The dirty, dusty downtown of Los Angeles.
We walk down a row of skyscrapers, most of them under construction with loud equipment hammering and sawing and buzzing away. It is a sign of both progress and tastelessness.
There are a great number of people on the street, of all shapes and sizes, all colors and creeds. All human, unfortunately, but it is still a welcoming sight compared to those places where my pink hair truly make me stand out like a rusty battle axe.
The homeless population is quite high as well; I think to toss one gold coin to each person I pass by, as I used to do on Mystix, but then I remember that, sadly, I traded in all my gold for Barb Bucks back in Santa Barbara, and that is not legal tender here in the United States.
Francis and I have walked through downtown Los Angeles for some time now, just taking in the sights and hoping I’ll get another Destiny Point, but unfortunately that has not yet happened.
“Really, nothing?” Francis asks as if reading my mind. Or, more accurately, reading the lack of dings.
I shake my head.
“Man, maybe we should just go to the coast and see the ocean again. If we get on the E Line, we can ride out to Santa Monica in like an hour. I’m sure the beach will be another Destiny Point. Surely.”
“We can only hope. But for now—“
A third unidentified voice accosts us and makes both of us jump into battle gear.
But it’s just some guy. He’s wearing a tanktop and jeans and really seems interested in us as humans.
“Um, hello?” I greet.
“Wanna hear my mixtape?” he asks.
“What is a ‘mixtape?’”
“Oh, come on. It’s fire! You gotta hear this and also sub to my insta. Take the CD.” He essentially shoves a CD into my hands, and I do not wish to take it at all.
“Back off,” Francis says with a stern tone one would use on a pet.
“Hey, y’all, I’m just a guy trying to make his way,” he says. “I’m Devon. Remember me? I was that one guy on That’s So Raven. The TV show. Remember?”
“I didn’t watch that show,” Francis says. “Sorry, bye.”
“Wait, if you don’t want my music, then take my comedy CD! I’m really funny, y’all! Please, boost my insta! I need this!”
But Francis has already pushed him away before I can take the CDs. I almost feel bad for the man, until I see him immediately switch gears and begin harassing another group of people right afterwards. When one of them takes the CD, he then yells at them asking for insta follows as a donation. Is that... legal?
“Los Angeles truly is a pit of despair, isn’t it?” I wonder aloud.
“If your idea of despair is people so obsessed with their social clout that they forget what genuine human experiences are like, then yes, yes it is,” Francis says. “Like I said... I really don’t like this life, and being a streamer is way too close for comfort. I hear most of the big streamers end up moving here just because it’s where all the talent agencies are.”
“Talent agencies are the work of the Hells themselves.”
“Now, shall we leave this pit of despair and go to this mythical land of Santa Monica that you speak of? I am very familiar with places whose names start with Santa by now.”
“Yeah, though I sort of wish we just took a bus from Simi Valley to there, because they’re pretty close to each other. We might have saved some time... And some sanity with not having to come to Taylor’s house quite as soon.”
“Yes. Taylor is a very interesting fellow, and I am not sure we will be able to visit her for very long without some dire consequences.”
“This has got to be the end of the trip,” Francis says. “After dealing with my sister for a few days, I’m going to need a month’s rest back in San Francisco.”
“Shall I join you in that rest?”
“Don’t you need Destiny Points to live?”
“I can fell a few foes here and there, and I will make do. After all, we discovered that video game victories qualify just the same; perhaps next we can turn me into a professional video game player like you.”
“Ha, that’d be pretty fun. Though... I don’t know where you’re gonna stay. My parents’ house doesn’t have any extra rooms, and you are definitely not sleeping on my floor for several months. Delta’s baby means they’ll be out of space too.”
“I assume I will have to stay in Santa Barbara in the castle I legally own, as King. How unfortunate.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot you’re a king now,” Francis says. “It’ll probably be lonely, but I’ll totally visit you every weekend or something.”
“I’d be honored to accept your presence, even permanently, if so you wish.”
“Ha, might take you up on it.”
We let the conversation fade into the background for a moment.
The warm wind sweeps in between the skyscrapers and ruffles through Francis’s hair.
“Let us depart on the subway, then,” I say.
“Haha, yeah, let’s.”