The story of the King of North Oakland has many threads and sometimes it is necessary to tie it all together even if it means skipping ahead a bit... and so it goes that we come to wrap up the tale of Veronica.
After the Night of Broken Plans, that infamous night where instead of going back to Veronica's i ended up on the other side of town in the bed of a different dancer at the club, Veronica and i did our best to somewhat avoid each other but the facts were we would occasionally cross paths, we ran in overlapping circles, we frequented common dive bars, we lived in the same neighborhood and there was never any shortage of people wanting to pass me info on what she was up to and i'm sure she was afforded the same when it came to my endeavors. We gave each other space... we had to... because when we ended up in the same room or bar or wherever there was a palpable hurt that would creep in, the thoughts of what could have and should have been and the reality of what was. We were both adept at keeping our poker faces firmly in place but there were those fleeting moments when the real feelings would flicker across our faces. There were times after the demise of our relationship where i'd see her from across the bar and her eyes would devastate me.
There were a few occasions when we ended up at that little corner bar that i worked out of and i almost wonder if she didn't wander in on those Tuesday nights, alone, some time after 10 usually, knowing i'd be sitting there winding down from another night of business, the bar empty except for a few stray drinkers, a population of drunks you could count on one hand, including the bartender. She'd slip in the door and immediately smile at me, i'd smile back and motion for her to sit down on the stool next to me or we'd move to the end of the bar where we could talk. There were always a lot of ears around and being a ranking hood the less information out there about what i was up to or who i was seeing the better. Veronica knew i was still seeing Red (but that's a story for a different post) and of course i still lived with the Waitress. Nothing much had changed in my world except i had expanded even more, safe houses to stash weed and cash because i didn't want it all at my own.
On these few nights we'd sit and talk like ex-lovers do, ex-lovers who never got a proper ending, who never got to see what could have been but both who had ideas in our heads, ideas both beautiful and melancholy at the fact they faded more and more each passing day, week, month. And still it was all because my true mistress was the game, was hustling. There was a rush every time i pulled another successful run, walking up the steps with duffle bags packed with pounds of grass. There was a rush on those busy days/nights when i'd count the money, making bundles of $1000 and tossing them into the safe, it was a junkie's fix and probably just as dangerous, maybe even more so.
We were sitting at the Little Corner Bar one Tuesday, near the door, it was darker there and there were colored lights strung above us. She told me that she was saving money, that she was getting ready to move to L.A. as soon as she had saved enough because she wanted to be an actress. I think she could see the concern on my face because though i had no firsthand knowledge of what the scene was out there from everything i had gleaned it was a meat grinder that made the strip club look like a kindergarten class. I didn't say it but my first thought was that she was going to end up in porn films, another wannabe actress who tried to make it but after a myriad of failed auditions finally takes a job to make some cash and then it's a quick descent. I was worried. I was worried because i cared and i did my best to somewhat gently talk her out of it and then she said something that about knocked me off my stool.
Why don't you come with me? she said. I looked at her stunned and smiled. I'm not kidding, she continued, i've been thinking about it and i think you should. Get away from this, get away from dealing, come away with me. You'd love it out there, you could make connections and write, you could write scripts, we could get a place. To say i was fucking gobsmacked would be an understatement. I sat and listened in stunned silence until finally i sputtered, what about Franco? She was looking me dead in the eyes... Honestly? she said, he's never been more than a friend really, he's a boy nothing more, you're a man and i want my man, she smiled at me, to move to Los Angeles with me. I know you'd have a lot to take care of but at least think about it.
I didn't realize it but throughout her whole pitch she was holding my hand. When she let go i took a long pull from my beer and lit a cigarette, the swanky Dunhills i was so fond of, i needed it. She took my pack off the bar and took one out, i leaned in lit it for her. Another drink? i asked. Yes darling she smiled. So there we sat, i let her talk and she told me all about her plans. She was tired of this little city and wanted to see more. This girl from a dying oil town in northwest Pennsyltucky was now setting her sights on the big time. It wasn't going to happen overnight and she explained she was shooting to move within the next year if it all went according to plan. Somehow i thought it would probably not go according to plan but i kept my mouth shut. Instead i sat back and basked her glow as she dreamed her way to La-la-land, her name in lights, she was a different person than the girl i had first seen step on stage like a newborn fawn somewhat awkwardly dancing for dollar bills. There was a confidence and self-assurance that had always been there but now was in full bloom. Nothing was going to stop her... and she wanted me to be there with her... to be cont.