Proceeds from book sales benefit Indiana Youth Group (see below for novel excerpt: “Chapter 2”)
By Karl J. Niemiec
Back when I was 19, attending the University of Detroit, while freezing my butt off driving a VW with very little discernible heat, I dreamed of transferring to the sun-filled warmth of Southern California to attend school at UCLA.
I actually was so naive then, (pre-internet) that I thought the water on the west cost would be like the water I felt as a kid in Jupiter, Fla., where my grandparents owned a motel and restaurant.
Why not? With all the surf party movies and Beach Boy songs, California had to be warm, clean and fun. Right? Wrong. Boy, was I in for a rude awaking. And it didn’t take long for the naked truth to crop up.
On my second week in town, I finally landed my first job at Double Day Book Store in Beverly Hills. I admit, it was because the middle-aged manager thought I was cute, so he hired me to do Christmas returns. So, having my Honda motorcycle in the shop to fix the sticky clutch cable, I took the bus out to Santa Monica Beach and took off my clothing, down to my swimsuit, ran straight into the ocean, dove into the first wave, and hit that cold water like jumping into the bottom of Lake Superior.
I popped back to the surface like a note-filled beer bottle, reading, “Here freezes, the dumbest kid in America.” What a knucklehead I felt like.
As I came back onto the beach, shivering down to my skinny bones, knowing everyone was watching this dumb kid, I couldn’t help but noticing that there were only men on this beach. Great. In my jubilant haste to get wet by the Pacific Ocean, lucky me had stumbled onto the gay side of Santa Monica Pier on my very first visit to the beach. So even if they didn’t know I was a frozen knuckleheaded Popsicle, they were looking at me wantonly anyway, probably hoping I’d melt into their arms.
Having survived a gun held to my head in Texas, in the middle of the foggy night, by a mass murdering crazy man wanting to leave my body parts spread all over the state – like he’d done to the other kids – all I could do was put my head down in shame, grab up my clothes, and head to the john to get redressed.
I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. My whole vision of California had changed in that one dive into a wave of frozen despair. And, as I suspected, the dive into insanity didn’t end there. While changing in the bathroom, I discovered I was being watched by a tall slender man who had hopeful intentions for me. So I grabbed up my stuff and headed out.
Up at the road, he actually slowed down beside me and opened his car door, like I’m supposed to jump in, as if me running out of the restroom wasn’t loud enough to give him the hint he wasn’t my bag. He had no idea what I’d been through nor the frame of mind I was in back in those days, so I can only hope that the piece of road I skipped off the gold paint of his Lincoln Mark III’s trunk dissuaded him from pulling that lowlife trick on any other naive kid – who was considered fresh meat in Hollywood, and dumb enough to jump into that cold ocean on a gay beach of Santa Monica.
Regardless, once I got past the sun and swaying palms of LA to the shady side of the sunny postcards, and Hollywood in particular, I dug deep enough to turn over a few slimy rocks, and started to dig through the sediment that had piled many layers of drifters and grifters on top of each other, packed so tightly that one never knows who they’re talking to until the dust finally settles. And even then, I often became too blinded by the mess left behind to decipher what had just happened to me before the scoundrels got away.
And that’s the kind of people I found Mammoth Towers to be full of, when I took over after the 1994 earthquake and agreed to run the building as I finished off the remodel of it. I should’ve suspected something tainted was happening to me when the current manager gave me the best apartment in the building for free, and took off, nearly skipping across Mammoth Ave. to his car because he was free from the burdens that lay within the building, that was now my 24-unit ball and chain.
But a 1,650 square-foot, top-floor apartment with cement flooring, three full bathrooms, two bedrooms, a den and a fireplace was just too much for this writer to pass up. I was the new resident manager. Hell, I’d held the job for seven years before at another building in North Hollywood, and endured machine guns, drug dealers, rock-n-rollers, jocks, hookers, boxers, race riots, crazy owners, death and fires, so what could this building give me I hadn’t already experienced?
Man, even then, many years away from my teens, I was still that naive kid just waiting for a cold plunge into reality to bring me back to my senses. Worse, I had gotten involved this time with an actress, a married one, who, as it turned out, was one of them – no more and no less a drifter-grifter than the rest of them. And even worse, her husband looked so much like me that even I was fooled when I saw a picture of him up on a barber’s wall that I knew wasn’t me.
And yet I said, pointing, “Hey look they gotta…,” before realizing it couldn’t be me. I had never been there, ever. Or had I? It was like he was my alien clone, or I his, and people were coming up to me and hugged me, saying, “Jimbo,” then jumping back when they realized I wasn’t him. It was just freakish to say the very least. But like I said, she was one of them. What “them” were, I wasn’t so sure of anymore. Too many weird violent things kept happening. Things I couldn’t humanly explain. To the point that my idea of who “them” were was getting dimmer and dimmer.
In Jozeph Picasso’s Alien Trilogy, I called the building Mystery Towers, because to this day, it’s a mystery to me how so many weird, dishonest and dangerous people could accumulate into one building and torment one life. Nor, why I was foolish enough to allow myself to fall in love with one and willingly let her into my home. And the Essinolas were a whole family of them. Not a single honest bone to throw back into the haunted fires. What they did to the building, and how they lived was beyond human terms to the point I actually started to think that perhaps, maybe, just maybe, they weren’t human after all.
If you choose to read on, just know that these adventures have been twisted tightly into as sci-fi trilogy so that those who have threatened me about repeating what I know to be true will leave me and my family alone. I don’t claim that any of these people are real – alien or otherwise. And if I did, like Jozeph Picasso, I am not at liberty to admit it. Because of the danger that underscores letting these stories go, I have held on to them for many years.
Below is “Alien Made: Chapter Two.” If you decide to jump ahead and read the whole trilogy and buy copies on Amazon, either in paperback or Kindle Books, at: http://amzn.to/karlniemiec, know that portions of the proceeds from those sales will be donated to Indiana Youth Group, which supports LGBTQ in ages 12-20.
Karl J. Niemiec is Executive Producer of Programming, LapTopPublishing.com and KjN On-Camera Studios; contact KjN@LapTopPublishing.com.
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By Karl J. Niemiec
So once again, I drag my tired bottom out of Mystery Towers, after walking Bubba, letting him do his doody dance, wash my hands and head to a coffee shop in Studio City.
It’s an addiction, coffee and the news ink. But not today. I can’t concentrate on the paper. Murderous thoughts keep filling my head. Fifteen minutes go by. I’m vegetating, pissed, groggy, and forcing my nose over a black cup of hot Joe to make the thoughts stop. I must look like a dangerous lunatic because people are scrutinizing me with pinch nosed expressions of wishing I was not there. I suddenly realize the mass murdering chant filling my head is actually my nails drumming on the wood table beside my cushioned chair.
Okay, I’m insanely grouchy. I kicked out a tenant, Mr. Essinola, who owed me three months rent. Money I was desperately counting on to pay for work on the central air. He had two kids and a wife living in apartment 101. But he was down in Chile trying to raise cash. I actually never met him prior to his family moving in. With twenty-three vacancies in a very different looking building staring me square in the bank account, I took who I could get, planning to weed out the losers later. This town is full of drifters and grifters posing as successful happy families on the move. But if you look long enough, you’ll find they’re often just a shell game on the run.
When Mr. Essinola finally showed up, he wore suits costing more than my1966 red and black ragtop Corvair Corsa, brand new. Another month goes by without a dime from them. So I give them the two more weeks they ask for. Nothing. What am I supposed to do? I admit I tried to befriend them. But I didn’t care for the little kid who was always playing in the hall with his handprints everywhere.
Another apartment manager from one of the previous owners’ vouched for them. More like dumped them on me. The wife proved to be a liar and an undomesticated pig. The teenage daughter, I’m sure, was doing her boyfriends and leaving used condoms all over the empty apartments. And the young kid was constantly playing with lighters and matches.
The day I finally served them, I caught the kid with a lighter up on the rooftop lighting one of my seven front pine trees on fire. Honest, I wish I were making this up. He was on the roof, leaning over my terrace, trying to catch the dried pine needles on fire. I nearly had a fit. But that’s not the end of it, by far. Mr. Essinola gets into it with me about me trying to keep his family from singlehandedly destroying my lifetime investment.
Anyway, I served them after he yelled at me, and they took off the very next day. Now I have no way of getting my money back from them unless I take them to court. So, I’ll have to serve them a small claims summons. My guess is they moved back in with the wife’s sister, in the same building they lived in before. Only, they didn’t move everything. And legally I can’t go into their apartment to see what damage has been done until they have everything out, or thirty days if it appears they have abandoned the apartment…unless of course, it’s an emergency.
Waiting is making me crazed. I don’t know what’s gotten into me this morning. My mind keeps visualizing them all blindfolded and shackled hand to foot, and shot in the heads out in the desert, left for the wildlife to pick over their useless bones. I try to push this vision away. But it’s as if I’m standing over their bodies holding my gun at this very moment. I can smell the death and I’m actually enjoying the insanely horrid justifiable visions of them plopping into the desert sand one at time, plop-plop-plop-plop. I shake it from my thoughts again. This is truly insane. The negative energy is so unhealthy it’s tearing at me. I could never do such a callus thing. Knowing that, somehow actually frustrates the still sane parts of me all the more.
It’s this howling dog pushing me to this. I want this dog found, gagged and feasted upon. Not really, I’m sure I’d find it a bit gamey.
See future editions of The Word for more, or purchase the full book on Amazon.