The Taxi-Cab Driver and his Neighbors
Alyosha, the eponymous Russian Taxi-Cab driver lives in Hollywood. He is chubby, good humored, middle aged and an avid gun-collector. In Russia during the wonderful times of the Soviet Union worker’s paradise he had no money, no rights and no hope.
Having gotten tired of this he moved to the United States where he got a job as a Taxi-Cab driver. He figured this would be the best way to get to know the locals. Soon after he got his job and his first paycheck he bought his first gun. Not because he liked guns, but because it was the only way he could think of to express his admiration for the country he found himself in. “In Russia I couldn’t speak my mind without someone calling the Police, here in America I can buy a semi-automatic rifle and hang it on my wall, and the Government doesn’t give a shit. I love America.”
Alyosha is a law abiding citizen though, so he dutifully registered his weapon with the LAPD. Things went on like that for several years, every few paychecks, Alyosha bought a gun, rifle, AK-47, M-16 whatnot, and he would drive his cab to the local Police precinct, where he would register it and then he would go home, happy and content he was living in a free country.
Then the Chileans and Columbians moved in next door. Actually this was a combination of Columbians, Argentineans and one Chilean. The Chilean “Adolfo” in particular was of some concern. First, he was the twenty something son of a Chilean military officer. Second, his grandmother (his father’s mother) had a wall sized oil-portrait of Augusto Pinochet on her wall, in front of which she lit candles and placed fresh roses from her garden every few days. Thirdly, his name was Adolfo.
Finally, Adolfo was a hard-rock-&-roll death-metal pagan photographer artist who loved marijuana and skanky girls he got high on said marijuana while chanting Inca highland tunes, photographing them and screwing them – all of this, not necessarily in the order I listed it. Also Adolfo had a party every weekend. During these parties, his Argentinean and Columbian buddies would bring about hot girls who wished to be screwed or photographed or pumped full of drugs to the tune of AC/DC or Peruvian highland music while burning incense to strange statues of the local mountain deity, preferably naked.
Now, normally Alyosha was a calm ordinary fellow. He drove his Taxi-Cab all day and all night for as long as coffee kept him awake, then went home to his small cramped one room studio apartment where he polished his guns, polished off a 40 oz bottle of beer, or sometimes a pint or two of vodka and went to bed watching some porn, or some Clint Eastwood film (depending on his mood). He had a poster above his bed that said “Clint Eastwood is my president,” right next to the flag of the USA and a large photo of the Kremlin with a target painted on it.
He bothered no one. For relaxation on his days off, he listened to Tchaikovsky or Strauss while he played chess with his Soviet Army buddy who kept tropical fish in a large tank to calm him down after two years on the Afghanistan Front line (back during the original war against the Mujahedeen).
It should be noted that Adolfo lived not only next door to Alyosha, the two apartments shared a wall but that the doors faced one another in such a way as to make avoiding one another impossible. Somehow the parties held by Adolfo managed not to interfere with Alyosha’s life for any number of reasons. It could have been that they ended early before Alyosha got home, most of the time. It could be that the activity Adolfo and his posse were engaging in didn’t include deafening music at two in the morning.
Either way, on a few occasions in the last couple of weeks before the pivotal events of this story this safe pattern failed. Alyosha would come home, go about his routine and be unceremoniously woken up at some horrid hour in the middle of night by screams or laughter or sounds of heavy sex, or Iron Maiden screaming at the top of his lings “What is the Number of the Beast” or some such nonsense. Alyosha would knock on the door of his neighbor and complain. Sometimes in the past this kind of logical response worked. One day it didn’t.
Alyosha had had a particularly bad day driving Korean businessmen around town. Alyosha hated the Koreans, in fact he hated most ethnic groups up to and including his own. He came home and drank for a few hours straight. He hadn’t gotten laid in a few months, he couldn’t afford it. He was upset and tired and pissed off, and all he wanted to do was to go to and I quote here verbatim: “fucking sleep and forget about the fucking wonderful decision” that made him give up his low paying job back in the Soviet Union back when there was a Soviet Union working at the Nuclear Electric plant for “the fucking stupid job of driving a fucking Taxi cab in sunny Los Angeles” where he was forced to be nice to people he used to think were not worth spitting on.
Alyosha was woken up at four in the morning by the sound of girls squealing in ecstatic delight, men cursing in Spanish (a language he detested, he tolerated English, was tired of Russian and all other languages he hated) and incompressible music blaring, there was the smell of pot, sweat, incense and alcohol in the air, and Alyosha had precious few claims on the sex smell. He opened his front door and banged on the door of his neighbor the Chilean art photographer (who worked for a living as a cook in a Mexican restaurant). Adolfo opened the door, cigarette in his mouth, eyes wide open, naked except for a sock, stench of male sweat, sandalwood incense, liquor and an odd assortment of miscellaneous bodily fluids reeking from the door.
Seeing Alyosha in his cho-choo-train pj’s, face unshaved, fat naked chest with graying hair, disheveled hair and fuzzy slippers made him laugh and utter some jokes in Spanish. This laughter was joined in by all manner of guests who were staying in his house. Argentineans and Columbians of both sexes, in various states of undress, one naked girl was dancing on the table, cocks and tits hanging out all over the place, while Metallica or the Music of the Andes played on the stereo (it was all the same to Alyosha) presented themselves in all their glory to the rudely awakened Alyosha.
“Can you pretty please turn off the music, I have to get up at 6:00 am and I did not sleep for the last two nights,” said Alyosha quite politely. Or as politely as a chubby drunk guy you just woke up who has a permanent sore throat and speaks with a thick Russian accent can sound at four in the morning.
This statement was met with so much hilarity that had Alyosha not been half asleep and pissed off he’d have joined in the fun. Then someone, probably not Adolfo (but they all looked the same to Alyosha) yelled, “Fuck you, you fat Russian pig, fuck off” and the girls laughed pointing at his gut and they slammed the door to the chants of Satanic melody and the singing of happy birthday in all those languages Alyosha didn’t much care for. The sound level of the music went up at least 10 decibels after that.
Alyosha was drunk, and tired and irritated and he was (and still is) Russian. He turned around without a word and went back into his own apartment where he picked up his cordless phone and pulled out his semi automatic pistol. The gun may have been a Beretta 92F3 or a Smith & Wesson 45, whatever it was, it was deadly and loaded. Alyosha then went back to Adolofo’s door and banged on it with the butt of the gun, repeatedly and loudly.
After a few minutes Adolfo opened the door. Seeing the gun and Alyosha’s blood shot eyes and smelling the stench of booze, he fell immediately to the floor under Alyosha’s feet flattening his face on the carpet. This action was followed in close imitation by all 12 inhabitants and guests of the two bedroom den of inequity that doubled for Adolfo’s photo studio, band practice room, sex chamber and as Alyosha viewed it, source of all his worldly misery after the Kremlin. The music ended shortly after that. Alyosha had the LAPD on speed dial, but he called 911 instead. The conversation ran kind of like this:
“You have a problem. I am drunk. My neighbors are Spanish speaking asshole son’s of bitches and cheep whores who have woken me up for the last time. They are not reasonable people. I am a hard working American citizen and tax payer. I hate my life. I have a loaded gun with at least 12 or maybe 20, I cannot recall now how many bullets in the magazine, but it is enough. So… you have a problem.”
Alyosha then hung up the phone, leaned on the frame of his door and waited. The silence was deathly and blessed. Alyosha had a hard time not falling asleep, but he was patient and a taxi-cab driver so he just stood there. Adolfo, the naked girls, his rock and roll buddies, the whole party was flat on the floor, none of them moved so much as an inch. One of the girls, the naked one on the table, started to whimper, but she soon shut up when Alyosha leaned in to look at what was making the noise and pointed his gun at her while raising his eyebrow. Soon the night was broken up by the sound of police sirens. It was maybe fifteen to twenty minutes after his phone call.
Twenty police cars, members of the LAPD in full riot gear, the Swat team and at least two ambulances and the fire department, not to mention an overhead chopper with the search light on all showed up at Alyosha’s apartment building. They knew who Alyosha was, all of his guns were registered. There had been numerous complaints against Adolfo by other neighbors, but the LAPD never had time to investigate disturbance of the peace complaints because they were too busy going after the local street merchants for illegally selling hotdogs to tourists.
The LAPD officers walked up quietly, with guns drawn, there were many, many cops. Alyosha had retreated into his own apartment and had placed his gun on his countertop next to the door in plain sight, right below his numerous assault rifles hanging on the wall and right across the giant Clint Eastwood poster. He placed the phone next to it. He stood half naked in the doorway, he was quite drunk and tired. The cops came over to talk to him and walked into the residence of Adolfo.
It should be pointed out that it is not illegal to be drunk in your own house or to have a house full of firearms – at least not in the United States, one of the reasons Alyosha came over to this country in the first place. It is not against the law to have a loaded gun in your own apartment either.
The police knew that of course. They spoke calmly to Alyosha. He didn’t apologize. They made sure his gun was unloaded and back in the drawer and then they left. They searched Adolfo’s apartment and having found a small bag of pot or maybe hash arrested everyone of his guests and co-habitants. One of the girls was found to be underage (probably the one on the table), one of the guys was found to be an illegal immigrant (it wasn’t Adolfo). All in all, it was a clean sweep, Adolfo and his friends spent a few days in the county jail while his mother and grandmother wired hard earned (during the law and order regime of the Government Junta of Chile) pesos from Santiago.
This story is true, I heard half of it from Alyosha whom I have known for years (I’ve played chess with him a few times) and the other half from Adolfo. Adolfo and I worked on a “photo project,” luckily not that night. Shortly after the incident Adolfo came home. His friends moved out rather quickly over the next few days. None of the girls dared to show up again. A few months later after September 11, Adolfo came to the conclusion that the USA is too dangerous a country to live in and his Grandmother wired him more Augusto Pinochet earnings to go home. He owed me some money, but didn’t have enough, so he gave me his large wooden table instead. Every time I look at it I wonder at the girl who danced on it, I think I have a photo of her somewhere.
Alyosha slept soundly after that. He lives above me now, I make sure not to wake him up at night. The ceiling and the walls are rather thin, a point he reminds me of every time I see him. I never heard from Adolfo again.
June 1, 2011 – Konrad Tademar