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April 15, 2011

An L.A. day

10:05 a.m.

It sounds like someone is walking on the roof.

This apartment is on the top floor of a three-floor walkup, so there aren't any upstairs neighbors. All that's above my unit is the flat tar-and-paper roof. I can tell the roof has leaked before because of the patch job in the acoustic ceiling. The swirly popcorn paint treatment was popular 30 years ago when this building was last fashionable.

The first time I heard someone walking on the roof I assumed it was a repairman, perhaps a satellite TV installer. The footsteps seem to happen every day, though. Now I think maybe there is a homeless encampment on the top of the building.

There are stairs that go up to the roof but I haven't gone up there to look. I probably won't. It's hot outside, and I don't really care if someone is living on the roof.

11:15 a.m.
I'm driving in to see my therapist, which already sounds like the beginning to a bad 1980s novel set in Los Angeles, and I'm early so I can stop by the post office.

Traffic begins to slow, then crawl, then stop altogether and so I unlatch my seatbelt and lean over the passenger seat and zip down the other window on my Jeep. It's getting really warm outside.

Police helicopters are hovering overhead. I switch stations on the radio and when the traffic report comes on the woman's voice on the radio says all the exits are blocked nearby because police are searching for a murder suspect on Laurel Canyon Boulevard at Ventura.

"Damn it," I think. "That's where the post office is."

Then: "And a murder suspect is running loose, so there's that."

1:22 p.m.
At Rite-Aid there's a guy who sits outside with a can and asks for donations for some charity, or maybe the donations are for him, it's not obvious.

He's talking to a big guy with red hair, the big guy is wearing a Spongebob Squarepants T-shirt and dirty khaki shorts.

"How much can you clear in a day here, bro?" asks the big guy.

"I do all right," says the man holding the donations can. "My sister is out there at the Whole Foods, she cleans up."

3:40 p.m.
I'm in traffic again, this time on side streets, and now it's hot. The sun is just baking. We crawl single file past a line of black and white police cars, everyone is stopping to look. The cops have either pulled people over or parked in between the cars on the street, it's all chaotic. There are several young people in handcuffs, a few are girls who barely look old enough to be in high school. People at the Starbucks on the corner drink coffee and watch. People in their cars drive by so slow they're hardly moving and they watch.

A guy with a camera is walking up the sidewalk toward the police cars. Right beside him is a guy holding a large microphone, the kind you see on location shoots.

The windows are zipped out of my Jeep and I'm stuck in this traffic. I'm just a few feet away when one of the young girls in handcuffs notices the guy with the camera.

I hear her say, "Are we going to be on TV? That's so COOL!"

On the radio the traffic report starts. Apparently the exits have reopened near Laurel Canyon, they caught the murder suspect.

The light turns red, then green again and eventually traffic starts to move. One last look over my shoulder, the girl in handcuffs is smiling at the camera.

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Posted by laurie at April 15, 2011 6:26 PM