Staples Center

During the season of cold and rain–January and February in Los Angeles– Carlos crawled into the dumpster behind Las Manzanitas apartments to sleep.

He usually went to bed around midnight, walking over to the relative quiet of Francisquito Way after a night of drinking with his friends by the LA River.

The tenants at Las Manzanitas liked Carlos. When they took their trash down in the morning they would always knock, and they would knock gently, so as not to jar him, and they would wait until he climbed out, and they would chat together, and he would help them throw their bags into the dumpster and together they would tidy up the parking lot and the areas and yards around their building. They spoke to one another in Spanish and English and after the morning routine, Carlos would move along, heading to the Midnight Mission for a meal.

The disposal company truck came once a week, on Thursdays, to empty the giant receptacle that Carlos slept in. They came very early, at six in the morning. Carlos was not an early riser. The tenants told Carlos of the schedule, and they warned the drivers that Carlos was inside so they could wake him before they hoisted the dumpster’s contents into their truck.

For a time, it all worked out.

Soon, however, bulldozers appeared all around Las Manzanitas apartments, razing structure after structure until the building stood nearly alone, flattened earth and rubble all surrounding it and dust rising always in the air to the movements of heavy equipment.

Shortly after the arrival of the demolition and construction crews, the tenants got their eviction notices and their official letters outlining the relocation assistance they would receive.

The new sports arena needed the land for parking and the building had been sold.

The morning after the letters were delivered, the tenants talked with Carlos about their impending move.

“I guess I’ll go when you do,” he said.

The next day was Wednesday, not Thursday. The new owners of Las Manzanitas, who would tear the building down within three months, had their own disposal contractor and had fired the old company, not wanting two. No one had seen a need to inform the tenants of the change in schedule. The disposal truck with its metal arms for hoisting and its compactor to conserve space and create efficiency arrived at six.

Carlos awoke as his dumpster turned upside down and the contents poured into the truck. The truck was noisy and the driver could not hear Carlos’ screams. As he always did, the driver counted to ten and activated the compactor.

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Larry Foundation

Larry Foundation is an American novelist and short story writer, concentrating largely on the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, where he has lived for fifteen years. His works include the novel Angry Nights and the short story collection Common Criminals. A third novel, Fish, Soap and Bonds, was released in 2007 by Raw Dog Screaming Press, and another short story collection in collaboration with London-based artist Kate Ruth is forthcoming. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in publications such as Flaunt (where he is Special Correspondent), Fiction International, Quarterly West, the Los Angeles Times and the Harvard Business Review.