Friday, June 23, 2017

Renovation 4

Picture Legend:

1. Kyzylkum Desert, south of Dzhangeldy, Uzbekistan
2. Artifact
3. Confrontation
4. LAC-USC hospital in Los Angeles
5. First floor view, main hallway from the front door towards the back of the building
6. First floor view, main hallway at midpoint toward front door
7. First floor view, main hallway from the back of the building toward the front
8. First floor kitchen before renovation
9. Kitchen at a different angle
10 Panoramic view of the garden with Jeannie, Chris, and me contemplating the black monolith
11. Garden ladies Jeannie and Chris
12. Hardy
13. The infamous front stairway from the first floor to the second
14. The infamous front stairway looking down to the first floor from the second
15. Second floor hallway toward the ghostly apparition and the wall that hides the elevator shaft
16. The author lurking in the hallway
17. Hallway to my room
18. Third floor fire escape door
19. Hallway window that can’t be opened
20. Photographer Fatemeh B
21. Third floor janitor’s room where the voices come from
22. My desk. Notice the 31 books required to stabilize to front
23. Third floor shower & rest room. Notice there is no barrier separating the shower from the rest of the room
24. Feet
25. The elevator shaft
26. Carl’s Jr’s objectification of women
27. Beth
28. Beth sandwich
29. Alfred E. Neuman
30. The thing in the bathroom
31. Milana
32. Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple
33. The Hippie Kitchen

Photo Credits: Gudrun G & Fatemeh B
Demon Special Effects: Industrial Light & Magic

March 18, 2017

South of Dzhangeldy, Uzbekistan. The Kyzylkum Desert

   The jeep Wrangler rolled over the dirt road kicking up a cloud of dense sand and dust behind it.       The driver, a man in his early seventies with drawn features, unkempt blonde hair and mustache, with intense blue eyes, was sweating profusely, a reflection of the the 110 degree heat penetrating the vehicle which lumbered on without the burden of air conditioning. 
   Kirinan McCalister had lived and worked in the region for many years and was somewhat used to the ambient heat, as used to it as anyone could possibly be.
   It was the dust though that he disliked the most. The never ending dust which was constantly present and affective despite any effort to mitigate it’s very presence.
   Dust everywhere. Sometimes he felt he could just choke on it as it filtered through the cloth bandana that he wore across his face, his mouth and nose.
   They had spent three months at the  present site, producing an abundance of fossils, including several species of early birds, such as the Enantiornis martini and E. walkeri, Kizylkumavis cretacea, Kuszholia mengi, Lenesornis kaskarovi, were also found, as well as the usual examples of ancient tree trunks, pelecypods, beetles, sharks, rays, bony fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, crocodylomorphs, and the occasional pterosaur.
   All very interesting enough but McCalister was not a paleontologist. He was a veteran practitioner of paleontology’s sister branch of science, archaeology, the study of artifacts and remains, usually of human origen.
   Muattar met him as he pulled to a stop. They spoke in a mixture of the native Uzbek language and Russian.
   “When did you break through?” McCalister asked.
   “Last week. They were trying to get through a barrier of  heavy rock when they discovered artifacts of a completely different period.”
   “How old do you think?”
   “Twenty five hundred... three thousand...”
   “Show me.”
   They walked several hundred yards through the maze of diggers busy at work, until they fell upon an open pit that ran about twelve feet deep.
   McCalister scurried down to the bottom and surveyed the current state of the dig.
   “Has the sediment been washed at all?” he asked.
   “No. We waited for you.”
   McCalister stuck the upper part of his body into the small hole in the side of the pit and began picking around with a rock hammer.
   Until he saw something.
   He dug out a small rock, or piece of rock, with something embedded in it.
   He cleaned away at the piece, removing bits of hard clay until what he had became clear.    
   What he saw was a face.
   In Tashkent McCalister sat in a small, dirty, cafe. A small cup of bitter brown tea was brought to his table. The male waiter watched as he opened a small pendant full of pills and put one
into his mouth. He noticed the other’s leathered and work worn hands as they trembled slightly.
   “Something else?” the waited asked.   
   “No thank you,” McCalister replied.

   He sat in the office of his colleague as what was found at the dig was being recorded.
   McCalister picked up the rock head he had found.
   “Evil against evil,” he said
   The man at the table looked confused.
   “Father...” he said.
   Then he noticed a clock’s pendulum had stopped of it’s own accord.
   McCalister stood up and walked toward the clock, looking at it.
   “I wish you didn't have to go,” the man at his desk said.
   “There is something I must do.”
   McCalister drove his jeep up to another, local dig site that had been worked years before. Two security guards rushed out of the lean-to office. McCalister waved to them and they slowly returned to whatever it was they had been doing.
   McCalister walked up a rocky mound to see a statue of the demon Pazuzu, which also had the head of the small artifact he had found earlier.
   He climbed to a higher point to get a closer look.  
   When he reached the highest point he was looking at the statue head on.
   He heard rocks falling and turned around to see a guard watching him. Then he heard two dogs savagely attack each other.  
   He looked back at the statue as the wind picked up, and sand with it, until he and it were lost to obscurity.

Los Angeles

Mar 18

   I was released from the LAC-USC hospital at 9am with a curious mixture of cracks, bruises and contusions.
   All I was given for the intense pain was tylenol.
   Not even tylenol 3, which at least has a little kick to it.
   I returned home to my bed.
   Tommy had turned the light on in the stairwell. All he had to do was flick a switch.
   I felt sad.

Mar 20th 8am

   I was meditating, and just about to reach Nirvana and a true state of enlightenment, which would allow me, Rick Joyce from San Jose, to liberate all sentient beings (birds too!) from the pain and suffering that life bestows, liberate all from an endless cycle of rebirth, from the slavery and dependence of desire and ignorance, to show Trump supporters the errors in their judgment, to which they would actually listen to and accept, when they came.
   I knew they were there because they knocked on my door.
   The construction workers wanted to check the holes in my walls.
   I had eight!
   They didn’t say they were going to fix or close any of them, they just wanted to reassure themselves that I had some.
   I did.
   Everybody who lives in the Las Americas has holes in their walls.
   It’s an epidemic.

March 28th  5pm

   I received one of those mysterious construction notices on my door this afternoon. They would come to fix the holes in my walls tomorrow.
   I was glad because the rats that live in the walls use those holes to stare at me at night. I can see their beady little red rat eyes glowing in the dark.
   Rat surveillance. It exists.
   I believe they even has their own form of some kind of rat NSA.

   The renovation workers have a new little trick of turning the power off for a second or two without any fore-notice, causing my computer and TV to go out of whack, at which point I have to reboot them.
   The workers think it’s funny as hell.

   Oh yes, the stairs, which are inherently unsafe to begin with due to a half inch over hang on each riser (which serves no purpose whatsoever other than make it easier to trip on), are beginning to fall apart. Literally.
   Parts of the stairs are sloughing off, coming apart altogether, making an inherently unsafe stairway even unsaftyier.

   I E-mailed Tommy about it. He assured me he’d have the workers fix the problem.

   On April 13th I sent Tommy the following E-mail:

“Tommy, on the 27th of this month, Gudrun, one of the Garden Club ladies, is bringing her camera after which we're going to take some pictures of the ongoing renovation process, and we'd like to get some of the basement. Can you ask whoever's in charge of all of this if that would okay? This needs to be documented. Thanks, I appreciate it.”

   Tommy replied the next morning.

   “Sorry, Corporate Office say No. Come down and I will explain.”

   At which point I replied

   “Doesn't matter. I don't need the basement. And I can use the fact that the corporate office is involved and has denied me access. Thank you.”

   What are they trying to hide?

April 15th

   Tax Day! Sleep in until 5:30, which was nice. I was planning on attending the Tax March at Pershing Square at 10:00, and had many other things to do today, so got up and went to the showers.
   Only to find a folding table in the bathroom I usually use to shower in. I thought that rather odd as I usually find a regular, non-folding table in there.
   This wasn’t a small table. Oh no! This was a nice 5 foot by 2 in the middle of the room.
   Well, I’ve seen stranger things. I saw a goldfish eat a cat once. So I prepared to shower by turning the water on so it could cycle and get nice and hot... no water came forth in the shower. Water in the sink was working just fine, but nada in the shower.
   I walked downstairs to the 2nd floor shower. Hey, no table! Things were looking up.
   I knew the lock didn’t work on the door, so anybody could walk in on me as I showered, but at this point I didn’t care. I checked the shower’s water, which came on, on the hand held shower head only. The stationary shower head on the wall was not putting forth.
   Then I noticed that the ledge under the window where I usually place my shampoo and soap was actually smaller than the shower above me on the 3rd floor, so small my shampoo wouldn’t fit on it.
   I endured the awkward process of washing my body and hair while having to hold the shower head.
   I got through fairly unscathed, then dressed before someone came in, and went back to my room, thankful that the showering process was over.
   For today at least.

April 16th

   Another day has come upon us. Hallelujah!
   I used the small “shower room only” this morning at about 4:45am. It’s right next to the restroom with the table in it. A simple rectangular cell like, 4 by 8 tiled room, with no toilet, no sink, no towel rack. No towel rack? Yeah, no towel rack.
   It is interesting to contemplate what the designers of this place had in mind when they designed it. I suppose they thought those who utilized this shower could at once wash themselves and their clothes, and the towel that they brought with them at the same time.
   How thoughtful!
   I used the lever at the top of the door, the device that helps open and close the door, to hang up my clothes and towel, which worked, for today.
   At least the shower was functional.
   As I left, on a whim, I checked the restroom next door, and behold! The table was gone. I checked the shower, and it was back on as well!
   Then as I left I noticed the folding table all folded up resting in the corner.
   Thank God someone left it there... just in case it’s needed again.

April 17th

   They began building the elevator shaft on the second floor today. We had been given notice that residents who lived on the second floor would need to take a circuitous route to the back of the building, climb the stairs to the third floor, then walk to the front of the building to the main staircase in order to leave the Las Americas.
   The renovation workers opened up the hallway on the second floor, just about at the half way point, and built a wooden box in which they worked. The hallway, which had previously been a straight forward hallway running through the length of the hotel, from north to south, did not exist anymore. Now, after the renovation workers had their way, one walking from the back of the building to front would encounter that wooden box blocking their path. The hallway had been expanded somehow, and you would need to walk around the wooden box to get to the main staircase.
   It’s all rather exhausting.

April 22nd

   Wanted to shower before heading off to the Science March. Entered the bathroom and the table, folded in half, was laying flat on the floor right in front of the toilet. It had been leaning against the south wall all week, but now was flat on the floor. I picked it up and dragged it outside into the hallway and leaned it against the west wall.
   That should take care of that!

April 23rd

   The table was back in the restroom this morning, folded in half and in the shower. I removed it once again.
   My 73 year old neighbor, Arnold came over to chat this morning and told me he attempted to use the shower next to the restroom with the table business, the one without a toilet or towel rack. He could not shower however due to the fact that someone had defecated on the floor. I believe Arnold used the term, “A huge s _ _ t!”
   I immediately began to wonder how I could blame this on the renovation workers or SRHT management.
   I’m still wondering.

April 24th

   They began the elevator shaft on my floor today. The third floor. The best floor.
   How exciting!

April 26th

   One of my creditors, Chase Rewards, tells me that they didn’t receive this month’s payment which means I have to pay them a little more than double my monthly bill in May. I called their customer service and they confirmed they hadn’t received it. I told them I would put a trace on the postal money order I had used to make the payment and if it turns out that they in fact did receive the payment and cashed the money order I would expect an appropriate credit to my account, plus the $5.95 it cost for the trace.
   Now I’ll find out if they got the payment, or I’ll get a refund on the original money order. One way or another I’m not getting screwed. 
   Of course if they took payments over the Internet like normal companies, and not through the mail, this would have never happened.
   I suspect they make more money this way.
   When I walked to the post office to initiate the trace I left my reading glasses on the desk I had used to fill out the trace form.
   This is the second pair of reading glasses I’ve lost within the last week.
   It’s as if someone... or something wants to impair my vision for some strange, dark, evil purpose.
   After the post office I walked to the VA clinic on Temple and Alameda as they were having the annual Open House.
   I got myself a free hot dog (with bun and mustard!), some Ruffles potato chips, a small package of Chips Ahoy cookies, a Snack pack cup of chocolate pudding, and a green apple.
   It’s as if some nefarious and evil entity wants me to get fat.
   I then went to see my doctor’s nurse to get a vitamin B12 shot. Dr. Garcia, my doctor now that P.A. Brown has retired, had called me yesterday and told me my B12 was low and that I should come in a get a shot, and he would also mail some B12 pills to me.
   Well the nurse didn’t have any injectable B12 on hand. Neither did any of the other nurses on the floor. I certainly didn’t have any.
   “You’ll have to go to the pharmacy and get some,” she told me.
   F _ _ k! I knew what that entailed. Go down, put in my order, and wait, wait, and wait.
   I went down, put in my order, and began waiting.
   I continued waiting, and after I finished doing that I waited some more.
   More veterans came to the pharmacy and they began waiting.
   But nothing was happening. We began to think the pharmacy personnel took off for lunch.
   I had been told that they would call my name when my B12 was ready (by that I mean picking up a small vial of injectable B12 and placing it in a bag). They never called my name. I could have sat in that pharmacy for the rest of eternity, until the Sun engulfed the earth 5 billion years from now and they still would not have called my name.
   I eventually just got up and went to the “Pick Up” window and asked for my stuff and they gave it to me.
   It’s as  if some one or some thing wanted me to die due to vitamin B12 deficiency.
   I went back up stairs and had the nurse shoot me up.
   Then on my way out I stopped by Susana Ochoa LSW’s office to amend my advance directive, or living will. She happened to be in and I made an appointment with her for next Monday to do just that... amend.
   I figured that with all the stuff that was happening to me during the renovation process I might not make it to the end, so I thought appointing a person to make medical decisions for me if I were to be incapacitated was a prudent course of action.
   I did not choose my sister, as she would take me off life support ASAP. I choose my friend Mike instead.
   I trusted him more than my sister, and this would give him something to do as he mourned my loss.
   Next I’ll need to make a real will, and parcel out my various assets.
   And I should do this soon.
   I don’t think I have a whole lot of time left.
April 29th

   It wasn’t a particularly hot day, the temperature in Los Angeles reaching 83 degrees (the historical average being 74 degrees for April 29th, which of course proves that global warming does exist), but it was hot enough.
   On warm days like this I open the fire escape door, wedging a piece of brick between the back of the door and it’s frame. Since the renovators, in their wisdom, replaced the old hallway windows that could be opened and shut with windows that can not be opened and shut, the fire escape door is the only avenue we have that can be used for ventilation purposes.
   So I opened it, as I have done countless times in the past.
   I returned to my room to do whatever it is I do in there.
   About an hour later I walked down my hallway toward the stairs and noticed that the fire escape door was now closed.
   “Huummm,” I said to myself.
   I propped the door open once more and went about my business.
   Only to discover it was closed a little while later.
   I opened it again.
   I found it closed again.
   I opened it and stood around looking at it.
   It stayed open, so I went to my room.
   Only to find it closed a few moments later.
   Open, closed. Open, closed. On and on.
   It went on like this until 5am, at which point I gave up opened it once more and went to bed.
   When I got up at six it was closed.
   Something decidedly odd was afoot.
May 12th   11am

   The renovation workers turned the power off and on twice today, causing me to reboot my computer and TV twice.
   The two occurrences occurred  about an hour apart, and just to my little section of the building.
   The second time it happened the power was out for five minutes. The thing is when this happens, as it does occasionally even when we’re not being renovated, you never know when the power will come back on. It could be a minute, and hour, or several hours. I once lived through a twelve hour blackout. Our rooms can get so hot that without an operating fan they are uninhabitable. 
   I walked to the third floor janitor’s room, where Jose keeps his magic mops and where the circuit breakers are located.
   There didn’t appear to be any tripped breakers, and I was just about to leave when I heard voices emanating from the walls. Soft voices talking to each other.
   I couldn’t really pinpoint where the voices were coming from, but they sounded nearby.
   There was a hole on the back of Jose’s room which presumably the renovation workers had created and used.
   Perhaps some workers were in there doing some construction business and talking about it.
   I looked through that hole, into the very depths of the Overloo... the Las Americas Residential Hotel, but did not see anything but the wooden spine of the building, sheet rock and dust, and nothing else. The building’s interior seemed to wind on into infinity, so much so that it made me a little dizzy to keep on looking.
   I returned to my room and the power was back on. I began the computer reboot process for the second time. 

May 14    1:33am

   I was watching David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai ,” this Sunday morning when the power flickered on and off, causing me reboot yet again.
   WTF!? It was one thirty in the morning so this couldn’t have been caused by renovation workers. I attributed the disruption to North Korean hacking and continued to watch William Holding chit chat with Jack Hawkins for about ten minutes when the power flickered on off and on again.
   F _ _ k!
   This was not good! Any disruption in power around here is not good. I got out of my night gown and cap and put on my clothes to go check Jose’s room.
   This time instead of finding disembodied voices I found one of my neighbors systematically shutting on and off all of the breakers two at a time, trying to find the one that controlled her room on the south side of the building, as her power was off.
   Granted, most of the residents in the Las Americas were probably asleep, still this person felt little compunction in disrupting the power and lives of everyone who lived on the third floor.
   This is the world I live in.
   At least in this instance the cause of the power disruption was known, and wasn’t caused by a general power outage, ghosts, or Kim Jong-un.
   None of the breakers seemed to be off yet my tenacious neighbor continued her search.
   I can’t say as I blame her really. A night without electricity would suck. Not only that, it wouldn’t be very pleasant either.
   I bid her adieu and returned to the vast and unforgiving jungles of World War II Ceylon.

May 16   6:12pm

   I was working fiendishly at my desk when someone called me from my doorway. I looked around, as I am want to do on just such occasions, to find the tall young man, John, the SRHT employee who gave me money when the electricity in the kitchen was turned off, at my door.
   He handed me a construction notice.
   “You’re working late,” I told him.
   “Yes, I know,” he replied. He looked around nervously. “They make me.”
   “Who makes you?” I asked.
   “I can’t talk about it. They have my family,” he added hastily before scurrying off. 
   The notice was dated May 17, 2017. So this was a genuine notice from the future, and would be so until midnight.
   If only there was some way I could preserve the notice in it’s pristine, undegraded form. Then I could prove that time travel is possible once and for all!
   But I can’t. God damn it! I just can’t.
   The notice was addressed to Las Americas - All 2nd & 3rd Floor Units. It was from the mysterious and powerful Skid Row Southeast 1 Staff, whose mystery is only exceeded by their power.
   The notice concerned our windows.
   “Dear Residents, You are being notified that in unit work has been scheduled for your unit for Wednesday, 5/17. The contractor will need access to your unit for approximately 5 to 10 minutes from 8am to 4pm to measure the windows in your unit. You will not need to vacate your unit when the contractor arrives to do the work, but you will need to allow them to enter your unit.”
   The notice ended with the now infamous epitaph: “Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the work. We appreciate your cooperation. Sincerely, Skid Row Southeast 1 Staff.”
   Of course there was no contact information provided, no way to contact the Skid Row Southeast 1 Staff, whoever or whatever they may be.
   So, accordingly, after midnight, when the notice reverted to just a simple piece of paper, I began my preparations.
   I got up at 3:30am, showered and checked my E-mail, then began washing the walls that were a little dusty. While I was at it I washed the ceiling as well. I threw some bleach on the floor and scrubbed every inch, getting my neighbor, 73 year old Arnold who likes to rise early in the morning, to help me move my king size bed to one side ass I cleaned the space it had occupied. I washed the window and the medicine cabinet’s mirrored surface. I moved all of the thousands of books off of their shelves and dusted and cleaned there then placed them back again. I vacated and cleaned the other shelves as well. Shelves that held my television monitor, dishes, condiments, candles, my calculator, sunglasses, medicine, flash drives, cell phone, and the water key for the garden. I cleaned the weird desk my computer sits on, held down by the unrelenting force of gravity. I cleaned the night stand that resides below it, and sorted out and adjusted  the contents of it’s two drawers. I cleaned the actual computer. I emptied out my refrigerator and dresser and cleaned inside each. I shifted them around (with Arnold’s help) and cleaned the spaces where they normally rested. I cleaned the sink before helping Arnold with his room.
   Then I loaded up all of my clothes, my sheets and pillow cases, packed them up and took the 18 bus into Boyle Heights, to the Laundromat they have on Whittier and Spence St. I washed all of my clothes, then changed into some newly cleaned pants, socks, and shirt, then laundered the ones I had worn to get to the Laundromat.
   I ate a humongous breakfast sandwich from the nearby Carl’s Jr., despite the company’s past objectification of women in their ad campaigns. 
   Yes, I was that hungry.
   Finished, I took all of my clean stuff back home and stowed them in their appropriate places.
   Finally I was ready for people to visit my home.
   At 10am I put my office chair approximately four feet away from my door, which was cracked open to allow air in.
   I sat and stared at my door willing the contractors to come, do whatever it was they were going to do, then leave, allowing me to get back to the vital work that I had assigned myself.
   At 5pm I got up and put my chair back at my desk, then visited the restroom. I had been holding it in for quite awhile by then.

Southeast 1 Construction Notice
Date: May 22, 2017

Dear Residents,

You are being notified that the kitchen will be shut down for construction for approximately one week, starting at 8am on Tuesday, May 30th. You will not have access to the kitchen or the lockers during this time. Please  remove any food in your locker before Tuesday, May 30th.

You will receive a $64 per diem for each day the kitchen is offline for this work because we realize how difficult it will be for you to eat on site.

A VISA debit card for 7 days’ worth of per diem will be distributed to each resident. You can collect your VISA debit card at Unit #315 at the following times:

Tuesday, 5/30                  8 - 10am and 3 - 5 pm
Wednesday, 5/31             8 - 10am and 4 - 5pm

*Please note - you will need a valid photo ID to collect your debit card.

   On May 26th we received another construction notice amending the construction notice of May 22nd. It let us know that work on the kitchen would not start until June 5th. The dates we could collect the debit cards changed as well, to June 5th and June 6th.
   $64 a day isn’t enough to make up for the loss of the toaster
   I will morn it’s loss... or buy my own, one of the two.

May 26th

   As I left the building to attend to some chores that needed attending to I was warned by one of my neighbors not to leave my door open.
   “Why?” I asked him.
   “Big rats are coming up on the second floor, so don’t leave your door open.”
   “Rats are on the second floor now?” I asked.
   I prepared my room for a possible rat attack. Moat. Flame Thrower. Barbed wire. Catapult. Concussion grenades. sparklers, the works.

May 28

   The rats are getting bolder. I saw them in the kitchen today during daylight hours.
   The walls are filled with the sounds of scurrying.

May 29   Memorial Day

   At about 1:00pm I stopped writing about Marilyn Monroe to go downstairs to toast some bread. That’s the only reason I use the kitchen these days, ever since I bought my own microwave oven. The less I go down there the less chance the rats have of getting me, and the less contact I have with the new residents of the mysterious new program that Henry manages.
   Miracle was down there... cooking away. Meat everywhere for the Memorial Day traditional meat fest.
   I would see a meme on Facebook that day which showed a picture of flag draped coffins with the caption: “We don’t need any more “Happy” Memorial Days. We don’t need to celebrate it with hot dogs or mattresses or car buying. We need to stop sending our kids to war.”
   That would be good.
   And my beautiful and esteemed yoga teacher Beth would post a beautiful and esteemed picture of herself from Las Vegas where she was spending the weekend, with this caption: “I insist on documenting my buffet acquisitions. I offered to snap some pics for Sarah and Dasha, but they declined.”
   “Buffet acquisitions.” She’s funny and wise for her young age.
   I wondered who Sarah and Dasha were.
   My wondering paid off as Beth posted the above picture (A28) a little later. That’s Sarah on the left and Dasha on the right making a sort of Beth sandwich.
   I would reply stupidly, saying that so much beauty overwhelmed me and that I may need to commit seppuku to cope, seppuku being the Japanese traditional form of suicide by disembowelment. 
   A little over the top but one has to keep complimenting these girls as they tend to be insecure in general... just like Marilyn Monroe.
   Miracle said she would give me a plate of meat but she never did. I think she had been drinking.
   She did manage to utter something about Kevin, the assistant residence manager not being at work over the weekend, making it difficult to get the mail, or get back into to units after being locked out.
   “Maybe he’s sick,” I offered.
   “Tommy says he didn’t seem sick last Friday night! And Tommy can’t get him on his phone.”
   “Tommy’s here?”
   “You gonna give him a plate too?”
   “And nobody’s seen or heard from Kevin since Friday night.”       
   “Yeah. That’s when I last saw him.”
   “What was he doing?” I asked.
   “Uumm... he was going to the basement I think.”
   “The basement? By himself?”
   “Yeah. By himself.”
   I returned upstairs and monitored MSNBC hoping for actual news before the channel switched over to examine the latest trends in prison diplomacy via “Lockup.”. 
   I saw commercials for BP telling us how concerned they are for safety in general, and commercials for Trumpcare, telling me what a failure Obamacare was and how Trump’s healthcare proposals are going to make America great again by uninsuring 23 million people.
   The oil company and the White House are just blatantly lying to the country through the complacent media. How does this happen?
   I felt like throwing up, but continued working on Norma Jean’s transformation into Marilyn Monroe.
   At least she was honest. You can say that about her.

June 1st  12:37am

   I had gone to bed early, well, early for me, at 11, because I was tired.
   But at 12:37am I woke due to a low frequency humming noise coming from outside my room.
   I say noise, but it was more than that. A vibration would be a better description... with a low frequency thrumming, a rhythmic oscillation, a deep trembling, a pervasive resonance that permeated throughout my room and apparently the building beyond. 
   I got up wondering what was going on. I dressed and walked out into the hall.
   I couldn’t see anything until I turned the corner and faced the walled off elevator shaft. The noise seemed to be emanating from there.
   The sound and vibrating was loud enough to have wakened everyone in the building, but I was the only one in the hall as I slowly approached.
   A violet light issued from the holes and cracks in the plywood that housed the shaft which pulsated in sync with the vibrating auditory manifestations.
   I looked down at my arms and the hair on them was standing on end. I felt my head and whatever little I had left up there was doing likewise.
   I stopped right next to the enclosure, next to the window that looked out onto the night. Everything seemed normal out there... everything looked sane.
   The vibrating seemed to increase reaching a marvelous crescendo, then abruptly stopped. The hallway became dark once more. Normality returned.
   So I went back to bed.

June 2

   I got sick. I had low level nausea enveloping my poor body. When I looked into my mirror I saw someone who had suffered a tragic sunburn on their face and arms. My nose began to bleed. I would endure  severe diarrhea throughout the following week. Every time I combed my hair it would come out in fistfuls. It became difficult to move around and my hands would shake so much it became hard to even drink from a water bottle. I developed a 4mm raised corrugated papule on my right anteriolateral tongue with a flat surrounding leukoplakia. A rash that looked like Alfred E. Neuman manifested itself on my chest. My  risk of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections heightened, I could feel it. 
   I went back to bed but could not sleep.

June 5th 

   Work began in the kitchen, and it was no longer available to us residents. It would be locked up at night and the window that looked in on it was papered over.
   We still didn’t have a laundry room as well. What I couldn’t wash by hand in my sink I took to the Laundromat in Boyle Heights.
   I guess that was okay for the time being. They give away free coffee from 6 to 7:30am!

June 12 & 13

   We were given notice that certain residents on the third floor would need to leave their units on the 12th and 13th so workers could finish up the floors outside of their units.
   When a man knocked on my door on Monday the 12th to make sure I knew I had to leave I told him I couldn’t because I was sick.
   “But you won’t be able to come out of your room, you know that right?”
   “That will be no problem.”
   I spent the day watching “The Paleface,” and Bob and Bing road pictures.

June 12 thru 15th 

   Work on the kitchen was extended from the 12th to the 15th. We got more money for the extension but I continued not to have access to the toaster.
   In my room I watched “The Money Pit.”

June 16th 5am

   I felt good enough finally to get up and do stuff, like shower.
   I walked to the bathroom, opened the door, saw something similar to picture A30 near the toilet, closed the door and returned to my room.

   I had somehow lost my disabled bus pass and library card. The library card I could do without but I needed the pass in order to economically go to places in order to get stuff... like food.
   I called the MTA’s special number that deals with disabled bus passes and asked them if they could send a replacement.
   “No. Your pass expired yesterday.”
   F _ _ k!
   I laid down for a minute and thought about what I had to do.
   I walked north on Alameda to Union Station and picked up an application at the Metro Customer Service office. Then I walked the short distance to the VA Clinic to see my psychiatrist, Dr. Shaw.
   Granted I had no appointment, and Dr. Shaw, a short brown man of Indian ancestry, is a stickler for protocol, but hell, it would take about one minute for him to fill out the medical section of my bus pass application, so I went to the mental health department and asked to see him.
   “Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked.
   “No. I just need him to fill out my bus pass.”
   She informed the good doctor I was there and soon I was in his office.
   He said it would take a couple of days for me to get the application back.
  “ You can’t give it to me today?” I asked. I really needed that pass.
   He had me fill out a bus pass application application form and said he would mail it back to me.
   “Mail it back...” I thought a moment. “I’ll be here on Monday for the depression drop in group, could I get it then?”
   He thought a moment, then said, “I’ll be gone in the afternoon on Monday... can you pick it up at, let’s say eleven?”
   “Yes, I can do that.”
   I was ready to leave when he asked plaintively, “How is the renovation going at your building?”
   “It goes on and on. Why?”
   “You haven’t seen or heard anything unusual have you?”
   “Now that you mention I...”
   “Forget it. I don’t want to know. I’ll see you Monday.”
   “Ahhh, okay.”
   What a dick, I said to myself upon leaving, for making me wait. I mean supposedly he’s a good doctor and all, and I usually only have to see him twice a year, but he does suffer from an abundance of dickishness.
   I walked from the clinic to downtown, 5th and Broadway, and bought some pants at the pants store, and some milk and vanilla ice cream from Rite-Aid.
   Both of those commodities were treats for me.
   I felt I deserved a treat. I don’t know why.  

Southeast 1 Construction Notice

To: All Residents at the Las Americas
From: Skid Row Southeast 1 Staff
Date: June 16, 2017
Re: Kitchen Offline

Dear Residents,

Due to unexpected delays, the kitchen will remain closed until Friday, 6/23.
Each resident will receive $64 for each additional day of kitchen closure in the form of a VISA debit card.

   It’s true we all would get money due to the construction crew's incompetence, but that’s really not the point... is it.
   I think I’ll take a vacation to Uzbekistan (birthplace of the lovely and talented Milana Aleksandrovna Vayntrub, of AT&T Lily fame) with my money.
   Either that or retire.
June 18  Father’s Day  Sunday

   After spending the morning attending a Father’s Day service and luncheon (turkey sandwiches!) at the world famous Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple at Third and Central, I returned home. My friend Cliff was talking to some of his friends who were in a car at the curb.
   “Hi Rick,” he said expeditiously.
   “Hi Cliff.”
   I waited inside for him to finish up his business. He sells cigarettes and I wanted to buy some singles.
   “Why don’t you buy a whole pack,” he asked.
   “I don’t want that many.”
   “Oh, I see. You’re tapering off. No problem. Don’t say another word.”
   We went to his room on the second floor where I bought nine cigarettes for three dollars.
   He had been up since four that morning barbecuing various small parts of defenseless animals and ears of yellow corn. He offered me some. I, being the weak individual that I am, accepted.
    “Father’s Day is our holiday. It’s got nothing to do with bitches [females]. They’ve got every other holiday, but this ones ours.”
   I’m not a father but that didn’t seem to bother him.
   He gave me a cooked rib of some type, a sausage link of some type, and an ear of corn. ( I love corn on the cob, and have done so ever since I was a small child. My parents would feed them to me with some trepidation, knowing full well that left to my own devices I would eat until I threw up... which I had done so on several occasions).
   I spent the afternoon writing and watching movies, “The Maze Runner,” being one of them.    Around six the power blinked off and on, the second day in a row. This of course screwed up my TV and computer, so I had to reboot both.
   It’s as if the building did this on purpose, just to mess with me, and was chuckling to itself in it’s dark recesses where I couldn’t hear it.
   I believe this to be true.
   Near eight I ate what Cliff had given to me. It was good. A little messy, but good, especially the corn.
   Instead of throwing the rib bone and corn cob in my own trash receptacle, I went into the hall to put them in the common garbage. One of my neighbors, a black guy about my age came out of his room at that time.
   I opened the trash room’s door, but there was no trash can as there should have been. In it’s place was a rectangular box in the floor, filled with a foul liquid. The stench it gave off was nauseating.  
   “Somebody put a dead dog in there,” my neighbor said before walking away.
   I slammed the door shut and returned to my room. I felt no need to investigate further.

June 19  

   The dead dog turned out to be some dirty foul smelling clothes emersed in dirty, foul smelling water. It was so bad the steadfast Jose complained to Tommy about having to clean it up.
   I opened the fire escape door to get some clean air in the hallway. Ten minutes later it was closed.
   I retrieved my bus pass application from Shaw at 11 then walked to the Metro Customer Service office at Union Station.
   I took some pictures of myself at the picture machine and turned in the application.
   “You’ll get your pass in the mail within six or eight weeks.”
   “Don’t I get a temporary pass until then?”
   “You’re not eligible when you get this filled out by a doctor.”
   Now how does that make any sense? Am I any less disabled than someone who submits using a social security award letter, or who is on Medicaid?
   Hell no I say! I’m as disabled as the best of them.
   I would take my revenge on MTA regulations by only paying half of the regular fair while pretending to be a senior rather than the youthful individual that I am.
   Did I feel bad about circumnavigating lawful bus regulations.
June 20

   I needed to wash my blanket, sheets and some pants, and wanted to get in on that free coffee at the Boyle Heights Laundromat, so left my house at 5:30am and stood near the bus stop at 6th & Central waiting for the next 18.
   Someone was sleeping on the bus stop bench. They soon woke up, poked their head out of their blankets and looked around. It was a pretty, young black girl, early twenties, I’d say.
   She got up and came over to me and asked if I could move.
   “Excuse me?”
   “I need to use the bathroom.”
   I moved away and she proceeded to relieve herself in the trash receptacle they have there.
   As Atticus Finch once said in “To Kill a Mockingbird, “I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state. She is the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance...”
   Well this young woman wasn’t a chief witness, and she probably didn’t have anything to do with mockingbirds, but I had the deepest sympathy for her.
   How had she come to this? I had no idea.

June 22 

   After returning from the Hippie Kitchen with a container of lentils, I stopped by the window by the wall that encloses the elevator shaft, the same window I had looked through the other night before getting sick.
   I young white woman was crossing Central and walking toward my building. She looked up and waved to me. I waved back. She smiled and continued on her way.
   That made my day.

   Later that night I heard that ominous humming, vibrating again. Not knowing any better I went out to investigate.
   Instead of violet, the light emanating from the walls bordering the elevator shaft was of a deep orange. I placed my hand upon the plywood and felt the vibrations run through me. I walked around and to my surprise found  a section of the panel had been removed which allowed access to the shaft. I poked my head in there and found my friend Cliff sitting on the edge of the precipice.
   “Cliff! What the f _ _ K are you doing in there?”
   “Hey, Rick. Come on in.”
   I entered and took a seat next to him.
   The light and vibration originated from the bottom of the shaft, which you couldn’t see really. If you looked down into it all that could be seen was the light streaming forth.
   “Isn’t it beautiful?” Cliff asked me, a statement rather than a question.
   “I suppose. How long have you been here?”
   “I don’t know.”
   Cliff had a glazed look about him, an expressionless expression on his face.
   “I wonder how deep it is?” he said.
   “Well it can’t be that deep. The basements just two floors down. Let’s see.”
   I took a piece of brick that was nearby and tossed it in. Cliff smiled.
   I looked down into the pit... I mean shaft, and saw the brick falling and falling until it fell from sight. We never did hear it reach a bottom.
   “I want to go in,” Cliff said. He stood up as if he were going to jump  and I hurriedly pulled him away.
   “No, no, Cliff. You don’t want to do that.”
   “Yes I do.”
   “No you don’t. Let’s get you back to your room. Okay?”
   “You mean leave here?”
   “Yeah Cliff. It’s time to go.”
   “But I’ll miss it.”
   “I know Cliff. You can come back later.”
   I took him to his room and put him to bed. He fell asleep almost instantly.
   I walked back outside and returned to the shaft. It continued to pulsate and throw out that orange light, and for a moment, just a moment, I thought that I was looking into the bowels of hell.

To be continued.

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