The home deliveries were especially appreciated after my car got stolen. I woke up one morning to find it gone. I just stood there in the driveway, dangling the keys and scratching my head for a few minutes, trying to remember if I'd driven it to the corner store and forgotten. When it hit me that my beloved convertible was indeed missing in action and that I was sure to be evicted sometime over the next week or so, my loosely knit "plan" for temporary homelessness began to unravel.
It took two 24-foot rental trucks to get all my stuff into storage out in Spring Valley, at a gated place recommended by my old pal Timmy and a guy he occasionally worked with, buying and selling the contents of abandoned storage units. I paid two extra days for one truck, because I had no other way to get around. A few friends helped me empty the house, as marshals with eviction papers stood at my doorstep and my livid ex-landlord looked on from a nearby property.
Later that night, after midnight, I drove the truck back to the house to sneak inside and look around one final time. I had nowhere else to go.
After a long while of wandering aimlessly from room to empty room, in darkness for fear of alerting neighbors, I took out my cheapie pay-as-you-go cell phone and called my supplier to make one last house call. We did the deal in the rental truck, which I then parked in a nearby motel lot. I smoked away the rest of my first homeless night in the back of the empty truck, out of sight and, almost certainly, out of (my) mind.
I spent the first couple of weeks crashing in a garage behind a house just off Morena Boulevard. This had been converted by my longtime friend Duane into a kind of guest house. Duane was one of the few people in my life who rarely drank or did drugs. He knew the same could no longer be said of me; then again, he saw that I was still working at my 'puter every night, completing multiple freelance gigs and drawing weekly paychecks. I must've appeared, on the surface at least, still in control. My mobile supplier met me once a day at a nearby KFC, even after my Le Baron was found.
A friend drove me up near Oceanside to pick up the car at an impound lot, though she had to leave before the paperwork was finished. Other than a cracked steering column, the car was in about the same shape as before, though the battery was dead. A couple of impound guys volunteered a jumpstart. They hooked my battery to a charging machine and signaled me to crank it up. Unexpectedly, all the dashboard indicators started going crazy, and there was a horrible noise, between a grind and a fizzle, and then a loud thump before the car stopped turning over altogether.
The impound guys laughed as they pulled the clamps off the battery and attached them to the opposite posts as before. They'd hooked it up backwards and apparently thought frying my car's operating systems was pretty damned funny. Once the car started, everything was going wonky before I even got it past the impound sentry booth. About four miles away, the Le Baron came to a smoking, shuddering halt. I used my cell to order a tow to the nearest repair shop. The phone battery held out just long enough to call Duane for a ride back to his guest garage.
Repairs weren't cheap, and I found myself borrowing money from Duane a few times to tide me over until paydays. This made me as uncomfortable as it seemed to make him, especially since, after I'd taken his cash, he was usually within earshot of the calls made to arrange another delivery at KFC. The computer I brought with me to work on was tying up his phone lines, and his wife seemed uneasy about the grubby, wild-eyed guy hiding out in their guest garage, tippity-tapping on a keyboard all night long.
At this point, I was also occasionally smoking heroin, usually with tin foil and toilet-paper tubes. Seemed to have the same painkilling effect as rock, but with physical and emotional aftereffects that I preferred to avoid unless there was absolutely no way to get ahold of my preferred smokables, all rocked and ready to roll me.
As soon as my car was running again, I determined to get away from Duane's. I wanted to protect our much-cherished friendship and avoid placing him and his wife in any dangerous predicaments resulting from my actions or those of my shady "associates."
The only other friend I could think of who might provide a crash spot for me and my computer was Timmy, who was out of prison and living in a Normal Heights cottage. I knew he was still smoking and snorting meth, but my life and circumstances had changed so utterly that his rabid tweaking now seemed more recommendation than deterrent. He let me commandeer a small couch in a corner of his living room, but only after my temporary tenancy had been approved by his roommate and reputed girlfriend, who for this article we'll call "Jenny."
Jenny was also a tweaker, albeit one with enough money in the bank from an old lawsuit to cover their rent and the $100 or so of meth they went through every couple of days. It seemed I heard them pull out their mirror and sniff every half hour or so, and there was a constant trail of smoke coming from the dusty garage behind the house, where Timmy preferred to smoke his meth alone.
He of course offered to let me try his favorite drug. I was just as willing as I'd been back when he was the recent high school graduate and I was the (perfectly compliant) eighth grader, i.e., nobody had to twist my arm. However, I discovered instantly that I hated doing meth. The effects felt like bees living in my head. I tried snorting it, with even more disappointing results. Not only was there no attendant pain relief, but meth caused me new pains, especially in my teeth and jaws.