[For HIV/AIDS Outreach: Part Five, please see my entry at Boyle Heights.]
We did not have enough food to support another community, so we rattled back towards the center of town to drop our remnants at the Midnight Mission. It was a perfect L.A. kind of a night: the warmth that the earth had amassed all day long rose up in tremulous zigzags to stir comfortably with the fresh draft that settled downward from a dark and hazy firmament. As we bumped along southwestwardly, we admired the city we approached from jiggling vantage points along North Main. The spangled towers of downtown bounced at the horizon like a toothy and smiling underbite. Block by block the jawline neared, neared and gnawed as the smile now turned grimace. The spangles exploded into pulsing neon and throbbing klieg lights. Another few blocks of dizzying bombardment and we turned suddenly away from ocular assault onto Los Angeles Street, a dingy byway flanked heavily by dense gray mounds of reclining human forms. Here the assault was mute and solemn and visceral.
José parked at the curb before the mission and stepped daintily along the sidewalk towards the front door. The bundles in his hands swung lightly, tauntingly, pendants of puny succor dangling over swaddled heads and haunches which rose off the pavement. He deposited the last of our foodstuffs inside, returned to the van, and drove us in silence along the darkling via dolorosa.
Back at the Sunset office, we unloaded the van—cooler, carton, bag of condoms—and reordered our respective worlds as we tucked each item into its appointed corner. We washed our hands. Thoroughly. To the elbows. And outside the office, we disbanded: Edgar positioning himself at one bus stop, Ralph at another. José was securing the black metal grille with an enormous padlock as I rounded the corner, opened the car door, and slipped behind the wheel. I found the compartment as chilled as I. My car and I held cool, contemplative company with each other as we maneuvered our way towards home, to our appointed corner twelve and a half inches northwest of the tracks at Via Santa Clarita.over 6 years ago