Fourteen: Goodbye Ma, Goodbye Beverly Hills

Posted: November 5, 2012 in The Road to Skid Row

Bob’s car blustered into the alley, alerting everyone in the 90212 zip code to his presence.I walked out to meet the man who would drive my mother and uncle to the airport.

As I entered the alleyway I could almost feel the reverberations through the concrete and I imagined the engine, hotter and drier than Death Valley, spinning insanely like a High School science project gone wrong. Bob Overton’s car was born the same year I was but had evidently aged badly. A classic Mercedes Diesel 500D, the only way Bob could turn the engine off was by lifting the hood and pressing the kill switch. So this was their airport limo?

We squeezed into the car and drove to an Indian restaurant near LAX. Bob was one of Kate’s more unusual friends – a 400 pound, fifty-five year old with long blonde beach-bum hair and the verbal equivalent of irritable bowel syndrome. Bob talked the way his engine ran – boisterously and without stopping. The key difference being that you could kill the engine, but you couldn’t kill Bob’s train of verbiage.

Bob drove us back to his house, where he invited us all for a quick drink before take-off. Kate’s Iranian friend Navid joined us and said he would drive us back to Beverly Hills afterwards. Half way through our second bottle of wine and Bob’s eighteenth story of the evening, I pointed out the time. “Don’t you two have to be at the airport soon?” My mother and uncle looked at each other. Bob took a long swig from his wine glass and announced sonorously it was time to go.

We hugged and said we would see each again soon. My mother was worried about what would happen to us, what with my sister being evicted and our stay in Beverly Hills coming to an end. Bob honked the horn goodbye and swung his car recklessly onto the road. Kate and I waved them off, wondering aloud whether they would actually make it to the airport.

Navid took us home for our last night in Beverly Hills. I was happy to be leaving, even if we were about to be evicted from Kate’s East Hollywood apartment and effectively made homeless. Los Angeles is a lonely city but Beverly Hills is the loneliest place of all. Unfriendly and boring – there was nothing to do at night unless you were willing to haemorrhage $100 bills in a fancy restaurant. I was willing; I just couldn’t afford the medical bill afterwards.

I was tired of living next to people who earned more money in one year than I could earn in ten. Tired of sending out my resume, tired of watching Seinfeld reruns – something I never thought could happen – and tired of not knowing anyone in this town.

The whole urban alienation thing didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to be a Haruki Murakami character, cooking pasta alone in an apartment while waiting for an erotic phone call from a mysterious woman which in real life doesn’t come – the nearest I got was a call from a Baptist minister inviting me to join a prayer circle. I didn’t want to be Chandler or Bukowski either, washing down whisky with regrets on the Pissed-up Cirrhosis Highway.

I was ready to give up on the whole adventure and go back to England when the phone rang. I hoped to God it was the lady in The Wind-up Bird Chronicles. I answered, staying silent.

“Hello? This Bob Overton. Tell your sister you are welcome to stay with me in Westchester if you can’t find anywhere to go. Just tell me when and I’ll make up the room for you.”

Tune in on Thursday for the next installment of The Road to Skid Row.

  1. Ian Taplin says:

    Hi Tom ;good writing and I look forward to what happens next !


  2. tommellors says:

    Thanks Ian! I look forward to when your blog is back posting – I understand you’ve got a lot on now though!


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