Down in Hollywood

by David Perlmutter

I know now that I should have listened to my mother and sister and stayed away from Hollywood. There’s a reason why good dogs, like we supposedly are, don’t venture into that part of town anymore. That’s where the ‘toons hang out, especially in the evenings, and you don’t want to be hanging out with them if you’re not one of them, ‘cause they’ll do something fierce to you.

Ever since the human beings disappeared in 2100, we dogs have been trying to live in peace with the ‘toons, since we were both the victims of human cupidity and stupidity and of their prejudice as well. But no dice. Even though there are some animated dogs in among the ‘toons, they don’t want anything to do with us, and so it’s a lot harder for us together than we would like.

But I can’t really explain the situation to you without you being aware of all the facts, so I’ll have to tell you the whole story.

It started innocently enough when my friend advised me of this supposedly “awesome” party being held at a ‘toon club that evening located at Hollywood and Vine, right in the center of town. Being that we lived in peaceful, suburban Burbank, and therefore would have to commute a singularly long way to get to the party in the first place, I was initially opposed to the idea.

I have an intelligence, higher than that of most of my friends, stemming from my border collie genes. The trouble is that Wendy, my whippet chum, is very persistent, not to mention physically fast, and so, after much prodding, I was finally persuaded that it was in my best interests to come to the party.

Particularly when she announced that we had best go to the party or kiss our friendship goodbye. Not wanting that, I immediately acquiesced, although part of me now wishes I hadn’t.

So it was that I, in my robin’s-egg-blue tuxedo, and she, in the red dress that contrasted so vividly with her white fur, were travelling down the freeway from Burbank into the center of town. I was driving my motorcycle, with safety gear and all, for protection, while she reclined somewhat languidly in the sidecar.

After managing to negotiate the complicated spheres of traffic, still an issue in spite of the fact that the automobile was now as dead as the human race, we reached the Hollywood and Vine establishment just after things had begun to get started. However, somewhat bothered by the noise emerging from the club, I stood still rather than moving inwards like Wendy wanted, much to her shock and dismay.

“Neil,” she said, “I thought you liked cartoon stuff. The music, the acting and everything. I mean, they’re the closest thing we have to a racial minority we have now, and you want to pass up an attempt at engaging and meeting with them? I’m surprised.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” I answered, “it’s just that there’s a bit of an element of risk just coming to the neighborhood. I mean, you remember what Ryland said happened to him when he was driving through town in broad daylight. The two ‘toon hookers who rattled the locks of his car doors, wanting to get inside at him. That’s a bit too much, don’t you think?”

“Oh, you worry too much,” she said dismissively. “That was an isolated incident, I’m sure. Those are the dangerous ones who give this place a bad name. Nothing will happen to us. Most of them know better than to try that with the well-heeled suburban dogs, like us.”

“That still won’t get us anywhere with the bouncer,” I reminded her. “Those fellas are pretty selective about who they let into the clubs these days…”

“Ah, g’wan!” She was dismissive again. “They’ll just be like half the guys who hold the doors open. Looking at the band and the pretty girls. As long as we don’t attract too much undue attention, we should be fine.”

“…if you get past the fact that we’ll be the only ones in the room who aren’t made of celluloid and paint,” I reminded her.

“They are much more tolerant of outsiders than you would think,” she said with finality to cut off the argument. “Lord knows, they’ve been through enough with the humans – and still go through enough with us – to know what it feels to be alone and friendless. And it would benefit you well to spend time with those who aren’t the same as you, for once!”

“Look, I get the point,” I responded, futilely trying to continue the argument. “But suppose something happens that….”

“Nothing will happen,” she said, her paw going tightly over my nose. “So let’s just go in there and try to enjoy ourselves. You seriously need to loosen up, buddy!”

Grabbing the cuff of my jacket and pulling me away before I could secure my motorcycle in place, she hustled me off into the smoky basement room which was THE CLUB. That was all it was called: THE CLUB. And, thereafter, I learned that, when it came to estimating our safety, my friend Wendy was a liar. A terrible liar!

The bouncer was, indeed, ignoring the back of the room in favor of the upfront action on the dance floor, so the two of us were easily able to make our way past through the back as Wendy had said. But that was the only part of the evening that went as planned.

The problem lay in the fact that the back of the club, unknown to the both of us, was where the skuzzy riffraff element of cartoon-dom hung out, away from the more respectable clientele at the front. Pimps, pushers, gamblers, and the like. So, as neither of us had any record, and were obviously not members of the cartoon race, we were immediately eyed with suspicion.

“Play it cool,” Wendy advised me sotto voce. “They’ll have more respect for us if we don’t panic or do anything stupid.”

And so, for a good portion of the affair, we stayed in the background while the gamblers, pushers, junkies and prostitutes did their thing. Wendy looked on wide-eyed, as if she was an ornithologist on a bird-studying expedition, but I was somewhat bothered by the whole affair, and the extent to which this began to show on my face became ever more apparent as the night progressed.

I especially disliked the blatant sexual exhibition that was going on- where cartoon girls, and boys, too, would dance lasciviously on the floor, gradually taking off pieces of their clothing to delighted admirers. And then, some of these creeps would actually take these kids home with them, to do God knows what with them. I complained about this to Wendy, but she paid this no mind as she continued to be fascinated by the whole scene.

Then the bottom fell out of the whole engagement, and us with it. The walls suddenly shook violently, and bricks flew through the windows, shattering them into a million pieces. And then, the words no visitor to an illicit party of any kind wants to hear: “This is a raid! Come out with your hands up!”

The lights went out, and, in the panic and confusion, Wendy and I were separated.

The problem was that the ‘toons were not prepared to submit quietly to an arrest. They quickly shifted from party to attack mode. Most of them swerved outside, with Wendy and I ineptly in tow, to confront the swarm of police cars which had surrounded THE CLUB and were blocking all of the potential exists. The ‘toons threw themselves into fighting with the forces of cops that surrounded them. The fights got vicious and violent, and finally, the cops had to get the flamethrowers out and burned quite a few of them to death, since fire is the only thing that can truly destroy a cartoon character.

While this was going on, I was desperately searching for Wendy and hoping nothing bad had happened to her. But, just as I figured, she emerged from the crowd, with two squat, little black-and-white ‘toon men holding on to her butt with their hands. This always happens with her, and usually she ends up  satisfied with the results of her “experimenting”, so I left it at that and decided I needed to find way home and out of this jungle.

It was only far too late that I realized that the two animated aardvarks who were riding past me on a motorcycle that looked a lot like mine actually were riding my motorcycle, which they had somehow purloined from where I had stationed it when we arrived in the neighborhood. Spotting my license plate, I attempted a chase, but they hit the gas pedal hard, and I was left standing in the street, screaming myself hoarse with a blue streak of obscenities. Now I would be forced into the indignity of hitchhiking back to Burbank. Or so I thought.

As I attempted to head back to the corner of Hollywood and Vine, hoping that the riot had cleared itself up, a tall ‘toon in a pimp outfit promptly blocked my path.

“Hey, buddy,” he said. “Let me talk to you for a second.”

Before I could protest, he had ripped the fabric on my arm – jacket, shirt and all – completely off, which would surely do wonders for my credit rating at the rental store! Then he stuck a device on my arm which resembled a torqued-up version of that device that your doctor uses to measure your blood pressure, with the Velcro clasps and the balloon and everything. Except that, after he had stuck the Velcro ends on my arm, he placed the other end on his mouth!

And then the sucking began! The awful sucking!

By the time I came back to consciousness several hours later, I had been found by two cops lying on the street. One cop declared me a “mess” and indicated to his partner that they needed to take me downtown, to the “drunk tank”. Which is why I’m here now.

The End