The next day, she called into her work, early in the morning, and told them that she would not be in for work today. She had something to do. Together, the girls took off for the Free Clinic on San Vincente. Debbie was stiff and sore, but could still crack jokes, as long as they did not talk about the night before. It was hot outside, so hot. And the air was thick with exhaust, and smog, and summer heat, and smells. The sun was reflected off of every piece of shiny chrome on cars, trim on the buildings, the frames around the super big sunglass lenses, under the rims of floppy hats, and in the shininess of their young eyes. Together, they hitched rides towards the Free Clinic.
Debbie filled out the forms, with fake names, fake address, fake everything. They could tell you, till they were blue in the face, you were safe here, but were they? It was better to lie, than to be scared you had told someone who you really are, and where you stay. She waited in the dingy waiting room of the clinic for her friend. They always tried to make the clinics look welcoming and comfortable, with posters and lots of handouts about all the help you could find. But they were always in low rent areas, so they looked a little dingy and run down.
She had a hard time sitting still. She always had. No one talked much about hyperactive kids back then. People were not into „intervention“ much in the 60’s and she never got much in the way of medical care anyway, unless it was a crisis. She just got told to sit still a lot. And she always found that so freaking hard to do.
She had some money in her pocket from her meager tips at Soul Taco, so she bought them both a Coke from the soda machine in the hallway, looked at all the magazines, and looked at the young men and women who came and went. Finally Debbie came from the private rooms and was smiling. They just ran some tests, gave her some antibiotics they had on hand, and told her she had to check back every few months, for at least 12 months, to make sure she had not „caught anything.“ And that was it. No rape counseling, no support groups, no ongoing care, no police reports; nothing. But they would not have it any other way. The two of them were not dependable enough, not even for themselves, to get and use support. And NO COPS! They were not going to get sent back home, because of someone else’s freaking crime! Oh, hell no!
They were back on the streets again. She told her friend to be cool, and look like they had business to take care of, because school was still in session and if they looked like they were just screwing around for the fun of it, truant officers would nail them. So they set about going back towards the commune, their home of the day. She thinks how funny, her homes were like the soup-de-jour back then. They could, and did, change in the blink of an eye. Her true address, had she known then what she knows now, should have simply been on the corner of Erratic and Chaos, in the city of Take A Chance, Anywhere, USA.
On their way home, they stopped and talked to some people smoking some herb, and they said there was a small „love-in,“ happening at the carousel, in Griffith Park. So they started hitching for a ride that way. They knew they would be safe in a crowd of hundreds of other people, who looked just like them.
Soon, they were in a huge crowd of people, people all around them, in bell bottom jeans, tops made of bandanas or tie-dyed cloth; You could smell patchouli oil in the air. And the sound of rock music calling to them, calling them to the crowd that was swaying to the beat. Painted faces, embroidered clothing, flowers everwhere! Flower Power. Grooving, and swinging and playing to the music. It was one of those rare times, when she played like a child, and felt like a child, and did not feel foolish for it. It was walking distance from the house on the corner of Franklin and Taft, so they felt safe going there. There were lots of bottles of Red Mountain wine, or Boones Farm berry flavored wine, making the rounds. But the girls passed on that because they didn’t know if they had been spiked with acid or not, and they planned on walking home. After last night, Debbie was not too anxious to trip that day. She was worried it would be a bummer if she did. So they just walked around together and smelled the herb burning in the air, and looked at all the beautiful people. And they could hear some one singing Scott McKenzie’s song, some where in the park…
„If you’re goin‘ to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re goin‘ to San Francisco You’re gonna meet some gentle people there
For those who come to San Francisco Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco Gentle people with flowers in their hair
All across the nation Such a strange vibration
People in motion There’s a whole generation
With a new explanation People in motion, people in motion
For those who come to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco Summertime will be a love-in there“
They talked of hitching up north, to „San Fran,“ for the fun of it, just to check it out. But they never made it. When they were done hanging out at the park and just as the sun started to set, they walked back to the corner of Selma and Vine, to her job, to check in and tell her bosses that she would be back to work tomorrow. The owners were not real happy to see her. They paid her what they owed her and told her, „Don’t come back here any more!“ There had been some cops there that day, showing her picture to them, telling them that she was a run-away and her parents wanted her back home. Of course, they would have to arrest her first. The owners were pretty upset she had brought the heat to their business, but then everyone was also very grateful that she had not been at work, that one day, of the many weeks she had worked there. They said, „No hard feelings, just go.“
What a drag! Now what? Where was she gonna get another job? Especially one so cool? Jeez. But they soon forgot her troubles because some really nice guys asked them up to their hotel room further up the street, on Selma…