San Andrea, by Scáth Beorh
Photo by Vincentas Liskauskas on Unsplash
I was up all night with Andrea, one of a handful of girls I had gotten to know night-owling around Hollywood—a favorite thing of mine to do, dangerous as it was since the kids in the local gangs started roaming the streets around ten or eleven at night.
Andrea and I had rendezvoused at Gorky’s Café on Cahuenga at about eight o’clock, and when they closed their doors for the night, we went back to my place not a half block from the Magic Castle. I made two demitasse cups of espresso and a saucepan of beef-flavored ramen noodles—all I had on hand, but Andrea didn’t seem to mind. She told me that just to be off the street for a night was like dying and going to Heaven. I was glad she felt that way. Everybody likes being liked, even if you’re like me and pretend you don’t care if people like you or not.
After we ate three packs of ramen each, which came to a total of forty-two cents spent, Andrea offered to sleep with me, she explained, as a favor for a good friend. With a kiss on her cheek, I declined her advance, but refused to tell her why. She said I was a real mystery to her not ever buying her wares and not even wanting a freebie, but I replied by only pointing to my murphy-bed. She kicked her white old-timey tennis shoes off, slipped out of her tight Calvin Klein’s, climbed under my cotton wildflower-print comforter, and was out like a cat who won’t stop caterwauling. I slept, fully clothed except for my combat boots, on my ratty 1970s avocado velvet couch, pulling my Mexican poncho over me to fend off the coming desert chill that I knew would creep through the window next to where I lay.
I woke up early, put my boots back on, opened the door and slipped out, then closed and locked it as quietly as I could (it was right next to the bed where Andrea lay dead to the world). It was just a hop, skip, and a jump to Rita’s Taqueria on the corner of La Brea and Hollywood, so I got us two overstuffed beef taco salads. When I got back, Andrea was sitting up on the bed rubbing sleep from her eyes, her warmth showing clearly through her sheer white panties. All at once I felt protective; husbandly. I made more espresso. We ate without saying anything. Then she asked me if she could hang out with me until she had to go back to work that night. I tried to dissuade her from ever going back to that kind of job, but she explained that the only way that was going to happen was if I married her and got her the fuck out of L.A.—her words, not mine.
Andrea was a golden blonde with a heart-shaped face and sparkling pale blue eyes—the kind that scream for sunglasses during the daylight hours of SoCal to keep from going blind in the desert sun. Everything about her was pretty—gorgeous, really—right down to her dainty pink toenails. She’d only been a working girl for a few months, she told me—and I believed her because she was still fresh and lovely to look at—just out of college back in Podunk, Florida, she said. She had hopped a Greyhound to Los Angeles to see her name in lights, become a big star —same story, different girl telling it. Hooray for Hollywood.
She reached over and kissed me. Her lips tasted like strawberries and cumin. I love you, Sebastian, she whispered. I loved her too, but marriage wasn’t in my plan, at least right then, and I didn’t believe in intimacy outside of matrimony—to me anybody doing that were like kids playing with matches and a can of gasoline. And for the record, my name isn’t Sebastian, but Andrea could have called me Georgie Porgie and I wouldn’t have cared in the least.
I gave her three hundred dollars that I couldn’t afford to give her so she wouldn’t have to work again that night, then we drove the fifteen miles give-or-take across town to Venice Beach to watch a grunion run— grunion being fish that run up onto the beach by the thousands, turning the dark waves silver in the moonlight. Lots of people catch and eat them, but Andrea and I went just to enjoy their beauty—and to spend time together doing something different than catching a flick on Hollywood Blvd, hearing a band on Sunset Strip, or hanging at Gorky’s or one of the other calmer night spots. I went out with lot of different girls, but Andrea was special to me. Her work kept her busy, and was random—sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes late at night, but always every day except Sunday—the day she saved for Jesus, she liked to say. She freelanced, which I was happy about. Pimps for me were Satan in human form. I hated so much the bleary-eyed drunken loudmouthed gun-toting jokes.
Andrea slept in my bed again when we got back to Hollywood from Venice, but this time I slept next to her, holding her close to me the whole time. She woke me up at dawn with a ‘butterfly kiss’ on my cheek and then a real one on my lips, but before I could pull myself away from my last dream of the night, which happened to be about her, she was gone.
That evening at around six there came a knock on my door. When I opened it, it was Mischa, one of Andrea’s working girlfriends. She collapsed in my arms, hysterical. When I got her calmed enough to talk, she told me the life-altering news. That a john had been too rough, too angry, too something—
I will never forget the girl whose joyful presence lit my darkened soul.
I hope we meet again, Andrea. I’ll never stop praying that we’ll walk and talk and laugh together again one day.
Scáth Beorh is a writer and publisher who helms Twelve House Books. More can be found via twelvehousebooks.wordpress.com
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