Venice Flytrap: The World is on Fire

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Venice Flytrap: The World is on Fire


A blogumn by Kelly Kaboom

The world is on fire. Over the ocean a crimson dot hangs, the brilliant California sun censored behind a curtain of gray ash. I can taste the ash in my mouth. Performers scatter, a brave few stay on in the abnormal darkness. By 5pm the sky is black. Faint lights move across the horizon as ghost ships drive their cargo onward.

It’s Saturday night November 15, 2008 and California is burning. Still stuck in a five-year drought, the wildfire season has stretched past late summer, into the fall. This weekend is record setting for the amount of acres burned and structures destroyed. The news media have settled on a powerful and catchy name, the Freeway Complex Fire, a title that resonates with So-Cal residents. Images on the TV screens in the bar resonate with me as I move through my work night. House after house after house after house lights the night sky in Yorba LInda. Flames shoot out of rooftops in Chino Hills. While everywhere else whole mountainsides are eaten by a winding snake of orange flames. Thick smoke moves its way across the coast line; fear moves along with it.

Venice is tense. My Saturday night ends badly. A verbal altercation with a table of local bums and weak management refusing to step in leave me walking out the door with shaking fists. Unable to face an empty apartment, I head to the Asylum and find the colorful tattoo crew closing up shop for the night. We hang out in back, beers are popped, weed is passed. Looking at Dirty I notice his face is scratched with cuts along his bottom lip, a faint darkness is filling in under one eye.

“What happened to your face?” I asked adding more smoke to the dusky air.
“I fell off my board.” Dirty says smiling like a cat with a canary.
“Huh. Must have been an interesting fall. How’d you manage to blacken your left eye, but scratch your  right cheek? And not a mark on your arms.” cough cough
“Yeah well,” hits the bowl and coughs, “I fell right in front of your place.”
“The Sidewalk?” I pause and think. “Oh yeah I heard about that fall. Heard you took a guy down with you.”

With a chuckle he launches into a tale of a Friday night brawl. After hearing about squabbling sisters, jealous boyfriends and heroric bystanders I bring up the need for a drink. A debate occurs and I, the lone voice of protest, lose the vote so we head back to the Sidewalk.  Once there I indulge in two glasses of whiskey to go along with the best and most disappointing game of pool I’ve had in a year. Leaving seven of my opponets balls on the velvet I tapped the eight ball into the corner pocket ever so gently, only to watch the cue ball follow down the same pocket, ever so gently. It was time to go home.

Sunday morning did not bring it’s usual calm. Missing the brilliant blue and bright golden sun that  usher in the new day; the sky was instead an armegeddon red. At 8am I was coughing ash out of my lungs as I stared straight into the bloody sun.  The thermostat was climbing  back into the 90’s for a third day. While hanging in the air thicker than any particle of dirt was tension. As fires raged, Venice boiled in the light of permanent dusk. Violence was on its way.