Monday, June 14, 2010

My First L.A. Crack House, Part 2

Not only was I happy to help a friend clean out his house, but I also figured all that manual labor was a good chance to drop a few pounds. You get that slice of thinking in L.A.: People think a lot about weight loss, even going so far as to find that as a silver lining during an illness. “Thanks for the invite, but I can’t go with you tonight. Raging case of the diarrhea. But I’ve already lost three pounds!”

Haven’t made the acquaintance of too many crack addicts, but from what I gather, they’re not neatniks. The ones who used to live at my friend’s inherited house seemed to have the disposable income to buy all sorts of things and then, well, dispose of them — everywhere except the trash can. Six of us filled a jumbo-sized dumpster on Sunday. To call most of it crap understates the case of things. It was more than most, and it was worse than crap: weather-destroyed books, magazines, unidentifiable shards of plastic pipes, wires, pieces of wood and particleboard, strips of cloth, torn tarps and other sheets of plastic, VHS movies, various electronic parts, stray bolts, and on and on and on.

Some things begged curiosity. Our friend Kyle found a portfolio filled with communist literature. Someone found a water pipe made from a 2-liter soda bottle. Then there was the double-sided phallus that most of us straight, well-adjusted males just couldn’t stop looking at. That ended up in the garage along with a stack of Polaroid nudie shots and the shoe box full of stray panties. Every once in a while, we’d hear a whooping sound from Dale’s dad’s friend Marv. That meant that Marv had found another pair of panties and was flinging them to the panty box. If you’ve never found little moments of fun like this while cleaning out a crack house, then you’ve never tried.

The place was once a decent house that had since been turned into a hovel, which made me have contempt for the scummy sorts that once occupied it. I spent the first hour just making gasping and sighing sounds at the junkyard that the backyard had been turned into. You couldn’t make a mess like this if you tried.

But I occasionally ran across items that made me suspect that shreds of humanity must have survived at times. Things like a hairbrush, a fake rose, a Frisbee. The thing I took with me, literally, was a mesh bag of emerald-colored stones. It was in good shape, so I figure someone recently had decided these would make a nice decoration somewhere, and then maybe the crack overlord decided they wouldn’t, so he tossed them out back.

Who was it who brought these home? How long was she there before she became an addict and said goodbye to her youth and all pretty things, except for the occasional decorative item that ended up getting tossed aside? Was she once a happy child? Was she once an idealistic teen with hopes of moving out here to be a model or an actor? Or was she a neighborhood girl who had a traumatic home life and ended up falling in with the wrong crowd? Where is she now? Does her family miss her? Those are the things I thought about on the drive home.

That and my weight.

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