Hollywood Outpost

November 18, 2011

The day Linus arrived in Hollywood, I found a handgun at the bottom of the pool in the courtyard. He had made the drive from Pennsylvania in just over forty-eight hours only to be greeted at the gate by police.

I had not called the police myself, but I was watching from a space in the vertical blinds when Angela, the building superintendent, spotted the gun while hosing down the sidewalks later that morning – her regular ritual despite the drought. I hadn’t moved by the time a pair of detectives came to my door, nor did I move even then; I just lingered by the window in my damp swim trunks, unnoticed.

That’s when Linus arrived.

Linus typically has a hard enough time convincing people that he’s not on drugs even when he isn’t sleep deprived, so it was a small wonder that the detectives let him pass with minimal fuss. They probably made the same assumption everyone else does, that he’s just some harmless surfer-kid. Linus barely even uses the pool.

The detectives both looked my way when I opened the door for Linus, but they didn’t seem interested enough to confront me. They were gone before Linus could steer himself inside.

Linus groaned as he dropped a bulging duffel bag nearly twice his size on the scratched hardwood, right beside a stack of taped-up cardboard boxes. It was clear from his sunken and glazed eyes that he didn’t recognize their meaning, but I saw no point in delaying the conversation.

“Sean is moving out, we’re still going to need a third,” I said, nudging one box with my bare foot.

Wordlessly, he eased himself onto my futon – just then serving as a couch, to maximize precious floor space – and began to pack a bowl.

“He’s leaving his part of the deposit, so we’ll be good for a month, but after…”

When Sean came home late that night, I was laying on the hardwood in the dark with nothing but a pillow. Linus was face-down on the futon with his arm slung out in such a way that he looked like he was paddling a surfboard. A police helicopter was circling somewhere nearby and I kept looking to see if the searchlight would pass over our building. It finally did, briefly flooding the courtyard with its eerie glare, just as Sean let himself in.

He stalked silently into the kitchen, closing the partition before turning on the light, but it wasn’t until I heard him start his second dish of rainbow sherbet that I wandered in to join him.

I went right to the freezer for my pack of cigarettes – my own quiescently frozen treat – and bent over to light one from the stove.

“How was your last day?” I asked, trying to ignore how comically emo he looked just then.

“Someone stole my CD player again.”

“I told you you should’ve replaced your window first.”

“Yeah, well.”

He placed his unfinished sherbet on the stack of dirty dishes in the sink.

“Does Linus drive a green Dodge Shadow?”

“I think so, why?”

“He’s got a ticket.” He smirked, then added, “Welcome to Hollywood.”

“Welcome to Hollywood,” I repeated.

When I awoke the next morning, Linus was still sleeping and Sean’s boxes were gone. I watched the local news while I had the last of the sherbet for breakfast. The police were investigating the shooting death of a homeless man that I recognized. Afterward, I went for a swim and watched Angela wash down the sidewalks.