The Cronicles of Elizabeth & Matilda
Episode 1:  Sleeping with Elizabeth

LA's amnesiac rain was falling. This is how the Angel
tries to cleanse itself of Time. Gutters spew up
fluids they can no longer swallow. A thousand sudden
desert streets revert to streams no longer with us.
It was December, so the redgreen signals smearing the
drowning windshield might be festive. The truck
surged and stalled, intersection after intersection,
water sluicing the runningboards; the universal joint
was about to break, pushing its luck from Gardena
through Inglewood, Hollywood over the famous Hills into
the Valley without a freeway (not the freeways of Now
the freeway of then, 1959), already moving too fast
for a terminal Dodge. Invisible radio plays Rimbaud's
hit 'The Drunken Boat' as we swerve from a rushing
street onto sodden asphalt driveway, suck shudder
and die, the End.

It was the usual stucco Van Nuys bungalow. Rubbery
plants clumped on white walls in a soup of brown
rain. Inside, the Stanton family, father mother grown
daughter a brother living elsewhere. Entering this
normality, it was after 8pm and the mother took our
wet jackets brought cookies coffee we sat on a couch
a chair it was warm while the father watched weekend
television. Gas heat is itchy and my eyeballs ached.
We were there not to visit or stay but rest, brief
crash in a 3 day 3 night manic hunt for stolen art
running on caffeine and Mexican cigarettes, benzedrine
and dexamil smuggled over the Tijuana border in my
apparently unopened box of Kotex (regular). In the
midst of, all this, the vehicle erupts. Crawling
water, we make it to a warm place, tools and the
old man's opinion of junk transportation.

The Stantons had arrived in SoCal from Oklahoma
during the 30s with all the other dust, poor folks
blown west. Woody was born in Slick, OK needless to
say a company town. They were poor cousins of some
once-prominent East Coast family, known only by rumor
and old photographs. The father hauled his refugees
from desiccated oil fields to LA to pursue the other
end of the business, an auto repair garage behind the
house across an alley on Victory Blvd. The mother an
RN, semi-retired.  This our first meeting. Everything
being normal except the beatnik oldest Son who kept
disappearing for months, years then showed up as
now in sole need of money, sleep, a fix on a car.
Woody was not a blacksheep because the Stantons
belonged to LA, its terms. He was an Artist, sold
paintings sometimes, enough to rent 2 unelectrified
unplumbed crumbled adobe rooms with broken beam roofs
on the Baja beach halfway between Rosarito and Ensenada
(before the highway) at $5 per month. From this
rusty life he appeared each time with a new female;
this time it was me. The mother performed her functions
of coffee and pastry, trained as a good nurse. Apropos
my insomniac eyes, she brought 2 aspirin. The father
watched Ed Sullivan flicker as Woody talked.

In pursuit of thieves. Stolen heart of the artist's
right to pay rent. A Laguna Beach gallery gives