How big a deal was it? I’ll tell you, I came this close to praying to God. No fooling. And that’s a habit I generally avoid even on Sundays. That’s how big a deal it was. To be honest, in some ways I felt like my life was over right then and there. And I guess it’s just one of those dates that I’ll never forget, like Christmas or the 3rd of July, which I always remember since it comes right before the 4th of July. It was August 8th, 1954. And yes, yes, I know it’s only a year and a half or so ago, but I betcha I’ll still remember that date when I’m old and gray. It just hit me hard, and I knew there’d be no way I’d ever be able to set foot in that bar ever again. I’m talking about Eddie’s Place over on Fountain in L.A. The sad thing is, at that moment, it actually made me wonder if I’d ever want to go to any bar after that. I guess I kinda kept that stuff to myself, even though I think anybody’d feel the same way.
It was a Friday night, a couple hours after work. It was a little warm out but just one of those beautiful summer nights where you’re just so damn happy to live in L.A. So, I rounded Citrus intent on Eddie’s, which is also known as “The Spot.” I felt good and I really didn’t have a care in the world that night. So, I push on in and survey things real quick, but you know, relaxed. I got time. A beer sounded really good of course, but I’m not gonna lie, I was really there for action. Definitely. I fired up a Lucky, which is what I usually smoke. I’m in the advertising game and I guess I’m pretty brand loyal. Anyway, I have no problem doing the approaching. But that night, I don’t know, I just felt so good, so relaxed, I just looked straight ahead, ordered my beer. Let them come to me. And they did. And the chit-chat came easy. Two beers later, nature was calling, so I hit the head.
I entered the men’s room, making eye contact with some guy I’d never seen before who was using the urinal. He was a big guy, tall and beefy looking. He turned his head, gave me a quick smile which I returned with a nod. Blowing past him I made for the stall, shut the door out of habit and proceeded to drain.
“How’s your night going? Any action?” I heard him say.
“Ah, they don’t call this place ‘The Spot’ for nothing. The action’s always good here. But me, I make friends wherever I go. No complaints.” Sure I was bragging a little bit, but why not? A lot of guys go for the confidence. Besides, it’s all true anyway.
“Well, I’m new around here. I bet you could show me a pretty good time. What kind of stuff do you like to do?”
Well, he was pretty good looking from what I recalled from our quick nod and smile. So I told him exactly what I liked to do.
By now I had finished pissing and was just zipping up when I took a glance through the narrow gap between the stall door and wall. And there he was. He was looking down, putting his cock away and zipping up his pants. It hit me hard and I looked away fast not wanting him to see my eyes through the gap. I felt my heart revving up and got a bad feeling. I’d never had any problems before, but I’d heard about this kind of thing through the grapevine and I started to sweat. I’m thinking, this is it. There goes my job, my apartment, my life. I felt the blood draining from my head. I was trapped.
Ideas came pouring in. I’m pretty sure he was just zipping up because he had originally wanted me to run into him while he was exposed. He’d make sure I’d run into him. That would be a sure arrest. But when I had opened my big mouth and told him what I liked to do with guys, that sealed it. He didn’t need me to run into him anymore. Even if I hadn’t told him, it was his word against mine, and judges always buy the cop’s story.
I felt sick. I thought, I can’t go to jail. I can’t. I started looking around for something that could help me, but I needed to do something fast before he got suspicious, so I’m also making small talk and trying to think at the same time. You know, where are you from? Hobbies, anything but more incriminating evidence. Like it would make any difference at this point.
Finally, I decide to bolt out of the stall like a defensive end. Try to knock him on his ass. Take him off guard. But at the last second, I got an idea when I saw the rod for the toilet paper. It was pretty rudimentary and industrial. Basically a 3/4-inch pipe, long enough for three rolls of paper, plus a little extra slack. A good fifteen inches long.
It was connected to another pipe that stuck out about six inches perpendicularly from the wall. The two pipes were joined at an elbow. Let’s just say Eddie’s men’s room is never going to make the cover of House Beautiful. I slid the rolls off saying, “These summer colds are a killer.” I pretended to sneeze and made nose blowing sounds, buying a little more time. I unscrewed the long pipe at the elbow, which was a bitch. I did it as fast as I could and covered any squeaking sounds with harsh coughing. By now this guy probably thought he’d be arresting some kind of weak-kneed, asthmatic pansy. Finally, I unlatched the lock on the stall door—with my sleeve so I wouldn’t leave any fingerprints. That’s how spooked I felt at that moment.
I came out of the stall with my mouth open, fake yawning, my arms over my head and bent behind my back like I was stretching.
He had one of those “I gotcha” smiles plastered on his face and a pair of handcuffs dangling in front of him. He was pretty damn good looking and it all came together. “Hollywood Reject.” I’d heard about these guys. Anyway, the cuffs were the real clincher. My stretching right arm, toilet roll rod in hand, came crashing down, fast and hard, hitting him square on the top of his head. He was stunned and staggering, and I wasted no time lowering my shoulder and barreling into him, knocking him to the floor as I breezed by and out the men’s room door.
I wanted to run as fast as I could. I had no idea how long he’d be out for and I had a horrible feeling like he had recovered and was right behind me. Moving fast but not running, I hooked the arm of the first girl I saw in the bar who wasn’t sitting down.
“Come with me. I really need your help, please.”
I had just entered Eddie’s. I had been there many times before and everything seemed normal. I was there to meet my girlfriend, Dot. I like Eddie’s neighborhood feel. It kind of reminds me of back home, Brooklyn. It is a nice place since both men and women go there, giving you a little more protection, like if there seems to be a raid about to happen, they will belt out The Star-Spangled Banner over the hi-fi. When this happens, that is the signal for the men to partner up with the girls and visa-versa. Play a little Tarzan and Jane. Two times it has happened since I started going to Eddie’s and it honestly scared the hell out of me. I mean you feel like a little kid about to get a beating from your father.
Anyways, that is how come when I saw this character moving quickly toward me from the men’s room at Eddie’s that night, I did not pause but just grabbed his arm and let him lead me out. I knew this fella must be in trouble. Oh, I’ve been around, and I know about all the entrapments that go on with the boys. So anyways, this fella, nice-looking, takes my arm and I grab back right away while he tells me he needs my help. So he spins me on my heels and out the door we go, fast, but not too fast. I sneak one last look over my shoulder before we exit—nothing.
Once we are outside, we keep up the pace and he immediately takes off his jacket, bundles it up, and holds it to his gut with one arm. He takes his other arm and puts it around my waist and pulls me close.
“Say, you’re chilled to the bone. Like a big shrimp cocktail,” he says.
“Shrimp cocktails do not have bones.”
He smirked. “Yes, and you’re not in a fancy glass soaked in cocktail sauce, either. It’s what we society characters call a metaphor.”
As we walk, I look up at him since even with my heels he is still much taller than I am. He had a nice face. Then I do that thing I always do when I am around a man like him. I always wonder—I guess I can not help it—could I be with a fella like him if things were different?
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