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Los Feliz
one-man play
"utterly convincing portraits of love" reviews


Produced: London 2013
Published: Arbery Books 2016



"How well do you know those closest to you?"

Los Felizs began as a short story in my collection First and Fiftieth and was turned into a play for the trilogy Californian Lives. Set in the 1990s, the unnamed narrator, a man in his early thirties separated from his wife and daughter, tells a stranger about the woman of his dreams.
Extracts


Freeways? Nothing you can tell me about freeways. I wrote the book on freeways. I know every mile of freeway in LA and Orange Counties. Go on, try me. Name me two cities and I'll tell you how to get from one to the other. La Cañada and West Covina? Come on, give me something difficult. Two-ten east then Ten west or Two-Ten east, Six-Oh-Five south and Ten east, depending on traffic and whether you want the Plaza or the Country Club.


Performing rights
2013 poster
Give me another. All right, I'll give you one. San Pedro and Montebello. Now most guys would tell you the One-Ten north and the Ten east. Sure, and get caught by all that traffic downtown. You listen to me and I tell you the One-Ten, the Ninety-One and the Seven-Ten. You get there half an hour before the other guy, you've time to put your feet up, grab a bite, call the wife.


How do I know? Because I drive the freeways, every freaking day of the week. Eight, ten hours a day.




There I was sitting in my car, looking her over like any guy would. She looks up and for a second she catches my eye and I'm thinking, without thinking, know what I mean, that I want to make love to her all night long. And I mean love. A bimbo you screw. A babe you talk to a bit, then screw. A woman like this, you make love. Then the guy in the car behind me is sounding his horn because I haven't moved and the road is clear. So I move off and head for the office and suddenly I don't know whether the world is wonderful or a piece of shit. Wonderful, because she's in it. Or shit because I'm not making it with her.


Rest of the week, I couldn't get her out of my mind. Her, and her house and the fact that in the middle of the week, when the rest of us schmucks are working she's free to do her gardening. And when she gets tired, she can go inside, pour herself a bourbon and watch a movie. Then cook herself a decent meal and maybe go out with a girlfriend.


Me, I never have any free time. I work late most nights, drinking cold coffee and catching up on paperwork. When I get home I order pizza and I'm sick of pizza. I work every other Saturday and when I do get time off, all I want to do is crash out. And I got no garden. Linda and me, we had a small house, but after she left and with the child support, I moved into an apartment off Fairfax. All I got to worry about is taking the garbage down. But it's no palace, and I want someplace that feels like home, someone to share it with.




You ever notice how women look at you? Some stare at you like you're shit. Like the women at post offices, they all got a gigantic chip on their shoulder. Not just the black ones; some of the white women, too, especially the dykes. Then there're some women, not too many in this town, more back East, look like they're afraid you'll jump them, think all men are either gay or rapists. But most women it's like you don't mean anything to them. Sure, they're polite and they look you in the eye, but they've got a life to get on with and they just want you out of their way. You know that Mars and Venus stuff; there's a lot of truth in that.


But this woman - Melanie was her name - Melanie looked at me like I we were both from the same planet. Maybe we didn't know each other, but that wasn't a reason why we couldn't be friends. Even when Linda was in love with me, she didn't look at me like that. With Melanie everything seemed right. I'd stand a little taller, speak a little quieter, really listen to what she was saying. Learnt more about flowers in a month than in all my previous thirty-four years. Could go into business if I wanted to. And I got to know a lot about her. From Pennsylvania, lived out here five years, works freelance advising film companies. Something to do with finance. Not married and no boyfriend. Runs every morning. Likes to spend time in the garden. Likes classical music concerts, art galleries, that kind of stuff.



* Californian Lives, which includes the script of Ben and Joe's, is out of print.
A pdf of the script is available for £1.


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