Chapter 0:

That Fateful Day

Angel of the Strait

“Good morning Northside Long Beach area, the date today is August 18th, 1998 and it looks like it’s going to be another hot one…” There is a loud voice of a news anchor appearing to originate from thin air. Hearing that presumed news anchor is two young men leaning against the railing on the second floor of an apartment building. They overlook a desolate one-way street where little genuine events take place. The two share a smoke as the morning breeze plays with their hairs.

“That must be Pablo again.” One of the young men says, theorizing that the loud noise must come from their partially deaf neighbor.

“I don’t understand why he doesn’t use subtitles,” The other young man replies, then proceeds to toss his cigarette over the railing, “some people are just too stubborn.” He then walks toward the open door of what is assumed to be his own apartment one room down the open hallway.

“Are we out of cigarettes already Johnny?” The first young man asks as Johnny, who is now confirmed to be the second, walks depressingly away.

“Nah, I just can’t stand sitting out here any longer.” Johnny responds, with mellowness in his voice and an almost shaky tone, “Besides, He’ll kill us if he happens to walk along this street, I don’t want him to know where we live Jaredicus.” Johnny reveals the name of the other young man.

Johnny Guitierrez has been living with Jaredicus Kilman for the past few years, they each share an undesirable one-bedroom apartment in the northeast side of Long Beach City. Both are quite adamant about their situation in life, and both feel a sense of dread and hopelessness with each passing day. Neither of them could ever expect anything more to come about their miserable existences.

After their brief conversation outside of their apartment, Johnny initiates their return back inside. Jaredicus shortly follows, “Hey Johnny, what’s going on with you today?” Jaredicus calls out to his friend.

Johnny then halts his march, he turns around and says, “Have you ever wondered about certain things? You know, like those stupid questions you asked as a little kid, such as the meaning of life?” Johnny expresses his thoughts to Jaredicus who stands in confusion. Jaredicus is unsure where this comes from, and Johnny then spits on the ground that only adds to Jaredicus’ confusion.

Jaredicus takes a brief moment to comprehend Johnny’s words, “Yeah I remember...even to this day I ask the same questions.” Jaredicus replies.

Then with quick frustration, “But what is the fucking point of living?! Here we are, stuck in this shithole and smoking random shit to see if we can feel anything again,” Johnny has a moment of anguish, but then sighs, “I can’t do this anymore.” Johnny turns back around toward their apartment.

Johnny enters the apartment and Jaredicus soon follows and locks the door behind them. Jaredicus is concerned about Johnny’s worries, and seems to be less depressed about their own circumstances.

“Hey, we are only three-hundred dollars short.” Jaredicus lightens his tone of voice and gives a playful shove to Johnny’s chest, “Just give it a few days man, and we’ll have one less thing to worry about. Maybe soon we can start fresh.” Jaredicus’ enthusiasm has reached a peak.

“What the fuck are thinking? Do you really think we are just going to improve ourselves? No. We are going to end up here again because of how desperate we are to leave.” Johnny then grabs a cigarette from the pocket of his jeans, “We are fucked.” He says in a softer voice as he struggles to get the mostly-empty lighter to ignite.

Jaredicus gets impatient with Johnny’s negative views, he begins to speak more firmly, “We can change man.” Jaredicus then pulls the cigarette out of Johnny’s mouth and throws it on the floor, “We just need some motivation.” Jaredicus speaks mostly to himself.

Johnny with a new change of heart sighs and looks at Jaredicus, “Then what now?” Johnny asks with doubt.

“Let’s just get out of Long Beach for now, plus I know a guy who we can work with to pay off the last of our debt.” Jaredicus says with subtle hesitation.

“If you knew a guy then why have we just been sitting around here?” Johnny interrogates with confused frustration.

“It’s complicated, you’ll find out when we meet him.” Jaredicus says with a slight tremble in his voice and makes Johnny raise an eyebrow.

With paranoia, Johnny follows Jaredicus as he grabs his car keys and prepares to go out for a drive. While they are getting ready Johnny remarks, “You know that was my last cigarette right?” Jaredicus gives him a blank face.

Joe Gold