Monkey See Something, Monkey Say Something.

Posted: June 15, 2014 in Nonfiction

Thursday there was a bomb scare in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. That was my fault, and I’m sorry. Hollywood Boulevard was shut down, dozens of cops came out, there was a robot, and a lot of people were late for yoga.

Again, I’m very, very, sorry.

See, at about 5 I went to get coffee with my buddy Mike Bobbitt, he’s a comic out of Detroit, and we hang out and eat pizza together most days. LA’s a great place to get in shape and do amazing things, but it’s also a terrific place to get high and eat pizza. (My friends from Indiana would still enjoy it here.) On Thursday we weren’t so super hungry, so we settled on coffee and trying to figure out who’s the worst X-Man (Go Fuck Yourself Gambit.)

While walking to the coffee shop we passed a lightpost that doubled as a street sign. Around the street sign was a package, wrapped neatly and tucked into itself like a necktie. I’m going to be honest here, I was a little high. I’m usually a little high. Being high, or being me, or maybe those two things are kind of the same now, I decided I had to know what was in that bag.

“It’s probably shit right?” I asked Bobbitt.
“Oh yeah, it’s almost certainly shit.” He replied.
“I still want to know.”

It was high, but so was I, and I’m also very tall. I’m 6’4″ but I can stretch up like a 6’6″ guy. I have long arms and a deceptively wide chest. If I tilt that sideways and monkey arm it… I can reach into a couple of loops on a basketball net. So I could reach it, barely. I undid the bag and looked in it. It wasn’t shit.

It was a nice camera. I think it was a nice camera. I don’t really know cameras. I showed it to Mike and we both agreed that it was better than shit.

“I don’t really want a camera.” I said, in a surprisingly confused tone. I had just wanted to look in the box. I didn’t want to be responsible. I don’t know what I was looking for, probably magic beans. I had already decided it was going to be shit… and when it wasn’t… it really threw me off my game. What was I going to do with it now? I didn’t want to throw it away.

“Do you need a camera?” I asked.
“Not at all.” said Mike.

We looked at each other stumped.

“I think I’m just going to put it back there.”

I climbed up the lightpost and Mike handed me the bag. I secured it back to where it was, but not with the same diligence with which it was originally put there. I just let it hang from where it had been wrapped up snugly.

“What the fuck do you think that was doing there?” I asked. Mike said he thought somebody had probably found it, realized it was nice, and, being a good citizen, strapped it up on the sign in case it’s owner returned. Mike’s smart. I thought angels were probably testing my morality. I think I passed with like a “C”.

We went, had coffee, and agreed that Gambit’s a fuckface.

On our way back we saw that Hollywood Blvd had been shut down hard. The roads had been taped or chained off. Dozens of police were there, with their cars blocking the intersections. There was a bomb truck (like a firetruck, but black,) and, when I tell this story in the future, I’m certain there was a helicopter.

Two of Mike’s neighbors were on the corner of his block letting out their dogs. “What’s this about?” we asked. “Bomb stuff,” they said. We were oblivious. It took about 5 minutes of serious belly rubs for me to piece stuff together. “That bag had been there for a couple of weeks,” said one of the women, “I saw it there, but I guess somebody moved it.” I dropped a coffee cup in slow motion while Kevin Spacey walked purposefully out of the police station.

“Holy Fuck that’s us.” I said, roping Mike into my possible assault on the central government.

We walked up to the the nearest group of officers. They were being impossibly polite. You know how cops usually don’t tell people anything and just try to scowl away their insecurities over their tiny dicks? These guys didn’t do that. Cops in real cities, in my limited experience, are human.

“Hey, is this about that bag on the sign?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said the cop, “there was a…” he started, but I cut him off.
“Yeah, it’s a camera… I sort of put it there.”

That peaked his interest. I explained everything that had happened to the cop as quickly as I could, trying to make clear that; 1. it wasn’t a bomb, 2. I didn’t bring it, and 3. No, I didn’t smell like weed.

“That’s what we figured,” said the cop, clearly appreciating my candor.

He spoke into his shoulder the cool way cops do and a voice crackled back, “yeah, that’s what we figured.”

He said he had to take us somewhere to talk to somebody in charge.

“I get it,” I said. I felt terrible about shutting down traffic. I felt terrible for wasting these guys’ time. I felt pretty good about the coffee and marijuana.

“We’re going to have to cuff you,” said the cop. “I get it,” I responded. Mike got excited. I think Mike’s a good kid, and this was probably his first time in cuffs. I assured him it’s less fun than it seems. And it WAS less fun than it seemed. Again, the cops were cool, but the LAPD is designed to fuck with you. “Cuffed and put into the backseat” is a six word expression that sounds effortless, but cramming the 500 lbs of me and Mike in there was difficult, for them and for us. I tore my pants, and Mike busted his noggin pretty solidly. We laughed and chuckled about it, but rest assured, it sucked. I don’t think we realized how badly it sucked until afterwards. (Maybe I’m just realizing now.) My hands fell asleep to the point that I couldn’t tell they were hands, and my feet fell asleep so hard they hurt. I think I have a little nerve damage, (My thumb feels like it burnt the roof of it’s mouth) and I’m currently very sore. I’ve been handcuffed a few times, and this is the only time I remember them hurting. They didn’t put them on too tight, in fact, they gave us each two pair. But being immobilized is painful, and they held us there, in the back of a car, for about an hour. It’s funny how we never think of that as an awful thing. I read about being shackled in “Game of Thrones” or something else and never realize that that HURTS. It’s not an okay thing to do to humans. We laugh that The US doesn’t torture people, and radio-cunts say they could handle what happens at Guantanamo Bay. People say jail is a hotel and it should be worse, that criminals have it too good. They’re wrong. We’re all wrong. Don’t get put in handcuffs unless you’re into that, and even then, please be careful.

The cops who took us in were friendly, their superiors were not. They weren’t antagonistic or shitty, but they were deliberately joyless. Mike and I sat in the back of that car, and were hilarious. “Oh they’re sliding off my face! quick “Lady and the Tramp” my glasses back on!” he laughed. “Are we going to Prison? Are we there yet?” we whined. “They Call it Sodomy, but they should call it SodomUS.” It was fun. The cops even joked about our descriptions being “spot on.” “Oh god,” I said, “I hope they weren’t hurtful.” Mike’s 5’8″ and around 230 lbs, just thick enough to maybe be strong. I’m 6’4″ and fairly simian. It’s a funny pairing. I’m sure they sketch artist drew something that looked a lot like Scooby-Doo villains or The Riddler’s lesser henchmen. He got it from one officer that we were described as “probably not homeless,” I’ll take that as a compliment and try to maintain my dignity.

After twenty minutes of our hands and feet going numb, we started to change moods. I surveyed the situation. This was an enormous endeavor, a huge operation, and it was my fault. I couldn’t help but wonder the cost; dozens of Policemen, the bomb squad, that chopper. It had to add up. I also wondered why this had happened. Had I done something wrong? I had just been me. Then I remembered “me” is something most folks do not care for. There is something about me that frightens the type of people likely to phone in about a suspicious package. I scare squares, and even here in Hollyweird, they’re a shit ton of squares.

I’m big and I’m loud and I’m usually a little bored. I look dumb, and because of that, people want me to be. And if I’m not dumb, I’d better be, or else I’m dangerous. I’ve got an unkempt appearance and diction that doesn’t suit my demeanor, so I’m probably up to something vile. I’m not pretty, no part of me; tall, heavy, and lumpy, but I’m still curious and, I hope, capable. Squares hate that, and they don’t trust it. Big guys are villains or dunces. A big guy put a bag on a post deliberately, and didn’t look dumb doing it… so he must have been a monster. I can be Hodor or the Hound, but I better never look at the god damned princess. People think I’m trouble. Maybe they’re dumb. (spoiler: They’re dumb.)

The cops pulled out the robot, a bomb diffusing device that looks like “Short Circuit’s” Johnny 5 without a head. “We’re pulling out R2” said one cop. “No… that’s Johnny 5” answered a second. “That’s what we said!” Mike and I yelled simultaneously. We asked to get our pictures with it. The superiors didn’t think that was funny.

The other officers did though. They were having a blast. I think blowing stuff up is probably a good day for cops, not good like getting handjobs in a prostitution sting, or getting to wail on minorities, but pretty good, way better than watching for speeders or chasing Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves around town.

I know they had a good time, because they didn’t stop. They continued the robot mission. They wheeled him out, ran his arm up, placed a bomb on the “bomb bag,” and blew it up. I told them it was a camera. They said it was a camera. And after they blew it up… they verified it was a camera. I think it would have been cheaper and easier to not do that… but they didn’t drive all the way out there and disrupt traffic to not blow something up… I get it. They had a monster to fight.

I wish this was an angrier piece. I think it could be, but I don’t have it in me. I wish I was outraged at the cost of the operation, I wish I wanted to rail against the bullshit conformity to procedure and expectation, but I can’t. This was a waste of money. Probably a lot of money, tax money, your money, but, nobody seems to care. If I say “I think we over-react to terrorism” people shrug. I’m an asshole or an idiot, depending on who you ask. At any point any person there could have said, “it’s a camera,” and people could have gone home, but the wheels of institution grind on and no one there could stop them. Security’s important. Security’s an illusion. Illusions are important. I’m lucky this one didn’t ruin my life.

  1. Comedy gold. Nice write-up. Now that you guys are villains…..which villains are you guys?

  2. Parker says:

    “Probably not homeless…” I laughed pretty hard at that.

  3. Drew Bisson says:

    Now imagine it was your job to waste all that money and you needed to expand your budget so you could get some raises for team members. Perhaps you need a budget for a coalition task force with some of your buddies in other departments? How could you make it even more ridiculous amounts of money? You have to keep us safe from terrorists. It’s like the number one killer in America, right? I bet somewhere there is a scary upward trending line on an out of context chart showing the number of “detonated devices” in L.A. Either way, I want to consume all my news through your Pineapple Express, 1st person account medium. Time to start a 24-hour news network.

  4. Laura Jones says:

    There absolutely WAS a helicopter. Maybe even two!!!

    Mike’s Neighbor’s Dog

    p.s. Out here they call those LAPD whirlybirds “airships”.

    Mike’s Neighbor’s Dog’s Owner
    (aka Mike’s Neighbor)

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