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Escape From LA
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After Todd had hung up on him, Scott’s attention went back to the photo. The woman was stunning. Her tan was golden, her figure was lithe and could have been a model from In-Shape magazine. From the way her arms gathered Scott in, it appeared that she had put a solid claim on him as much as she made herself a trophy for Scott.
Next to her, Scott was much taller. Sienna was only about five-foot-four and Scott was just over six feet, no matter how much he willed his bones and body to stretch further to another digit past the six-foot mark as he religiously hung upside down on the gravity bed. In counterpoint to Sienna’s sun-bleached brown hair, Scott was dark haired and his beard grew fast if he didn’t shave at least every other day. He had a small amount of chest and body hair - something he himself was always relieved to see when he took his shirt off - and above the waist band of his bright neon green and gray board shorts, his lightly fleeced abdomen flowed from muscle group to muscle group upward and outward.
A squared chin with a lean face had been imparted to him from his father but his mother had contributed to the nose that was straight in contrast to his dad’s hooked nose with a slight bulb at the tip. What was unmistakable, though, was that Scott’s nose had been broken and reset, twice, deviating from a straight line and never again to be the patrician mark of status that he had inherited from his mother’s British ancestors.
“Yeah, the nose,” he thought. Now that was a story he hadn’t seen coming.
Scott’s eyes were dark and deep set, but did not cause him to look sinister. For all his posturing when out with the guys, his ever-present smile inexorably spread to his eyes, illuminating them despite their dark brown irises and thick lashes and so his attempts at being threatening were usually impotent. But his demeanor just as often ranged to furtiveness, fueling his propensity to anger, if challenged. It would spoil his simple handsomeness when it raised its ugly head. So, his opinion of himself was that he was either a chick magnet or insect repellent.
Scott’s family and friends saw him as an active, handsome young man in his prime. Despite his frequent inferiority issues, he was not unaware of how he could effect people - especially females - with the positive qualities given to him. That his positivity and good nature were so often genuine, his awareness of the traits sometimes provoked a guilt of that cognizance, marring his likability like a graceful figure skater slashing across a pristine and glassy patch of ice. It was surprising to another person to notice this and caused a dissonance in their perception of him and it upset Scott when he fell victim to his own emotional blemishes.
Scott thought the scene in the photo appeared as a very simple and straight forward illustration of health. A gorgeous hottie, good looking guy, beach, ocean, sky. How could it be any better? But like those picture-perfect Instagram feeds, the idyllic image was only suntan deep.
He knew. Simple was never simple. He knew the smile on his face was only a temporary state and that his life was made up of an innumerable series of events on a Gannt chart and that at any item on the timeline he could just as easily lose his shit instead of hosting his trademark grin.
But he couldn’t think of that kind of stuff now. He shoved the framed photo into his now empty underwear drawer and closed it. Then he opened it again and took the picture over to his duffel. Before putting it inside, Scott walked back over to the dresser, opened the drawer again and placed the frame into it gently and slid the drawer shut for the last time.
The sun was still low in the southern sky above the bay when Scott finished packing, or more correctly, throwing his gear into the Jeep. When he gazed out over the lower sloped roofs of the other homes below his, the ocean blue merged seamlessly with the blue sky, only broken by the the sails that appeared as bright, triangular ocean-bound clouds further out on the water.
Though it was shortly into December, the sun shone warmly and brightly over the long stretch of sand that was Scott’s playground year round. Even at a brisk sixty-six degrees that day, he could see the bodies striding, running, rolling, walking, and skating along the winding concrete strand that traveled from just below Venice Beach northward to just beyond Gladstone’s where Sunset Boulevard spills into the Pacific Coast Highway and where peanut shells were part of the floor surface like sawdust on a barn floor, but a Margarita would cost you fourteen dollars. Man, was he glad that Covid thing was over. That was ugly.
And he was going to a place that was even colder than this?
It was exciting, though, to set out on an adventure to places Scott had never been. Should be a quick trip with a great payoff. He’d see parts of the country that were new to him. He would see Betty again and get some of the good jujus that everyone who encountered her got. And, truly, if he was honest with himself, no matter the stretch it would be for him to leave this wonderland, he was just a little burned out on the bullshit that was Los Angeles. One can’t dwell on the crappy aspects of the city too long if one is going to stay in Hollyweird anyway and reap the benefits it offered. “Or was it a payout he was holding out for?” Scott wondered. If it was, Lucky Sevens had not come up for him as of yet.
And if he was really, really honest with himself, LA was just nuts. There were weird people everywhere. It seemed as though no one who claimed they could do something could actually do it at all, much less do it well. Everyone bullshitted. He bullshitted. “Christ,” he thought for a moment, “Maybe I just won’t come back.” But that was only for a moment until he heard his neighbor’s door shut and saw Lauren locking her door, dressed for her run on the beach. Or more like undressed for her run on the beach because it was her usual bursting sports bra, bottoms that lifted up with any movement at all, and her nonstop bronzed legs, arms, midriff, and... everything.
She gave Scott a flip up of her hand with wiggling fingers and a tilt of her head with a smile that, had the sun been shining on her face, could power a Tesla for at least a mile. Then a quizzical look came over her pert, oval face.
“Going on a trip?” she asked, concerned.
“Yeah, just for a week and a half, maybe less.” he answered.
“Taking Sienna with you?” Lauren asked, probing.
“Uh, no. Just going solo on this one,” Scott replied, downplaying the question.
“Huh,” Lauren mused, her mind obviously testing possible scenarios. “Where to?” she asked before she tucked her keys into the band around her waist.
“Los Alamos,” Scott told her, like it was no big deal.
Lauren picked up her bottle of water she would carry for her run. “Must stay hydrated,” Scott thought. What the hell did we need to drink all this water for out here? When he was a kid, they’d take off on their bikes for the whole day in the summer and never take water with them. Maybe they’d stop for a Mr. Pibb at the liquor store on the way home from the park, but that was it. Nobody died from lack of liquids. Ever.
“Los Alamos? What’s that?” Lauren quizzed.
“New Mexico. You know, birthplace of the Atomic Bomb.” Scott answered like this was common knowledge and he’d been there dozens of times.
Lauren frowned a moment. “Sounds Weird. But kinda mysterious.” Then she brightened again. “Like that old show my parents used to watch... the X-Files.”
Scott laughed and played her. “Yeah, like that. But I’ll be back in just a few days. Hey, keep an eye on my place, could you?
“Sure! Anything for my neighbor.” She said before shortening her smile into almost a purse of her lips, “Well, almost anything...”
Scott liked this innuendo. “Well cool, have a good run and I’ll tell you all about my covert spy trip when I get back!”
“Okay!” Lauren smiled as she took off down her porch steps and downward toward the PCH, making sure she ran in perfect form until the first curve and out of sight, at least.
“Okay. Alright,” Scott said quietly, wishing he would be back in two days or maybe not even leaving at all as he followed Lauren’s rearmost features gracefully jog away from him, all of her a bouncing and meaty rhythm that made Scott happy to be alive.
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