Chapter 2 Jack’s New Friends
For the first few nights Jack just crashed, tentless, in empty lots and beaches. He had pinched and saved little bits of money over the years by trading with some of the other prisoners, but it certainly wasn’t much and it certainly wouldn’t last very long.
Eventually Jack decided to move his wandering inland, and he ended up in Los Angeles. He wandered through East LA, down to Gardena, and even found his way to his old neighborhood in South Central. Three cop cars drove past him while he was there and they didn’t even look at him. He wondered how long it took them to get his APB out.
Jack’s wandering eventually led him to a bar. “The GULP” in Hollywood, it was one of the places where the bohemians and the young of LA came to drink and discuss whomver was the new band on the scene. Jack overheard the conversations and thought they were mostly rather self important.
Except for one girl, the one with the Sailor Jerry hula dancer tattooed on her forearm. She had tan skin and black hair, and she went on about how the state of the will has always been non existent and has only been the illusion of the mind. Jack didn’t have any clue of what the fuck she was talking about, but he was interested.
But then some jackass who overheard her and who completely misunderstood her point got offended started yelling something about the existence of God and called her “SKANK,” at the top of his lungs.
When he grabbed the girl by the forearm, Jack did not hesitate to bash his glass against the prick’s head so hard that a shard almost made it through the crack that was made in his skull.
The bar went silent except for the man’s cries of pain. Blood stained the bar and the floor as the man clenched his burgundy stained palm to his forehead, and Jack had no sign of emotion on his face. He simply put on his coat, paid his tab, nodded and muttered “Ma’am,” to the girl as if this was a scene out of a John Wayne movie. He then turned and began to walk out. As he walked out the girl yelled, “My name is Alice.”
Jack didn’t stop walking or even turn around. All he said, loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear was, “That’s nice.”
He then walked into the night’s cold wind, stepping over homeless slumps on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Kermit the Frog was now home to a disturbed Vietnam vet, and Lucille Ball hosted a schizophrenic who thought Ivanhoe and Dr. Faust were his associates.
Jack walked on and he gave what little change he could to every cup that he saw.
Jack had no place to sleep in the city, so he settled for one of those transient hotels on the underside of town. He got an almost free room there, he lied and said his name was Lewis Jackson. He slept on the hard mattress and pillow and was thankful to have a roof over his head again.
For a brief moment, he wondered what had become of his old room at his mom’s, and what happened to all of his belongings. But like usual he didn’t care, he merely shrugged and went to sleep.
The next morning he was awoken by a knock on the door.
Jack had no peep hole so he had to crack the door to find that it wasn’t the police but the girl with the tattoo on her arm.
Jack was annoyed. “Can I help you?” Jack grunted, drunk on gin and sleep.
She was timid but eventually she found the words. “I wanted to thank you. I never thanked you properly and I just wanted to…”
“How did you find where I was?” he interjected.
“I followed you last night…” She was still timid. Jack’s tone wasn’t helping her nerves.
“And why didn’t you just thank me last night? Why wait until the morning?” He interrupted again.
“You seemed like you wanted to be left alone, plus it takes a little while to gather up the courage to thank someone for shoving shards of glass into someone’s face.”
“Fair point.” Jack conceded, “The girl is smart,” he thought, “a little weird but smart.”
“Well, Alice was it? You are welcome, but listen I don’t know if you have any other intentions or anything else you want to say or ask or anything like that. So, please do it now and then please do me the favor of fucking off. Don’t take it the wrong way but I’m not the kind of guy a girl like you should be getting involved with in any way shape or form. You got it?” He said this with his usual lack of anger, stress, or any other remote emotion. He simply stated it as a straightforward matter of fact.
She rubbed her arms and conceded that she only wanted to know if there was anything she could do to repay him?
Jack said that he hasn’t had sex since he left prison, so she gave him head, and they had three rolls in the hay. She left doing something she wasn’t when she arrived, smiling.
Jack felt sorry for the girl as she left, in Jack’s mind anyone who was willing to have sex with someone who would bash another person’s head in must have some serious issues. Jack was grateful to finally have gotten some tail though. But he didn’t let it stop him from packing up and moving on to the next town.
Jack went back to his aimless wandering and ended up on the coast, Jack could have sworn he was walking south, but it didn’t matter, a change in venue was a change in venue.
Jack had a problem now though, Jack was out of money. He could steal some, but until he had cash Jack settled on shoplifting random foods and bottles of water. He spent his whole childhood shoplifting, and he never got caught, he was practically an expert at it.
He managed to get ten pre wrapped sandwiches, plenty of canned goods, and any bottle of whiskey he could sneak.
After he stocked up on food he wandered about the town, and eventually ended up back on the beach. There he saw a group of college kids smoking pot and drinking beer. Jack was in the mood to socialize so he walked up to the group, introduced himself using only his first name and offered some whiskey if they would smoke pot with him.
The obvious leaders of the group were a long haired thin white hippie in a baja sweatshirt, and a tan black haired kid in a grey Cosby sweater with a hawk-like nose. The leader of the females of the group was a brown haired Amazonian who had long flowing hair and thin square hipster glasses. Jack immediately wanted to sleep with her, but for the first time in his life Jack was actually intimidated by this woman. He didn’t know what it was but she was so beautiful, in a strong way.
The three did not hesitate to smile and welcome Jack to the group, and invited him to not only enjoy the pot but to also enjoy the marshmallows they were roasting, the fire to keep warm, and they even offered to let him crash at their beach side house that night.
Jack was taken aback by their open friendliness. It was a warmth that Jack hadn’t felt in a long time, not since he was a little kid visiting his grandma who would spoil him with Oreos and Pizza Rolls and tell him how special and imaginative he was.
The atmosphere was so open and welcome, that for the first time since he was a child, Jack genuinely smiled, laughed and had a good time. Eventually he pointed out to the others “You know you guys never told me your names.”
The others laughed and apologized, and all the three leaders introduced themselves along with the others who seemed more or less to be the followers of the group. The thin kid with long hair was Kobe, “Not pronounced like the ball player. Not kobie, kobAY.” He giggled like the stoner he was, the tan kid with long hair introduced himself as Alex. The girl leader of the group was Fiona, and she smiled what Jack thought was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen.
“So where you from?” Alex asked Jack.
“South Central.” Jack replied as he inhaled a joint.
“That’s rough dude,” said Kobe. Jack could immediately tell that he was the social butterfly of the group, he interjected on any conversation casually and naturally. Jack wished he had social skills like that, and conceded to himself that if he had gone to college maybe he could have developed them. But he remembered that no one with criminal records get financial aid, and college like everything else in the US, except air, costs money.
But Jack liked Kobe nonetheless, it was impossible not to like him.
Their conversation went on for a while, and Kobe revealed they were students at Santa Monic College. Eventually, Fiona joined the conversation by asking, “So where did you do your time?”
The whole group was taken back by the question, except for Jack, he just smiled one of his rare smiles and said,“Smart girl, how’d you know though?”
“You can’t seriously tell me that I’m the first one to point out the bar code tattooed on the back of your neck. Bar code tattoos either means you really like some product and have an odd way of showing it, or you did time and got your number tattooed under a barcode. It’s a common prison tattoo.”
Jack could not feel stupider. He had forgotten all about his tattoo, which no one had in fact mentioned. Jack never saw his tattoo because it was on the back of his neck, and in prison tattoos are so common no one bothers to mention them to each other so you eventually forget you even have one. Jack just smiled, and replied, “Lampoc, for larceny. Don’t worry, I’m clean now.” He felt no need to list his whole record, or the fact he was on the run. He didn’t want to trouble them with that fact.
Fiona smiled back, “Dude it’s cool.”
Alex added, “Totally,” as he coughed excessively.
“Forgive and forget, that’s what I say.” Kobe said with his friendly smile.
“Thanks,” said Jack. Jack couldn’t believe it. Most people in the world would shun him faster than anyone could. But they didn’t, Jack almost wanted to cry, but managed to stay in high spirits. They didn’t even withdraw their invitation for him to crash at their place.
When it came time to pack up, Jack helped them and sat in the back seat next to Fiona, whom he always smiled to and who always smiled back.
The house was a simple cottage, with a kitchen and living room and pot plants growing and drying all over, and a whole wall decorated with every kind and color of smoking utensil imaginable.
The minions had dispersed to their homes, and Jack was left with the three leaders in their home. They circled up in the living room exchanging stories and hitting a vaporizer.
Jack hadn’t smoked pot since his second strike. By his second hit he was so high he felt like he was floating. When he passed out he felt like he was floating even in his dreams, which consisted of Fiona and Alice.