*Judging Mason solely by his appearance would have been a mistake. An accident on Los Angeles’ treacherous 405 in the early ’70s may have left him mobility-challenged, but in 1985, the proud, stubborn and durable Louisiana-born Mason, 32, still had those striking looks: that strong jaw line and dimpled chin, distinctive hook nose, thick, jet black hair, dark, piercing eyes and flawless Cherokee skin. When his body was straightened out, Mason said he measured 5’7.
And it took every inch of him to deal with Anya. Los Angeles is riddled with the carcasses of the men who couldn’t.
A restless young woman with the innate, unenviable genius to always find the pariah in the room, Anya, at 27, had three children–two boys and a girl–all under age ten, by three different suitors.
I met her in ’85, at a private party on the old A&M Records Hollywood lot that she and a girlfriend crashed relying solely on Anya’s lean, stunning Algerian features. I wasn’t enough for her. After just one drama-filled dinner date, we opted for being dance partners.
That’s where Mason met Anya, in fact, somewhere on a dance floor, in a wicked Little Black Dress, brazenly shaking it up alone after being ditched mid-date by a man who was frustrated by her indiscriminate, disrespectful flirting with others.
Mason rolled up behind her, grinning and moving like Michael Jackson from the waist up, occasionally flicking a lever and spinning around. It was sheer compassion, Anya later told me, that kept her out there on the floor. By the night’s end, however, they’d made a date for the following week.
I couldn’t see the self-serving Anya with a man in a wheelchair, even if he was successful at selling luxury cars. But Mason’s stream-rolling humor and optimism Anya had never experienced. While I resisted asking as much as I wanted to know about it, she insisted that the sex was “amazing.” Mason adored Anya and her children who, fascinated by the chair, were on it the second Mason would vacate it for their couch.
For six months, there was fragile harmony. Mason insisted that she stop doing hair at the west L.A. salon and stay home with the kids. Then Anya started disappearing. He’d question her. Timelines wouldn’t compute; she’d curse him for caring.
Nearly any other man would have given up. But when Mason abandoned his wheelchair and his pride in the lobby of a Silverlake apartment building without an elevator, it was to torturously pull himself up three flights to knock on a stranger’s door at 3:00 a.m. and retrieve his woman. A partially dressed Anya stepped past her stunned and perplexed lover without explanation or goodbye, and into the view of Mason, sprawled in the hallway.
She positioned herself between his heavy, lifeless legs, holding them as if he were a human rickshaw, keeping the useless appendages out of his way as he used his powerful upper body strength to slowly work the rest of himself down two and three steps at a time, like an Olympic gymnast.
Neither said a word, Anya’s silent weeping more profound with each flight. By the time …read more