three towns

Venice. Bikes on the boardwalk. The homeless. Waves of marijuana smoke. Sunshine and kites floating in middair. Rollerblading girls in bikinis, dogs panting behind them. A dreadlocked hippie holds up a piece of cardboard: “Lost wallet, need gas money for SF.” I eat the top of my muffin, give him the rest. A police officer arrests a woman for singing loudly and breakdancing in pubic without a helmet. The hippie gets involved. Leads a march across the Boardwalk. Thousands follow him, mostly of the pigeon variety.

Encino. Terra cotta and stucco suburbia. Persians stand in line, awaiting their Starbucks. Older ones move bishops and knights acros the chessboard, sizing up each others’ mustache. The wind picks up and drags a woman and her small chiahuaha away in the air. I pass by a security guard, dozing off while three kids break the lock on my Puegot bike. I yell at them, ready to give chase, but can’t afford lose my place in line. That’ll be one sixty, thank you. The coffee scalds the throat. The mind debate the merits and pitfalls of extreme heat on the esophagus. I’ll probably die. Yes. I’ll die, and it’s not even nine a.m. yet.

North Hollywood. The car quick down Magnolia. It’s Saturday – I’m the Jew in the Jetta, waving hello to heavy girls in long skirts waiting out the Sabbath with kickball and conversations with strangers. They wave, I smile, wave back, say ‘hello’ in Hebrew, confuse them. I pull up to Daniel’s front door. Six foot three, brown stubble, hasn’t slept in years. He holds his baby. She’s two years old now, and clearly the boss. She gives me a pass. I make the sounds of a gorilla and chase her for days on the grass. It’s Animal Planet, I can’t understand a word she says, but suddenly we both want peaches. Her mom arrives with gifts. We eat peacefully and silently, staring.

photo: jonathan barkat

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