|La Brea Blvd. Los Angeles|
I have been revising my "book" in the main library in Santa Monica. I wander past the main desk and the new books and walk up the stairs to look for an empty table. The library is filled with the homeless. They sit at the tables and in the few easy chairs. They shout at one another and murmur to themselves. Last week a man shouted and yelled and was forcibly removed, but no one looked up from their places as it was going on. Neither did I. I sit at an empty table and take out my computer and the manuscript. I am typing all of it, from the beginning, into my laptop, revising and writing into and out of this decade-long effort. It's called There's Everyone and Then There's Us. I sit down in a seat with my back to the library and the shelves of books, and I look out a big window at the palms swaying outside. A man's angry voice cuts into the quiet behind me. Why the fuck are you up here? he shouts, and I will myself not to turn around. A woman murmurs something to him, and he raises his voice more, slaps his hands together, and for a moment I think he's hit the woman. I've been looking everywhere for you and you're fucking here. You said you'd be there. The woman protests and the man keeps it up. He repeats the same sentence over and over. I've been looking everywhere for you and you're fucking here. You said you'd be there. I turn around, catch his eye. Oh, sorry, he says. She is surrounded by things. Paper bags stuffed full, a backpack, a small rolling suitcase. I don't see what she looks like because I avert my eyes. I only see her things. I turn back to my computer. Get out of here and don't come back, the woman says. I don't turn around, but there's quiet. A man with tight black curls, a red-checked shirt and black cotton pants stumbles along the wall behind my table and sits down across from me. He puts his hands in his lap and looks down. He has headphones over his ears, the giant squishy kind, and I can hear some tinny music through them. He fidgets and moans a bit, bangs his hands on the table and then places them again in his lap. I look up from my typing, try to catch his eye, but I don't. He smells of the street, but what do I know, especially, of the street? I know nothing.
He sits there with me, or I with him, for the next three hours.