Now I Out Walking

Somewhere between my time travel stay at Tin Can Beach and being abandoned by Tilde in the Venice canals, I’d lost my cell phone. I had not missed it because no one ever calls me, nor did I ever call them. Occasionally I got a text from Sylvie giving me the score of some obscure baseball game. And I also sometimes spaced out playing any number of chess puzzles in an app I’d downloaded. But my use of the cell phone was sporadic, and most of the time I didn’t bother leaving the phone on. Walking away from Tilde’s folks’ place on the canal I thought of calling Wormy, but I couldn’t find my phone. I figured he was probably off time travelling on the Vespa anyway, and wouldn’t pick up. I crossed Speedway, continued north on Ocean Front, and cut over to the Boardwalk at Muscle Beach. North of the Venice Breakwater, where the beach is wider, deeper, I walked down to the water. I dropped my kit just above the water line and stripped down to my swimming trunks and walked out into the surf, close enough to keep an eye on my stuff up on the beach, far enough out to get a good washing. I slipped off my trunks and scrubbed them in the sandy salty foam, keeping just my head and shoulders out of the water. The trunks nearly got away from me in the surf. The beach was not crowded. I got the trunks back on and dove under a few small waves and swam out just beyond the break, turning and treading water, looking back at the beach, up and down the coast, out to sea, thinking about my trophic level in the food chains, walking about, in the water, up on the beach, in the Walter Group, in the Army, in the Church, in the library, in schools, on the streets, walking through the Los Angeles Basin with the hobos tramps and bums, with the blue pink and white collar workers, rich and poor sick and skaters bikers surfers and hodads, police preachers thieves detectives buskers, moms dads and kids, dogs cats coyotes racoons rats mice pigeons and opossums, work shifts, job gigs, sleeping on the beach, hiking up through the canyons, onto the Santa Monica Mountain trails, hiking through downtown, sleeping under an overpass, the traffic sound ongoing like the surf, day and night, night and day.

“Now I Out Walking” is episode 55 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.

Rosella’s Market

Rosella’s, the neighborhood grocery in the space on the northwest corner of the ground floor of Hotel Julien, was open, more or less, 24 hours a day, year round. Occasionally, Rosella’s might close, without notice or explanation, for an hour or two or more, or for an entire day, and would reopen unceremoniously as if it had never been closed. Rosella’s specialty was not-quite-fresh fruits, vegetables, and breads she sold past their sell-by or best-by dates: day old breads and pastries, bruised fruits, withering vegetables. Her suppliers included the large supermarkets located not too far away but throughout the Southland, and local bakeries, and truck farmers in from the valleys. Her buyers (or collectors, for they usually hauled off the food without cost) included a family of 12, including 6 boys and 4 girls, and her husband, Ramon, though he and his oldest sons spent most of their time busy with the family bricklaying business – Ramon’s specialty was brick patios, walkways, outdoor fireplaces, walls. I found it hard to go into Rosella’s, even if just to buy an apple for an afternoon snack, without wandering around considering the diverse displays of other things for sale: hats, tshirts, and flip-flops; guitar strings (but only one kind – Augustine Red Label Classical); magazines and newspapers (English and Spanish), and used paperback and comic books; kites and windsocks; plastic bats and balls, kazoos, hula hoops. Also beer and wine; candy; canned goods (most past their sell-by date); beef jerky; bubblegum (the kind with the cartoon prizes); pizza by the slice cooked in a microwave and hot dogs from a table top machine with bun warmer (several tables with chairs and umbrellas provided sidewalk sit out space for eating); cereals and nuts; cat and dog food; flowers, dried and almost fresh; peanut butter and oatmeal. Rosella also sold postage stamps. You could purchase a money order. You could pay your utility bills. Milk, pop, juice. Single, double, triple A batteries. Cookies, spices, pastas. And the bins of fruits and vegetables: lemons and limes, apples, oranges, bananas, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, peaches, onions, tomatoes, avocados. And the breads: como, sourdough, brioche, baguette, rye, pita, bagels, tortillas, biscuits. Surfmats and swim fins. From the shelves, walls, floor, and ceiling of Rosella’s, was stacked, hung, crated, or boxed, something for anyone.

“Rosella’s Market” is episode 35 of Inventories
a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Note: With episode 30, the title of the novel was changed
from the original working title of “Ball Lightning” to Inventories.