Urban Gorillas - Woodruff Reitz
Approx 63,000 words
© 1991 Sandra Woodruff and Jennifer Reitz

By Woodruff & Reitz


Chapter 1 - Down in the Dumpster


"God, how long have I been here?" Chuck muttered. The taste of vomit filled his mouth, but it was okay; at least this time it was his own vomit.

Chuck combed his sticky fingers through a slightly thinning thatch of long, matted brown hair. He sat up stiffly and urged the matching beard away from his tongue. The scraggly face hairs actually tasted better than the inside of his mouth. His brain was still decomposing in the toxic waste from a night of generic malt liquor.

His head hurt too much to get up, so he flopped back down into his trash-lined bed.

Outside the dumpster it was a new week, cold and raining again. Rain always makes the store clerks and office workers happy. Rain chases away the official scent of Hollywood... stale urine.

It's a problem if you live on the street, though. You can freeze your ass off on a cold, wet night, but there's no place else to go. That's why God created dumpsters. They don't just provide food and clothing; they're shelter too.

This particular morning, Chuck's big, blue dumpster lurched like a bad carnival ride brought to life by an angry carnie. Chuck tossed and turned as forces of sleep and consciousness fought an evenly matched battle for control of his mind.

A group of leather street punks heard the dumpsters stirrings at the end of the alley. The top vermin sneered, "Men, let's help keep Hollywood beautiful." Light glinted off their shaved heads and their canine teeth.

The three overprivileged white boys quietly encircled the wheeled trash bin, then put their shoulders into it. The pimpliest one yelled, "Watch it, I'm gettin' this shit all over my Jordans."

"Shut up and push, dickhead," growled the pack's leader. "Your mommy will buy you new shoes if you're too much of a wuss to boost some on your own."

The dumpster grumpily screeched down the alley. It picked up speed on the slight incline. Potholes in the ancient pavement made it hop angrily on its trip to the street. The vile cackles outside didn't muffle the shouts from inside the dumpster.

The metal walls reflected his ear-splitting torrent of terrified obscenities and pushed the pounding in his brain to a new level. Chuck hurt too much for this kind of early morning thrill ride. Gravity gradually urged the metal coffin away from the dark trio.

In seconds. Chuck's vehicle pulled onto the street and across the intersection. It showed no lights, no hand signals, no warning of any kind; unless you count the torrent of swear words that spewed from inside. But that was muffled by the closed lid.

Almost as if the scene had been choreographed, a red BMW blindly ripped around the corner. Todd Carruthers didn't hear Chuck's obscenities. In fact, he barely had enough time to scream his own epithet into the cellular phone before his Beamer broadsided the runaway dumpster.

The car bounced back and stopped almost instantly after the impact. The dumpster, however, apparently had its own agenda. As it caromed obliquely off the car's front, it seemed bent on a mystery tour of Hollywood. But suddenly, almost consciously, the container realized that two of its wheels had been sheared off by the collision. That's when it let out a metallic scream, spat out a stream of sparks and abruptly jerked itself to a silent stop against the curb.

Chuck's abused head probably would have smashed against the inside of his itinerant prison, but fortunately, several discarded cardboard boxes stood between him and any new amount of brain damage.

Except for a bit of chipped cosmetic dental work, Todd's only injury was to his cocaine boosted ego. But the Carruthers ego was no small thing. The perfectly tanned young Aryan leaped from his mobile metal lifestyle to check out damage to the BMW's grillwork. His pale blond hair bristled as he spat out obscenities like a chipmunk on crack. He was answered by a slow bass line of expletives from the dumpster.

Chuck's bearded face slowly protruded from the top of the dumpster as Todd rushed at him screaming. "You stupid asshole. What are you trying to do with that thing, kill us both?"

Even though he was hung over to the point of legal brain death, Chuck mocked Carruther's complaint. "Yeah, you moron. I revved this dumpster up to full throttle, then popped the clutch when I saw you comin' this way. This baby handles like a Porsche. I was about to pass you when you decided to run me off the road. Not a very good sport are you?"

The three martini breakfast in Todd's stomach and brain stepped back briefly to allow him to understand how stupid he looked to the gathering crowd of gawkers. Perhaps this street bum didn't have a lot of control over the trash bin. But there was nobody else to blame, and Todd Carruthers certainly couldn't be at fault.

"Well, get that damned thing out of here and maybe I'll forget this happened," the reptilian record executive expounded. "You obviously don't know just how important I am."

"And you obviously don't know just how unimportant I am," Chuck replied balefully. "In fact, I don't even exist. Go ahead and threaten me, I'm the Phantom of the Dumpster."

By now, Chuck was well out of the trash bin and halfway back up the rainy alley. He didn't want to deal with another Hollywood lowlife. All he wanted was a place to go back to sleep and forget the mind-rotting boredom of his miserable life.

Todd still wanted to scream accusations at someone for the crash. But his human subject had staggered away, and the dumpster didn't seem likely to listen. There was no visible damage to the Beamer, so Todd headed back to the driver's seat.

Carruthers ducked partially in through the door he'd left open. Then he abruptly reversed course and stood upright on the street again. He narrowly missed sitting in the steamy warm pile of shit on his fine leather seat. He scanned the crowd around his car, but nobody would make eye contact, or give any other sign of responsibility for the fresh deposit.

"Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn." He was kicking his front tire now, careful not to damage the chromed custom wheel as he threw a temper tantrum on the street in front of a bunch of strangers. Several in the crowd looked around for the film crew that they figured must be recording this event.

Todd's vanity eventually overcame his anger as he stopped kicking and cursing. Where would he find somebody to clean his car seat?

Using the same keen instincts that had brought home dozens of the slimiest record contracts ever perpetrated, Todd's mind connived an appropriate plan. He walked to the other side of the car, calmly unlocked the passenger door, reached in, grabbed the phone and punched in a number. "Yeah, I need some emergency road service. I've got a little problem down here in Hollywood. The Beamer just won't start, and I need it towed."

It was a sterling example of Carruthers self-reliance; use some of his hard-stolen fortune and pay a peasant to do the dirty work. The time of a Carruthers is simply too valuable to spend on grunt work, and there was no doubt whatsoever that the problem in Todd's front seat qualified as grunt work.





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