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  • Part 5
    fortune smiled
    an awful lot on Jerry
    over the following months.
    he got a couple of house-sitting gigs
    taking care of pets
    watering plants
    collecting mail
    just being a regular real life person
    to fend off any potential intruders.
    he also got to read a lot
    which made him very happy.
    when the gigs finished,
    he networked
    with other people he knew
    who could put him up for a few days
    here and there.
    he broke down,
    paid his money
    and stayed at the Y.
    he would get
    dead-ass desperate,
    he'd call me
    and I'd let him sleep on the sofa,
    but on a one night only basis.
    or if I were to have the kind of company
    that required some obvious privacy,
    Jerry would take it upon himself
    to just stay away.
    usually during those periods
    he'd more than often end up in his sleeping bag
    hidden far-far away
    within the abundant overgrowth
    of the foothills
    anywhere between Laurel Canyon
    and Griffith Park.
    as the inevitability
    drew nearer and nearer,
    Jerry finally broke down
    got himself a job
    parking cars for an upscale club
    somewhere up on the Sunset Strip.
    the manager of the lot
    at first had trouble understanding
    how a guy such as Jerry
    could have so much enthusiasm
    doing what was basically
    a dumb gig.
    after all,
    everybody else working there
    continually complained
    about how little they made
    from such a demeaning job.
    not Jerry.
    he showed up on time every day
    clean and courteous and always happy
    to do the chores no one else wanted to do.
    no doubt
    he was ever mindful
    at calculating his next move.
    more months passed
    and I hadn't heard a single thing
    from Jerry.
    I admit that a slight belief in miracles
    might have crossed my mind,
    thinking that somehow he succeeded at
    living for nothing,
    which of course meant living far from me.
    for that matter,
    I would've been quite content
    never seeing him again
    had it not been
    for one simple but agonizing question
    looming hard on my mental horizon:
    was I once again fooling myself
    by thinking
    I could beat irony at its own game?
    7am the next morning
    I got a phone call.
    some nurse at LA County
    asked me if I knew a certain so-and-so
    named Jerry?
    according to her,
    he gave the hospital my name and number
    for lack of a better candidate,
    listed me as next to kin.
    I remained frozen in bed
    for at least another hour,
    fixated on a great terror.
    the same two words
    just kept coming at me over and over
    asking me NOW WHAT?
    getting to
    LA County General,
    the medical staff informed me
    that Jerry nearly lost most of his arm.
    they went on telling me
    that he severely mangled it
    in some kind of machinery.
    as it turned out
    there was a huge mechanical billboard
    next to the club where he parked cars.
    right behind the billboard
    was a small shed housing the machinery.
    "hold on a minute!"
    I blurted out
    interrupting them.
    "let me guess...
    the shed had just enough space
    to possibly sleep in,
    but not enough to stretch out?"
    nurse looked
    at me rather oddly
    for a few quick seconds
    then glanced at a doctor for a moment
    before returning her attention to me
    and said,
    "he didn't mention anything
    about sleeping in it."
    "all we know,"
    the doctor told me,
    "is that his arm
    became engaged within the gear works
    for some kind of mechanism
    while he was in this shed."
    I knew
    the exact billboard.
    it featured an ad for a movie
    displaying a big life-like dinosaur
    bobbing its head and waving its tail
    to all the idiots in the street below.
    such pure irony I thought,
    for a guy like Jerry
    who really wanted nothing
    to do with Hollywood,
    yet he almost gets devoured by it.
    "is he going to be all right?"
    I curiously asked.
    his arm is barely stable,"
    the nurse said.
    "can I see him?"
    I wondered aloud.
    "that's the problem,"
    the doctor said.
    "while in recovery,
    he exhibited some unusual behavior.
    at first we thought it was a normal reaction
    such as from shock or possibly sedation,
    general and routine things like that.
    but we then suspected worse after a while.
    a clearly defined psychosis
    seemed evident in his personality.
    so we thought best to transfer him
    to our mental health facility
    for a more in-depth observation."
    a tough town I thought.
    I have never known anyone
    who left it the same way they came.
    why should Jerry be any different?
    "can I get you some coffee?"
    the nurse kindly asked me.
    but I knew her offer
    wasn't an act of compassion.
    it was a ploy of some kind...a stall.
    something was up.
    (c)2015 Miles Ciletti
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