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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home

Circumstances - 17. Fort Mix

I was very drunk once at a party in Bel-Air. This was when I was in my early twenties and still new to LA. It must have been four in the morning, and I was sitting, drowsily and fairly immobile, in an attractively dim, vast living room, when suddenly the lights came on.

Bright, white, blinding, overhead lights, the kind used by after hour cleaning crews in movie theaters or clubs. The host and hostess, still in the unblemished formal dress of one of the many, minor, industry awards ceremonies, stood at one end of their also white, high-ceilinged room, and looking around at the maybe dozen sleeping, well dressed derelicts, and he said to her, “I’ve got to stop doing this.” She wanly smiled and agreed.

Still, being a polite Midwestern kid, so knowing what was expected, and also knowing I was just starting in the business and didn’t want to lose any potential friends, I managed to shake off enough sleep to stand reasonably sober looking on my feet and apologetically approach the famous middle-aged pair. But when I went to say “Thank you,” nothing came out, so I merely mouthed the words.

The host seemed to understand and nodded politely, and I crossed the long living room and the equally long entryway and found myself out on the comfortably cool, dark and shaded, twisty streets of expensive Bel-Air. And I wasn’t alone, as I soon realized that I was walking behind two well known writers, one very tall, even taller than I was, and the other very short, both, like me, in formal suits. The tall one had his arm around the short one’s shoulder, and the short one had his arm around the tall one’s waist, either out of friendship or mutual need for support.

Since I’d gotten the invitation to the party and a lift in a sports car from a very pretty girl with long dark hair who I really didn’t know from work, I knew I’d have to take a bus or walk back to my shared apartment in West Hollywood. I also didn’t know where I was going, so I figured I’d follow the writers, who were walking quickly and seemed to sense where they were headed on this pleasant night/morning on the safe and beautiful, sidewalkless, immaculately landscaped and gated streets. Actually, they were walking almost faster than I could keep up with and seemed oblivious to my trying to follow.

But finally, no matter what their instincts or intentions, we were all sitting on a low stone wall or decorative concrete bench on a street corner, me on the far end, they with their arms still around each other, lost and hopeless. The taller one kept saying “Fort Mix, Fort Mix,” by which I thought he meant “Sunset,” since I that’s where the bus ran. But it seemed like he couldn’t remember where Fort Mix or Sunset was, and as I was fumbling in my wallet for the folded mini-map that had been guiding me around LA, I realized there was a security guard or policeman or fireman in a long, black, heavy rubber, rain slicker standing besides me with a flashlight beam pointing down the misty morning drive.

He looked both like that unforgettable character in that well known movie played by that famous actor who at one critical point in the story gives contradictory directions to the other characters or like that animated figure in that also equally well known film based on that classic children’s novel who confusingly did the same thing, but I couldn’t remember any of their names. He also resembled an older, very friendly, slightly round, salt-and-pepper haired new mentor of mine, and I finally realized that if I followed his beam of light shining down the seductive street I’d get to Sunset.

2019 by Richard Eisbrouch
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