City of Angels
by Greg Gountanis
From the balcony of the Rivera Hotel, Javier Rosales could see the beautiful waves of the Pacific crashing down on the surfers and bathers. What a sight, he thought, inhaling a bit of the morning air. Javier went back inside the room, and, tiptoeing past the bed so as not to wake Linda, he walked out the front door. Javier was ready for one last swim. Clad in blue and white shorts, a tank top, and sandals, he looked every bit the seasoned beachgoer.
Javier took the elevator down to the lobby and headed out to the beach. Making his way down the four wooden steps that separated hotel property from beach property, Javier couldn’t help but notice the throngs of people
in the water. In the few moments it ad taken him to come down from his
room, the amount of people in the w ater had at least doubled.
Javier found an abandoned area of sand, and took off his shirt. He folded it up nicely and added his sandals on top. He was ready. Javier walked slowly into the water, closing his eyes for a second as his body got used
to the temperature.
Javier waded further in, until he was around chest high, at the threshold of his comfort level. He dipped his head in the water and savored the sensation. He then got on his back and floated for a while, looking up at the clouds. This life is too good, he thought. Javier returned his feet to the sandy bottom and looked around at the hordes of people splashing about. How could all these people afford such living?
Javier waded back to shore. Los Angeles was not home. City of Angels?
Javier mockingly asked himself. More like City of the Spoiled. Javier got back to shore, and found his clothes. He regretted his decision of not bringing a towel to dry himself. When Javier made his way back into the hotel lobby, the concierge of the hotel stopped him.
Javier held up his hands. “Does it look like I have it here?”
“Sir, there are strict regulations at the Rivera Hotel. All guests coming in from the pool area must provide proper identification.”
Look, if you want my ID, I’ll run up to my room, and get it for ya.”
“No identification, no entry.” The concierge motioned to one of the security guards by the front entrance.
“Are you serious?! My girlfriend works here! Let me call her to bring my ID down!”
The concierge’s eyes narrowed. “Your girlfriend works here? What’s her name?”
The concierge nodded to the security guard, who proceeded to put a hand on Javier’s shoulder.
“Hey, what are you—“
“Sir, there is no such Linda Rabinski that works at this establishment.
Mr. Woods will be kind enough to escort you off the premises.”
Mr. Woods began pulling Javier away.
“You can’t do this!” Javier shouted. A crowd of onlookers was gathering round. “That’s illegal!”
The concierge pretended not to hear. Just as Javier was almost at the door, Linda walked by the concierge in her bathing suit.
“That’s her! That’s my girlfriend! Ask her!” Javier struggled to escape the vice-like grip of the security guard. The concierge looked over in Linda’s direction, but made no move.
“What are you waiting for?! Talk to her!”
Linda, hearing Javier, moved in his direction. But before she could get through the ever-increasing crowd, the concierge impeded her path. “Madam, associating yourself with vagrants does not help the hotel image.”
Javier had one foot out the door, as the security guard pulled.
“Tell him Linda!” Javier held onto the doors.
Linda looked the concierge in the eye, and said, “Sir, I believe we have a bit of a misunderstanding.”
The concierge straightened up a bit and quickly glanced at the onlookers.
“Yes, I believe we do Madam. The Rivera Hotel has become a freak show.”
Javier would not release his hold on the door. Two security guards were now assisting in the removal process.
“Well, madam, is this man a guest of the hotel with you, or not?” The concierge raised his voice. Linda’s gaze moved over the tattoos on Javier’s biceps, over the earrings on both lobes, to his eyes. She held her gaze for a moment, then looked away.
“I don’t know this man, sir. I thought he resembled someone I knew.”
The concierge sprang into action with renewed vigor. “Back people, please, this is a hotel, not a show,” he shouted to the onlookers. They parted with groans, as the concierge made his way over to Javier.
“Sir, I will not say this again. You are not welcome here in this hotel.”
The concierge gave a forceful shove to Javier’s chest, and that was all that was needed to get him fully into the hands of the two guards.
“Linda, Linda, it’s me!” Javier shouted, in a last-ditch effort. He waved his hands frantically and pointed at her.
Linda lifted her head high, turned her back on him, and walked in the direction of the pool area. In that moment, Javier grew up.
As the security guards threw him down outside the front entrance to the hotel and cuffed him, Javier didn’t feel the scrapes of his knees on the cement, or the blows to the stomach that the guards added for all his troubles.
Javier’s eyes scanned the beach he had been in five minutes earlier. The waves were bigger now, the salt of the sea radiating in complement with the rays of the sun.
As the police sirens filled the surrounding air, Javier laughed. Looking back at the waves, and the surfers, and the bathers, he closed his eyes.
Las Blancas. Niño tonto.
When he opened them, the City of Angels never looked so beautiful.
I’m currently pursuing an undergrad degree in Secondary English Education. I have written a couple screenplays, currently in the editing phase, and have written a rough draft of a novel, The Sunshine State. Short stories
are a natural extension of my passion for the craft. Contact Greg.