Gary was still asleep, his head resting on the throw pillow from which a narrow river of blood had flowed down the couch and onto the floor. Gary’s face was pale, beads of sweat pouring down his cheeks. His ceaseless groans and moans were enough for Bobby to get up and move to the kitchen table, begging off from his guard post to have Sadie replace him as he got some needed shut-eye.
As Bobby rose from Gary’s bed, he was immediately reminded of the unfinished business downstairs.
The girls had made some soup for Gary, and Mary was trying to get him to eat as Bobby stumbled down to the kitchen and sat once again at the table accepting the cheese sandwich Sadie offered him as a lunch of sorts. After drinking another one of Gary’s beers and downing the sandwich, Bobby gave out a sigh as he got up from the table and wandered into the living room to see how his ornery patient was fairing.
“Bob, listen, I really need to go to the Hospital, Man. This wound won’t stop bleeding and I think it may be infected. Who knows where that sword has been, for God’s sake.” pleaded Gary.
Sitting once again on the armrest of the couch, Bob continued his pleas…
“Before you put all of us in real trouble, let Sadie re-do your bandages and let’s see how the wound is doing, okay?” asked Bobby.
As he looked into Mary’s pleading eyes, Gary thought better of going anywhere as he knew if he reported this incident to anyone it would affect his drug making business and most likely hurt Mary. He knew she gave his home address to the Social Workers so she could keep Pooh Bear at Spahn’s. He didn’t want to cause anyone any more grief…and he never did.
“Okay, let her look it over for now. I’ll stay put. You guys can leave after that if you want; I won’t call anyone.” Gary said.
“I’d rather have us stay here with you, Gary, just to make sure you don’t become really ill, ya know, and if you do, well, we’re here to help, right?” pleaded Bob, really more interested in protecting his own ass than protecting Gary’s life.
“Yeah, sure, whatever you want.” Gary yawned out the words, flinching in pain as he did, as he wandered into the kitchen so Sadie could re-dress his wounds. He was just in too much pain and too weak to argue anymore.
As Sadie slowly removed the dressings, the wounds looked really horrible but she gave no hint of that and just quietly soaked them in alcohol again, put some antibiotic cream over the stitching and applied new bandages. The cuts were still bleeding but there was enough congealed blood on the wound that the flow had subsided. She said to Gary how much better they looked and he believed her, or at least he chose to believe her, as he so wanted for this nightmare to end.
He picked up a roach from the ashtray and re-lit it and after that and the food Mary had fed him, he decided to go to bed and try to sleep the pain away.
That day in Topanga Canyon dragged on into early evening for the girls as it was their turn to stay awake and watch their patient while Bobby slept on the couch. They listened to the radio and cleaned up the kitchen and took turns looking in at Gary who by their estimation had never woken up on their watch.
Bobby woke up with a start as his inner clock seemed to be working on nervous energy. It was time to relieve the girls and see how Gary was doing.
As he made his way back to the kitchen, he got the low-down on the patient and was fed a hot meal of macaroni and cheese the girls had prepared. He let that and a couple beers go down before he decided to look in on Gary.
It was getting harder to know what his moods would be like and when or if he’d ever be agreeable to come back with them to the ranch. Bobby was emotionally and physically exhausted and desperately wanted all of this to be over so he could return to his little apartment and get away from this crowd for a while and get back to playing his music.
He came to L.A. primarily for the music, the free love and the occasional LSD trip but this kind of “love-in” was not what Bobby had pictured for himself. He wanted to live the free Life shown on the pages of LIFE magazine when they did their bit on the Hippie Generation, and drug burns, sword slashings and automatic guns were not part of that picture.
As he made his way up the stairs, carrying a tray of food the girls had prepared, he quietly entered Gary’s room. Gary, turning over onto his side, having heard someone enter his room, said, “You still here, Brother? I’d thought you’d be long gone by now.”
After adjusting Gary’s pillows so he could sit up in bed and eat off the tray, Bobby sat on the edge of the bed and said, “I wouldn’t leave you like this, you know that. We used to be roomies, remember? Here, sit up and eat something and let’s you and I go have that party downstairs tonight, that we were going to have last night, you dig?”
Gary started to laugh but smiling tore open his cheek wound so he soon stopped and remembered with that pain why all this had started in the first place.
“Bob, this just is so unfair, Man, why can’t you see it my way? Charlie needs to be taught a lesson on this one. He can’t go around acting like King Shit in other peoples’ lives, ya know? I’ll skip the hospital for now but I’d sure like you to back me up on calling the cops on him.” Gary said.
“You can’t prove it was him, Gary. The other three will lie to protect Charlie, you know that, and my life might be in danger if I were to squeal along with ya. Nope, we’ve just got to swallow this one, Gary. I’ll make it up to you by dealin’ tabs for ya at no charge, okay, however long you want me to but let’s drop this cop idea, huh?” asked Bob.
“Could you line up some deals for me before I head to Europe? I could use the extra dough.”
“Sure. I got connections all over Hollywood and Topanga, Man, and my musician buddies know people too. I could probably get you enough deals to replace those cars out there and some loot for your trip, so how ‘bout it, Gary? No more talk of the fuzz or the hospital and as soon as you’re up to traveling to the ranch, we can call on Charlie’s doc to look at your wounds, no charge, okay?”
With only as much smiling as Gary could endure with the pain, he agreed to the deal, almost happy at the prospect of more drug money and his trip abroad financed as it should be. He ate most of what the girls had laid out on the tray, and with a full stomach, some much needed sleep and a renewed sense of hope, he thought he’d take Bobby up on his offer of that promised party, hoping that the pot would again dull the pain of his aching wounds.
The light over the stove guiding their way once more, Bobby grabbed Gary’s stash now hidden more conveniently under the bullet-riddled kitchen sink, a couple of beers from the fridge and the two of them headed for the living room.
The girls had scrubbed most of the blood out of the rug, couch and throw pillow but the stains were still visible and a constant reminder of events better left forgotten.
As Gary turned the piano light on once more, thinking he’d like to play but just to weak to make it happen, he found the couch and the pillow instead as Bobby sunk into the armchair with one of Gary’s acoustic guitars and picked out a tune as they both gazed out into the night sky.
The beer got drunk and the pot got passed and the two guys were talking over old times, trying their best to forget the events of last night.The room filled up with that low dense pot smoke once again but this time, it found an exit path through the open windows as a slight breeze lifted it out and away. In their stupor, they forgot their worries for a time, as Bobby kept telling silly jokes to make Gary laugh in spite of the pain.
Maybe everything would turn out okay. Gary was even agreeing now to move to Spahn’s so that Charlie’s doc could care for his wounds.
The moon lowered in the sky and the hours ticked by and because the girls were fast asleep, the pair decided to camp out at Gary’s til the next day. Gary was just too weak again to move off of the couch and Bobby was too tired and too stoned to leave the chair. Bobby knew he was supposed to keep an eye on Gary but the two both fell asleep, neither one stirring until dawn.
A unusual gust of wind blew through the open windows and washed over the little wooden desk, where Gary had a calendar, its page flipping in the wind to the next day. And, as if on cue, the clock on the bookcase followed suit and chimed twelve times. It was after midnight, July 27, 1969…