I HEAR THE FRONT DOOR razz, rudely interrupting my perusal of the latest Hustler, and here comes Vin rolling on into the Circle K. It’s around 3:30 in the morning and I wonder how much of a spot he’s gonna ask. I’m a couple bucks up on the register and I hate to be a total prick to the street urchins, especially Vinny ‘cause he’s helped out before, sweeping the lot and taking garbage out.
But his ass got kicked, literally, figuratively and seriously, out of his house the night before. He has a hard enough time walking down here from the natural landscape park he’s squatting in. I knew he wasn’t going to be much help. Tough break, but that’s what he gets for banging his wife’s sister on the living room couch while the old lady is supposedly asleep. Vin’s a nice guy but lacks in what we would call “sound judgment.”
“Hey Vin, how’s the knee doin’?”
“Worse’n it was yesterday.”
Christ, now he’s actually pulling his pant leg up to show me where his wife landed a metal folding chair. I was just trying to be polite, but there it is, all brown, purple and swollen to the size of a small cantaloupe.
“You shouldn’t be out moving around on that. It’s making it worse.”
“Yeah, I know, but am I supposed to lay down on my nasty ass blanket all night long when I already done that shit all day long?”
I sympathize with him, though I know better.
“But you didn’t have to come all the fuck way down here from the park Vin. You walked two miles to get here!” I’m actually pissed because I’m already pretty sure I know his response even before he gives me his million-dollar, shit eating grin.
“But you don’t work down there no more homeboy. And that ole’ asshole Andre don’t even let me in the store no more.”
“What Vinny? What kind of shit did you pull?”
His eyes look down.
“Man, don’t act like you don’t know. Everyone knows I was gonna pay for that forty.”
“You tried to gaffle Andre?”
“I was gonna pay for the bitch!”
“Bullshit. If you told Andre you were gonna pay for it, he would have let you have it.”
“Besides, I hate that fuckin’ store,” Vin “answered”, completely ignoring the point I just made. “You got AC and a bigger cooler all up in here.”
That’s true at least. Bailing the 7-11 gig in the nearby depths of “Greater Las Vegas” for a fancy up to date Circle K near the intersection of Bonanza and Eastern is the smartest move I’ve made in two years; a higher wage, regular raises every six months, and a discount on merchandise assuming my total cash outs for the previous month weren’t more than ten dollars in the red. Though I walk the same route Vinny does to get here (whereas it's only five minutes from my place to the 7-11) the extra time is worth it. Not to mention I’ve made friends with the cops who stop by for free coffee and donuts all the time. The 7-11 on the other hand, overlooks the projects. Not that I’m racist; hell, I’ve done my share of rock and chasing cutie sisters down there, but every summer that neighborhood is a lit match away from a full blown riot, and motherfuckers don’t give a shit how down you are if they need to squeeze a few rounds while fucking shit up. The intersection isn’t perfect, but I’ve got a few more options and some “friends” with guns on speed dial. Like Vinny says, we also have the AC working all the time. It’s like the difference between Vegas and Reno, really.
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The Last Days of Los Angeles # 14
But I was worried this time that my dreams were coming true. I mean, shit, what if Omar dies and I would have known. Shouldn’t I tell him, or someone? And even if I were to tell him, is there anything that we can do? Can we stop death?