Friday, May 1, 2009

THE NERD

Stink eye from the bitch librarian forced me out before I was done. Can’t afford trouble. This ain’t her shift so I might have enough time to finish before going to the meet. And this might be the last you hear from me. But don’t worry. I’ll be set, pockets full of money and weed and hot ass in my car. You won’t recognize me. I’ll be someone new.

And it could happen soon. Trey handles his business. You think you got it covered, sitting in your cubicle with your phone and e-mail at your side? Think you could handle what I’m doing? All it took was time. Waiting again and I thought of my dad being patient enough to stay alive in the tunnels. Can’t rush it. I blended in with the bushes of the park again and watched the drop spot. One day comes and goes and then someone shows up for the bag. I’ll call him Rodeo. Big, stupid belt buckle he didn’t earn. Expensive shoes with leather soles. Jeans with the holes already in them. I could live for a month on what those jeans cost.

He was cool at first. Walked past the plants behind the bench. Sat on the bench, turned around and looked hard into the dirt. Saw him get frustrated. What he wanted was in my pocket. Still is. Rodeo even got the knees of his expensive jeans dirty looking for the black bag.

Rodeo was pissed. He kicked the plants out of the dirt. Then he walked and I followed. He wanted it and I had it. He’d pay for it. Then I could really disappear. But it was Rodeo who disappeared. The son of a bitch was fast. He ran to his car. Black Mercedes. I yelled at him to stop–not too smooth—but the engine was growling and he didn’t hear me. Dude put the hammer down and that car was a rocket. Didn’t even stop at a stop sign.

Fuck. My payday was going to have to come from someone else. More waiting. Rodeo was so pissed he’d make some calls. The deal was fucked and someone had to try and fix it.

That’s when the Nerd shows up. He had the nerd walk and I was watching him before he even went to the bench. Dude bounced across the park, head down like he was falling forward the whole way.

The Nerd is no spy or crook. I was kicking myself for not spotting him before. This was the guy who made the drop in the first place. He got into my park and buried the black bag in the plants and got away and I didn’t notice. Maybe I was at the drive-thru across the street. They don’t let me into the place, but they’ll sell me burgers if I walk through the drive-thru. I missed him the first time. But the Nerd didn’t sneak past me when he came back to the drop.
He went right to it. Like I said, he’s no spy. If he was being followed, which he was by me, he would’ve been caught. But I didn’t care about arresting him or holding him until the cops came. No cops. They’d be more interested in me than the Nerd in the Men’s Wearhouse pinstripe.

After a few minutes of digging through the dirt and scratching his head and looking at the sky as if the answer to his problems was going to be written by God up there, the Nerd took off. No black bag for him, no answers.

The word of God came through me. I followed him out of the park and up the street. I kept waiting for him to get into a car and leave me in the dust again, holding the bag and nothing else. But the Nerd kept bouncing. And he kept looking over his shoulder. But no one sees the homeless in this town.

Even if I’m not a bum and twenty years old and not one-legged vet or complete crazy, I faded in that coating of Los Angeles dust and dirt. Doesn’t take long out here to become invisible. Just stand outside for a day and you’ll get covered in dust. Up north, where I’m from, the rain’ll wash you off. Like my dad. He’s washed clean.

I’m still dirty. But it was the perfect camo and the Nerd kept walking and never saw me. We got away from the park and through some streets with business buildings and condos or apartments. There was a new building with glass and concrete and thin green bamboo all around it. Don’t know how anything grows out here. Too bad they can’t water it with sea water.

The Nerd bounces past the glass doors, nods to the security dude at the desk and disappears into an elevator. His face was red and distracted, like he was chewing on a pinecone and couldn’t understand why it hurt so much.

Here’s how I figure it. The Nerd makes the drop, then goes away to wait for his money. Rodeo shows up for the black bag, doesn’t find it and refuses to pay. The Nerd panics, goes to the drop to make sure Rodeo didn’t miss something. But the black bag is gone and the Nerd has to go back to work and regroup. He wasn’t counting on Trey following him to the fancy building, the black bag in his pocket.

If I could talk to the Nerd, I could squeeze him for some dough. He’ll pay me for the bag, then sell it to Rodeo. Everyone’s happy.

Except security. He stands up as soon as I walk into the building. Black dude, cocked and ready. No shit this guy could take me apart. Let him think I’m crazy. I start talking like the bamboo is taking over the city and I try to get to the elevator. He steps in my way and I say I want to see my dad. He wants the name. I don’t have one. I say the guy that just came in. The Nerd raped my mother and I’m his son and he owes me a 16th birthday party. And it worked. The security dude let it slip. The Nerd’s name. He said it like it was the craziest thing, thinking about the Nerd raping someone.

But he didn’t let his guard down and looked like he wanted an excuse to break my neck. I warned him about the bamboo and got the hell out of there. With the name. And the name of the software company that was written in big metal letters in the lobby.

Everyone has cell phones. I used to have one, up north. Lost it. It’s hard to find a payphone in Los Angeles, but I got one and it stank like shit. 411 gave me the number to the software company. It wasn’t easy dropping the coins in the phone, but I knew the jackpot could be big. It was an investment.

The receptionist sounded sexy. I asked for the Nerd by name and she wanted to know who I was. I told her I was a 16gb thumb drive and he wanted to talk to me. I was right. In a few hours, I’m meeting him in a public place. This could be the jackpot. If it isn’t, at least you know what happened.