It was a dark and stormy night (really) and I was in the last seat of a Boeing 727 as it cruised over the Gulf of Mexico or some other dark foreboding body of black water. The glittering coastline of what I think was West Florida sparkled a few miles ahead when CREEEEEEE-ACCCK-ACKKKKKKK -- the fucking plane was hit by lightning, a supposedly harmless event but a good ad for Depends.
So anyway, there I was, drunk, stoned and scared out of my mind yammering inanely to the guy in the seat next to me. He turned out to be a real live Miami Vice cop (no, he didn't wear colorful sporty casual clothes or have a 10 inch johnson... well, I don't know about the johnson). He was equally (or more) drunk, and was playing the good cop (fortunately his partner was trapped in the bathroom by a band of rum sotted Cuban expatriots), trying to comfort the then young Bao Dai of Hollywood (oh, yeah, I haven't been to Florida in like 15 years, so this may be a tad dated).
First he told me not to be scared, offered me a few grams of coke which I declined, shrugged, took a healthy snort and asked where I was staying. When I told him, he said, "Forget all I've said and be very scared."
As we landed he described how my ever friendly travel agent had booked me into an unfinished luxury hotel on the bay and how any "cab driver" I met would probably be a member of some paramilitary organization who might be called to invade Cuba at any second and decide to draft me if I'm in the cab. He warned me of how the tide was likely to bring "all manner of undesirable refugees" up to the hotel back door. He called the people who had decided to put the hotel where it was "tourist hating zombie makers" and then, as he snarfed a gram in one blow, gave me his card and said "Don't be afraid to call. You're one of us now and it's us against them."
When I came to the following morning I noted the hotel room was all black marble and faux gold plush, with satellite TV and really weird thick Plexiglas kind of sealed windows. I told myself the cop had been a coke crazed Nazi. Then I left the hotel and realized the hotel itself resembled a giant black marble mausoleum and was one short block from a part of Little Cuba (or Little Someplace) where gunshots and sirens pierced the air. I decided to hoof it to my meeting... and give packs of cigarettes to any vagrant coming near me, which endeared me to the locals with whom I hablaed en espaľol.
Night was a whole other story. I lived by room service and/or mini bar until I was suitably drunk enough to stumble and stagger with my dagger drawn along the path running past hundreds of Haitians fishing illegally, to a brightly lit bar which I can't really recall because I was so blasted. I was known as "El Seľor Cigarillo" and had cartons shipped to my room by day to pay off my protectors.
Toward the end of my week there the news was all about how Rock Hudson was dying of (or dead of) AIDS in Paris. I thought of Grandfather in his flat there... and of the hundred or so mosquito bites I had gotten chatting with the Haitians at night.
Friday morning I came to in bed with a scorched earth type hangover and a large spider bite which was causing my (then good) left leg to go numb.
It was time to get out of Dodge, or in this case, Miami. I was sure I had caught HIV from the mosquitos. I was nauseous and my mind felt like the proverbial smoking crater.
Sweating profusely and sipping Coke after Coke, smoking cigarette after cigarette, I waited to die at the Miami airport. I actually felt unable to get on the flight I was scheduled for and sat there, dazed, waiting three more hours for the next one... which stopped in Dallas, where I had to change planes.
This entire misadventure had been cursed from the start, but much like John F. Kennedy, I didn't realize it until Dallas.
See, in what I had thought was a stroke of genius, I had opted to fly out of Ontario California instead of Burbank... because you can get a direct flight on a bigger plane. So my car was there in Ontario and so I had to get back there to get home. That this was a big mistake went unnoticed by me until I reeled off the plane in Dallas and saw that at the very next gate a plane was boarding for Burbank in 10 minutes... the one for Ontario boarded in 90 minutes at a gate two miles away (anyone who has been to the American Terminal in Dallas will confirm this is no exagerration).
Somehow I managed to call my secretary and blame her for my predicament, asking "Why the hell did you do this to me? Why are you making me walk all the way to hell when there's a plane right next to my gate which would get me to Burbank? I have AIDS and am dying of a black widow spider bite -- which by the way are things on your soul, assuming you ever had one."
I think she hung up on me.
In crowded places and dire times I often hit the stall of a men's room to pray in peace. When I reached the correct gate, I saw it was mobbed with all sorts of white trash (who else flies to Ontario California?) so I fell into the Men's Room.
It was a big Men's Room. Twenty or so stalls -- all occupado by farting, shitting men save one. The crowd hanging out at the sinks seemed menacing, so I locked myself in the one free toilet and then saw it: A used BD-100 syringe poised on the seat. I freaked. Not wanting to do 20 years at Huntsville on a paraphernalia bust, I fled into the crowd outside.
I finally boarded (I must have... I'm here) the plane I was sure would crash. I was sweat soaked, my sins unforgiven, but whether I would go to meet my maker or to hell, well... whatever... I just wanted to get the fuck out of Texas.
When I returned I was subjected to so many lame cocaine jokes I finally told my boss "If I wanted cocaine I could buy it here... you dumb fucking idiot."
"I was just joking."
Yeah and if I smile someday there will be a big fight over who won Florida and the Presidency and I don't want to be any part of it.
Then I smiled at how utterly stupid such a prediction seemed.....