Part 1 of “L.A. for A Day”
When I finally arrived in Los Angeles, I drove straight down Hollywood Boulevard and parked on a side street. I was here. I finally made it. Success was literally just around the corner.
It didn’t matter that I was broke and homeless and living out of my car. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t finished a single script and had nothing else to offer The Industry. All that mattered was that I had finally made it to Hollywood.
Unsure of my next step, I decided to take a walk. I sat down on a random bench somewhere and waited for something exciting to happen. Luckily, right at that moment, a young man suddenly approached me.
“Excuse me, Miss, do you happen to have a cigarette on you?”
I reached into my purse and took out the tobacco from my medicine bag.
“I don’t usually smoke this,” I said, “But you can roll yourself a cigarette if you want to.”
The young man looked at me strangely. “What do you use it for if you don’t smoke it?”
“It’s a spiritual thing.”
“Oh…” He looked down at the ground. “Well, I don’t want to take it from you if it’s a spiritual thing.”
“It’s okay. Something tells me this is a spiritual thing.”
“In that case…”
He took the tobacco from me and sat down next to me.
“So what’s your name?” I asked.
I did a double take.
“Von Deezy?” I exclaimed. “Your name is Von Deezy?!”
“That’s right. Von Deezy Brown.”
Von Deezy pursued his lips and raised an eyebrow.
“You got a problem with that?”
“Absolutely not,” I said. “I’m just not sure I can come up with a better name than that.”
“You can’t,” Von Deezy said. “So don’t even try. Go ahead. Make me famous. This is Hollywood, after all. You never know when you could be discovered.”
I smiled at him.
“What about you? What’s your name?”
“Betsey Horton, Writer Extraordinaire.”
“You’re a writer?”
“Yes indeedy. What about you?”
“I’m a stand-up comedian,” Von Deezy said with a completely straight face.
“That’s right,” he said. “But only sometimes. Most of the time, I’m the Green Power Ranger.”
“I’m the Green Power Ranger. Haven’t you ever seen Power Rangers?”
“Of course I’ve seen Power Rangers. I just don’t quite understand how you can be the Green Power Ranger.”
“Not a lot of people do.”
Von Deezy unzipped his backpack and pulled out his costume to show me.
“I work for this guy,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of us. He pays us to dress up like famous characters and walk up and down the Boulevard taking pictures with tourists.”
“Yeah. It’s a good gig. I get to keep all my tips and everything. I make, like, $800 a day just walking up and down the street.”
“Just by taking pictures with tourists?”
“Yeah. They love it. They pay a lot of money to come to Hollywood and take a picture with their favourite character. It’s a keepsake that lasts a lifetime.”
I smiled wide at him.
“So how did you get this job?”
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved Power Rangers. Every day I’d come home from school and watch Power Rangers on TV. I wished more than anything I could be a Power Ranger. I always wanted to be the Green Ranger. He was my favourite. I knew that was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood. I got involved in a lot of things I shouldn’t have. I ended up broke, homeless, and addicted to drugs. I just had no direction in life, you know? All I knew was that I wanted to be the Green Power Ranger. Everyone just laughed at me and told me to get a job. I tried, you know, but I could just never hold it down.
“I was sleeping on the street when he found me. He took me in, cleaned me up, and asked me what I wanted to be. I told him I wanted to be the Green Power Ranger. As it turns out, he runs the company I work for now. He said they’d just lost their Green Power Ranger and we’re looking for a brand new one.
“I’ll never forget the day he gave me this suit. Don’t tell anyone this, but I actually cried the first time I put it on and looked in the mirror. My dream finally came true! Now I’m out there on the Boulevard, protecting the streets on Hollywood and making little kids’ dreams come true. You should see the way they look when they meet their hero!”
I stared at Von Deezy in a stunned silence.
“That’s what I love about this country, man. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can be whatever you want to be. You know? Like, I was just some punk kid from Crenshaw. I never thought I could actually be the Green Power Ranger. But look at me now. I grew up and I made it, man. I fucking made it. I really owe it to him, man. I owe him everything. He made my dream come true.”
“Who is it?”
“Ohhh, I can’t tell you that,” Von Deezy said gravely. “He’s too well-known. All I can say is that I’m not the first person he’s helped, and I won’t be the last.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
“That’s the American Dream.”
We sat together in silence for just a minute before Von Deezy hit me with his best pick-up line.
“You know,” he said smoothly. “We’re still looking for a Pink Power Ranger. I know the guy who can get you the job… If you want it.”
I smiled at him.
“Thanks,” I said sweetly, “But I’m not sure it’s the right job for me.”
Von Deezy nodded slowly and looked me over.
“I understand,” he said. “Not everyone can be a Power Ranger. It’s a pretty big responsibility. It’s the kind of thing you really have to take seriously. Now that I look at you, I can see you’re not right for the job.”
“Don’t worry, Von Deezy. I’m sure she’s out there somewhere. You’ll catch her on the Boulevard someday.”
“Thanks. I’m sure I will too.”
To be continued…