January 23, 2007

Vengeful Arson on Aliso Peak

I unleashed hell on my hometown much faster than I would have thought possible. I was so surprised at how quickly it happened that I almost forgot to run. It's not like I didn't think I had it in me or anything; it's just that when I'd thought about doing something like this before, I didn't imagine that such a small effort could result in the frightening magnitude of sheer speed and power displayed before me. I wasn't prepared for it, wasn't prepared for what it showed me about myself and how much I could let hate concentrate and fester and ferment inside me. I sure as hell wasn't prepared for the consequences of what I'd done, and I was in no hurry to find out the full extent of what they might be. By the time I left the party all the fighting had stopped, but I didn't want to stay there and be with people trying to get their goddamn buzzes back. I still needed to clear my head. I walked out of the hotel suite and down the stairs to the parking garage, brought my beloved piece of junk to life, and tried to feel sober as I rolled down the window and turned the fan on. It didn't work. I thought I could use a drive but part of me didn't want to go too far cause it hadn't been that long ago that I'd had my last drink. The other part of me could really give a shit about any of that and was all ready to start dishing out random payback.

Before too long I found myself driving up the hill, then stopping and slipping out quietly onto the sidewalk, then softly crunching the pebbles of the trail under my feet as I walked past the dark construction site looming on my left. For some reason the company's sign wasn't lit, so at least I didn't have to see that ugly thing and get even more riled up. I couldn't really see much at all- the trail was now pitch black, and the only reason I didn't trip and fall down the ravine on my right was the fact that I'd walked this trail so many times in the last three years that I had it absolutely memorized.

I tread carefully once the site no longer separated me from the hill's other side, but in a few more minutes I reached the pinnacle at the end of the trail. It wasn't really a peak- the hill's apex was far inland behind me- but I could now look down and see the twinkling lights of South Laguna at the bottom of the hill. I sat down slowly and silently, not feeling the need to project any of my mania on the rest of the universe yet. I must have stayed there a good twenty minutes like that, trying as hard as I could to relax, to just let it all go and not listen to the howling shrieks of chaos coming up from somewhere inside me that I never really knew existed.

It was no good, though. I couldn't stop thinking about those fucking Addison brothers and their entire loathsome family, lording it head and shoulders above even the other millionaire magnates of Orange County, with their pneumatically enhanced middle-aged Barbie wives and their asshole kids creating their own little kingdoms of terror wherever they went. All above the law and all too damn good to bother with anyone else; too damn proud of themselves to even care about the world around them unless it rudely interrupted their ignorant, superficial little lives. I knew was totallly taking it too personally, but I didn't think that was a problem anymore.

Whatever. I wouldn't be able to fix the whole problem, but I could sure as hell shove it along its way. I gave up on the forced tranquility of communing with the universe, stood up, and lit a cigarette, my next to last. I turned around a little too quickly and staggered back onto the trail- guess I wasn't so with it after all. I slowed down a bit for the sake of my own safety and tried to think myself out of what I so desperately wanted to do these people, to make a dent in their plastic perfection, to stick a pin in their big fat bubble-world.

As I came back toward the half-finished mansions, though, I heard two voices that were most likely to push me right over the edge, and I thought 'okay, you wacky cosmos, you just asked for it'. I reached the point of the train where it would curve around the new stucco wall being built to protect these white elephants from the brutal and dirty outside world, and my worst fears and best dreams were confirmed as I peered around the bend. I could see Justin Addison and his kid brother Kyle working hard to patch up a section of incomplete wall. I didn't know for sure what they were doing but based on their behavior from earlier tonight I had a pretty good idea- that is, if I could still rely on my worst fears to be completely accurate at this time of night and level of blood-alcohol. No one comes to a construction site at one in the morning to mix stucco and slather away at a two-foot thick wall, even and especially if their daddy owns and runs the thing and has plenty of brown people and journeymen to order around.

I kept watching them, working up the willpower to act, waiting for them to finish. They didn't, though- they just slopped that shit up about halfway inside the mold, checking something as they did. It didn't take much longer for them to hastily clear up and flee. Even if I wanted to stop them I couldn't have. I held no love for the one they were after tonight and I didn't want to know what happened. I simply waited until the two slimy thugs had made up their mind that what they came to do was finished, and I let them walk away, skittishly, to their truck and make their clumsy escape. I knew it was time to act, but I needed that last smoke first.

I should have known, though, that what I had planned out there on the pinnacle wasn't going to go smoothly. I can say honestly that I didn't plan to start a fire- I'm not a real pyro and never have been- but I'd taken a glance at the place in the wall where the boys were working and thought of him briefly and if he was going to be okay tonight, wherever he was. I guess I got too caught up in thought to stay focused and my cigarette burned down to my fingers and I was so startled that I flung both arms up and the butt just flew out of my hand and into the brush on the ravine side of the trail. I watched it, frozen stiff in the dry night air, and just when I thought everything was fine an unnaturally powerful gust of hot air came shooting up the trail from behind me. It caressed the chaparral and bent the underbrush in a graceful dip before the first flames licked up and caught on the next parched shrub. So no, I didn't mean to start the fire at all, but once it was going good and strong for about five long minutes I almost thought it was worth it, for the flames to repossess the hill from the disgustingly expensive homes that invaded it. Then I realized that I was right in the path of it and it wasn't slouching. The wind came up again, strangely, warm and dry from the ocean, and for a brief instant I thought that the old Santa Anas were behaving very strangely- exactly the opposite of how they were supposed to.

Then I saw all hell begin to break loose and I fucking ran for my life. I made it inside and turned the engine over, and I didn't give a good goddamn about the noise as I peeled out of the cul-de-sac and raced back toward Pacific Island and down the hill. There were no sirens I could hear. No one had reported it, I thought. As I went down the hill at one point I looked in the rearview mirror and saw nothing but black night sky behind me and I allowed myself a quick exhale before gunning for home.

When I got back, I crept in the front door, went to the stairs, and peeked around the corner to the den. Both my parents were fast asleep in front of the TV, which was turned to cable news and spewed forth late-night reruns of two-week-old analysis of the O.J. trial. 'Fucking typical,' I thought lamely as I took the steps two and a time and gratefully crashed onto my bed's cool, forgiving sheets and lost the will to stay conscious.

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