It takes too long to write long hand so hope you don’t mind the typed out letter.
It’s raining here in Tehachapi. Looking out the big picture window, I started ruminating on working as a phone man in LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It rains so rarely in Southern California, the animals seem to be caught off guard even worse than the humans. Once, while working a cable vault in Griffith Park just below the old Zoo, I stroll by a hobo camp wearing my PacBell military-style rain suit, galoshes and an umbrella. Hey, I’m working on cables that have to stay dry, sorry hobos if I’m not sitting in an old animal enclosure getting soaked with hundreds of rats running across my hole-filled shoes.
When I would buy new steel toe climbing boots, I would keep my eyes open for a bum or street person who might get a few more miles out of them. After once again trying to be a humanitarian, this psycho street nut takes the proffered boots and seems miffed. Huh?
It’s freezing out in the middle of December in downtown and this guy is barefoot with purple feet. I say to him, “Hey, I have some new socks here in the back of my van somewhere, let me find them!” As I open up my rear phone van double doors, a boot sails right past my right ear just missing my skull. I drop, and look back, just in time to see the other boot coming at me. I partially deflect it. I get a lump in my right arm where it hit me. Now I’m steamed.
I go for him while shouting, “OK, asshole, you want crazy, I’ll give you a fucking maniac!” As he starts to run up the wheelchair ramp into the front entrance of the Denny’s on Sunset Boulevard, across from the Tuxedo center rental store, the manager of Denny’s has been watching the entire scenario through the large glass window in the booth he always sat at to chase hookers out that wanted to use the bathrooms and payphones all day. I could do an entire chapter on Denny’s hookers and waitresses. Hey, maybe some other time; let’s get back to street nut.
I leap onto his back like Tarzan would and the guy, who’s twice my size, goes down onto the wet sidewalk. As I hop up and get ready for action, the bum is also getting up. He’s ready for action, too. Except for one little problem. His pants, that were in bad shape to begin with, are now torn off and around his ankles.
Oh my GOSH! His ‘unit’ was FILTHY and covered in what looked to be black grease. I thought he was Latino from all the dirt and stains on his face and hands. Nope, just a run-of-the-mill white trash nut case. As he starts to bounce in a boxing stance, that flopping unit made me start laughing out of control as I backed away from him. This really made him mad. I look around for some backup. No dice. Everyone inside of Denny’s is now in the formerly empty booths facing Sunset, watching me about to get my ass kicked by a semi-erect crazy man with no pants on. His bush looked like you could hide a small mammal in it quite easily.
Now that I’m backing up, crazy man really starts a show. Grabbing one of The Times newspaper racks in a bear hug to most likely smash me in the head with, I once again start laughing since I know they’re bolted to the cement from being stolen so many times by druggies. As he strains and shouts curses, he begins to defecate. That was it for me.
I run for the front door of Denny’s, waving for the manager to open them up pronto. The manager stalls with the keys, making me start to go into a rage. I shout out I’ll have fifty pay phones installed all around his dump if he doesn’t give me succor. Once safely inside, I find a spot next to the Ms. Pac-Man machine to hide, but also to watch the show outside.
It didn’t last much longer. As expected, if fifteen minutes goes by and a cop or two hasn’t cruised Sunset, it’s a small miracle. Two cars converge on Hercules, still fighting that paper rack like a steel marlin…