Serfing in LA
LA’s a tough place to make it, unless you know where you came from.
A black 2023 Tesla Model X stops on a palm-tree lined street in Santa Monica. The driver’s window opens halfway.
“JoJo, brother, looking good. So is your big guy. Drinking the ginseng I gave you?”
“Hey man, yes, yes, I am. What’s good lately?”
“Can you get me the rent a few days early from everybody? Just have some things to take care of…”
“No worries. I got you.”
The Tesla speeds off.
JoJo pets his lizard’s head on his right shoulder while he pulls keys from his pocket and slides into the driver’s seat of a white 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLK 300.
Once seated, he takes out his phone, snaps it into the phone mount, and starts recording.
“Inflation. The housing crisis. And, don’t forget, the parking crisis.”
JoJo reverses, hits the back car’s bumper then moves forward to an abrupt stop. He stops recording and yanks the phone from the dash. JoJo quickly gets out and walks towards the apartment building.
“Thanks, man. Don’t know what I’d do without you,” Tenant 1 says, while moving his surfboard from his head to under his arm.
“Don’t mention it! Catch!” JoJo slow jogs to catch up with Tenant 1.
“See, someone banged your bumper pretty bad. I just want to say that was not me, but I can help you with the insurance, if you want?”
“Oh yeah, I’ll be over later. Thanks, you’re the best.” Tenant 1 walks to his apartment.
JoJo takes his camera out again and starts recording in front of the building.
“In LA, it can be hard to find a place to call home. Isn’t that right, Betty Boop?” he says to his phone.
A woman in a bathrobe suddenly is seen on the phone screen, coming up behind JoJo. He quickly puts camera back in this pocket, while turning to face the tenant.
“Hey, Jo, can you come by later and water my plants, take out my garbage, and empty the kitty litter?”
“Sure thing, Miss Joyce.”
“Such a wonderful serf you are.”
Tenant 2 walks away. JoJo takes his phone out and starts recording again.
“You see, I traced my ancestors back to the Roman empire. And, my people were serfs, they did jobs for land. They didn’t pay anyone rent.”
JoJo walks to mailbox area, still recording.
“A good serf knows how to work. A good serf knows how to organize, especially everyone’s mail. Then you really get to know your neighbors.”
Tenant 3 shouts “Joseph! Can you take a look at my plumbing NOW? Think that leak you fixed yesterday is still going on.”
JoJo quickly puts his phone back in his pocket, adjusts his posture, and smooths down his hair.
“We’ll be right over after we finish something,” he says while petting Betty Boop.
“Can you come NOW? Got water all over!”
“Sure, Betty Boop and I can come NOW.”
JoJo slowly walks to apartment C, knocks lightly then enters. Tenant 3 motions to all the water on the floor in the kitchen and shakes his head.
“Oh, that’s nothing. Let me look on YouTube like we did last time.”
“No, no, NO! The YouTube-masking-tape trick didn’t work. And, it’s not going to work this time. Can you please call a real plumber?”
“Yes, will be right back. Need to check something. Can I leave Betty Boop here with you for a swim?”
“No! Get your serf act together and call someone who does a real job!”
“OK, man, don’t have a cow. We’ll be right back.”
JoJo closes the apartment door, then takes out his phone to start recording again.
“The thing is we have to teach these people self-sufficiency. And, we don’t have a plumber, and since he doesn’t like YouTube he can just figure that out on his own.”
JoJo goes to a flower bed and picks up a mini shovel.
“But at the end of the day, it’s all about connecting to the land again. I love landscaping in LA. And, I love being with Betty Boop in nature, where we belong, not slaving to pay rent.”
All of a sudden, JoJo stops digging and looks left then right.
“BETTY BOOP, MY GREEN GODDESS, WHERE ARE YOU? WHERE DID YOU GO?”
A beige 2002 Toyota Corolla LE with tinted windows screeches to a stop.
“Betty Boop! I almost ran over you! Brother Jo, I knew I’d find you serfing over here from the Facebook group Serfs Need New Turf …hey, you know if they still need another serf?”
Behind-the-Scenes Look at “Serfing in LA”
January 2023: Originally tweeted as a show idea.
March 2023: Took Eric Moneypenny’s Pack Theater sketch class and wrote a version of the show into sketch script format.
March 2023: Casted classmates as characters and read outloud in class. Got feedback.
April-May 2023: Took feedback and reworked script into short story in Word.
May 2023: Edited story and designed promo graphic in Canva. Looked for character pictures, including researching what lizards make the best pets. Uploaded and formatted story on Medium. Added relevant tags. Published on Medium.
Special thanks to Brandon Burkhart and Eric Moneypenny.
About the author: L.B. Lewis is the author of “Small Talk with Myself,” an award-winning, comedic memoir. She’s producing new content under Monte Cristo Studio, LLC and also available for collaboration in July 2023.