7. Leaving LA

LAX

Leaving LA

Upon moving into our apartment in August 2009 my girlfriend made friends with one of our neighbours. She was a Puerto Rican girl, twenty-three years of age, who was dating an up and coming director. She had a five-year-old daughter from a previous relationship who lived with her.

My girlfriend and her became close and we were constantly invited around to her flat for supper and drinks with her and her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend had not had it easy. He was from Compton, an extremely dangerous area of Los Angeles. Growing up he had seen his Mother, Father, Brother and best friend murdered, all on separate occasions. He had made a movie about growing up in Compton that hit the big time, and so he packed his bags and moved to Hollywood, rented a swanky apartment, bought an expensive car and found a beautiful girlfriend. He continued making movies, which were beginning to get some attention from the major studios. However, a few months into our friendship his girlfriend discovered that he had been lying about his age. He had told her that he was thirty-five. In reality he was forty-five. He also had two daughters that he had never told her about, both of whom were older than her. She left him, and went to stay with her sister out of state. But her boyfriend (who I shall not name) followed her, apologised, proposed and they got married the next day before returning to Los Angeles.

All seemed well for a month or two. But it was a veneer. One day in late May 2010 I was sat in the flat on my own. My doorbell rang. It was the girlfriend. She was stood at my door in tears, her five-year-old daughter and a bag at her side.

“He just tried to Murder me. Can I come in?” She said.

“Excuse me?” I replied.

“He just tried to murder me.” She repeated.

I invited her in. She told me her story. Her now husband had been having an affair with his daughters’ aunt (his former lover’s sister). His young wife discovered incriminating text messages, confronted him, and he responded by attempting to suffocate her with a cushion, before fleeing in his car. Eight LAPD officers soon turned up at the flat and the situation turned into a full on fugitive hunt. Like the good budding Buddhist that I was, I felt an obligation to help this girl. She asked to stay with me, and I accepted, letting her sleep in the sitting room with her daughter. But the husband had other ideas. Despite being on the run, he was still in constant contact with his former Compton associates. They would turn up on my doorstep holding belts, rope and other weapons. I had to barricade my door with my sitting room furniture to prevent them from entering, calling the police on multiple occasions. On one occasion, the unnamed girl decided to return to her flat to pick up some of her possessions. I advised her against this but she assured me that the police had secured her flat and that she needed her television. It became very clear that she was going, with me or without me, so I decided to go with her, just in case anything happened. However when we got to her apartment it became increasingly obvious that some of the possessions she wished to bring to my flat belonged to her husband and not to her. In spite of this, I obliged her requests, and began helping her remove the 50-inch plasma screen television from their sitting room. As we were picking it up, clearly removing it from the flat, the loo in the bathroom flushed. I looked over, startled, to see a KFC bag sat on the Kitchen counter. I turned back to the bathroom. One of the biggest African-American men that I had ever seen emerged, saw me lifting his friend’s television, and became rather understandably extremely angry. It was a stroke of great good fortune that, just after explained in an cold, steely riddle what it was that he was going to do to me, that it emerged that we had a mutual friend: a former employer of his for whom he had searing admiration and equal fear. Although I had no idea at the time that this mutual friend had been involved in any underhand activity, I took the opportunity to make it clear that this friend would be extremely disappointed if he were to do anything to me. He let me leave immediately. But the biggest twist was yet to emerge. Over the coming days spent barricaded in my flat I became aware that my new lodger-victim was in constant contact with not only her husband, but also her husband’s friends. More than this, she had told them that I was essentially holding her and her daughter captive, and that it was I who had persuaded her to press attempted-murder charges against her husband. The danger became all too obvious all too quickly and, thanks to the speedy advice and interference of my guardian and surrogate American father, I was able to put my girlfriend on a flight back to her home town with our dog before returning to England on a flight myself, this time for good.

I booked myself onto a meditation retreat that was beginning the day that I got into England. I got off the plane, got in a car, and headed down to the retreat centre.

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