I’m sitting in a Japanese fast food joint on Santa Monica, reading the LA Times, when I look up to see a street tramp at the door – the kind you only see in Hollywood. She’s in her 50s, a former beauty, dripping with costume jewelry and wearing a black slouch hat.
She heads straight towards me, asking, “Can you spare some money so I can get some soup?”
Closer I can see she has a huge shiner under her right eye.
I pull out my wallet. “Yeah, I can spare a few bucks.”
I dig out three dollars as she tells me I have gorgeous eyes – the prettiest she’s seen in a long time. She sits down at the table next to me. When I hand her the money I see how filthy her hands are, dirt worked into the creases of her skin and black grime under the broken nails. She wants to shake hands with me but I can’t bring myself to do it.
She notices me looking at her black eye. “You can see it?”
“Yeah, it looks like somebody hit you.”
“My boyfriend – my former boyfriend.”
She dips into her purse for a bottle of makeup and starts dabbing it over the shiner, saying. “This helps.”
I say, “Time will help.”
She tries to shake hands with me again. Jesus…
She starts talking about her former career, all the important people she knew, that she was a model and an actress – that she worked in Basic Instinct.
Then she says the one thing guaranteed to get me lurching towards the door.
“And I sold a screenplay!”