All names changed at the Hotel California

The cracked out ravers bang all night long right up against my wall. She looks about fourteen, and is about five foot tall, and though I am trying to ignore and blank out it all, I hear these two men, one in each hole by the commentary they are shouting out as they act out their fantasy, slap slap slap shaking my bed and rattling my rage against it all as she groans and moans and cries and calls, and one of them, calling my phone calls my during the middle of it all and asks me for the internet password as Etta James wails she would rather go blind, go blind than he leaves her alone, hair blonde, lips painted, jaw set defiantly, jutting in an ancient Egyptian attitude of grasping the asp to her breast. They say love kills. Weakness kills faster. Fuck them all.

The cracked out ravers hallucinating up some slow cooked ancient fury, laughing at their brutality, shaking at their violence. Using and abusing and who will they be choosing to victimize next? It is no theoretical party line. It is no soft little recreational tease, baby. It is no sweet flesh of an orgy scene, no, that is not what this is. Rhythm and blue bruised eyes, voices rising and who’s crying now. Me. I am. Crying for the inhumanity of it, crying because I am involved in it. Crying because I am being forced into this act, into this dick and balls and cum fest of pain, when the last thing, the very last thing I can tolerate is this.

Down the hall I hear Jinx and Ms Abbi getting down to the brass tacks of the matter. She hates him. He hates her. He pulls her hair. She screams and threatens. The baby cries. And cries. And cries ignored, and no one does anything, no one calls. No one goes to see or to intervene. No one goes to quiet them down at 6am as they tear into each other screaming and shouting and slapping and pushing and crying down the hall. Ms Abbi don’t seem so weak, but he does. A weakness for brutality and I fear for her, I do, but what can I do? What can I say? I don’t want to hear it. Why make me listen to her begging? I hate her for it, for not kicking him out. She would rather go blind than watch him walk away. If she could only suffer a little more quietly, if she insists on doing it near me. I want to walk out there, and stand between them in the hallway shouting, “where do you think you are? Skid Row? Shut the fuck up! Fight, but not here! Fuck, but not inches from me. Scream away from me. Just stop!” But in the end, I turn up the music and try to drown it all out with something beautiful. Some Bach or Beethoven, some Dylan or Ramones.

Claret tips his Yankee’s hat and asks me how I am, he smokes a lot of weed and don’t fuck with the hard stuff at all. Susie is a large girl, must be 350 pounds, she can barely move, let alone work, her knees look like they hurt. She needs a doctor but there ain’t one for her. There ain’t one for any of us that is gonna fix much, anything, any of it at all…. A tall thin man tries to claw his way into sobriety and a future for the baby he adores. He combs her hair into neat puffs of love, I wish I could give him my cleanness and I take his curse, so he can go on to thrive. I eat addiction for breakfast. I can kick it for him, no trouble, except it doesn’t work that way, however much I try to beg and bargain.

The girl with the long weave hugs me sometimes, she’s protective, aloof. I respect her barriers and she respects mine: she is determined to survive just as I am. The woman down the hall gave birth yesterday. A home is not a room. A tent is worse. We need somewhere to go, while the landlords charge $4000 for an apartment, and barriers are put in the way from getting any family into one. They would rather go blind than drop their inflated prices that no one who wants to live here can afford. I am not getting into a house. I am stuck here looking out onto the ‘Loin. The corner boy waves to me smiling, he can smell fresh meat or else thinks I am someone he might not have to be scared of, I suppose. I see him every day. We are neighbors, he is trying to survive, just as I am. I wave back, holding up a piece of paper reading ‘retired’, but I am not sure. I am not sure at all. It is not easy to stay clean at the Hotel California.

My sisters call me Baby, or honey, or sometimes Miss Paltry. My friends here tease me and accept me despite my whiteness and what that means in America today, what it signals, the danger it represents, and I can never find adequate words to thank the people who helped me here without judging me on the color of my skin, despite the damage white America has done to America’s black community. The hot heads and the crackheads, the nights of extreme noise and violence, the days of women crying crying crying because they are beaten, and the men that beat them….none of it can destroy that. I am blessed with acceptance and love, and in return I give back everything I can. For the love of humanity, something has to change.

Leave a Reply