But did Jim Priest actually exist? Armchair archivists are coming out of the woodwork, proffering a wide range of unpublished (much of it unfinished) work: a collection of amateurish short stories called Gynophobia, a clumsily constructed novella called Losangelopolis, which some say is a precursor to Colossalangeles itself, even a chap book with drug-addled noodlings on the cover. There are certain stylistic elements common to these puzzle pieces, but nothing concrete. And the only Youtube video of the Henchmn extant curiously shows no actual Jim Priest.
In the book, a number of names are dropped, from Motorcycle Boy to the Guttersluts, leading one to believe that Jim Priest was part of the much celebrated LA rock scene back in the day. Trouble is, no one this reporter has interviewed seems to have heard of him. When asked, Paddy Mac's reply was, "Jim who?? No. Fuck no." Roger from the Guttersluts concurs, although Ricky from Circus of Power has a vague recollection of playing Raji's with The Henchmn as the opening act. "Yeah I think so. They sucked. Just fuckin horrible." It probably doesn't matter in the scheme of things. Whether Colossalangeles could stand on its own merits, without benefit of cheesy PR stunts, will never be known. Maybe this generation needs a Bukowski of their own, even one lacking the great poet's talent. A fictional character is an apt hero for people whose world is algorithmically produced, and whoever is really on that record could blow a mean blues harp, anyway.
When Rampart got the call that a body had been found behind The Satellite, Sgt. Mike Loundsdale didn't bat an eye. It wasn't that he didn't care, it's just that he didn't allow himself to. He let out the deep sigh that he reserved for situations like this and cut under the freeway at Vendome towards Silverlake boulevard and headed north.
It was the smell he dreaded, really. The cold stare they all have, the waxy skin, you get used to stuff like that, but the smell. Eesh. This one didn't, um, disappoint. The body was underneath a pile of old drywall and the stench had percolated through paper and plaster to obliterate the blend of cat piss, sage, rosemary and puke that usually fragranced the grubby little lot. How was this place still here, anyway?
It's not like the neighborhood hadn't changed since the joint was called Dreams of LA. Back then they had to put NO CRUISING signs on Hyperion just to try to tamp down the nightly streetside carnival of amyl-popping-line-snorting butt sex in the bushes that this part of town had become.
Come to think of it, things had mellowed quite a bit since the place was called Spaceland, for that matter. Dopesick denizens of the dark had littered the sidewalk like so many uncollected empties not that long ago, with the occasional episode of barbecue asphyxiation under the bridge. Now the relentless comfort of drought-resistant landscaping and horizontal fencing was seldom disturbed except by the random stranding of a Prius in need of a charge.
Loundsdale wasn't complaining. Things were better now. Way better. No one sniveling about how cool the East side used to be ever got mugged here. Or even lived here for that matter. He was perfectly content to put in his last couple years as an overfed, overtanned Andy Griffith, thank you very much. Wait. was that a wistful sigh? Oh yeah. The body. He peeled off the top piece of drywall to discover that it wasn't just a pile, it was a cozy little lean-to cleverly disguised as a random refuse pile. Inside were food containers, water bottles, some kind of a shrine built of chicken bones on a shoe box, and stretched out on a couple furny pads, the deceased.
White guy. Mid fifties. Heavy set, too heavy to be a tweaker or a late-stage alky. Not bloated, either. No jaundice and no abscesses. He looked at the face. It was somehow familiar, but he was sure he didn't know the man. Still, it was a feeling he couldn't shake. He looked again, a little closer. So peaceful. No grimace, no grin. Just , you know, there. Abiding in death. This was not the face of a man who died in a pile of trash behind a dive bar. He felt like he was attending a viewing in a funeral parlor before a formal service. "Christ" he thought. "I should be so lucky".
Better take some pictures. Wait a minute. what's in that shoebox?