with all the racket going on around. I opened my eyes for a moment and saw John Cho Standing over me staring down at me with a sort of morbid curiosity.
“Hi,” I said. He nodded and grinned and walked away.
The AD came back. He looked agitated.
“Could you throw your arm up against the entrance wall?”
I complied.
“ Now could you throw your let up against the wall. The camera isn’t registering you as a person.” He said angrily. I stuck my leg in the air and leaned it against the wall.
“Scoot down a little.” He directed.
“Like how? “ I asked, thinking that there was no way I could move in such tight pants.
“Scoot your butt down.” He said.
I scooted it down and prayed nothing would rip.
“I’m just goanna shove your purse under the car.” He said. It’s too distracting.
He smiled at me sadistically as he walked away. I lay twisted in that unnaturally position for another two hours before we finally went home.
The next weekend I went to work on Ahmina’s gig in Westwood. We all met in a McDonalds when an angry little fat man named Rob assigned territories and clip boards on which we were to record the names and addresses of anyone who wanted a lawn sign for the school board candidate we were promoting.
We dispersed and went on our respective routes. I went door to door for six hours and managed to get one lawn sign. Ahmina came to pick me up at the end of my shift. We stopped at Whole Foods on the way back and she laughed at the frantic manner in which I was gobbling down the trail mix that I bought.
“Well, I’m starving,” I said. “Six hours of walking with no lunch.”
“What, “ she said. “What do you mean no lunch?”
“I didn’t take a lunch. I figured it was only six hours and I wanted to get a lawn sign. {There was a prize if you got the most lawn signs.)
“ Oh, my God. You always take a lunch! “
“I wasn’t that hungry and there was nowhere to go where I was.”
“It’s the law you have to take a lunch!! Are you trying to get me thrown in jail?
“Um, no. I’m an independent contractor; what’s the big deal?”

 
She muttered something under her breath as we rode back to the Mcdonald’s.
The next day, I was assigned a partner. A tall, handsome blond young man named Michael. We were assigned to an area that was comprised of apartment complexes and we had to somehow sneak onto the property and hand out literature. We climbed in to his small, Ford Fiesta and headed out. Within seconds I was afraid for my life.
He began speeding down the express way weaving in and out of traffic. I held onto my seat as he talked a mile a minute.
“How long have you been doing petition circulating? I’ve been doing it about ten years. Before I worked for Ahmina I worked for Jerry,. Do you remember Jerry?
“Well, I …” I attempted to answer.
‘Jerry was cool,” he said as we almost ploughed into a school bus. Ahmina’s okay too.
“But, I don’t know petition circulating is kind o a stupid job. I mean I owe the government. I t pays well, but when you think about it not that well because you have to give half of it to the government if you pay taxes which I don’t. Where are you from?” He said running a red light.
He stopped the car and I thought I would throw up. We got out an

d began going door to door. Almost no one was home. A few people thought we were Jesus freaks. Eventually he just stopped getting out of the car and I went door to door by myself.
On the way back to Mcdonald’s he told me about his ex-girlfriend. He told me that he he’d been very lonely since she dumped him. He asked me if I was single. I realized that he was definitely the cutest guy who would ever show any interest in me under any circumstances. He almost ran over an old lady at a cross walk. I told him about Chris.
We arrived at McDonalds to find Ahmina having a heated argument with Rob. Apparently he had caught her daughter loafing on the job. He called the daughter an asshole and Ahmina went nuts.
“Eliza! “ She screamed as I sat down to fill out my paperwork, “Don’t work for him he’s a jackass!” I just sat there not knowing what to do. Although Ahmina was my coordinator Rob was really my boss, I couldn’t afford not to be paid again. Ahmina ran out into the parking lot.

 
She waited for me in the parking lot and offered me a ride home. She ranted about Rob the entire way. She told me she wanted to go live in Pakistan again because there was too much hate in this country. (h’mm, really?.) Then again we were in LA; Pakistan might not be so bad by comparison.

That night I went over to Chris’s. I told him I didn’t understand the way businesses were run in this city. I told him I didn’t think things could get any stranger.
I was about to be proven wrong.