One of my many end points was that bar in East Los Angeles. It was not circumstance that brought me there. That part of the world had some answers for me. Some of the answers where in the ring, at the boxing gym where I would train everyday. Some of the answers where in the women, whom I switched every few weeks. Some of the answers lay with the whispers of the dead, and the advice of the living.
It was next to huge cemetery that had been around for ages. Apparently the first settlers in El Pueblo de Los Angeles had buried their dead in that very spot. The city grew around it and we have a Club that specializes in hookers, transvestites, cocaine, and ghosts. I befriended the owner after looking for gigs to play. The place had an ad in a local weekly rag announcing punk rock nights. It was an interesting joint, with a ton of history. It oozed the slimy secretions of scores of lost dreams. It was full of rats, shit, and booze. I told the owner, after a gig played to an audience of 10 ( 5 of which where playing next ) that we were just cruising along, looking for a place to land. I don’t know what the guy saw in me. I’m guessing it’s the same thing that happens to me when I know, I just know I have a relationship with someone that I need to unfold. I like to say that the angels whisper in my ear. He must have heard it too because he offered me this deal: “Help me out with the bar and you can stay in the back.” Not a bad way to land, being that we had been homeless for the past couple of months, living out of our car in the lot by Santa Monica pier. The owner was a large man, larger than most Mexicans. This gave him an edge when he needed to throw out another drunk, punk, or junkie. But he was getting old, tired. And the prospect of one more fight, one more argument, one more hustle was beginning to wear on him. Wear him down, wear him out. He had become the reluctant gatekeeper, holding back the torrential laments of the melancholic dead, the incessant dissatisfactions of the living, and his own impending death. He carried a skull around his neck and on a keychain. “Death brings me luck, I don’t know why” He wasn’t too far from the truth. In true Castaneda fashion, Death was his advisor. By keeping death near, he always knew it wasn’t his time. But Death has a funny way of skewing your perception and seeping into your worldview. Not the healthiest thing an old man with a lot of enemies can do. No wonder he would always complain with aches and pains. Hanging out in the Underworld will do that to you.
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