Blind Mob Daddy. by Monah Li

12 05 2014

“I lika de puusee”, Armando grins and shuts the door to the van from the inside.
“I know”, I say and hesitate for a moment, but what the hell, I don’t care how he takes it, so I go on “That’s going to be on your tombstone if you don’t watch it”
He laughs and says that Pussy-thing again, this time with his hand dangerously close to what he talks about.
His swollen feet are shoved into old man’s slippers, his glasses so thick I can’t tell how blind he really is. He’s definitely on his way to get his tombstone soon and he knows it. Three years on dialysis, three times a week and not even on the kidney-list, he’s just about maxed out his days on the machine. My mother’s late husband died after three years dialysis. A body can only take so much.
Juvenile diabetes is a bitch, nobody’s fault. But it is slightly reassuring that the Meth he sells is not the cause of such physical destruction. Armando is only 38 years old.
The motor is running in place, filling the van with hot air and mixes with the piss-stink from his pores, especially sharp cause it’s a no-dialysis day.
“I like it” he begs again. “You no like sex?”
“I don’t. I just really don’t. It’s not just you. I never liked it” I lie, trying to stay calm. It’s the same conversation every time I come see him.

What the hell am I doing with a love-struck, horny almost-corpse inside an overheated van? Until six weeks ago, if anybody had predicted this, I would have laughed. No way. No fucking way, I would have said.
I took my first newcomer chip In June 1987 and besides a few problems with painkillers when my back went out, my recovery was flawless. Everything happened as it should. After a nightmare detox from Heroin, Methadone and Meth Amphetamines, I got my shit together and worked my ass off to make up for the decade – my twenties – I wasted with drugs, a gay ex-prisoner, but still con/ hustler/pimp with violent tendencies. I fled from him by first moving out and throwing myself into med-school and then when this wasn’t enough of a distance, I visited my mother who had never returned home to Vienna, even after her Stanford Fellowship in Psychiatry was long over, even though I was only 15 years old.
We hadn’t seen each other for ten years. I needed a mom; she needed a daughter, so when it came time to return to University, my mother had an idea.
“You’re never going to be a good doctor anyway, why don’t you stay and go to fashion school here? Isn’t this what you always wanted?”
It was. I stayed. She paid the school two years in advance and helped me move in with the two lesbians I had met at Club Lingerie in Hollywood. I made it to school less then ten times. The couple taught me how to shoot speed and that was that. Instead of a graduation, my mother had to bail me out of Sybil Brand and put me on a plane back to Vienna.
“Let your father deal with this” she hissed and I sobbed.
My father didn’t deal with it, but I did.
Four years clean and sober, I was married with a baby on the way and an exploding fashion career. Success and respect, motherhood and praise, not to mention an almost celebrity status and so much money, the $600.000 my accountant stashed away for herself, would have never been noticed, had she not been so sloppy and forgotten to remove the fax to payroll before locking up for the day.
But even this turned out to be a fall up. Creative director of a huge mall-company wasn’t anything to get high over. With my new boyfriend, a charming but moody bad-boy – I have to admit, sometimes I would have liked a drink. Or better yet, listening to him going on about the hardship of a girlfriend with a stupid fashion job, I often wished that he had a drink to chill out.
Of course, I lost that job, even though the boss made a few hundred people move to LA from San Francisco because he couldn’t get me to move up there. Quite possibly, me trying to direct a few hundred resentful people was a dumb idea and doomed from the start, but that was no reason to drink. I fight best on my back. Defeat brings out the beast in me and besides, with hardly any non-AA friends left, peer pressure and the idea of not being part of the herd, was terrifying enough to stay clean.
So when I first started to have my own thoughts about AA and my more and more unfriendly relationship, I did what I always do:
When in doubt, dig in and step it up.
For the next five years, I drove every day of the week from my job in Downtown to Santa Monica to be part of Pacific Group. Home was my house by Eagle Rock and bad boys house in Mount Washington on alternating days. My daughter too lived with never unpacked bags, one day with me, one day with her dad and no matter how tired she was, she had to sit through meetings with me, or what good would a drunk mother be anyway? Digging in even more, I made sure the relationship I should have left or better yet, never picked up 13 years ago, turned into an even unhappier marriage. When in doubt…..
There is something to be said about a proper dress-code and the enforcement of manners and respect – years of sitting behind butt-cracks and comparing my tasteful self with half naked strippers and fat guys in wife beaters or bare chested and sweaty at 3rd and Gardner and the Tropical, while reminding myself to not take rude rock stars and the dynamics of High school-like cliques too personal was tiresome and painful.
So now, fierce handshakes from people in real clothes displaying fake or real good manners was a relieve. It made the hours I spent inside my car and even the cult-adjacent rituals one had to undergo to please Glancy at least tolerable.

Until it wasn’t anymore. At a Thanks giving party at my only non-AA friend’s house, I had two hits of pot from a pipe being passed around. Driving home so stoned I couldn’t figure on if my lights were on or not and giggling about it, I was happy in a way I’d never been.
The meeting I attended after that was my last one and I knew it. Listening to the 60+ speaker going on about the slut she used to be when she was still drinking, I promised myself that I never had to listen to another speaker again, never drive for hours to fucking Santa Monica or thank Glancy for my sobriety.

Instead I used those hours to learn belly dance and screen writing. Losing a few hundred friends in a day was not as painful as feared. Facebook, still fun and exciting picked up some of the slack and the rest filled up quickly too. New friends, old friends, most of them in-control drinkers or recovered druggies tired of AA, made more then up for the loss and even when my marriage finally crashed, I had already a whole new group of new friends, ready to wipe my tears and listen with a bottle of wine. I had parties to go to, belly dance rehearsals and so many dates, I never had time to worry about AA. Honestly, I did not miss it at all.

In college during the day to become a drug-and alcohol counselor and still designing clothes, I lived for my nights alone. Bundled up on the balcony, I chain-smoked, drank red wine and wrote my own screenplay, usually until 3 or 4 AM. If I was tired, I didn’t feel it, the excitement of a literary agent and an indie-company that had optioned my screenplay, I added another thing to keep me busy: My own store in a seedy part of Echo Park.
I was on top of the world. For a few months. But then, one by one, it all collapsed. First the financing for the movie fell through, after another complete rewrite to create a main role for the financier’s son, my halfmyage lover decided he needed the picket-fence and the babies after all, then the book was turned down by publisher after publisher for reasons my agent could not grasp, my stepfather died and shortly after, my favorite uncle. My new store’s location was almost but not yet there and suddenly, I was out of money and out of time.

But naturally, I hadn’t left AA quietly like a lady. Badmouthing it loudly (as well as my now ex husband), I felt guilty and was too proud to go back when the hangovers became unbearable. As the mountain of triumph I had laughed from the top slowly collapsed, the endless crying jags started and all I wanted was sleep. But I couldn’t turn to the place that had been my family for 23 years.
The last string broke when my literary agent informed me that she would be ok, should I decide to leave her.

Tired and dejected, I was working on a new collection of way too complicated designs – lack of confidence, compelled me to overload my clean shapes with detail and more detail until my dresses became impossible to sew and looked like misguided Holiday ornamnets, I befriended a cooler then possible stylist/photographer couple. One night, shooting late into the morning, every design flaw glared at me with glee. I was done and over, who would buy that crap and who did I think I was? A has-been deluded idiot, a moron who could have been a doctor and a soon-to-be old lady pushing a shopping cart. I was tired.
“Do you want a bump?” The more then attractive photographer asked.
“A what” I said.
“A bump” he repeated, “Speed”
“You mean drugs? No way. You don’t look like you do drugs”
Those people not only didn’t display tweaker-looks at all; they lived in a beautiful house, had white teeth and dressed in a style that went beyond hipster-cool. If this is how speed looks today,
how bad could it be?
I accepted, but didn’t do it then. I needed a good night’s sleep, so I wrapped it up and took it home.

The next day I called and requested an emergency appointment with my botox doctor. While he left the room, I emptied his medial waste container – unlocked – and stuffed my purse with all the used syringes I could grab, .
People who can afford botox can’t have AIDS, they don’t, don’t they? Right. Go for it.
I rushed home. For the first time after 26 years, a spoon was not just a spoon. It’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike or how to shoot drugs. But those needles were tiny. It took me an hour to finally hit a vein and then the whole thing was a complete letdown.
No euphoria, just an uptight and seasick feeling that forced me back to bed. It must not have been enough? But the more I did, the worse I felt. Soon it was gone, my depression and fatigue still not lifted an inch. Instead of seeing that this wasn’t working, I needed more. When in doubt…..
I nagged my friend until he gave in and introduced me to his connection.
Armando’s buddies checked me out in the parking lot of Mac’s liquor store. I passed and was allowed to drive Armando home. I didn’t realize what blindness means until he tried to direct me to his building and asked me what street we were on.
“Check it out yourself”
I snapped next to a street sign I couldn’t decipher myself as my vision had turned every light into seasonally appropriate, but annoying and confusing Xmas trees. I didn’t remember blurry vision, but last time I shot Meth I was 26 years younger, with perfect vision.
“Me blind” he said “Cannot see name”

That’s when I looked at the smelly bundle of misery in the passenger seat of the mini cooper I would soon lose. This dude was not only blind, but a pitiful mess. Nevertheless, he started right away:
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No!” I said proudly, either not getting where this was going or getting it, fully knowing I would need him to like me soon enough.
That’s how I became the sex-dream of a blind familia mobster at an age where normal people think about retirement and grand children. I was 55, but for Armando I might as well been 20, who knows how they described me to him?

Even though I graduated with all A’s from the drug-and alcohol program, and even though I knew every danger and side effect in detail and therefore believed that my knowledge would protect me from actually getting any of it, I was dead wrong. I picked up every single side effect one can possibly get from Meth.
Even the voices.
Bugs? Oh Yes.
Convinced I had scabies, I landed in the Psych ward of USC where I listened to a grown-up man scream for his life.
“Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” all night long. The beds so close together, whatever bugs came in could mate and replicate in a hospital orgy. It took 36 hours for a doctor to see me and to decide that I didn’t belong there.

Back home I went through the scabies-ritual again, for the third time. Boiling and drying my expensive Lingerie to shreds, I threw out all my cosmetics and make-up and covered myself from head to toe into a prescription-only pesticide. My liver was in heaven. 24 hours later, the new condo cleaner then clean, everything washed and sprayed, I stepped into the shower. When that crap came off me, I screamed in terror. I swear I could see the mites. The fact that they are microscopically small didn’t face me. I saw them.
But an hour later, they were back. I must have forgotten a microscopic spot somewhere.
My doctor would not prescribe another round of pesticide without seeing me. Broke and out of insurance, he offered to see me for free. My only friend who still took my calls, offered to bring food and gas-money. She drove up and opened her window just enough to drop a bag with groceries from her double gloved hands. Her head stuck out of a black extra sturdy trash bags, tied tightly at the wrists, her face behind a trashbag hood.
“Sorry” she mumbled “I looked scabies up online, they’re a bitch to get rid off and so easy to catch. I love you”
She was out of here before I picked up the bag.
I took my doctor less then a minute to know that what I had was surely strange, but in no way scabies.
What a relieve!!!!
But, since it had to be something that gave me sores all over and had aged me 15 years in less then 5 months, I got back online. A few hours later, there it was, how coukld I not have seen that? Mold! Fungus! Yeast!
Less then 8 months after I stole those syringes, I looked so bad that my friends waited for that one call, the one that would have happened, I’m sure: “Monah is dead”
The rehab I was placed in by Writers In Treatment was in Inland Empire and the most boring experience ever. But what gave me goose bumps and still sometimes does was it’s name: Thinking of the tackiest, most wrong name for the rehab in my movie – I was telling the story of my long ago past and since I was not in rehab, I had to make one up – I came up with Sunrise Ranch. How wrong is that name? How typical rehabby and phony? How perfectly right?
The name of the rehab I shook the Meth demon off was that same name.

But right now, I don’t have bugs. Not yet.
I’m in the parking space behind Armando’s building, in a white van that gives me the creeps.

He steps on the gas and pretends to throw the van into gear. Outside, the teenage neighbor’s kids watch and smirk. He stirs the steering wheel to the right, then back to straight.
“A little bit” he is relentless “Only touching, a leetle, please”
Now his hand is where he wants it. I see the tied up plastic piece in his fist and it looks big. Alright. I count to five.
“That’s enough, I’m a good catholic girl, I told you I don’t do this unless with my husband. Plus, I’m on my period. Remember what that means. You don’t want to piss a women on the rag off. I’m sure your wife taught you, didn’t she?”
“Is okay. Period not bad, no problem” he assures me and drops the baggie with Meth into my hand.
“No money, is a leetle something for you” He shoves my two twenties back to me and pulls two syringes, foil wrapped and very visible in full daylight from his pocket.
“Now da pussie, please Monah. I looove you” he means it and I feel bad for him.
“I love you, Is more then pussie.”
“I have a husband, I’m sorry. It would be better if you took my money”
“No money. I love you”
Stubborn bastard. But finally he lets go of the syringes. The boys outside watch. They know what this is about, most likely they use too. Everybody here in this building, not gentrified like the rest of Silverlake, is on Meth.
Suddenly, looking up from securing his goods in my purse, my face crashes into his kiss ready blue lips.
“What the, what are you doing?”
Before I can stop myself, I hit him. It’s a reflex, faster then my thoughts, I can’t help it.
Bad move. His buddies who checked me out the first time before he would see me and are never far away, would scare the shit out of me, alone at night. Armed and serious, this is their boss, blind and sick or strong and powerful. Familia. I wish I had that.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” I stammer, but his sheepish face tells me that I don’t need to go overboard with remorse; in fact, this is the first time I recognize something that could be respect. Removing his hand from my crotch, my voice returns to a stern and confident rhythm.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I get weird on my period, I told you. You should have listened to me. I gotta go. Thank you”
Finally outside, I promise myself for the 42th time.
“Never again. This was the last time I got in the van. I’m gonna quit. I have to. I will after this.”



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