‘Cause you ain’t got no one else to use.
There’s an open road that leads nowhere,
So just make some miles between here and there.
Evil Woman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
The roller bag growled along the sidewalk behind her, making a small click each time it passed over an expansion joint. Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, and on — and on, she walked pulling the bag. Past black pimp taking a hard pull on a bottle of Old Crow, leaning on his stereotypically purple Cadillac, past the broken dreams and shattered hope, with the roller-luggage clicking and growling.
He saw everything. Every wart, every blemish, every faux dream and every extremity of human wreckage. He also saw the girl, pulling the bag.
Bill Young didn’t stalk her, but he watched. She made a detour into the rescue mission, but it closed much earlier in the day once it filled. The bums were turned out by nine in the morning and had to cue up for a bed by four in the afternoon. He knew that she’d be out of luck, and he watched. The cheap motels: No phone, no pool, no pets, no vacancy, that smelled of curry and caked on human filth offered thin walls and a restless night as the working girls turned tricks, the drunks tore up the rooms during delirium tremens, and the tourists were horrified that they’d been booked at such a place on the family vacation to the City of Angels.
Young wasn’t. But neither was he old. Forty, prime of life, worked out, drove a vintage ’68 Camero, at the end of his second marriage, this time to a nurse who turned out to be addicted to oxys.
She landed behind a hedge at the back of Macy’s, in a crib usually occupied by a 72 year-old former boxer named Tommy Cut and his two shopping carts. Unbeknown to Rachel, Tommy’d been stabbed for his shoes earlier in the evening and was being stitched up by a first year intern at Central Receiving Hospital. Tommy Cut had not been expected to survive despite the fact that he’d made it to the emergency room, still pumping blood out. Bill Young didn’t know whether the prognosis had something to do with Tommy’s age, the nature of the knife work or the inept care offered by the County.
He heard her crying there in the hedge and stood silently, watching her. Alert blue eyes in the never-dark sky painted by city lights.
“Are you going to spend the night here.” He knew that his voice would shock her. It didn’t disappoint.
Young didn’t say anything. She stood up, looking around for a stick, a broken bottle, anything. Unfortunately for her, she sat in Tommy Cut’s crib and he liked to keep the place clean. He shat twenty yards away behind a dumpster out of an abundance of hygiene.
“This is Tommy Cut’s place. It’s where he sleeps. He’s slept here every night for the past thirty years. You don’t have to worry about that. He won’t be back tonight. He may never be back. But Tommy’s an old nigger with a wicked uppercut and a reputation. People usually leave him alone. The guy who shanked him didn’t know that he was tough. He just wanted Tommy’s shoes.”
“Who are you?”
“Officer Bill Young and Officer Stephen Harper, Los Angeles Police.”
“Are you going to arrest me?” She sat down in resignation and frustration as she saw the blue uniforms and the shining silver badges.
“We normally fuck people up for a living but we’ll make an exception in your case. Bring your bag and we’ll take you to the Women’s Transitional Living Center. They don’t take in run-aways, but they’ll take you for the night.” Stephen Sanchez was dating the lady who ran the center – if dating is a euphemism for fucking. She wanted to marry a straight guy with a job and while Sanchez wasn’t sold on the idea, she worked the matter to her advantage as she could.
Ofcr. Sanchez asked, “Are you running away?”
“Is that what I look like? Running away instead of running toward?”
Ofcr. Young said, “Semantics. It’s all a matter of perspective and our job isn’t trying to figure that out for you. Find a priest or a shrink. We don’t want to see you raped or rolled, ending up in ER next to Tommy Cut.
“My boyfriend broke up with me — in Creighton — and it’s almost Christmas.”
“That’s his name?”
“No, that’s where we’re both from, Creighton, Nebraska.”
“Why did he split with you?”
“He said I wanted too much out of life. Said it was evil of me to want more.”
Ofcr. Young picked up her suitcase and threw it in the back of the cruiser. She fetched a worn, stuffed, teddy bear from within its depth before allowing him to slam the trunk lid.