Dark Passage

Spring this year was thrilling.  After a winter of rain, the sun came out and heated up a fragrant cornucopia of roses, orange blossoms and jasmine.

I went around the old neighborhoods of Los Angeles, with my house-hunting cousin.  I rode up hills, and into scenic valleys, discovering streets and architecture decades old.

There was Passover and family, old relatives I had not seen for a long time, and the traditions of celebrating the rites of Spring and the end of slavery.

I broke two toes at the gym and have spent the last month limping around in a post-op shoe, unable to run or bike. People rush past me now because I move slowly. But I just accept this injury and know it will heal. And I can swim or lift weights as long as I don’t bend my left toes.

For a time I felt very alive in a good way, seeing this poisoned metropolis of deceit, decay and decadence in a virginal way, made anew by my willingness to just live here in the sun and enjoy it.

Then last week, as I was driving down LaBrea, my phone rang. Someone asked if I heard the news about a family friend missing in Mexico.

A day passed and the lost person became the dead person.

And the suspect was someone I loved, respected, admired and trusted.

He was a stand-up man. Someone who stood by my family- always.

He spoke at my father’s funeral service last April.

And if anyone were a rock of intellect, wit and character that you could depend on…it was he.

There was simply nothing in him but conversational gentleness and physical strength. A reserved, private, masculine, educated guy.

He was cynical and smart and apolitical. He used the word “idiots” a lot. To describe people in power: politicians, agents, lawyers.

If you needed someone to help you move, lift heavy furniture, work until all hours of the night-you called him.

I thought of him sometimes as a golden log floating down a green river. He didn’t try too hard, but somehow he managed to amass a career, a wife, a family, money, a big house.

He traveled to South America and Fiji while I walked around Van Nuys. He was an Executive Producer, whatever that BIG title means. And I was saving coins in a glass jar.

And we ate Thanksgiving at his home, and hugged the big, lovely, warm vivacious woman who was his wife.

He had it all. And it all had happened to him. He didn’t seem to go for it. It was bestowed upon him.

I admit I was jealous.

He had a special relationship that I did not with someone I should have.

On April 13th, it will be the one-year anniversary since my father died in a hospital in Santa Monica.

We, as a family had been progressing and healing and trying to heal the wound and gaping hole left by my father’s death.

It was a week of gore and death and the news media circled around like vultures.

And we went to meet the house-hunting cousin at Ginger Grass in Silver Lake this past Saturday night, just to get out of the house and enjoy ourselves.

After dinner, we stood on the sidewalk talking about the future and what we might do for work or investments.

We heard a strange sound, a woman screaming “No, no, no!”

People ran out of a parking lot. A man crouched behind a car.

Another man took off and ran up the hill, full speed, in the darkness.

We stood there, frozen.

“What was that?” someone asked.


We slowly walked around corner.

A young woman was lying on the pavement in a pond of her own blood.  People surrounded her.

“Why did he shoot me? Mom, mom, mom….”

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