Yeah, I set the hotel on fire — but I never told nobody about it till now. Plus, it was an accident, so I didn’t feel bad about it. I was just smoking a cigarette, all high, and I threw it off the balcony of a room and the next thing I know the whole fire department is tearing through this pumpkin-colored fire in the kitchen and toppling stacks of plates and I’m there watching through the smoke — laughing my ass off, ‘cause, like I said before, I was all high — but when you’re a janitor you can do some crazy shit like laugh at a fire, because nobody looks you in the eye if they know you clean their shit anyway.
So, this was tripping me out: These dudes were hacking down a wall with axes and running around in big yellow coats and gas masks like that scene in E.T. — when everything in the house is covered in plastic and dudes in biohazard suits are walking around with beeping machines and E.T. is all white and fucked up, going, “EL-EE-OT.” It was like that. I was just holding my mop and wishing I had one of those flying bicycles from the movie so I could bounce—start flying over the hotel and the moon—because the cops were coming soon.
They never caught my ass, though. They sent everybody outside and it looked like a piece of art—all the laundry girls and housekeepers were sitting on this green hill in the June wind. So I was glad.
Plummer was glad, too. Yeah, dude’s real name was Plummer and he was a janitor. He was a Cherokee Indian but he looked like George Washington. I mean, his hair was like the wigs Washington wore — only yellowish, like straw pushed down into mud. And he didn’t have teeth, neither. Todd was also glad. Todd, who ended up calling me down to the bathroom, and when I got there I saw there were little spots of blood all over the tiled floor because he’d snorted another eightball that day. Even Cara was glad — even with the two black eyes her baby’s daddy gave her when he was whacked out on meth — because it was funny. And it was funny, later, how after all the times I went to work high they ended up firing me over a cherry Danish. I mean, what the fuck? Like these rich bastards can’t afford to lose a pastry that costs two-fifty. Like there’s some sort of doughnut famine going on and they’re rationing this shit like Iraqi oil.
My manager tells me I’m fired and I go crazy, I flip. I’m throwing stuff around the room and cursing and I’m tearing my shirt off and I’m walking out into the lobby and who’s standing at the front desk but you: Geraldo Fucking Rivera. Your big-ass, goofy, Groucho Marx–looking mustache checking into the hotel to cover some local story—wearing pink-shaded glasses and a fancy brown leather jacket like you’re a rock star. So I say, “Hey, Gernaldo, don’t stay here, it’s a fucking shithole!” But I should have said something else. I should have said something better. But, like I said, I was high and I didn’t have much time to think.
So I just walked out the sliding glass doors I’d cleaned at 5 that morning. It was still early and this wild, dawn-like light was collapsing across the parking lot and the long hills of traffic and I was thinking: Well, what am I going to do now?