Saturday, June 6, 2020

A L.A. Story Part 1

The air was lightly-chilled and grey on this February morning as it flowed through the open cabin of my Bentley Continental GT convertible as it cruised up Santa Monica Blvd. On the other side of the car sat an ambiguously hispanic woman, with a name I don’t remember, and a pussy that wasn’t very memorable either. She looks down at her phone as we cross Doheny onto Melrose. It’s sometime after one on a Sunday and what I could remember is having some random people at the house for a while last night, in fact I’m pretty sure I saw Seth Rogen taking a bong rip on my couch when I left the house.

What’s going through my mind right now is why the subpar lay next to me was even at my house. I know I didn’t invite her, so I don’t know if she just randomly ubered to my house or if somebody in my crew brought her. The least I could do is take her home after being inside of her. Her name is almost at the front of my mind but I can’t find it in the void. The voice of the navigation system snaps my train of thought as it leads me onto one of the side streets in Fairfax. I pull the Bentley in front of the house and she quickly grabs her Burberry tote and gets out. She walks towards the bland stucco house, glances back briefly, and disappears through the front door. 

I was close enough to The Farmers Market to go do a little healthy shopping and pretend like I care about myself. I climb out of the Bentley in a spot near Du-Par’s and walk towards the crowded open air shopping area. As I make it to Huntington Meats, her name finally comes to me: Gabriela. The revelation isn’t Earth-shattering, but dazes me slightly. I keep walking aimlessly through the market amongst the tanned and blond trying to figure out what it really is I’m doing with my life. I can see people around me slowly notice who I am and start to retreat back to my Bentley. I saw a camera phone pointed towards me as I sped through the parking lot towards Fairfax. At the next light I closed the top on the Bentley and began to sweat. I didn’t start doing music for anything other than money and now the other side effects are wearing on me. I pushed the Bentley past the oil fields and felt calm when I finally hit Slauson Ave. I was back where I came from. 

I pulled up on the curb in front of a two story orange stucco mid-century home on Sherbourne Dr. The only car in the short concrete driveway was a white Mercedes S560 with a plate from Downtown L.A. Motors. Before I can climb out of the car, the front door flies open and my mother is screaming from the doorway:

“Boy, come on in here, you ain’t tell me you were coming!”

“I was just in the neighborhood.”

“Well come on, I just finished fixing some chicken.”

My mother didn’t want a new house when I offered about 4 years ago. She said she wouldn’t want to be any further from Fox Hills Mall than she is now, plus she didn’t need a new house. So instead I had her move in with me temporarily while I had her whole place renovated. Her and my father divorced in 1987 and she moved the two of us all the way to L.A. so she could take a job with Ernst & Young. I was always proud of my mother as a child, going as far to go into accounting after college at Deloitte. She didn’t really understand my transition into the music industry until it all panned out for me. 

But that is the past, my mother is running to me for a hug and I couldn’t be more relieved. We walk into the house and she drags me straight to the dining room and I sit down at the table. I look around the room and remember why I decided to leave for the Hills after I got on. Nothing was inspiring to me about this environment at all. I stopped the powerful train of thought that made me resent my upbringing. Where I grew up gave me everything I have today, and I’ve never forgot about it.

My mother hasn’t either:

“Terrell, tell me you still don’t have them stupid ass niggas Jarell and Tyreke in your house.”

“Ma, they don’t cost much and actually do help me keep shit afloat.”

“Well son, if you’re not gonna listen to me that's on you. But all them niggas are gonna do is get ya’ll back in jail again. You think you some hot shit now cause you got a little money, but you still black, mothafucka. Remember that.”

“Yeah, ma.”

Mom mentioned the lowest point of my life to remind me that all of this could be taken away anytime. I knew 
my mother was searching for an argument, so I told her I needed to get back home to the studio and work. I walked out the door after receiving a reassuring hug from my mother. I walked out into the dry, cool air and got into the Bentley. I started the car and took off before the thoughts ran through my mind.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Mr. Richards you are being sentenced to one year with the California Department of Corrections.”

The gavel struck and the silence was broken. I was standing behind a 30 foot tall fence draped in razor wire. All that could be seen beyond was a desolate dry landscape in panorama

“Richards, get your ass over here now! And tuck in your fucking shirt!”

I walk toward the warden’s office slowly, Jarrell and Tyreke are right behind me until I’m within 10 feet of the door. I look back as they both give me a nod to assure me they were going to be right there. I step through the warden’s door and stand in the frame as it closes.

“Why are you here, boy?”


“Your intake IQ test score is 120. You have a MBA and a degree in audio theory. You're not a criminal. Definitely not an armed fucking robber.”

“Are you telling or asking me this?”

“What I’m asking is for you to do me a favor. For someone as smart as you, it should be very easy.”

He walks back towards his office and directs me to follow. He sits behind his fatigued metal desk and takes off his yellow-tinted sunglasses. 

“You see, the state requires all of the camps to have a certain amount of programs available for you degenerates. One of them they are adamant about is music.”

He brings his hands together in front of him on the desk, looks up at me in my eyes and lets out a sigh.

“Look boy, all I need from you is to get a list together of everything we need to have a functioning music studio. It should be easy enough for you. And It’ll be your job while you’re on my camp to run it all day.”

“And what if I refuse?”

“I’ll just make you and your two dumbass friends out there miserable for the next 50 weeks.”

“So where is my music room?”

“Follow me.”

* * * * * * * * * *

I cruised up Linda Flora Drive quietly in the Bentley. Drake softly played on the stereo as the coupe glided through the gate to my driveway. I was exhausted but  eager to get back to my studio for a while. Plus Future was supposed to be coming over to listen to some beats. 

I walked through the door to find Jarrell and Tyreke sitting in the living room smoking a fat Backwood with half-full bottles of D’usse in front of them. I stood behind the couch as the two stared at the television. Tyreke looks at Jarrell and mumbles:

“What’s the moves bruh?”

“I don’t know nigga. Don’t Rex have Future and his crew coming?”

“I don’t know, hit him up.”

I finally break the silence:

“What the fuck have you niggas been doing here while I’ve been gone?”

Jarrell and Tyreke nearly ran into each other trying to get off of the couch. I start again:

“Listen, we got two hours until these niggas supposed to be here. Tyreke go get some food from somewhere, hurry back and get the vibe right here. Jarrell, get some women up in this mix and make sure the control room looks right.”

Tyreke replies:

“Yeah, cool. Can I take the Bentley, ain’t no gas in the Hellcat.”

“Whatever bruh, just go!”

I made my way to the control room and sat behind the console. I turned the chair around and looked out the windows on the rear elevation of the house. I looked down at the pool, the lights shimmering through the water as the cold breeze swept over it. I made it. We made it. This is a dream I hoped would never end. 

* * * * * * * * * *

“Mr. Richards could you come speak to Detective James for a minute?”

My body was frozen as I looked out over the balcony at the pool. The water still lapped in the pool from the breeze as the coroners pulled the body from the water. I didn’t know who she was at all as I watched the water fall from her curls. Photos were being taken all over the yard. It’s now 8:30 in the morning. The maid came around six and found her there floating. 

“Mr. Richards are you okay?”

“Um, yeah”

“Detective James is waiting for you in the kitchen.”

“Thank you.”

I looked back over the hills once more and turned to walk into the house. The dream was about to become a nightmare. 

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