From The DVD Murders

From The DVD Murders

A Chapter by Bob Frey

4. Walk, Don't Run


It was a beautiful morning, clear and warm with a round, radiating sun lighting up the entire sky. He sat alone on a grassy hill propped up on his elbows with a book in his hands, an ordinary park visitor enjoying the fresh air and sun. Only he was­n't reading. His eyes kept scanning the park, from left to right and back again as if he were waiting or looking for someone.

Earlier, he had checked the playground area at the end of the ce­ment block walk. This was an open space with slides, bucket swings, and other playthings for children, all located within a giant sandbox where toddlers dug with miniature shovels and buried plastic animals out of sight. On three sides, there were wooden benches where moms and uniformed nannies sat and kept an eye on their wards. Just beyond the sandbox, there were blacktops with backboards and baskets for playing round ball, and after that base­ball diamonds with wire cages for playing Ameri­ca's pastime.

He had been there just about every morning for a week and sometimes in the afternoons, but hadn't seen hide nor hair of her. According to the Hollywood Stargazers web site, she had been sighted in this park on numerous occasions: Palisades Park in the community of Pacific Palisades. He wasn't naïve enough to be­lieve everything he read on the Internet, but outside of her home in the Palisades, which was like a citadel, and some shops in the vil­lage that she was supposed to frequent, he didn't have much choice. No, this would be the best place to catch her. He would try it off and on for maybe another week and, if that didn't work, he would have to figure some other way.

He let his eyes drift over the open pages of the book in front of him: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. He had read some­where that Dickens had been one of those responsible for the low­ering of literature to the level of the common herd. That was be­cause the author had serialized his novels in newspapers. Yet de­spite himself, he liked Dickens. He really did, especially his characters. His books were far superior to most of the junk that passed for literature these days; that ungodly boy magician ho­kum, for instance, or some of the mindless trash that they spewed out for teenage girls.

Where did it all start: this vulgarization of America? Neal Gab­ler, the author of Life, The Movie, said it began when life itself was turned into entertainment or a movie, as the title of his book sug­gests, and the common man became the arbitrator of taste. Gabler was probably right. Most Americans don't know their elbow from third base and can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality anymore. That's because it requires you to think, to figure things out for yourself, and that's not always a pleasant thing to do. Orwell was right. It's hard to keep your sanity when everyone else around you is going mad.

At any rate, it was hard to take. Television was a mindless waste­land; there was nothing worth watching in the movies anymore, and, what with the spread of fast food restaurants and other chains, American cities all looked like clones. It was getting so that a per­son with half a brain didn't have anywhere to turn. Everything was produced for kids, the Beavis and Buttheads of this world, or for dimwits with SUVs who thought art was a plaster of Paris dwarf purchased from Wal-Mart that sat on their front lawns. And then he saw her. She had just turned the corner and entered the park.

Yes, it was her alright. It had to be: the liver lips, the flat nose, the lantern jaw. He glanced at his watch, a Timex: almost 10:45. He shut his eyes and clasped his hands together. He couldn't be­lieve his good luck. Thank God, the Internet was right. Why any­one would ever think she was pretty or even attractive was beyond him. She looked like a typical wallflower at a high school dance, or maybe the class nerd. Dressed in a red tank top, blue jeans and sandals, she was pushing a stroller with a Latino nanny by her side. He watched her come up the walk, a big smile on her liver lips, oversized rectangular sunglasses, her mousy brown hair pull­ed back behind her ears, her large head held erect by her long, gawky neck.

Yes, that was the dominant feature about her: gawkiness. The way she looked, the way she carried herself, the way she walked, everything about her was awkward, like an ugly duckling. How she had ever won an Academy Award and been voted the top box office female star for two years in a row was a mystery. It proba­bly had to do with this common thing. People's tastes were all in their mouths.

Movie stars used to be something special, beautiful creatures you could look up to and long to be like. Nowadays, they looked like someone who rang up your groceries in the supermarket or flipped burgers in a fast food chain. They were absolutely boring on screen. Why would anyone pay good money to go see them? He continued to watch her until he thought she might become aware of him, and then he turned away and pretended to be interested in his book. After all, she was a movie star, and he didn't want her to think he was simply another star-struck fan who was in awe of her because she was rich and famous.

He waited until she went by, then he closed his book, re­moved his glasses, and put them into the pocket of his khaki shorts. As he stood up, the pen he had in the breast pocket of his polo shirt fell to the ground. After picking it up, he followed her up the walk.

She had gone into the sandbox and was pushing a toddler in a bucket swing. Her son, if he re­membered correctly from the Web. The actress didn't have a bad body. He had to give her that. She was slim and had a tight butt that nicely rounded out her jeans. He had read someplace that she had been so bad when she made her first picture that the director had to nurse her through the entire shoot, spoon-feed her line readings for every bit of her dia­logue. That was the film that had made her a box office star. Now, a dozen pictures later, they said she was a spoiled brat, a de­manding, temperamental b***h who drove everybody on the set crazy. That's what success can do to you. Just like a lot of them, she quickly forgot how it was, and how she had begged and prayed for a part, any part, when she was a struggling, unknown actress.

He drifted up and took a drink from a metal water fountain, walked across and stood for a moment with his hands clasped in front of him and looked out over the baseball fields. He sat on a hillside for a while and pretended to read his Dickens' novel. When he got tired of that, he got up and returned to a bench.

All the time, he had kept an eye on her as she let the little boy climb over the mock fire truck, bounce on a painted rocking horse, and climb up and go down the winding slides. She seemed like a nice enough mother and looked as if she truly enjoyed her son. But he didn't want to go there, and he forced himself to think of some­thing else. Finally, she left the tot with the Latino nanny, walked to the bench where her stroller was parked, took a book from the back, and sat.

It was absolutely amazing how no one said anything to her or bothered her in any way. He could tell by the way people stole glances at her that they knew who she was alright and were dying to talk to her. He sat there on the bench and acted as if he didn't even know she was there. He didn't have to worry. She seemed totally immersed in her book. After a while, when he began to think maybe it was a lost cause or he might have to try something reckless, to his surprise and delight, she got up and called the nanny over. She then went around the perimeter of the sandbox and headed for a hollow where there were a couple of tables and an outdoor grill for picnickers. His heart leaped with joy. He glanced at his Timex: 11:32. Now was his chance.

Instead of following her down into the gully, he went around the curve in the paved walk to where he could see not only what she was doing but whether anyone was coming or going on the street or the sidewalk, as well as what was behind him. He then sat down and retied his shoes. He watched her stroll across the grass, sit down at a picnic table, look around, and open her book.

Suddenly, he was so nervous he couldn't tie his shoe. His fingers stiffened up, and the loop kept slipping away from them whenever he came around with the end of the lace. His heart puttered like a motorboat, and his stomach felt as if it was pumped full of hot air. The walk was perfectly clear, not a soul in sight. There was nothing to his right or behind him. He had better hurry, while he had the chance. He had better do it if he was going to do it. It was now, or never.

He picked up his novel and started down the slope into the hol­low. It was too steep, however, and he was afraid he might fall. He quickly backtracked and went down the cement walk, the way she had gone.

His mind spun like a whirligig and the hot air from his stomach had rushed up and come to a burning point in the center of his chest. He hated to do it. Yet she didn't give a damn about him or anybody like him, so why should he care about her? Hell, he did­n't even know her. He moved stiffly, put one foot in front of another like a march. When he approached, she half-turned, took him in, and then went back to her book. He stole one last quick glance around him. Everything was holding up. It was either her or him.

He was within a few steps of her now. He patted the pen in his pocket and could feel beads of sweat break out on his upper lip. When he got up to her, in one quick motion he whipped out the handgun, steadied his arm with his other one, and fired point blank at the back of her head. Bam! He had intended to put two bullets into her, but the sound of the discharge was so loud it frightened him, and her head jerked forward so violently it shocked him. He walked on and slipped the smoking gun back into the poc­ket of his shorts.

Walk, don't run, he told himself. Don't do anything to attract attention. After a few steps, he hesitated, and without breaking stride, opened the book he had in his hand, shook it, and a DVD tumbled to the ground. Damn. Not only was he angry because he had not made sure he had killed her, but he had almost botched the job by not leaving the DVD. Everything had happened so quickly, he hadn't had time to think. He could only hope that he had finished her off and not merely turned her into a vegetable. He wouldn't wish that on anybody, not even her. He didn't know what was happening behind him, whether she had cried out, if anybody had heard the shot and had come running, or what. Too scared and up­set to look back, he walked until he was back up on the sidewalk. There, he waited for a couple of vehicles to pass, crossed the parking lot, unlocked his car, and climbed in.

His hands were sweating as he put the key into the ignition. When the motor turned over, he let out a sigh of relief, shifted into reverse, and backed out. “Damnit, I'm going to have to be more careful,” he blubbered as he rotated the steering wheel, gave it some gas, and headed for the street. Drops of sweat fell from his forehead and splattered over his fingers as pulled out onto Alma Real Drive. When he got to the end of the street, like any good citizen, he braked for the stop sign and made sure it was clear. “S**t!” he cried, banging the heel of his hand on the steering wheel and making a right turn.








© 2011 Bob Frey

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Added on August 30, 2011
Last Updated on August 30, 2011
Tags: mystery, police procedural, crime fiction, whodunit, classic films, hollywood, hollywood actors, los angeles


Bob Frey
Bob Frey

Sandy, OR

Bob Frey loves to entertain, make people laugh and think, and, perhaps, shake them up a little. He was a copywriter for several top Los Angeles advertising agencies and received several awards for his.. more..