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The Last Days of Los Angeles #5

The Secret

by Luis Rivas



W
E SAT AROUND, ABOUT 11 OF US, IN COLD BROWN METAL FOLD-OUT CHAIRS on the third floor of a shitty building in a shitty part of town—all of us with drunk-driving offenses (most of us multiple offenders) and/or in drug and alcohol recovery programs. We sat facing each other in a small, stuffy room in Westlake, near McArthur Park. After last week’s video showing of The Secret, with the if-you-think-it—it-will-happen bullshit still fresh in our pickled brains, the counselor asked us what we wanted from life. If we had less than 30 days to live, what, then, would we do?

Instantly, I had an answer.
I would acquire two semi-automatic hand guns, a rifle or shotgun—preferably the USAS-12 South Korean automatic shotgun. Next, I’d visit my old boss up in Santa Clarita.


We started going counter-clockwise. After a deep moment of silence and thought-searching, the first person said that he’d mediate and exercise more. No one believed it but we didn’t call him on his bullshit. The next person said that they’d want to be with their loved ones and family—to spend and savor each precious moment for its near-instant finality. Other people spoke on this, resonating the need to spend fleeting moments, passing minutes with people they loved. Fine, we thought. Precious moments, obviously. Nothing crazy. Makes sense.

Another person spoke.

“I’d get fucked up,” he said.

Everyone nodded, yup, goes without saying but needed to be said—especially considering the context of the meeting. Most of us have been in jail, some of us were going back to jail momentarily, and another portion of us were probably going to die in the very-near future from alcoholism or stupidity, or a combination of the two.

Someone else said that they’d want to impregnate as many women as possible so as to ensure future generations walk upon the earth carrying his blood. Someone else said that they’d travel, visit Europe, Africa, max out their credit cards, spend recklessly, not use protection during sex. Finally, it was my turn. I was the last.
For a moment, I think about jumping—which is unusual because I haven’t thought about doing something like that for almost 10 years. I’m not terribly depressed, not as much as the average person. It’s just an impulse. Life is ma

“I would acquire two semi-automatic hand guns, a rifle or shotgun—preferably the USAS-12 South Korean automatic shotgun. Next, I’d visit my old boss up in Santa Clarita. After carefully monitoring his lavish home, I would break in, tie him up and his wife. I’d steal all the money from his home safe. Now, secondary scenario goes as follows: if I cannot get access to the safe, the break-in would turn into a kidnapping. I’d take the husband—my old boss—blindfold him, gag his small, fat, cheating mouth, sneak in a couple of much-needed punches, maybe snap off a finger or two and hold him ransom for $500,000. They would have to be in non-sequential $20 bills, of course. They would have to be in black trash bags. Now, naturally, the wife and family would refuse but I can’t lose. Either I get the money or I get to kill him. If I get the money, I’d pay back all the ex-employees that were unjustly terminated, pressured to quit in the past seven years. I would give each worker $20 to 25,000 in compensation.”

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About Luis Rivas


Luis Rivas lives in Los Angeles, California. He was a telemarketer, construction worker, flower delivery driver, fast food cashier, sales clerk, non-profit canvasser, adult store and strip club manager and package handler/zip code sorter. His work has appeared in the following publications, some of which he contributes to regularly: Zygote in My Coffee, Unlikely Stories, My Favorite Bullet, The Hold, Cherry Bleeds, Corium, Rural Messenger Press, Thieves Jargon, Origami Condom, Outsider Writers, Full of Crow, Counter Punch, Gloom Cupboard, where his is Poetry Editor and Red Fez, where he is author of the Last Days of Los Angeles column. He dropped out of Los Angeles Valley College where he was studying journalism to work full-time at a porn shop. Then he got fired. Now he has gone back to school, continuing his studies in journalism and Chicana/o Studies at California State University of Northridge and Los Angeles City College. He is currently building up his own literary website, peaceisillegal.com and plans on publishing a book on his youth. Once upon a time, he grew a beard. (There is evidence on the Internet.)

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