The Last Days of Los Angeles # 14

The story of how we all died in Skid Row (3 of 3)


WILLY THE MAINTENANCE GUY
WE WERE LEFT AGITATED, TRAUMATIZED, BOTHERED TO OUR INDIVIDUAL CORES. We called the police and when two showed up two hours later (relatively good for our neighborhood), they only took down Danny and my statement since we were the only ones that saw anything. They asked if anyone else had keys to the apartment. We said no. They asked if we were sure. We thought about it. Michelle said someone else had had a key.
“Willy! The maintenance guy has a key!” “Do you have a phone number to reach him?” asked one of the officers. “Where does Willy live?” “I’m not sure but he’s always around the building,” Michelle said. “He has a shack in the back where the alley is.”

cers asked us to lead them to Willy’s shack. We knew he wasn’t going to be home. I didn’t think Willy was the culprit, the one that savagely killed our dog Loki. It made no sense. Willy’s only been in the apartment a handful of times, and each time it was just to check the strange smell coming from Juan’s room. What would be the purpose of sneaking into our apartment to kill our dog? Was Willy a closeted Satanist? Sacrificing his tenant’s pets at the witching hour? If so, how and when did he leave? Besides, what Danny and I saw was a much thinner and taller figure. Willy was short and stout.
Michelle led the way to the alley. The officers walked beside her and Danny. Omar and I walked several feet behind. When we got to the shack it was the way we had expected it to be: locked and empty. The officers knocked several times loudly on the sheet metal makeshift door, each knock causing the neighborhood dogs to bark. They told us that they would call first thing in the morning.
They gave Michelle, who somehow and naturally became the point-to-person of the visit, a card and said to call if any new information came up. They said that they will be in touch, with Willy and with us.
We sat around the kitchen table that normally served as a house meeting place for serious meetings, needed confrontations and occasional house dinners.
It was around 6 a.m. The sun was coming up from behind the flower shops with storefronts that hours later would be decorated with beautiful gigantic flower arrangements, each shop and arrangement competing with the next one for customers and their attention.
And beyond the flower shops south on San Pedro Street the morning sun was rising above all the discreet and ancient Los Angeles factories (some buildings, such as ours, more than a 100 years old) that hide garment sweat shops either in the basement or on the top floors. Though this underground industry has had significant reforms, its existence still flourishes with a steady-flow of an undocumented immigrant workforce that is predominantly women, where hourly wages are suspended and substituted for a pay-by-piece system where wage is based on each article of clothing created—an amazing invention of hyper-exploitative profit that’s end-result is workers making less than the $64-per-day legal minimum wage California full-time standard.
The Last Days of Los Angeles # 14 continues...
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About Luis Rivas


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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...read more 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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