I leave the house in the middle of the day, to walk down the local branch of the public library and get away from my computer. I'm at home in the middle of the day because I was laid off last week. In my part of Los Angeles, at 2:00pm in the afternoon, everything is washed out under the effulgence of the Sun in its afternoon power, and it's possible to imagine that the city is abandoned. Wandering the inside of this shell, devoid of human habitation, a child of the 80's can entertain their every Mad Max fantasy - that the cars on the street are wheeled robots, running on obsolete software, carrying out errands that no longer serve their now missing human masters. That the feral dogs down by the concrete river might decide they can take me. I'm wearing a straw cowboy hat, like all the guys from northern mexico wear. There's a reason they wear them - they work in this heat. My head is comfortable, and I can feel the sweat cooling off my temples. All I'm missing is my scope rifle. In my fantasy, I would loop the leather strap around my forearm and fire a warning shot towards the feral dogs. I would watch sparks from the slug's metal jacket bloom over the spalled concrete. The dogs would remember that the only people left in the city are crazy - crazy mountain boys lost in empty cities lost in the forests of their disassociated hybrid brains. This is the soul of my newly minted unemployment. This is the interior monologue, my personal severance package. No more functional specifications, no more critical path diagrams and optimizing the office floorplan. For me, it's feral dogs from here on out.
There is literally not a human soul in sight. As I walk down the mountain, I pass a series of wooden cabins built by the followers of Aimee Semple McPherson the 1920's radio evangelist that built the fantasy-spiritualist dome of the Angelus Temple down the street. The cabins are seriously run down. They look uninhabited, but the last one, the one isolated against the end of the street has its front door open. Punk music is playing from inside the house, and I imagine that I've found one of the only remaining inhabitants of the city. I knock and she comes to the door in a denim jacket with the sleeves torn off and no shirt. Her long arms are inked with roses and thorns, and between her breasts is a luminescent tattoo of the Virgin of Guadeloupe. Her hair is long and braided with glass beads, and she's smoking a pipe. Marijuana plants 10 feet tall shade the house, and she's high as a kite. But it's one of those fabulous mystic highs that makes her seem wise and dreamy instead of just stupid and inside is a bowl of corn salsa. She invites me in we eat the salsa on flatbread.
At first, she'll only let me sleep on the front porch, where I pitch my old Vietnam jungle hammock. As the weeks go by, I loot a ratchet set from a gas station, and cannibalize the solar panels off the wireless instrumentation on the gas pipeline down by the river, so we can recharge the batteries in the stereo. I shoot some of the deer in Griffith Park and we eat venison steak and I hang jerky for the winter.
When I got to the library, it was closed. I turn around and walk home, past the little Catholic church by the river. I pay my respects to the Virgin Mary in her postage-stamp rose garden. She's pretty, with that sweet face the Virgin always seems to have.
Unemployment suits me.