As the fetish legend enters Month Two of isolation in the California desert, he ponders if each passing day is how the world will end...

Starting on the eve of the lockdown in Los Angeles County, photographer and “King of Fetish” Rick Castro has been publishing a daily diary on his blog. (Originally named Antebellum, a Latin term that means “before the war,” the blog was presciently reborn in 2016 as Bellum—a think-tank slash political salon for a newly tumultuous political climate turned yet more dystopian amid a global pandemic.) Fleeing LA in his dad’s 1990 Ford Explorer, Castro headed to his mother’s cabin in the California desert to wait out the plague with a potbelly stove and infrared heater. One month into near-total isolation, Castro is sharing his thoughts and reflections with Document. So is this how the world will end?

Read yesterday’s diary entry here.

Apparently there was an earthquake when I was in LA. I didn’t feel it. The meds I take for me prostate always knock me out. It’s embarrassing being old. I never tell anybody about my ailments, but I’m telling the goddam world now. I left at the crack of dawn… well, 8amish… I certainly wasn’t in the same fight-or-flight state I was in last month. This morning I took my time, made sure I was bringing everything I wanted and needed for another month in isolation.

LA is so full of itself. It gets on my nerves. As I drive up Vermont to hit the 5 Fwy, I witness what I will surely not miss. The LA arrogance of going to a Starbucks in the morning in an oversized Range Rover, taking up more than one parking space, flinging the door open without looking for oncoming traffic, wearing a mask with a muscle shirt and tight-sweats to show your bulge, during a pandemic. Why can’t you make your own coffee? I’m sure he doesn’t know how. He probably orders a Grande Latte Macchiato, half-caff, splash of almond milk, with caramel drizzle at 120 degrees.

Going along the 14 Fwy just before Pearblossom Hwy, California poppies are in full bloom. Beautiful and reassuring, I’ll take that visual to a muscle shirt and Starbucks any day. I stop off at Farmers Mart and get all my grocery needs for the next few weeks. I’m the only shopper! The nice grocery clerk smiles thru his mask. I can tell. Everybody in Littlerock is so sweet. I decided to go across the street to Charlie Brown Farms, just to see what they have. Wow, dark chocolate covered almonds, yum! Free-range brown eggs for $2.99, snap! Grind-your-own peanut butter, I’m definitely gonna do that!

I’m waiting in line, this lady comes up to me in a flowered mask. “You know, this morning someone put salted peanuts in the machine, so maybe you’d like to taste it to make sure it’s not too salty?” she asks. “Oh,” I say. “Are you Mrs. Charlie Brown?” The two masked young checkout girls giggle and nod their heads. “She is!” they say in unison.

“Come over to the machine and taste it,” Mrs. Brown says. “You can use a spoon, don’t worry—nobody’s touched it.” Woah, that is salty. I’m gonna need water after that. “Give this gentleman his money back,” she immediately says. “Check back with us tomorrow. We’ll have the usual unsalted peanuts.” All excited, I tell her, “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid!” She doesn’t respond. Maybe she doesn’t want to be reminded as to how old she is, or maybe she already knew.

I’m now stopping at my favorite bodega/convenience store, It’s also the only one. I like it because they have a potbelly stove. Of course it’s no longer needed since we’re now in the 70s and will stay that way until June when it hits the 90s/100s. Gas for $2.69 a gallon… goody. I’m so happy the oil corporations will go under now that oil is negative $40 per barrel. Of course this won’t happen, but I love the idea that nobody’s buying gas. “Here you go, six-dollar change from your fill-up,” says the multi-color dreaded girl behind the counter through her mask. “Love your hair by the way,” she adds. “Hay thanks,” I reply. When was the last time you got change from a fill-up?

And now I’m turning off Pearblossom Hwy onto the dirt road that leads back to Bee’s cabin. Aaawwww, here’s my neighborhood, dirt roads, and abandoned homesteads. Its good to be home!

So this is how the world will end.

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