Click and read along to the mood music. C'mon, don't you like atmosphere?
It was an overcast and slightly chilly morning in Melrose. I was woken by my male friend Sal at quarter til seven; a deep hangover settling in like an Irish Mist over the hills of my brain. I had passed out on his couch; my body contorted like a Hindu monk playing Twister. Rough night. However, I was well rested and felt that today would be a good day. It'd be wonderful all right…
ACT I: A MAN BETRAYED
My bicycle was gone. The covered parking structure had done nothing to deter the vices of man. Vices that include bike theft. I kicked the stucco wall and damned my arrogance to not own a bike lock. I gripped my red safety helmet in my hands tightly. I could see the face of my friend turn pale white.
"Hell of a way to start the day Francis," I said "If someone wanted a Schwinn this badly there has to be a reason."
"Who's Francis?" My friend Sal said "And where did you get that fedora?"
I tilted my fedora down over my eyes and lit my cigarette. The musky smell of mary jane was in the air. Melrose. Hell of a place to lose a bike. Especially in a covered parking garage. This reeked of an inside job.
I discovered my first clue on the side of the garage. Towing company huh? If only there were a truck large enough to tow away all the broken hearts I've left in this town. I dialed the number.
"Hello? This is Sam, private eye, did you tow away a bike this morning between the hours of midnight and six forty five a.m.?"
"A bike?" It was the voice of an aged Middle Eastern man. It's never right to suspect someone just because of their cultural heritage, but last I checked this is Melrose and Justice ain't blind… she's open to experimentation.
"A bike? Ha ha, why would we tow a bike, man?" I was a bit perturbed by the tone, but since I couldn't reach over the line and sock him one I decided to hang up.
"Wrong number." I remarked.
"But you dialed it." Sal said.
"Looks like I'm taking the long way back to Santa Monica, Francis. Let me know if you scrounge up any leads, I'm heading back to headquarters."
My hangover was still buzzing in my ear, like a dame who can't take a hint. If I was going to investigate I needed to be well rested. You know: hit the head, park the body car, and sprinkle the sleepy dust. Get the picture? I started walking.
ACT II: THE LONG WALK HOME
Melrose. The crummiest dive for the best dressed people. Every Ed Hardy and American Apparel trust fund baby in California eventually finds their way out here. What they're looking for, I don't know. Dreams maybe? Can't remember the last time I had one. Fresh faced tourists looking to buy expense jeans or Hassidic Jews just looking to raise a family. Melrose. The Cat's Ass.
"Get out of the f*#&ing road!"
I had been standing in the middle of the crosswalk for 15 minutes looking for tire tracks. But my bike was the tops. Those wheels won't leave skid marks if you drug em' across a bed of diamonds. The only skids I saw were the faces of the homeless. Maybe they used to be dreamers too. I threw one of them a dollar. I kept walking, keeping my eyes peeled. Like a banana.
That bike. I'd had it since childhood. A 1994 red Schwinn Mirada. Just inflated the tires too. I started realizing that without a license plate or any other identification it'd be long gone. Just like Rachel. God, what a body she had. Downed whiskey like a fish, and took to lovemaking like one in water. Those nights in Silverlake…no, no I can't let my mind go there again.
Some memories are like a mirror. When they get crud on them it makes you look terrible.
My stomach growled at me. Least I hadn't lost my wallet. Looked like it was time to grab a 9am chicken strip sandwich at the local Pavilions.
…I wouldn't be ready for what would happen next.
ACT III: REDEMPTION IN RED
I was tired, hot, and hungry…like a dog. I wolfed down that chicken strip sandwich and sipped my mango flavored coconut water at the outdoor seating area. Hard times.
There was a gay couple sitting across the way grooming their Shih Tzus. Suddenly, an older Hispanic man brought his white Chihuahua by and a little barking match ensued. The owners started exchanging words with one another. Tension rose. Looked like this Pavilions was about to become another news headline. Not on my watch.
I came in with my patented left hook and made contact with the Hispanic man's glass jaw. He hit the pavement quicker than a prostitute's back meets a bed.
"Where's the bike Mendoza!?" I screamed. Sometimes I get a little hot under the collar. I fire off quicker than my .45 but just as accurate. I jumped on top of him and pinned his arms to the ground.
"Who the hell's Mendoza? Why did you punch me?" His words made no sense to me. My brain was jumbled like a jigsaw puzzle and I was ready to punch this guy's dance card. Just as I was about to cross the line my phone rang. Sal. Thank god.
I dismounted from the Hispanic man as he ran off with his dog. No charges have been pressed yet.
"Francis! My god, I just punched a guy in the face!" I exclaimed
"Wow…uh, I was just calling to say I found your bike." Sal's words shook me to the core. "It was behind a guy's truck. He must've moved it."
He moved it. Of course, wasn't it obvious now? The tow truck guy, the homeless man, the Hispanic guy; they were innocent. And I had become a fallen angel. I shouted apologies to that Hispanic guy as I started walking all the way back to the covered parking garage.
Truth. Hard to find these days, but one thing is clear…you gotta look to find it. Expecting to get the world handed to you on a silver platter is a fast way to die a slow death. But my bike was back purely by chance. And I had Sal to thank.
Sometimes lady luck has a way of getting on top of you and screwing your brains out. But don't let her see you with another dame. Cause there's one place on earth that won't let you cheat…