Always a Hollywood sign, impeccable irony around every corner. Brain washing billboards telling you what you need to buy, wear, smell and eat while the homeless sift through garbage in urine soaked clothes. A jaded city, built on dreams of fame and fortune, held hostage by its own success. Where do the dreams end and fortune begin? It seems so obvious, till you catch a glimpse of plastic faces behind the plastic smiles. It's a moment of perfection captured in a second. Greetings and cordial introductions seem to make it less obvious but it's right there, underneath it all. Just wait for it. You'll start to see who's really happy and who's not, that may not be all that you see either.
There's a movement in the shadows across the street in the alley.
Sam sits up and squints to see. “Did you see that?”
“What the hell are you talking about Sam?” Sara says in her whiskey laden voice.
“I don’t know. I thought I saw something over there. It must be the Rye,” he says sitting back against the wall taking a swig from the bottle.
As the escalator rises above ground the transience of the city breathes; night time, Hollywood is a barrage of lights, odors, hustlers, junkies, tourists, drunks and vandals. Life's cornucopia; the worst and best living out the experience full throttle on the open road to excess. It has all the stories built into its ecosystem ready for the observer to pluck and create. "Choose your own adventure." , he thinks looking around.
“Hey Mister, you got any change?” says a husky voice from the side of the sidewalk.
“I’m sorry. I don’t have anything today,” says Sam.
“How about a poem then?” she blurts out.
"Rags to riches, riches to rags… or both, just depends on your patience I guess,” carefully stepping around the homeless lady sitting on the sidewalk with Marvin Gaye's star right in front of her. “Isn’t that right Sara?”
“Damn right, Sam”, the lady says in a husky voice through her two missing front teeth.
“What’s going on?” he says.
“Oh ya know Sam, This ain’t livin’. It makes me wanna holla!” Sara says back.
“If this world were mine. I’d give you anything,” he says sitting down next to her singing. “You’re my consolation, and there’s no hesitation. If you want me just call me.”
They both sing in harmony, “It takes two baby…It takes two baby, to make a dream come true.”
Sam puts his arm around Sara. “I have a surprise. Close your eyes, and put your hand out.” Sam places a banana in Sara’s hand. “For you my dear.”
“Oh dear Sam, in public?”, she says giggling with her eyes still closed.
Sam laughs, “Not quite me lady, I am a gentleman after all. Open your eyes silly.”
Sara opens her eyes, “For me?”, she says in a southern drawl. “Why you shouldn’t have.”
“It’s Chiquita. Nothing but the best for you my love.”, Sam smiles.
“Where did you get this? You don’t…”
Sam stops her, “Don’t you even worry about it. Today we are celebrating.”
"Excuse me, do you have the time?" a lady asks him.
Not even looking at his watch he looks up at her, "It's now."
"I'm sorry I didn't catch that."
"It's always now,” he says nonchalantly looking down at this watch this time. "Which also translates to 9:32pm and 21 seconds."
Perplexed she says, "Thank you."
"Any…time,” a brief pause emphasizing the word ‘time’ as he smiles at her as if to acknowledge that a seed was planted into reality.