Tzvi's Trees: Stories About Weed
Story 14: The Key to Calm
#14 The Key to Calm
by Tzvi Peckar the Third
I blame the flip-flops. Never been fond of flip-flops. Won’t wear Birkenstocks and sandals are also not a go—You wouldn’t even catch a Drag Queen in flip-flops out in public. Not a stylish one at least. I have one pair I use in the gym’s showers. I fear the flesh eating disease squiggling under my toenails—Yet as of late I have a second reason for the rubbery, free flapping, slip on footwear. Southern California’s been victim to a serious heat wave since July. Averaging 88-90 degrees on the west side. I’ve taken up aimless walks along the Santa Monica beach, mid-day, 3 - 5pm, and sit my ass on a bench to write stories into my phone. This new hobby sucks in shoes. Yesterday I sucked up my pride and fashioned the flip-flops so I didn’t have to carry my Docs forever. The water is sweeter on the soul when you’re barefoot. The sand is easier to navigate. I string the black flip-flops through my belt. I walk hands free. My playlists converse with me through the ear that faces the PCH. My other ear is headphone free in order to hear the waves. I’ve sold myself on the flip-flops. Within the first hands free walk I was a complete convert. I put my faith in this new freedom of the feet. And if I get a text—I don’t have to stop—I can text away while fearing electrocution from the ocean. That’s a mini-rush of its own appeal.
Today, like most, I drive the 20 plus blocks from my place to Ocean Blvd. If I do the whole twenty-block walk, instead of driving here, then I lose the will to fend the massive flights of stairs to the beach. There’s always free street parking just north of Montana Ave. After Riot Grill in August I traded in the Brick (the old red Eddie Bauer Bronco) for a 4Runner; grey like a shadow. I hit my faithful Jetty Extract pen, turn off the SUV, breath, happily sigh, and trust in my life rules. Rule numero zero—never leave the house without a fully charged vape pen. “Liberating,” I say to myself in the rearview mirror and begin my preparations. I need my wallet, my headphones, my phone—shit I got too much in my hands, “Put these down,” I say and drop something and remember, FLIP-FLOPS!—It’s too hot in the 4Runner. Got my mind mixed up—Open the door. Fucking humid as hell out there. A slight breeze from the open door, but not really. I start to unlace my boots. Docs are fast off, forever to put back on. I toss them in the back, unroll my socks, ditch those as well, and grab the…where the fuck are the Flip-Flops? Mutha Fucka, I can’t find them.
I’m tossing my helmets around the back seat. I’ve let the skullcaps pile up in the recent month. I go out too much. When did I stop watching TV? I used to watch TV to take the pain away…now I go out to meet the world instead. Outside. In LA. There is nothing to do in LA. There are things to do, but people don’t dance at bars. I’ll settle for going to the beach in shoes at night to get my dance on. At least on the vast shore I’m the only one dancing because I am the only one there. I just have to be outside lately. Maybe it’s the humidity. Maybe it’s the whiskey and weed? Fuck I can’t find my dumbass flip-flops anywhere. This is a travesty. I put my shoes back on. I’m still going to the beach; now more than ever in fact. “Rule number one! Never leave your weed in the car,” I remind myself. This rule is imperative for all safe, calm travels. If you leave your weed in the car and your car gets stolen, you will have no weed to smoke. That is an Uncomedy. That’s when you find grown men weeping on the side of the road. There is nothing funny about your weed being stolen, especially when your car has been jacked. So I grab the Jetty Pen and slide it in my back pocket, hop the fuck out, lock the door from the inside—I left the car clicker at home—don’t want to lose that clicker in the sand. I did that unconsciously. Maybe I should make that another rule?—And I’m out, Lou Reed in the ears, one street to cross, and I’m taking the massive slabs of drift wood steps down and over PCH, around the spiral staircase, across the billion dollar a minute parking lot— bam freedom, beach world, peace, no pressure. “Vicious,” says Lou, “You hit me with a flower…”
I walk north up the bike path towards the Palisades. A short slow stroll of 5 minutes and you find a plastic path that leads directly to the shore. I take this path in order to avoid the mile long arduous trek through the thick, dry sand that everyone else seems to endure. Why do they do that? “There’s a boardwalk just up ahead,” I tell two college age girls lugging two bags each, an umbrella, and their flip-flops curled in their manicured bling spiraled fingers. They think I’m hitting on them, smile, and say, “That’s okay”—LA girls—They think everyone talks from the dick here—I blame the fat cat producers for that. I see no couch on the beach. What’s the big?
I do look a little bit like a porn producer with my trusty rooster truckers’ hat, pho-cop sunglasses, strutting with a dance in my step, shirtless absorbing some sun to kill the tan line I got. Maybe they shouldn’t talk to me? But I’m one of the nice ones—I’m just a writer with style and holes in his jeans. Maybe it’s the flip-flops? No. I got boots on today. Must be the sunglasses. Fuck ‘em, they can trudge through that sand, I’m taking the easy way to water.
The benches are free. There are two benches here. If you read my Lonelier by the Sea story you kind of know what I’m talking about—aka the benches were not fiction, just the characters and actions, and I never saw the plane crash, but I read about it the next day—I’m going to sit on the north end bench. Hot as fuck out here. No breeze. No clouds. No shade. I’m just going to lie on the bench instead. Close my eyes—Fade away into the music in one ear and the ocean in the other. Fend the fire.
No one has called or texted for the past hour I’ve laid here with the Eagles of Death Metal, Zepplin, Cream, some Magnetic Fields, Fugazi, The Who, NoMeansNo, Mayfield, Love, Alice Donut, Underworld, some early Pixies. I sit up. “An hour? Fuck I disappeared into so many stories,” crack my back, “I should walk”—Right after I hit the Jetty a few more times.
The sun drops earlier and earlier as October rolls along. Last week it was still centered over the expanding ocean. You were still able to make out some of the green colors of the Santa Monica waters. This is not the Caribbean. Let’s not fool ourselves, but there is still beauty in destruction. Destruction allows for new things. I’m not so sure that truly works for the water though. We all came crawling from the sea—Sulfur levels making life. Probably not the earth womb we should be fucking around with, if you catch my drift. Leave that lady alone. Swim in her. Love her. Kiss her. Lick her hidden sulfur tubes—submerge in her beauty, but stop shoving beer bottles, and plastic straws up her ass. That shit just ain’t cool. Garbage’ll ruin her for years to come. I guess because the sun has moved northwest its reflective powers no longer create a green tint in the sea. The water is a molten metal instead. Rolling tides that glisten in the final rays of the fire in the sky. You can see the moon if you look south. You can see Aliens along the Seattle shore. This is not Seattle. All our Aliens are Scientologists down here.
I continue my walk north along the wet sand. Every third wave and I have to dance away from the tide because I totally left my flip-flops at home and do not want to carry my boots and mess up my chill. I never wrote today. I wasn’t feeling it. I call the sea my mistress. Second only too my apartment. The city’s just a slut whore who’ll taunt and tease and make you pay for the bill—then fuck the bartender instead and get a free drink next week. The sea is more reliable with crashing waves that are much less predictable. Furious fodder for the brain. Easy undertows for the heart.
The birds are crazy for fish today. They dive, five, six at a time around a family of people that play in the crashing waves. These Angelinos don’t seem to care about the birds’ late lunch. They think it’s cute. I wouldn’t trust those birds. They’re like spears with brains. Hungry brains. They should really get out of the water. I’d yell shark, but that ain’t cool.
Okay I gotta turn around. I’ve walked thirty minutes farther than ever before. I’ll be in the Palisades if I keep this up. My wallet’s not thick enough to be caught half naked on a Palisade beach. Besides, if not a young one, then it’ll be a Cougar with a cash call and as much as I could use a free dinner or two, the price is way too high. What if lady on the hill falls in love with me? I’m too honest to put up with that. I turn around—These are the thoughts of this writer. This is what I have to put up with. Me, myself and the strangeness that finds me throughout my lifetime. I put up with him. I do his work for your entertainment.
Okay the sun’s going to sleep, sooner than later, and I’m getting a little hungry. Peckish. Oh the stomach growled. Hello belly. Maybe some steak and eggs from Norms. You like that? Grrrr. Don’t worry little fella you’ll be a happy tum-tum soon enough. I hit the Jetty. Stoned free. Grrrrr. Ah shut up. Gotta pee. Do that now.
There’s a public bathroom by the parking lot. Pee before you walk the hill of hell steps. Hate touching the doorknobs. Worse is the lock on the inside. Everyone touches that after they’re done. No sink in there and never much TP. What the fuck? Fail in design. I barely touch the door handle to open it. Ugh, now I have to lock the door from the inside and touch my dick. I use my index and thumb for the knob and the deadbolt. I’ll use the pinkies on the Pee-pee. I ain’t catching nothing in the Gym. I ain’t never catching something from the beach bums. Lame. Okay pee done, wash hands, hike back up the massive spiral stairs to the PCH overpass, over the PCH, up the wooden mountain stairs to Santa Monica ground level, then get to the car and gets me some food. I take it slow. I’m mellow. I’m hitting the Jetty as I take one step at a time. Puff, step, puff, step, step, puff, and step. I used to take the steps fast. Dumb. Take them slow like a tourist and it makes for a stress less summiting back up to civilization. Jane’s ‘s Addiction takes me home. Nothing’s Shocking. Back to the city.
I reach my 4Runner. I think I’m going to call it The Shadow. I’m done with the music that blares in my head. I drop the ear-buds into my front pocket, swipe the lock screen, dump instagram, go to dump the playlist, but I get a text from a new acquaintance, “What’s up?” — “Nothing.” The end. Not in the mood to write author paragraphs to my various friends who’ll only ask me if I’m going out or where they could get some illegal drugs—typewriter sound—another one blows up my phone—“You know where I can get some Acid?”—“Don’t ask illegal shit on my phone. Especially in TEXT!”—Mutha Fucka—But what a great text. Great text. I laugh. I hope I didn’t offend. Fodder for good story. I like to give good story. That’s why you have to be careful texting a writer. We write. Texting is a portal to our intellectual climax. It’s what we do. Write. Read. Cum. Write. Read. Pee. You’ll only get a Yes or a No if it fits the story. The rest of the time you must suffer through our thoughtfully crafted novellas and poetry because all of us writers think text is a place we can be poets without any real judgment. Novelists are not poets. Text is not the place. We do it none-the-less.
Do not text a photographer. You are bound to only get picts and stupid memes in return, “A picture says a thousand words.” Well a thousand words is either too much or not enough. What does a filmmaker do? Probably ignores the text because they have to hire a cinematographer, gaffer, screenwriter, and an actor to talk for them. Besides, the executive producer of the text is going to make the director change the ending anyway. Hit the Jetty and open the door, but the door don’t open ‘cause it’s locked. Ha, I’m stoned.
Where the fuck are my keys?
Pat down all my pockets. No fucking way. Pat them again. Dig those hands in there Mutha Fucka. Dig. No! There are no fucking keys. Where the fuck are my keys?! I look toward the sea. Oh mother of G-d—Did they fall when I passed out on the bench? Please no. It’s getting dark. Check the pockets. Oh hello Jetty. And I take a hit. Least I got my weed. I look through The Shadow’s tinted windows. Do I see them? No, too dark in there. Use the phone flashlight. The light just reflects back from the windshield. This is fucked. Come on they have to be in there. I don’t see them. I’d see a shine off the metal keys by now. No time to waste. Sun is almost gone. I have to get back to that fucking bench! I’d blame ghost brat Little Leah, but this isn’t a movie, it’s real life.
I’m glad I don’t smoke pot anymore. I know, travesty. How could Tzvi say such a thing?! Fuck you. I hit my Jetty Cannabis Oil all day every day and I am a much better person, artist, and breather for it. I don’t cough in the morning anymore and I’m not going to vomit my lungs out after hustling down those Santa Monica steps. Okay get to the bench. Run Mutha Fucka, Run!—I’m going to die running back up. Exercise extreme.
Back at the bench. It’s dusk dark. Nearly impossible to see anything clearly. The phone light isn’t strong enough, but I’m shining it all over the place for effect. There are plastic planks under the benches. If the keys were here, they’d be here. I’m on my hands and knees to push around some of the sand behind the bench. Maybe some brat or drug addict kicked them into the sand for no reason other than absolute obnoxiousness. They’re not here. Honestly, I hope they’re not here because I cannot find them anywhere. They better be in my car. Maybe under the seat? Hit the Jetty. Ah, mellow out. You still have your weed, Tzvi. Good boy. Follow those rules. Add keys to your rules. Never thought I’d have to do that. Kind of figured that was second nature. Not today.
Call your neighbor. I gave Violet a set of house keys for an emergency. At least I can go home. Holy fuck, my phone only has 8% of its battery life left. That sucks. “Violet! Holy shit balls, listen, it’s Tzvi,” I yell into my cell—“Oh I’m in a hurry is everything okay,” she says, but I cut her off—“LISTEN! I need my house keys. I locked myself out of my car. Can you pick me up?” No response. “Hello?” I ask and she puts me on hold, “My kid’s going berserk, hold on.” Violet’s kid is a twenty-two year old functioning autistic man. Good kid. He has his moments though. This was a moment. “Nick’s running around with his pants off screaming for a dance contest and we have to leave. Can I call you back? Thanks sweetie,” she says—“No! FUCK WAIT! KEYS! LEAVE MY KEYS!”
I think she heard me. She hasn’t hung up yet. “Violet?”
“NICK!” I hear her scream on the other end of the phone and then it goes dead.
“Oh she better had heard me.”
I’m hightailing it the first six blocks. Fireballs of hell spill from my heels. I stop at the Duck Blind. I need some whiskey. “I got the weed. That, I didn’t lock in my car,” I vent to the liquor store bartender who is just the loyal cashier. “But you need some whiskey?” he asks. “No, I’d just like some whiskey. And this water. I didn’t loose my wallet and I still got my weed. No time to cry, yet,” I say with a shit eating grin instead of collapsing in tears. The weed holds that all down. “The whiskey’s for when I get home, home. Like car home.”
I immediately down the whole water.
“If you find the keys let me know,” he says. “Sure thing. Thanks for the talk,” and I run again. The longer it takes for me to understand how screwed I am, the longer tonight will be if the car keys are totally gone. No, I don’t have a second set of those. Don’t judge me. That’s like $350 bucks. Fuck that.
It’s red light after red light. When they turn green the obstacles continue. Some yuppie in a four-door, gold Porsche is California rolling the stoplight to go right. He’s texting as well. He almost kills me as I throw myself in front of two housekeepers with strollers and infants. I slam my fists against his precious $25,000 hood with a fury, “Go fuck your self you murderous text junky!” Then I turn to the housekeepers to explain, “Probably making an online appointment for his Tantric session.” That’s when I really started to run. I have to get home. I cannot be distracted again—And then came the banana. I never saw it. Totally blindsided in the foot. It was sneaky. Just sprawled out on the sidewalk. Each peel stretched out like a starfish. I didn’t see it until I took flight. I had been cursing the golden Porsche douche bag when the truck of bananas lost control at the wheel. I never saw the truck crash directly into the Aero Theater as I raced up the street. There were hundreds of nearly ripe bananas slung into the evening sky. Green and yellow wingless fruit. I slipped. I don’t know how far or for how long I was in flight, but I sure was high.
High enough to see hordes of flying purple elephants soar out from the dark fog layer. Bat like wings hold their hefty bodies in the air as they use their trunks to scoop up single bananas and toss them in the sky.
High enough to watch the purple skinned pachyderms catch the fruits one by one in their mouths and return to scoop up another and another.
High enough to see the flamenco mermaid-clown dancers pole slide on the streetlights and pose for the ticket cams with their tails spread out. And I wonder how a mermaid spreads its tail like that?
High enough to compare the color of the night sky with the glittering lights of the movie theater that blind the blind men that sell pencils on the rooftops.
Long enough to laugh myself into oblivion under the triple layered top hat with a skeleton in a fake beard performing a sermon on the rim—Long enough for me to tear off the hipster’s beard and tell him to grow some on his balls.
Long enough to sing sadder songs about the funny fool who takes sips of soda pop with an apricot dwarf that blows bubbles in my ear. Flipping pantomime in spirals with dancing toes and sulfur hoes. I can’t see my mistress the sea as she is covered in the dark night even from way up here.
Long enough to soar past folly’s with black, leopard skinned, pregnant boas that sell hearts of glass to my former self ‘cause, “I’m invisible like a razor of love”—And I realize my playlist hasn’t stopped.
Long enough to check my battery. 2%. I hope I get home.
Long enough to hit the Jetty two more times.
Fast enough to race the sporadically U-turning double you-s and grand standing VW’s against the Venice beach hydro-monster cars that surf along the curling fog over Santa Monica while the hippies in the graveyard wave peace signs in protest of a world without absolute peace.
Just slow enough to dip my fingers into a rainbow dream and smear the sky with majestic oils. Passive enough to watch my sky transform into a kaleidoscopic eyeball that blends into a kiss and imprint itself on our psychedelic pupils of infinite space.
Just slow enough to see there is another soul. Just slow enough to be alone. Just slow enough to know it’s not enough. Far enough to miss my own hands. Deep enough to forget my legs. Long enough to grow wings—To prevent my fall. To continue my crawl. To scratch my own balls. To piss the useless goals away. To focus on the darker gold liquid that is the Cannabis Oil.
Just slow enough to land on my feet with the bending of a knee, three steps back, three steps forward, and thank you G-d and please get me home. But life is adversarial. So I hit the Jetty weed stream once again and skip a rock over the catastrophe that is the ruckus of battling purple elephants that use their tusks to tear each other down in order to feed on the last few bananas. “You all just gotta chill. Smoke some weed,” I say as I hoof it past the pachyderms—but elephants don’t smoke weed, or vape for that matter—so all for not. I got seven more blocks to go. “If the devil is six, then the G-d is seven,” said Black Francis on the beach when I found peace and tranquility in the eyes of the sea.
I flip my neighbor’s doormat. “I’ll leave the keys under the mat,” was the last text I got before I hit that banana. I tried to respond back with a thumbs-up emoji, but the 2% died as quickly as I swiped unlock—Yes, the house keys are here. I can get into my place.
I gotta pee. Clicker first. Grab that. Slip that into my change pocket of my jeans. There it will live safely. Wait. There’s a hole in these jeans right? Shit. Yup a pocket hole. Oh fuck, charge the phone. Right here. The charger is right beside me. Plug that in. Good. Charge bitch. Change my pants. I gotta pee. Pee first. I already dropped my jeans. Okay scoot to the john with the Levis around your ankles. Almost trip. Catch myself against the dresser. I’m going to die like this one day. Shoot the pond. Losing weight. Feeling better. Give me a moment. I gotta breath. It’s dark out. Night is so here. No keys in the car will mean I’m waiting hours for a tow. I saw the street cleaning sign. I have to move that car before 8am. I have to get it towed tonight. Then what? I’ll have to wait ‘till tomorrow to buy a new key. How long will that take? Tow a car twenty blocks. Sounds so lame. I should just push it. Fuck! Can’t push a car you can’t get into. Ugh! Hit the Jetty. Hit the J-E-T-T-Y. Think positively. The more I smoke of my Jetty canisters the more they’ll end up donating to cancer patients. I can live with that. Smoke more then pull your pants up. I think I gotta pee again. Yup. Twinkle, twinkle little star. I can see a single star through my bathroom window. Night is fucking here. Shake it off. Get back to the car bro.
I’ve pissed. I’ve checked my pocket. I have the car clicker. Okay, house keys? Fuck where’d I put my house keys. Get a fucking grip, man. I hit the Jetty. They’re on the bookshelf. Jetty eyes. That’s what I call clarity. I never leave keys on the bookshelf—“Maybe if you didn’t smoke so much,” will be my friend who “loves drugs” review of my day, but she’ll be wrong. Flip-Flops are to blame—Maybe I have to pee again? No. I’m cool. Just go. So, clicker—check. House keys—check. Jetty—hit it. So good. Okay I’m kind of having a good time again. Hilarious. This shit is dramatically hilarious in my crazy brain. Maybe I should take the acid in my freezer. Nah, I’m saving that for the right time. Now is not that time. I’ve returned to myself. Laugh it off. Laugh at that. Laugh at the life in which we weave—Sweating like a mutha fucka. Still 80 outside. Probably 86 in here—Switch shirts—I only have four varieties of shirts. I have Black T-shirts, black colored Polo/Izods, two to three black button ups, and a myriad of black muscle undershirts. I have other kinds, but more or less this set is what keeps me thinking instead of deciding—I got to get out of my head—I go Polo. I have a thing for making yuppie wear go the punk way. Take the piss out of their reality. I really got to find my car keys. I got fifty thousand blocks to walk again. At least I don’t have to do the beach stairs for a sixth time. Or do I? Not if the keys are in the car. Okay, lights, door, got my keys, check, get the fuck out of here.
CLICK—BEEP, BEEP—My car unlocks. I open that door in a fury. I find the car keys in between the seats. I sit. I drop my head against the steering wheel from pure exhaustion. I weep. I laugh. I curse the day. I love the new night. I blame the Flip-Flops. Flip-Flops make the world go flippity-flap. That shit is annoying. Today the rubbery slip on footwear crossed the line. They didn’t follow me to the beach. They ditched me. Stayed home in the gym bag. They confused me. They rattled my brain with their flip-flop attitude about stability. At least I never left my weed in the car and had charged my Jetty pen before I ever left the house in the first place. Rules are not always meant to be broken. Shit, where’d I leave my phone?