Evening finds us wandering Beverly Hills, craning our necks to peer past hedges at an astonishing variety of McMansions, complete with lush gardens and high security. Only as the sun tips below the horizon and the streetlights flicker to life do we realize that we have nowhere to sleep. A desert pullout is safe as houses, but parking in a city is trickier.
Hannah glances around the spacious boulevard. We haven’t seen another living soul in two hours of walking. “It doesn’t say ‘no parking’.”
This is technically true. There are also no other vehicles in sight. Out of laziness, or because the idea of camping in one of the world’s wealthiest neighborhoods is deliciously ridiculous, I allow myself to be convinced that nobody will mind the presence of a lone ’97 Aerostar with mirror-tinted windows and a bit of duct tape. We draw the curtains, lock the doors, drift off.
It only takes an hour. A knock and the glare of a flashlight startle me from uneasy sleep. I peer through the chink in the curtains at two blurry figures.
Another knock, more insistent. I rouse Hannah, double-check the pepper spray wedged beneath the mattress, fumble for my shorts. Then I flop from the rear compartment to the passenger seat and roll down the window. “Evening,” I say breezily, plucking a foam earplug from my collar.
Two female cops in full battle dress blink down. I give them my best ‘innocent, bumbling Canadian’ smile, which has so far held me in good stead, though it works best on men.
“What are you doing?”
“Got a bit tired. Wouldn’t want to be a hazard on the road. Safety first, and all that.”
“Your ID, ma’am.”
“You bet!” I fish around several half-finished sketches before holding it up in triumph.
With a grunt, the stockier cop hands it back. “There is no overnight parking in the city of Beverly Hills.” What the hell were you thinking? she doesn’t say.
“Right. So sorry. We’ll be off.”
I roll up the window. The cops look on with raised eyebrows as I clamber back again, ass sticking up between the front seats, and we begin the laborious process of tying up the curtains for visibility. Once this is done, I hop into the driver’s seat and execute a flawless barefooted twelve-point turn.
I don’t speak until we’re soaring along the freeway. My reflexes appear to be working, but I’ve left my mind behind in the sleeping bag. “Where are we going anyway?”
“No idea. Pull over at a McDonalds or something so I can grab wi-fi for a map.”