Rhea drove twelve and a half blocks west on Fourth. Once she passed the bulk of the homeless camps that bloated the sidewalks, she pulled into a 24 hr. gas station mini-mart and parked. A giant billboard loomed above her, advertising a new TV series. It was text only, presciently stating “You are 141 miles from the border.” She got a bag of Fritos and a soda from the Mart. Back in her car, she opened her phone and looked at the picture she’d taken of the Mexican desk in Hays’s warehouse. She Googled “rustic Mexican desk Ensenada”. Her phone died. She rebooted it. Her notepad came up on the home screen, with the words she’d jotted down a mere nine hours ago: “sausage, ancho, warm night”. Shit. She had to write a review. She’d totally forgotten. She started her car and left. She drove up Virgil to Sunset. It was after two in the morning. Closer to the boulevard, she cruised past a few lingering hookers and hustlers. She turned on “voice record” on her phone.
When things in her life were darker than usual – when Rhea didn’t have the time, inclination or extra money to escape the circumstances of her life or the details of her job – she either watched QVC or she wrote. Poems. Morbidly romanticized rhymes scribbled in a journal she’d sporadically kept over the years. That hobby served her now. She started to talk:
“…Street’s full of hustlers looking for cash and fools looking for love.”
As she turned onto Sunset, she passed late-night clubs and a few food trucks. Skinny hipsters were on their phones, ignoring each other. A Mexican vendor sold churros – while his wife cradled their sleeping child.
“Everyone else is looking for either fame or minimum wage…” she talked on.
A coyote crossed the street in front of her, carrying a bag of Cheetos in its mouth.
“City of Angels, my ass.”
She drove west, into Silver lake. It was coming on to three in the morning. The convertible top of her car was down. She passed strip mall restaurants that were closed for the night: –Jitlada, Alegria, Al Wazir…
She passed Yummie’s donuts. They were baking. That smell, that divine perfume wafted out. Irresistible. It drew her in. Well, that and the sinewy young hunk who was sweeping up outside, preparing to open. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Her favorite.
She pulled into the strip mall and parked outside a Baskin Robbins. A few people had gathered outside Yummie’s door, waiting for it to open. Rhea got out of her car and headed towards them and toward young Mr. Sinewy.
A twenty-something cool girl in a tie-dyed dress started talking to him. He was flirting with her. Rhea stopped. Young lust had a kind of perfection she knew she couldn’t touch. She got back in her car and drove into Hollywood. Home.