By Bob Moats
This page contains chapters 1 to 13 only, no more to be added here.
ALSO READ! This preview has not been really proofread for grammar, punctuation and errors, so just read the story and don't worry about the rest, thanks, Bob.
I was sitting quietly in my office one morning when Hollywood walked in.
Okay, to explain, we need to go back just over a year, when I first became involved in the classmate murders, or more correctly, cheerleader murders. I became involved in the hunt for two serial killers who were stalking and killing the cheerleaders from my old high school, although forty years later. The first cheerleader murdered was an old childhood flame that I knew when I was in eighth grade, I hadn't seen her in over forty years and she turned up strangled in her shower, while the police were watching her. Well, not actually watching her in the shower, but while she was in protective custody. Then four more aging, former cheerleaders were murdered while in protective custody, which drove homicide detective Will Trapper just about nuts. He was the primary investigator on the case back then, and I became a bug in his attempts to find the killers. We did finally track down and took out the killers, and Penny was the last of the cheerleaders and the only one to survive. Happily for me.
After the basic story was released to the national media, I had decided to sit at my laptop and write the whole detailed account into a novel, so I spent a year, on and off, putting it all down into book form that I finally finished about two months ago. I had found a few contacts in the industry and managed to find a book agent to finally get around to reading the thing. Funny thing is the media, news, television, blogs and such had spread the story about the crazed killers and their leader, who all ended up dead, leaving a female Detroit TV talk show hostess as the last unharmed victim, so my book was very relevant. It was finally published.
Before I even started writing the book, the story released by the media was big, and back then we had been approached by a few TV network producers who wanted to put the whole incident into a mini-series movie for television, but nothing ever came of it. Mostly because the producers needed everyone involved to allow their part in the story to be told. There were a few hold overs on giving permission to have them portrayed, but then when my book came out, it was now a way to film the story based on the book. It's amazing what you can write about people as long as you don't mention real names without permission. But back then the movie wasn't a go project. Until today.
So when my office door flew open on that morning and in walked three men in suits, I thought the FBI was invading my space. The lead man held out a card, which I took carefully and gazed at the name and company, James Drury, Really Big Show Pictures, Los Angeles, California.
"I presume you are Mr. Richards, Jim Richards?" He spoke as his two followers stood quietly by.
"I am, and what can I do for you?" I replied, hoping from seeing the Really Big Show Pictures printed on the card, they were here to talk book options for a film.
"As you see from my card, I'm with a film production company and we want to talk to you about your book, Classmate Murders." He answered my thoughts.
I was already spending my film residuals on a villa in the Barbados, "I'm listening." I said simply, so not to queer the deal. "Please have a seat." I motioned to the client chairs, the lead man, Drury, sat at the front chair, his henchmen sat back by the wall on my extra chairs. They had a grim look to them, must be the Michigan weather after just coming from the sunny west coast.
"Mr. Richards, you not only wrote the book about the two serial killers, but you also lived it. I'm impressed. My company directors have sent me to see if we can come to some agreement, so we can put your ordeal on film, which will be presented on the TNT Network. It will be a made for television mini-series. Have you been approached by any other production companies?" he said with a smile on his face, looking like a vulture waiting for the soon to be carcass to take it's last gasp.
"About a year ago, yes, before I wrote my book, but I haven't had the pleasure to be approached by the industry recently, you are the first." I smiled back, trying to keep from becoming a carcass.
"Have you considered the film usage of your book?" He never broke the smile, his lips barely moving while he talked, reminding me of a ventriloquist.
"It has crossed my mind." Several times in fact.
"We are authorized to talk a deal with you for the rights to put your book to film, and I hope we can come to some arrangement." he spoke like a lawyer. I wasn't fond of lawyers, I'd rather he talk like a guy sitting in a bar talking to me about the weather.
"Mr. Drury, cut to the chase, what is the deal, and how much control will I have over the script writing?" I had heard horror stories about authors' books being taken to film and butchered. I was stunned to watch the TV movie of a Robert Parker book about Police Chief Jesse Stone, the movie had very little in comparison with the book other than the title and character names. "As you know Classmate Murders is a true story, it's not good to fool with the truth, or embellish it to make it exciting. The whole thing as I lived it was exciting, and scary, as it played out. It would make a great film as is. Just how much of a say would I have in the production of the thing?"
"Well, we are open for your input, after all you were there. We could bring you on as technical advisor as well as the story author. I'm sure you would need to be on hand while our writers would put the story into a screenplay, to keep the authenticity of it intact. I'm sure we could even give you a producing credit."
They were throwing me a bone to get me to give in. "As technical advisor, how much weight would my voice have in the scheme of things. I would make a suggestion and the director would say that's nice, but we'll do it his way. I don't want the thing to turn into some director's vision of the story, he or she wasn't there."
Drury was quiet for a bit, "You are quite right Mr. Richards. I'm impressed as to your integrity of the incident."
"It was very personal to me, I had friends die terrible deaths and I was almost killed to boot. I want the film to show that terror that was felt by all concerned." I said.
Drury was silent again, then took a breath and spoke, "I do hope we can come to some agreement, I really enjoyed your book, I did read it as I do any book we consider for filming. I can see you would bring an honest eye to it and I'm ready to talk options."
I stood and went to my office door, I hung out the sign saying I was not available, I had a number of signs for my actions, and locked the door. I came back to my chair and said. "Let's talk."
For the next two hours we haggled about what they wanted and what I wanted for the production of my book. I had a producing credit that I insisted was more than just honorary, I had to have a say in the thing. He agreed, but with conditions, that the other producers had to be in on the process. I thought that was like saying I was the only Democrat in a room full of Republicans, who wins? We talked about how the book would be transformed into script and I wanted my say about what the actors would say and how the plot went along, Drury agreed reluctantly. All during this grueling process, his two assistants were busy writing down our agreements and conditions, and then we finally came to an agreeable point, where we were both happy with everything. Drury said they would have a contract written up and a check for the rights to their options to the book. I was holding my breath when I thought about the agreed on two hundred grand that they offered. I would have held out for half, I wasn't greedy, but two hundred thousand dollars sounded so much better. I even managed to finagle a percentage of the profits later on when the film was released. Being as it was a made for television movie, the profits wouldn't be as great as a theatrical release, but I did manage to get a percentage of the DVD video sales and rentals. I was very happy.
The three men took their leave and departed. I just now had to break the news to Penny, and I could almost see her packing her bags for a round the world vacation.
On my way home, I called Penny and told her not to surprise me with anything from her show today, she said unfortunately she had nothing to hit me with, which was good. I said I had some people coming over, since I called our friends from the office to stop by the house tonight. I had something important to tell everyone, and it also involved Deacon out in Vegas. I would put him on our speaker phone when I was ready to make my announcement. She asked me what it was and I told her to be patient and she would know the same time everyone else did.
"I hope you're announcing your retirement from fighting crime," she laughed.
"Not as long as there is crime in the world, what would they do without me."
"Okay, I had hoped that would be it, but you say it's something everyone will want to hear?"
I could see her wheels turning in her head and I said, "Don't try to figure it out, just go with it and you'll know soon enough. I have to stop by the store and get some refreshments for our guests. I'll see you soon."
I hung up before she could badger me further and went to the nearest party store and did my shopping. I packed the goodies into the car and went home. I had to park next to the Lincoln Town Car that the mob had sent me. Well, actually it came from Francis and don Gino Traviano as a gift for saving the life of their new niece, Marina, while I was out in New York City fighting crime. I bought a car cover for the huge car, it was just short of being a full stretch limo, one that could be driven by me, alone, or with a chauffeur. I loved it. I put the extra car cover over my newly restored twenty year old Crown Vic and tied it down. I stood looking at the garage where we put Penny's car, and thought about putting an addition on to it so all the cars would be out of the lousy Michigan weather. Then again, maybe we could just buy a new house, better yet, a mansion out in Vegas and get away from Michigan weather all together. Something to think about now that I was becoming a big time author and owner of a mini-limo.
I had taken all the refreshments out of the car before covering it and took them into the house. Penny met me at the door and was bouncing around me asking what I was going to announce. I asked if she could take some of the packages from my arms and she did, then after putting them on the snack bar, she turned to me and gave me a good tonsil search with her tongue, after which I said I still wasn't talking. She pouted and sat on a stool at the snack bar and just stared at me. I was feeling the daggers she was throwing with her eyes and said to stop that. She bent down and picked up Willy for me to kiss, I said I don't kiss doggie lips and patted Willy on the head. He squirmed in Penny's arms, so I took him from her and he settled down.
"I guess we know who he likes." Penny said.
"Us males have to stick together."
"Can't you give me a hint?" she said after a moment of silence.
I enjoyed watching her squirming, "Okay, it has to do something with my book."
"Oh my gosh, did you make the New York Times best seller list?"
"I only wish. No, not yet, but someday soon I hope. It will look good on my book covers." Changing the subject, "Oh, and I started writing about the showgirl case out in Vegas, started it today at the office. I can write better there than here, you're too distracting." I smirked.
"I beg your pardon, I'm not distracting." she said forcefully.
"I can't concentrate with your great body walking around the house, I want to jump you every time I see you."
"Better remember that stud. I don't put out for just anyone." she smiled and cupped her hands under her breasts and bounced them for me.
"Quit that, we have company coming soon."
Just as I said that there was a knock at the door, it was Buck. He made his trademark walrus smile and I invited him in.
Penny gave him a hug and said, "Jim is being mean, he won't tell me what his secret is."
"I could beat it out of him." Buck said to Penny.
"No, I need him alive for later tonight." she laughed.
"I'm right here people. Buck have a seat, I got you diet Sprite, want one now?" He said he did and I went to the fridge and took one out for him. It was only 6:00 but I decided that my news was a reason to celebrate so took out a can of beer. I yelled to Penny asking if she wanted one, she did. I came back out to the family room and handed out the refreshments.
"This must be something really special for you to start drinking beer before 8:00. Buck, go ahead and beat it out of him."
"Just wait for Trapper and Becker to get here. Then you can all beat on me."
On cue the doorbell rang and it was Trapper with Barry Becker. I greeted them and told them to come in. I said there was beer and pop in the fridge and to help themselves, they did.
Everyone was seated comfortably in the room and I dialed the phone for Deacon. It was only 3 P.M. in Vegas, so I hoped I didn't get him at the police station. He came on and I said, "How's crime in Sin City?"
"Jimmy! How the hell are you?" he said and then I heard him say it was me, probably to Lynn. I then heard her yell out to me. "What are you calling for so early in the day?" she asked.
"Remember, it's three hours later here, and I got Penny, Buck, Trapper and Becker here with me."
"Wow, what's the occasion and hi to everyone." he said and then he put me on the speaker phone in Lynn's office. Lynn warned me that she could hear, so be careful what I say.
"I invited everyone to our home, and called you guys, to annouce that my Classmate Murders book is being made into a movie, just made the deal today."
Everyone went nuts, yelling and congratulating me. Penny bounced over and plopped down on my lap and kissed me hard.
Trapper asked, "Who's fronting the film?"
"Some LA company called Really Big Show Pictures. They are one of the companies involved, it's for a made for TV movie for the TNT Network.
"I've never heard of them, I'll run a check to be sure they are legit." Trapper offered.
"Yeah, I guess that would be a good idea, to be sure I'm not being scammed. Thanks."
Deacon came back over the phone, "Hey, if they are out here on the west coast, I can check that right now, be back shortly, talk to Lynn."
Lynn asked, "Have they said anything about casting?"
"No, just getting the commitments for book rights ironed out first, then they'll be coming back with a contract to sign and a check to make Penny rich when I keel over."
Penny whacked me and said to stop that. "I don't even want your money, it's not funny."
"Sorry, I'm just a bit overwhelmed by their offer for the book, two hundred thousand dollars." Everyone made noises when they heard that.
"Okay, I take it back, put that in your will." Penny grinned.
Buck finally spoke, "I want to see Hulk Hogan play me. He said he might do it when I met him out in Vegas during Penny's convention."
"I don't know who will be playing any parts, but since it's a made for TV movie, the cast will probably be lesser known actors or one's that haven't been acting in a while. They can be hired for lower pay. No big budget film here. Maybe they'll let all of us play ourselves, that would be interesting."
Deacon announced he was back and said "I called a cop friend out in LA and he has heard of their operation, it's legit, they do a lot of made for television movies, low budget ones but they do get air time on the cable networks. Couple of their films made it big in the Emmy nominations for mini-series."
I was impressed. So was everyone else.
"I appreciate everyone here giving me permission to use your real names in my book, I hope you will let the movie people have that same privilege?" I said.
Trapper spoke up, "I don't mind at all having my name associated with this production, it kind of makes me a household name that way and maybe even get me in a few doors, when I say who I am." He grinned as everyone agreed.
I knew he was right, a couple of times during my cases, the mention of the Classmate or Bridezilla murders earned me a little respect from law officers. I had no problem with it and with this movie we were going to be well known now.
We partied into the night, I decided not to go into work tomorrow, I had no cases and Drury told me as he was leaving, they'd be back in a few days. I gave him my card and said to call me when they were ready.
Penny was on my lap most the night, I think she had a few more beers than I did, she was getting a bit frisky. I finally had to chase everyone out so Penny and I could do our own celebrating before she passed out. Lucky for me she didn't.
Early the next morning, Penny was skittering around the house getting ready for work. She only bumped into the walls a few times, I had to laugh watching her trying to pretend she wasn't hung over. I told her to be real careful driving to work, then I asked if she wanted me to drive her and she got indignant and said she was capable of driving herself. I told her she could leave Willy home today as I wasn't going into the office.
"Oh, now that you're a famous author with money, you feel you can just lay around the house?" She whined.
"I'm just taking a break, I'll go back in tomorrow. I just want to spend some quality time with Willy, we haven't had much father and son bonding in a while. And it will give you a chance to not worry about him at work."
"I don't worry about him, the make-up girls take good care of him and pamper him when I do my show." She retorted.
"Right there, he get too much face time with females, he needs a man to balance out his psyche. I don't want our little guy to start wearing make-up and dresses." I smiled.
She just stared at me, then put on her coat and said, "Fine, now I'll have to return that cute little skirt and blouse I got for him. You can take him shopping and get him some pants and a leather jacket. Then you can take him to visit Luther and his motorcycle buddies and turn Willy into a tough biker." She picked up her bag and purse and kissed me, then headed towards the door.
She stopped before she went out, "I'm going to get a female dog, so I can pamper her. Then you two can go run the streets and act macho. Later." Then she went out.
I sat laughing for a bit then looked at Willy, "You want to go look at motorcycles?" Willy bounced around my lap as we sat on the couch. I got up holding on to him and went to get his leash, then we went out in the back yard for a walk. We stopped letting him run loose out there ever since he ran off into the woods next to our property and we had a hell of a time trying to find him in the tall brush. Willy wasn't the most obedient dog and had a mind of his own, so to call him for anything other than food was a waste of time. I wondered if dog training would help, I would look into that.
We went down by the dock and stood just looking out at the water of Lake St. Clair. It was unusually calm today, just a sheet of glass but occasionally a motor boat would fly by breaking up the still waters. I sat on the dock and Willy nestled next to me, it was a bit cold out this morning, mostly dampness, which I hated. I longed for the dry heat of Vegas, maybe someday.
My cell phone rang and it was Trapper. "Hey, Chief, what's up?"
"I just got a call from our friend, Earl Daws. He said since you guys got back from your New York adventure, he has been mulling over becoming a private investigator himself. You don't mind some competition do you?"
"No, there's enough cheating spouses out there to go around, maybe he and I can hook up and start our own agency. You could join us too, after you retire." I grinned at the thought of the three of us perverts on surveillance watching a husband fooling around with a mistress.
"Yeah, it's a thought. Anyway, I just wanted to know if you heard anything yet on the movie?"
"It's 8:00 in the morning, LA is still around 5:00 in the morning. I doubt that they are even out of bed yet. Be patient and I'll call you when I hear something."
"Okay, I'm just a little anxious to finally see this thing get produced. They teased us enough a year ago with their plans to film it and nothing ever came of it. Keep me informed, later." He said and hung up. I noticed he still didn't say good-bye, but now he was saying 'later' as he hung up. At least I knew when he was finished talking now.
I looked at Willy as he just stared out at the water and I hoped we weren't going to have to wait long for this to all come together. I stood, then Willy jumped up and we went back to the house. We came in through the porch and I stopped to stare at the stripper pole Penny had installed from her show. I grabbed it and tried to do a spin around it, but fell down almost crushing Willy, who luckily ran off before I came to a thud on the floor. I decided that I wasn't a very good stripper so I just ambled around the house; it was a bit strange to be alone in the house without Penny around. I realized that I was never here while she was away, and it was now a bit too quiet, Penny always made her presence felt, even when she was asleep. I was starting to miss her and she had only been gone for over an hour. I wondered why I didn't miss her this much while I was out at my office, I guess my work kept my mind off her. Then I wondered if she missed me while I was working, and she was alone in the house, probably not. I decided I was thinking too much and put on my jacket to cover my Glock after I put on the holster that I attached to my belt, and took Willy out to the Crown Vic. I uncovered the car and we got in, driving out and up to Buck's home. I decided to go bug him a while and see if he was hung over, even though he only drank Sprite. It's a psychological thing.
I drove up his drive and remembered where it all began with the classmate murders. How we ended up here partying with Buck's motorcycle friends and trying to avoid the killers. I was imagining all the people milling around the yard, just as Buck opened his front door and came out. I got out of the car and grabbed Willy's leash before he could take off.
"Hey, James, what's up?" He smiled at me.
"I took the day off and thought I'd come visit you for a while. I was bored at home, I guess I'm not much for sitting around if Penny's not there."
"Well, come on in, I was just cleaning house and I could use the company." Buck bent down and petted Willy as the pup was jumping around his feet. Willy liked Buck, they were both happy people and knew it. Buck picked up Willy, holding him up as Willy licked Buck's face, then we went into the house.
"I got some Pepsi in the fridge, help yourself. Heard anything about the movie yet." Buck asked as he put Willy down.
"Still too early, I haven't even signed the contracts yet. You'll be the first to know when it starts to roll. Trapper called me earlier that Earl Daws called him about getting out of the cop business and becoming a P.I., think we should bring him in on our firm?"
"Hey, Earl had some mysterious abilities that could come in handy. We could get Trapper to join too, make it a big company." Buck smiled.
"I told him that, he didn't say no." I opened my Pepsi and sat at the dining table where we had plotted our attack on the killers of the cheerleaders over a year ago. "A lot has happened since you and I used to drive around the car dealership. I hated that job even though it was a piece of cake to do. If I had a better car at the time I wouldn't have had a problem with the job. Winters here are way too miserable if you have to sit in a car for eleven hours without a heater."
"Maybe we could start our own security guard service like our old bosses did. A subsidiary of our detective business, I'd take care of that end of the business." He grinned at me as he was picking up his living room.
"It is something to think about. We had talked about doing that before I got my license. Now we could, you'd have to find places to guard."
"Hell, the way the economy is around here, most businesses would want to be guarded from the people trying to steal from them for the money. We'd make a fortune off of small businesses in strip malls." He was starting to think now.
My cell phone rang and I looked at the caller ID. It said private, I hated those calls, but thought it may be Drury with the contract. I answered, it was him.
"I'm out of the office now, but I could be there in an hour." I said in response to his question as to where I was. He agreed and I told Buck that I had to leave, the movie is rolling. He said good luck and I picked up Willy and went out to the car and headed to the office. It was money time.
I got to the office with time to spare so I threw on a pot of coffee, I didn't know if they drank it but would have it ready. Have to please the money men. I straightened out the office a bit and had tied Willy's leash to the couch so he could rest there while I wheeled and dealed.
The men were punctual, they were there an hour from the time they called. Drury walked in with his henchmen and they took the chairs that they had the day earlier. Drury was smiling now, and seemed a bit more relaxed.
"Mr. Richards, we have the contracts and the check for you, so if you are ready we can proceed." He looked back to one of his men and the man opened the briefcase he carried and took out a manila envelope and handed it to Drury. He opened the envelope and took out a small stack of papers and laid them out on my desk, which I had cleared earlier just for this occasion. He was picking through them and pulled out a couple of pages and handed them to me and asked me to look them over. I did, I was satisfied with the terms written there and told him so.
"Great, Mr. Richards, let's proceed." He said.
I told him to please call me Jim, he said he would. He moved the papers to me and asked me to sign on a couple lines and one of his men would witness the signature. I looked to Drury and asked if the men were his assistants, he said no, they were company lawyers. I didn't want to aggravate the man by telling him I didn't like lawyers, so I held my tongue.
I had finished signing the papers he handed me and the lawyers signed their X on the papers. Drury smiled and shook my hand and thanked me for the honor to turn my book into a movie and handed me the check. I didn't want to be crass about it, so I just put it in my desk drawer so I could drool over it later.
"Who is going to be the director on this project?" I asked.
"We haven't officially approached a director yet but we are looking towards Betty Thomas as our first choice." He replied.
I knew her name as one of the stars on the old Hill Street Blues cop show and she had become a formidable director of many recent films. I told Drury of my approval on her selection if they could get her. He said they would be in talks.
"How long before this all goes into production?" I asked.
"It has already started, planning with the screenwriters has begun and I'm sure you'll approve, we are planning on filming the whole thing here in the Detroit area where it took place. There is a big move towards making films here and a number of new independent studios have been started that will accommodate our needs to film here. We have optioned a studio in Detroit that will be our base of operations and you are more than welcome to come by and help out."
"I plan to do just that. I want to see this thing go along properly and with respect to the people who lived it. Please keep me informed as to when and where I go to do my part."
"I will shortly, as soon as we are more lodged into our new surroundings, I'll keep you apprised." He stood and his men jumped up and followed him out after they all said their good-byes. Willy was watching the whole show and then he put his head back down and closed his eyes.
As soon as I was alone, I took the check out of the desk drawer and just stood staring at it. I was feeling light-headed and started dancing around the room. Willy stood up in surprise at my outburst and started yipping at me. I bent down and kissed him on the head and said I would buy him a ton of doggy treats. I sat at my desk chair and picked up the phone and called Penny's cell phone, but I got her voice mail. I looked at the clock and realized she was probably taping her show about now so left her a message that a certain handsome author wanted to have great sex with her tonight and hung up.
I took the check, and along with Willy, we went over to my bank and deposited the thing, knowing the IRS would be informed of the huge deposit. I didn't care, I paid all my taxes on every cent I took in including the finders fee from the Bank of America for finding their embezzled money and the inheritance I received from Marty's estate. I didn't need aggravation from the government for not paying my fair share to them so they could screw up this country. I hated politicians more than I did lawyers.
I kept out a large portion of the deposit for spending money and stopped at a jewelry store and bought Penny a really nice diamond necklace and had it gift wrapped. Willy and I headed home in time to see Penny pulling into the drive. I let Willy loose and he ran to Penny and jumped around till she picked him up. I came up and kissed her hard and long.
"Are you going to be hanging around the house tonight?" she asked.
"I have a handsome author coming over tonight and I would appreciate it if you weren't here." she smirked.
I held up the package I got for her and her eyes went wide, but I kept it just out of reach from her and she followed me to the front door. We went in and she jumped on me taking the package from my hand. She tore into the wrapping and opened it and just stood staring at the thing. She asked if we had to wait until tonight for the great sex and then she latched on to me and dragged me to the bedroom.
We came out of the bedroom about two hours later, I was barely able to move, and plopped down on the couch.
"So are you feeling rich now?" Penny asked as she rubbed my thigh. I grabbed her hand before she could reach my private parts, the ones she attacked earlier. No sense in starting something all over again.
"No, but I feel relieved that I have enough cash to live comfortably for a long while, and to take care of your expensive tastes." I said.
"You'll never have enough money to take care of my desires." she laughed.
"That's why I'm glad you have your own income from your show, when I'm broke, we're going to be living off your savings."
"Hell we are, that's for my old age, I plan for the future."
"Oh, so I could be broke and destitute and out on the street and you wouldn't lift a finger to help me?"
"No, so just be cautious with your income." she grinned at me.
"You do know that I have over a quarter million dollars in my bank account now? You aren't getting a cent from me, I'll put it in my will that it all goes to Willy and his doggy friends, leaving you out of the will."
"Meany, I'm withholding sex with you from now on. So don't even think about it."
I attacked her on the couch again and she didn't resist very hard.
We came up for air about thirty minutes later as my cell phone rang. I stretched my arm out over Penny so I could get the phone off the coffee table and looked at the caller ID, it said private. I debated on whether I would answer, but did. It was Trapper, he said he was waiting for me to call about my meeting with the studio people. I told him the deal was done and the whole thing was going to be filmed here in the area where it happened. He was quiet for a minute, then I heard him let out a tiny yippie, then he gathered himself and said he was glad for that. He could keep an eye on the production to make sure whoever portrayed him was accurate. I said I was sure they would bring in someone like Tom Selleck to play him, he was quiet again and said that would be nice. I laughed and told him I would talk to him tomorrow and hung up.
I thought about Buck, and I called him as I still laid next to Penny. I felt a bit embarrassed to be talking to Buck while Penny was naked next to me, but he couldn't see so I enjoyed the moment. He came on and I said he was going to be famous, the contracts were signed, he let out a yell and asked who was playing him. I said I didn't know but I would see if we could get Hulk Hogan to do the part. I could tell he was smiling, and he said he would appreciate that.
After Penny and I made ourselves presentable, I called Deacon to let him know about the situation. He was ecstatic about the news and I could hear Lynn in the background cheering. He asked the same question everyone had asked so far, who was going to portray him. I said I didn't know, but we would try and find someone big and dumb to play the part. He laughed and said he would let that go until he saw me again. I feared for my life.
We talked a bit then hung up. "I seriously hope everyone isn't going to be disappointed with the choices of who plays who, it's a low budget movie and they may even select unknown actors to do the roles." I told Penny as she was making a sub sandwich for us to share. I helped cut up the foot long Italian bread, then she doled out the lunch meats on the bottom half and layered the meat and cheese like an expert. She cut the thing in half and I took mine and put mustard on it. She gave me a disgusted look and put Italian dressing on hers. We went to the couch again and ate our subs, downing it with a can of beer, or two.
We turned on the TV and watched a mini-series show about some woman who was trying to find her lost son in New York. It reminded me of my case out in New York and finding my missing stripper.
"Should I call Luther and tell him about the movie?" I asked Penny knowing that Luther and his motorcyale club was a big help during the classmate murders.
"I think they should know, after all the movie would be nothing without their help. Maybe they could actually be in the film, that's something to ask the producers," she said.
I looked at her and said, "I'm one of the producers, I hope. I don't know how much of a say I have in this venture but I will make waves if I'm ignored."
"Good, then you should call Luther and tell him." Penny said.
I went to the bedroom so Penny could continue watching TV, I called Buck and asked him if he had a phone number for Luther and explained that I wanted him and his friends to know about the movie, Buck said that was nice and went to get the number. I waited for a few minutes then Buck returned and gave me Luther's cell phone number. I thanked him and hung up. I dialed the number and waited till I heard a man's voice.
I asked if this was Luther and he said, "who's asking?"
I was surprised by the question and said, "I'm Jim Richards."
"Damn man, how the hell are you." He yelled into the phone, causing me to move it away from my ear.
"I'm good, and I think you'll be good too." I said being cryptic.
"Okay, what does that mean?" He asked.
I told him about my book, which he already knew about and then I told him about the movie deal. He let out a yell causing me to move the phone again, and then he asked if they needed an experienced motorcycle gang to be in the film. I told him it was possible, but I couldn't say, the thing hadn't even been started yet, but I would see how they want to handle their part in the film.
"Well, brother, you keep me informed and I'll tell the guys about it."
I asked how everyone was and he said good, we talked a bit longer and then we finished. I went back out to Penny and filled her in on the people of her first fan club. She listened and laughed at the stories Luther told me.
We were too worn out from our rolling around earlier to do anything more tonight, but sleep. We cuddled in bed and talked about things we could do with our new wealth. I said that my book sales would also help with our funds, especially after the movie is aired. People will be curious about the details and it would help sell books, I hoped. I looked into Penny's eyes and told her I loved her and she said the same back. I asked her if she thought we could ever move out to Vegas like we kidded about and she said she liked the idea.
"You said you wanted to retire out there and maybe I could do my show from there. I don't know how my producer would take that, but I'd see if there's some way he could still be involved. He could come out with us and produce my show out there. I'll ask him tomorrow."
"Other than my family, the only friends we have here are Buck, Trapper and Becker and everyone else is out in Vegas. I know there would be enough crime for me to solve while out there too." I said.
"You mean to say you'd still do your P.I. work?" she looked at me like I was nuts.
"Well, maybe not as much, I'd still be busy writing all our adventures into books." I smiled. "Although, Earl Daws and Trapper said they were interested in a P.I. business, we could all go out there and set up an agency. There's more high profile crime out there than here. And Buck wants to start a security guard branch from our agency, something to think about too."
"Whatever, so long as you're happy and I'm with you. I'd be happy anywhere just as long as we are together." She kissed me on the nose and said she was sleepy and turned so we could spoon. She was asleep in minutes, I just laid there thinking.
Morning came fast and we were up getting ready for our day. Penny was taking Willy with her and I warned that she better let the pup have some time with the stage crew so he could maintain his macho attitude. She just shook her head and went to work. I went out to the car and stood looking at the covered Lincoln Town Car and said what the hell. I uncovered the Lincoln and drove it to work today, I wanted to play the part.
I took a slow drive to the office and just pulled into the parking lot as I saw Trapper walking towards the building. I honked the horn and he turned to see me. He gave me a big grin as I parked.
"I hope this isn't all going to your head now, books, movies and mob limo's." He said as he held the building door open for me. We went to my office and there were two men sitting on the chairs in the lobby. I greeted them and asked if they were here to see me, they said they were writers from the studio and they wanted to go over the script with me. I looked to Trapper and then back to them.
"You already have a script written?" I asked in wonder.
The youngest of the two, I'd say about thirty and the other looked a bit older, said no, they had been working on it for a couple weeks, it was just a work in progress copy, more of an outline.
Trapper looked at me and said, "They were sure of themselves weren't they?"
I invited everyone in, and pointed to the extra chairs for the writers.
"Gentlemen, if I hadn't signed the contract till yesterday, why was there already a script being outlined?" I asked.
"Oh, the studio wanted to see a viable outline of the book and it's transfer to screen before they went into signing you. Just to be sure it would work." Said the older man.
"And I presume it worked well for the screen?" I asked.
"Yes, they liked it, now we have to commit it to words, and rather quickly as they want to start filming in a couple of weeks."
"Oh, so there's no rush, eh?" I joked.
The younger man looked a bit upset, "Well, our jobs depend on it. This industry is fickle and we can be replace by any number of writers who want our jobs. So I hope you can help us, being as you are a writer and know the story."
Trapper was smiling from his chair by the door, I looked at him and pointed my finger, silently saying to shut up. I asked for the outline to read it before we started anything, and the older man handed it to me. I sat back and started to read. The room was quiet for about fifteen minutes as I read, which surprised me as Trapper didn't interject a smart-alec remark and then I stopped half way through and put the papers down.
I looked at the men and asked them for their names, the older one said, Harry and the younger said Todd. Harry and Todd, I thought about that and then asked if they even read my book?
"Oh, yes, I loved it." Exclaimed Todd the younger.
"And you wrote this from my book?" Pointing to the script.
"We had specific guidelines about how to proceed on it. We just followed those and the studio heads liked it." Harry the older said.
I looked at Trapper and said the studio turned me into a thirty-five year old hunk. Trapper burst out laughing.
"Don't laugh, you're a broken down drunk, just barely holding on to your badge only because you can hide your alcohol problem." I smiled at Trapper who went silent. He stood and came to my desk and picked up the papers, then went back to his chair and read it.
"You S.O.B., it doesn't say that. But you are a handsome thirty-five year old hunk. Penny is a thirty-two year old virgin." He was laughing his head off. "Okay, not a virgin, but this is a pile of crap. No offense guys, I'm sure you are just doing what you were told." He smiled and threw the papers back on the desk.
Harry the older looked distressed, "I'm really sorry, but that was in the guidelines we received from the studio. They have demographics to conform to, hitting the 18 to 40 year old market. It sells better to the network."
"Do you realize that the baby-boomers out in the world are all now hitting their 60's and they make up a big part of the population." I offered.
"Until they all die out." Trapper threw in. I gave him a dirty look and said he could go sooner than that.
Todd the younger said, "I know that, but the networks aim their commercials towards the younger crowd."
"Okay, so why do I see so many commercials for Viagra, Depends, Metamucil and all those drug commercials running every twenty minutes? Those are aimed at us old folk." I countered.
"Yes, you're right. But in certain time slots, they are. Big Show is aiming for the prime time early viewing, the younger crowd." Harry offered.
"Okay, if this were a fictional story, I would say let's make me a handsome stud, but this is based on a real life incident, a true crime story that shouldn't be played with. All the people involved were real and featured on national television when the crime first occurred. People saw us and know us. You come along and re-write the story and people aren't going to be happy, me for one."
Harry and Todd were silent, not knowing what to do. They must have been new to this business, having been thrown into writing something that has a history.
"Look guys, give me a few names of people who fed you this drivel and I'll raise a stink. We'll get this back on the right track and we can write it in quick time. Okay?" I said.
Harry looked flustered and gave me a name, Howard Martin, head of Really Big Show Pictures, and a number when I asked. I dialed the number and got a secretary, who transferred me around a few times before I got Howard Martin's personal secretary.
"Mr. Martin is in conference at the moment, may I take a message?" she asked.
"Only if he returns it. I'm Jim Richards, the author of the Classmate Murders and one of the producers of the movie being made of said book. He better return my call about this crappy script outline I was given, as soon as possible."
"I'll pass it along to Mr. Martin, sir. He should be finished in a half hour." she said.
"If I don't hear from him in forty minutes, then I'm calling back and I won't be happy." I hung up.
Harry and Todd went a bit wide-eyed and said nothing, Trapper was chuckling from his chair and said how delightful it was to observe the process of film making. I flipped him a quick finger and then looked to the two writers squirming in their chairs.
"You guys are new to this aren't you?" I asked.
Harry grinned, "Is it that obvious?"
"Yes, well, you both are not the arrogant, self-serving writers that I have seen in films or was that script writing for the demographics, too?"
"Actually, most screenwriters are a bit arrogant and self-serving." Todd the younger offered. "Harry and I just started writing for this production, our first job. I hate to say it, because we came cheap. This is not going to be a big budget film, sorry."
I offered coffee and they took it, then Trapper moved over to my desk and started reading the outline again.
"Damn, the ending has you and Buck in a shoot out with Alice Stone, where was my part in it. For crying out loud, you and Buck had your hands in the air when I came in and shot her!" He was incensed.
He read as the rest of us sat until my phone rang thirty-five minutes after my call. "Hello?"
"Mr. Richards, Howard Martin here, it's so good to finally come in contact with you. Drury said you were a pleasure to deal with. I've heard so much about you."
"I deny everything they said." I waited for him to understand I was kidding, but he didn't respond. "I'm calling about this putrid attempt to retell my story on the classmate murders. It's turned into a piece of fiction, not a word of truth."
Martin was silent for a minute then said, "May I call you Jim?" he asked, I said he could. "Jim, you shouldn't have gotten that outline without my talking to you first. I'm sorry they sprung it on you. Please understand that outline is just our way of getting the network on board with our film, we had to placate them so we could get the green light. I hope you understand, your story will be told as you so aptly wrote it in your book. I read it, it was very good."
I thanked him and felt a bit better now hearing this, "So, am I to work with Harry and Todd to get a good working script to you?"
"Yes, please do, and tell Harry and Todd to behave, they are on a short leash until they can show they have the right stuff. Are we good now?" he asked.
"I feel a bit better, yes. I was not happy to see my book being changed around, you can't change the truth."
"Well, it can be bent a little, otherwise how would we know exactly what Abe Lincoln said when he went to the Ford Theatre that fateful night. We have to embellish a little to make it seem real. As Doug Henning once said, it's all an illusion."
I didn't feel like arguing a point made by a now deceased magician, but let it go. I just wanted to be assured I could make this right and tell the story as it happened.
"Well, I'll get working with your men and we'll have something for you shortly." I said.
"Great, fantastic. I'll look forward to reading what you guys hash out. I also look forward to meeting with you and Penny, your wife. I have seen her TV show on numerous occasions and must say you are a lucky man. How has she responded to our little film?"
"Well, Penny takes everything with a grain of salt. She wasn't real crazy about it in the beginning but she came around and even joked about having Jaclyn Smith portray her. Do you have any ideas on which actors are in line for the roles?"
"Well, we have central casting starting to put together a list of actors available and we have put out casting calls in Variety and the other trade papers. We are already getting some response. I'll give you a call when we go into auditions and you can be in on the process. After all, you have a producing credit to live up to, may as well get some millage out of it." I could tell he was grinning on his end, I was just hoping he was serious.
"How about a director. I've done a bit of theatre work, stage mostly, and I know that the director can make or break a production." I said.
"How right you are, they are the cornerstone of any film, if they crumble, the building would fall. Glad you have a bit of knowledge of the process, it helps. We have been in talks with a couple of directors, none to mention right now but we feel confident that we will find the right one. I hope you will be in on the process also in selecting the director." he said.
"I'd like that very much, I want to work with him to bring the reality of the crime as it happened. I did live it and suffered through it. I can bring that to the director."
"And to the script. I hope this venture will be fruitful for all, I feel good about it. Thanks so much for this talk and look forward to many more, perhaps over a beer or two?"
I was now liking him more, "Well, you know how to push my buttons. I do want to see this movie succeed and be something that the people who lived it can be proud of. And something that can be noticed at Emmy time." I said as I grinned.
"Ah, you are already starting to sound like a producer. Well, get me a script that will knock my socks off and we'll celebrate." then we finished and hung up.
I looked to Harry and Todd, and said, 'We got our work cut out for us."
Trapper said he had to go do some real criminal investigating and said to make him look good in the script. I asked what was wrong with the broken down drunk scenario, he flipped me the bird and left. I looked to Todd and Harry and they just sat smiling at me. It was a bit unnerving the way they had that puppy dog look in their eyes, like waiting for me to throw them a bone.
"Okay, guys, we need to take the book point by point, outline the actual story and then flesh it out. Does that work for you?" I asked.
They both just nodded their heads and kept smiling. "Guys, take something to write on and let's get moving."
The reached down and opened their briefcases, took out pads and pencils and placed them on my desk. I guess they were going to do this the old fashion way, write it out by hand. I pulled over the small table that my laptop sat on and turned it on to go to my book outline of the classmate murders. I told the guys to hang for a minute while I got my head back into the story. I skimmed the thing and then opened my desk drawer and took out a copy of my book and put it in front of them.
"Okay, let's pound this thing out." I said.
We spent the better part of four hours writing and re-writing a script and we managed to get just past the murder of Joyce Harper in her office from poison. This was the first visual appearance of Trapper as a main character, I owed it to him to make him look good. This was also where Barry Becker had a small part in the story till later and I knew it would make him happy to see his inclusion. Back when I had been writing my book I sat with Trapper about what happened at Joyce's office, since I wasn't there after the murder, and he told me what happened to the best of his recollection, just so my story would be somewhat accurate.
We broke for lunch and I took them to a nearby Subway in the limo, they loved it, and we had our meal while still talking about the script. We went back to the office and I called Penny to see if she was home and tell her about my day.
"They tried to make you a hunk, that's hilarious." she said.
"Hey, I'm ruggedly handsome, in a hunk sort of way." I defended myself.
"Yes, you are rugged. Like the Rocky Mountains. But you'll always be my hunk." She laughed and hung up. I would remind her later about that statement.
The boys and I got back to writing, I was plugging it into my laptop and they scribbled on their pads of paper. We now got to the part where Penny and her show's guest were almost killed by the light beam in her studio and I was looking at the clock on my wall. It was now about five-twenty and I was wearing down from thinking and typing. Even back when I wrote my book, I only worked on a chapter each day, then I would polish it the next day when my mind was fresh. Besides, Howard said we had a week before they really wanted to get into production.
"Guys, where are you staying out here?" I asked.
Harry spoke first, "We're in a Redroof Inn over in a town called Roseville."
"Yeah, I know the place. Well, I think we need to call it a day and start fresh tomorrow morning, sound good to you?" I asked.
They both looked tired and agreed to the rest. I said they could leave everything here, it would be safe. They shook my hand and left. I sat back down for a minute and looked to the start of the script on my laptop. I made a copy of it on my flashdrive and then I hit the print button and the pages came out of the laser printer, then I gathered them up and put them in a manila envelope and headed home.
I realized that I hadn't seen Penny's show today, so I wasn't sure if there was anything to worry about when I got home.
I drove along Jefferson Avenue taking the long way home so I could enjoy the limo and the stares from people in cars wondering who the celebrity could be. Unfortunately, they were straining to see the back of the car for the celebs, I was just the lowly driver. The car had the limo tint windows so it was hard to see in the back, I thought about getting one of those blow up dolls and put her back there to make it feel right as I drove.
I got to our drive and found about six cars in the drive and off the side on the lawn. I had to drive out around them to get to my parking space. I was wondering what was I going to walk into. I put the car cover on the Lincoln and went to the front door, Penny didn't open up for me like she usually does, I went in gritting my teeth.
I walked into a room full of angry looking women, my blood chilled and I held my breath. Penny saw me and came over to introduce me to the angry women. They just kind of snarled their hellos and Penny excused us to go out into the kitchen.
"What the hell was that?" I said quietly, afraid they would hear me.
"I had a local group of women on my show today that had formed their own "First Wives Club"," she smiled at me weakly.
"Okay, how did they end up here and are they dangerous?" I asked fearing for my private parts.
"I may have mentioned that we could continue our talk here and before I realized what I had said, they all were heading for their cars to follow me." Her smile turned a little downward.
"What do they expect from you as their new leader?"
"Well, remember you are my fourth husband, so I have a little experience in these matters." She was smirking now, like it was a badge of honor to have so many ex-husbands in her past.
I stared a bit then said, "Let's see, your first husband had an affair with an intern at his company and later married her, then she took him for everything he had when he had an affair with another intern, he was a company man wasn't he?" She whacked my arm. "Your second husband died of a heart attack, rest his soul, probably from your sexual attacks. Oh, wait he died in the bed of another woman, didn't he?" Penny whacked my arm again. "Your third husband finally decided he wasn't sure if he liked men or women, but the men won out, and you got all his dresses in the divorce." She whacked me again, as I was now finding the humor in it all.
"You are a pig." She smiled at me.
"Is that what you're telling the Mongolian warriors out there?"
"No, I bragged about you, they all admire me for having such a good husband."
"Is that why they all greeted me with blood in their eyes?"
"No, you came in just when Margret was talking about her cheating husband. They were getting a little worked up." Penny said as I went to the fridge.
I took out a can of Pepsi and smiled, saying, "Have fun with your little friends, play nice. I'm going to my office to work on my screen play." I kissed her on the nose and went off to the porch. I had put in the corner of the porch a computer desk, and set up a place to work on my books, that way I could see outside on nice days, rare for Michigan, and I could watch Penny swing around her stripper pole to work off her tensions. I inserted the flashdrive in the new laptop I bought for my home office and woke the computer from it's sleep. I opened up my writing program, NoteTab 6, and brought up the file of what the boys and I wrote today. I stared at the thing and thought a while on it.
About a half hour later, and two more pages of writing, Penny came in and announced that all the women had vacated the premises. I smiled and asked when the next meeting was. She said there would be no more here, she hoped they respected her privacy. I wondered if we wouldn't get calls in the middle of the night for support from my now expert divorce leader. I handed her the printouts from earlier and she went to the porch glider to read. She was swinging slowly causing the glider to do it's annoying squeals, so I asked her to move to the easy chair, she gave me a frown and did.
She finished and came back to me and said it sounded good so far, then she asked if I was going to put all the steamy sex we had in the script? I said I was going to make me look like a hot latin lover. She laughed out loud and went into the kitchen. I could still hear her laughing her head off. Just wait till later tonight in bed, I'd show her who was a hot latin lover.
Penny and I were camped out on the couch with our refreshments and snacks, watching TV and I was scratching Willy's belly as he lay on his back next to me. He snorted and sighed and looked contented, Penny was munching on chips and looking contented. We were a contented family.
My cell phone rang and I debated whether to answer, Penny said to do it. I did. It was Buck asking how the movie was progressing. I told him and we talked for a bit then he asked if we had any cases to handle.
"I'm closing down shop for a while until I see how this goes with the film. Why don't you go out and visit Maria in Vegas for a while?" I said.
"Hell no, I want to see if the Hulkster gets my part and comes into town." He was excited.
"Well, things can change, so don't be disappointed." I warned. "I'll let you know what is going on as I find out." We said our good-byes and hung up.
"You know, I think I will be happy when this get moving, so everyone will stop asking me who is going to play them."
Penny looked at me and said, "About that, who is going to play my part?"
I gave her a dirty look and went off to the bed room, yelling Fernando the hot latin lover will be open for business.
She yelled, "You'll be out of business soon enough. Lack of customers and faulty equipment."
I plopped down on the bed and flipped on the TV in the bedroom, and went to Showtime to see if they had a good sex flick on. They had a movie about three animals traveling across the country trying to find their home. Oh well.
Penny came in wrapped in the blanket off the couch. She stood by the door giving me a sexy look and said with a poor Spanish accent, "Hello, Fernando, you like to play with Tina Marie?" She brought a leg out of the blanket and I could tell she was not dressed.
I flipped the TV off and said in an even poorer Spanish accent, "Come to me my little desert cactus." Penny started to laugh, I corrected myself, "my little shot of tequila... my little mexican taco... my little Chihuahua." Penny was breaking up now and threw off the blanket and jumped on me.
Okay, a hot latin lover I was not. But we did well enough to work up a sweat.
Next morning we did our start of the day ritual and headed off to our jobs. I got to the office and found Todd and Harry sitting in the lobby. I waved them to follow and we went into the office and resumed our positions like we had never left. I showed them a few new pages that I had worked out at home and they liked the new lines. We worked from there and about two hours later we paused to act out the script so we could see what we had for time. We read through the script playing parts and reading actions, we came up with about an hour and a half of running time. This pleased the two men as we had four hours to fill and we barely touched on half the book.
The next four days whizzed by and we had a finished script. I called Howard Martin and told him, he asked if I could email the PDF of the script and I said that could be arranged. He gave me his private email address and I wrote it down. He said he'd call after he read it and had a few of his people go over it. He thanked me for my help with the script and we finished our call. I looked to Harry and Todd as they just sat smiling like two Cheshire cats.
"Okay guys, I guess we're finished here till I hear back from Howard, so what are you going to do now?" I asked.
Harry spoke first, "We'll have to hang around until Howard does call with his changes, then we have to fix the things he doesn't like and basically start over. It's the nature of the beast."
"Yeah, well it's not my nature, that script was perfect for what happened back then and I'll be damned if they change anything, I guess we'll see what happens. Enjoy the area and I'll call you when I hear something."
The two tired writers left and I sat turning the text file of the script into a PDF file and emailed it to Howard. I ran off a couple copies on the printer and put them together in folders so I could show Penny and get her opinion. She maybe goofy acting most the time but she had a razor sharp mind and a good sense of what worked and what didn't.
It was now about four-thirty and I decided there was not much more to do here, so packed up everything and was about to leave when I found a young woman standing just outside my door. She looked flustered and I asked if she were lost.
"No, I'm looking for Jim Richards, the private detective." She spoke softly as though someone may hear her. I just barely did and told her I was him. "I'm Celeste Davis, I need your help Mr. Richards, I have a problem." I invited her in to the office and said to have a seat.
"Now Celeste, what is it you need?" I asked.
"I'm afraid for my life, I'm being stalked and harassed by a man I hardly know." She seemed embarrassed to talk.
"Please, don't be afraid to talk to me, I've heard it all." I said in a light voice hoping to make her more at ease.
"I met a man at a bar in Warren and we... well, we had a night together and I thought it was over, but he started to call and come by and I don't really want to have anything to do with him. After the first night I found I didn't really like him but he's getting insistent."
"Did you tell the police?"
"Yes, but they won't do anything unless he gets violent or hurts me. It's stupid for them to wait till he does me harm before they even help."
"Where do you live?" I asked.
"In Warren, just off 13 Mile and Hoover."
I thought about calling Trapper and asking for his take on it, it wasn't in his jurisdiction, but maybe he could help.
"Give me a minute." I said as I took out my cell phone. After about three rings he came on.
"So, who is playing me?" Was the first thing he said as he answered.
"I have no idea, we just finished the script today and it needs approval, then they will go for casting, be patient. Now I have a problem I need some professional cop advice, do you have a minute?"
"Okay, give." I loved his brevity. I told him about the girl in my office and her problem and he said, "it's a sad fact that police can't do much unless there is a serious threat or an attempt, it's a catch 22 situation, a person wants protection, but cops can't do much unless the person gets beat-up or murdered. I wish we had the time and man power to help these people. Maybe something for Buck to do, watch your client."
"Yeah, maybe I'll talk to him about it, just keep in mind what I told you, in case of problems." He agreed and we hung up.
"Celeste, I can have an associate watch you for a few days and see what your stalker does. Can you afford my fee?" I could see that she wasn't in the dough, but I wasn't worried about being paid, I just wanted this girl to feel safe.
"Mr. Richards, I have a small IRA that I can cash, I'm not rich and my job is minimum wage, I'll try to pay you, maybe in installments." She looked so sad, I couldn't let her hang any longer.
"Celeste, don't worry about the fee, I do occasionally help people Pro-Bono when I feel it's worth it. I'll have my associate get in touch with you today and we'll see what we can do to help you. Understand though, we can only do so much that the law allows, but sometimes we can just have a talk with your stalker, sort of let him know it would be in his best interest to leave you alone. But sometimes that back-fires, so we have to be careful. I need any information you have on this guy so we can check his background." I handed her my pad and pencil and asked her to write as much as she knew about him.
She wrote a couple of lines and then added her contact information when I asked.
"Okay, Celeste, I'll have my partner call, his name is Buck Carson, but I'd advise laying low till he calls. Is that all right for you?"
She agreed and we stood, I shook her hand gently and took her to the door. We said good-bye and she went off. I went back to my desk and called Buck.
"Jimmy, has the Hulkster agreed to play me yet." he said with a grin in his voice.
I was ready to scream, but held it, "No, Buck, I'll let you and everyone else know when we have a cast, so till then, stop asking!"
"You got it chief, what's up?" he asked.
"I got a Pro-Bono case of a young girl who's being stalked by a one-night stand. She's fearful for her life, cops can't help, you got a few days to devote to protecting her and maybe scaring the stalker off? I'll pay you for the time."
"Oh hell, I got nothing better to do, love to help her out. Keep the pay, I just need something to do to take my mind off the damn movie." She said sounding happy to be back on the job.
"Okay, got a pen and I'll give you her information. I'm going to call Trapper to see if I can get some background on the freak, I'll pass on what I find to you." I gave him the info and he said he'd call the girl as soon as we finished. I thanked him and said to be careful.
I re-dialed Trapper, and he came on, "I was wondering when you would get back to me to do a check on your stalker." He said sounding smug.
I laughed, "I guess you know me well enough. Maybe I can get a computer link hooked to your system, then I can do my own checks."
"I don't think the big bosses would like that. Give me what you got on him and I'll see what I can do to help the girl. I felt a little bad about the fact that our hands are tied, so give me the info."
I read the information Celeste had written, the guy's name was Steve Nelson, and Trapper said to give him a couple hours to see what he comes up with. I thanked him and we hung up. I suddenly remembered that I was just heading out when Celeste came by, I was glad that there would be a break from the last few days, now that we had a case, even it it was for free.
I headed home thinking about the script and wondering how they could change it. The thing ran about three and a half hours, allowing for commercials to make it a four hour show, and it was complete and had a good thread through it. I didn't like the idea of changing it to please some idiot who had no idea of what went on back then. If they didn't like it, I would make my own damn film and sell it to cable. I suddenly realized I was in my drive-way, I must have driven on auto pilot. I noticed there was a Jeep in the drive, I wondered if Penny was entertaining a man, I said "nah" to myself. I got out and up to the door and went in.
I was a bit shocked by the sight of Penny laying prone, face-down on a portable table, naked save for a towel across her great butt, being massaged by a rather good looking, tanned, blond woman. Penny looked up to me, smiled and said to get in line.
"I have.. uh... a little work to do in my office... you just go on with your... um... massage." I stammered and then zipped out to the porch. I had flashbacks to the strip club in Vegas when Penny was being hit on by Tiffany, the bi-sexual dancer. Penny refused to do a three way with Tiffany and I, but she made up for it in many other ways. I was now relishing in the sight of that woman rubbing down Penny and had to adjust my pants. A few minutes later, Penny came waltzing out to the porch all oiled up with just the towel around her. My pants needed adjusting again.
"Hi sweetie, have a good day writing?" She asked as she planted a kiss on the top of my bald head. I was just staring at her great legs and said I did.
"Was that part of your show today?" I asked while I shifted in my chair to help get my pants to adjust again.
"Yes, Lynda came by to talk about massages and how they help tone and relax a person. I hired her to come here and give me the full treatment. You want a massage too? I asked her to wait." She smiled at me. I was a bit amazed that she would let an attractive woman rub my body all over, I almost accepted, but then thought it may be a trap.
"Well, that would be nice, I think I'll wait for you to give me a body rub later. Thanks anyways." I smiled.
"Okay, your loss, I tell her she can pack up and go." She turned and the towel flew open enough for me to see her cute naked butt, I adjusted again.
About a half hour later, Penny came back in with just a robe on and pulled a chair over to my desk. She plopped her elbows on the desk and cradled her cute face in her hands.
"So tell me, how goes the progress of the movie and how was your day?" She mumbled through her hands.
"The script is finished, well, it's finished by us, but they have to approve it first and then force me to make changes. I'll go down fighting before I change it. I'll pull out of the thing if they screw with it."
"You'd have give back all that money," she said.
I looked at her for a minute and then said, "Okay, I'll stay on, but I won't like it." She just smiled at that.
"I also took on a case of protection for a young girl who had an one-night stand with a would be stalker." I explained the meeting today with Celeste and that I was doing it for free.
"A frebbie? Was she cute? Did she give you a full body massage?" She was poking my ribs now.
"Stop that, and no she didn't do anything to me but look frightened. I do good things for people when they need it. Remember Marsha Webster during the mistress murder, I didn't charge for that case."
"Sure, but you made one hundred and thirty thousand dollars by tracking down her embezzled funds from the bank. Did you forget that?" she countered.
"Okay, so I did get paid for it, but I didn't start out charging anything. What do you want from me, I try to do nice things."
"Sweetie, I love you for that, and a few other things." She let the robe open a bit and winked at me. "That massage stimulated a few parts of my body that need tending to that Lynda couldn't provide, you know what I mean?" She smiled and went off into the other room. I adjusted my pants again and followed her.
About an hour and a half later, we were back on the couch again, this was getting to be a habit. We sat watching "CSI" the original, I didn't like the Miami version, New York was all right. Since I became an investigator, I've watched a few real CSI and CSU teams, including a plain old forensic team from the Michigan State Police and they didn't have the glamour that they had on TV. I thought about my script and wondered if it should be Hollywoodized, just to make it more glamourous. Most shows I watch on TV go for the adventure and excitement rather than a good plot. Don't get me wrong, there are a good number of shows with great plots, but they all get canceled in their first season. At least my movie can't be canceled, it's only one show.
"This is stupid, the crooks are getting away in their car, why didn't the cops shoot the tires on the car to slow him down." Penny yelled at the TV. I smiled.
"Because it would make the plot end sooner, they have to have a chase, and shooting the tires, it's not something they would do, yes it's stupid." I answered.
"Okay, you have to start writing scripts for these shows, you'd make them more exciting." She kissed me on the cheek. I changed the subject.
"I have to admit, your body was well toned, I think you should have a massage more often." I said as Penny munched on chips.
"You only want to watch one woman rub oil all over another woman, you can't fool me." She spit a few chip crumbs as she spoke. I brushed them off me to the couch where Willy gladly licked them up.
My cell phone rang in time to avoid Penny's accusations of my ogling her masseuse. It was Buck, I answered and asked if he got hold of Celeste.
"Yep, she's a real nice girl. We are getting along fine. Heard from Trapper yet on the stalker?" He asked.
"No, it's kind of strange that he hasn't gotten back to me yet, maybe he couldn't find anything on the guy. Play it by ear and if the guy comes around, just look threatening, don't rough him up, we don't need a lawsuit, or having to bail you out of jail."
"I'll know how to handle it, I won't cause any trouble, just let him know I'm around. Maybe I'll tell him I'm her husband and if he keeps coming around, I'll pound him into the ground." He laughed.
I thought that may actually work, one look at Buck and he wouldn't be coming back. "As soon as I hear from Trapper I'll call."
We finished and hung up. I told Penny what Buck said and we watched the rest of the show on TV. About an hour later my cell rang again and the caller ID came up with just a number, the area code was Los Angeles.
"Hello." I said.
"Jim baby, Howard here, I read the script and I loved it! I had my people read it with me and we are all excited, I tell ya excited. We are starting to narrow down a director, I'll email you a list and you can look them over, give your feedback, but the studio may want someone they know, so we'll wait and see. Anyway, love the script and tell Harry and Todd to hang in for us to come out to start filming. I got my production advance man and a location manager heading out there, they'll call you when they arrive and you can show them all the places where the crime happened. This is going to be great, we'll talk later, take care, baby." and he hung up. Amazing, I didn't day a word.
I played the recording that my Palm Treo cell phone makes of every call that comes in or goes out on the phone, so Penny could hear what he said and she smiled, saying we were going to be famous.
The next morning broke with storms outside. Michigan weather was a pain for weather forcasters to predict, it changed so much and so fast. I never believed weather forcasters anyways, they were usually wrong. This morning I was forcing myself to get going, Penny had already left for her studio, but before she left, she was grumbling about the weather and asked me what it was like today in Vegas. I chuckled and looked to the computer for the national weather site, it was sunny and hot in Vegas. Oh well.
I thought about calling Trapper to see if he came up with anything on our stalker, but I knew he'd call if he had something. I really wasn't planning on going into the office today, so Penny left Willy with me and he was sitting on the floor looking sad. I knew that look, he was hungry. I went to the kitchen and poured him a bowl of the crap that dogs eat. I took one of the tiny bits and smelled it, then put it back. It wasn't very appetizing.
I was debating if I wanted to eat breakfast when my cell phone rang from out in the family room. I ran to it, stubbing my toe on one of the snackbar stools and swore out loud. I hopped to the phone and saw it was Trapper.
"About time you called. What have you got?" I yelled into the phone while rubbing my toe.
"I got zip. This guy is either a spook for the Feds, or he has laid so low he doesn't blip on any of my checks. Nada. Sorry but he just has no past or present." Trapper sounded at a loss.
"He has no drivers license? Nothing?" I asked.
"Not that I can find, are you sure this girl gave you his correct name?"
"Well, it's possible he gave her false info, so she couldn't have him tracked. That's a thought." I offered.
"Yeah, he's probably married and screwing around, no need to give out a real name to blow his cover."
"I'll call Buck and see what he can come up with. Oh, and to keep you informed, the script for the movie has been approved, if you want to see a copy of it, you'll just have to come by to read it." He said he would and we hung up.
About thirty seconds later someone was knocking at my door, it was Trapper.
"Damn it, I wish everyone would stop doing that." I exclaimed.
"What, calling you from your driveway, it's fun," he said as he shook off the rain from his overcoat. "Where's the script and I better look good in it." He smiled and took the papers I held out for him. I told him to go sit and read, it would take him a while to do so. He sat and started to read as I went back to the kitchen followed by Willy, and toasted a muffin.
About an hour later, Trapper put the paper down and looked to me sitting on the couch, "This is good, real good. Thank you for my part."
"You're done already?" I said amazed he had finished it so quickly.
"I took a speed reading course years ago, police work is mostly tons of paperwork." He said.
"So you think it will work?" I asked.
"Well, it depends on who plays me." He smiled at me and I gave him the finger.
My cell phone rang and it was Buck, "Good morning, and where did you sleep?"
He laughed, "I slept on the couch, it was a quiet night. No problems. Any word from Trapper."
"As a matter of fact he is sitting here and says there was no info on Steve Nelson, or whatever his name is. Put Celeste on the phone." I asked.
Celeste came on and I asked, "Celeste, did Steve give you any other info about him, we can't find him under the info you gave me."
"He talked very little about himself, just his name and he lived in Sterling Heights. He said he was a financial advisor, everything I wrote down for you yesterday. That's all he shared."
"Okay, just sit tight and let Buck do his job. Listen to him, he has your best interest in mind. Put Buck back on the phone, please." I said I'd talk later and Buck came back on.
"So, we have no idea what this guy is capable of?" He said.
"Nope, so be vigilant, and don't get killed." I laughed and we finished.
"I guess we don't do much now till he shows up and I hope Buck procceeds with caution." I said.
"I'll give a friend of mine in the Warren PD a call and let him know what's up." Trapper said as he thumbed through the script.
"Do you have friends on every police force in Macomb and Wayne County?" I wondered.
"It's a network, we are all connected through a local gathering place," he paused, "It's a very nice bar in my jurisdiction. That way I can arrest anyone who gets carried away." He laughed and skimmed the script again.
"I didn't notice very many heavy sex scenes between you and Penny in this thing." He looked at me and grinned. "I seem to remember Deacon telling me you guys were always in Penny's bedroom rolling around."
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
Trapper stood and looked out the front window, it had stopped raining, "Well, time to go back to work, the criminals will be on the streets now. Keep me informed on the movie and the stalker. I'll call my friend to let him know about it."
He went out and I was alone in the house again. I couldn't go bug Buck, he was working. I looked at Willy and said we may as well go to my office, at least I can concentrate there.
I gathered Willy and we went out to the Crown Vic, I didn't know if it would rain again, so I didn't use the limo. We went to the office and went in, I set Willy down and turned on the TV and switched to the Cartoon Network. Willy was sniffing around and I pulled my laptop to my desk and opened up the new story I was writing about the Showgirl murders. I could at least write if I had nothing better to do. Hell, maybe they'd make it into a movie too.
I putzed, typing for about an hour and a half when my cell rang, it was Trapper. I answered and said hello.
"I called my friend, John Handley, over in Warren and told him about your girl, he said he'd watch for any news coming in on her or Buck and call me. That's about all that we can do right now, I'll let you know. Can't talk, my captain is skulking the squad, he's bored so he comes in to bother us, later." He said and hung up.
I looked at Willy laying on the couch sleeping peacefully, I got up and went to lay down next to him, he didn't like that. I was just starting to nod off when my cell phone rang again, I had it in my pocket so I wouldn't have to get up. Caller ID came up with just numbers, but I answered anyways.
"Mr. Richards, this is Scott Bailey, production manager for Big Show, I'm in town now with the location manager, can we meet?"
"Sure, where are you?" I asked still groggy from almost dozing off.
"Well, Bill and I are in a motel just off a road called Little Mack by Masonic, it's a Comfort Inn. Harry Gates, the writer, recommended it. He's actually at the Red Roof Inn, but they are full up, so we came down the road to this place."
"I know the place, I can meet you there, what room are you in?" I asked.
"Ground floor, front, room 16. We'll be waiting to talk, thanks." He hung up and I wondered if most people just thought that other people didn't mind being hung up on.
I decided to take the limo, I wanted to look the part. It was still at the house but it was just a short drive to get it, and I put Willy in the kitchen with the board up so he couldn't get in any trouble in the house. He didn't like it.
As I drove over thinking about all the places that the crime had happened in and around the area, I figured we'd start at Buck's because a lot of it happened there. I called Buck to warn him that we may be going to his place, he said he figured that so he and Celeste were already at his place and making it all nice and clean for us. I asked him if Celeste was all right with the change, he said she offered to help him clean up and she was intrigued by the fact that a Hollywood movie would be made there.
I arrived at the Comfort Inn and pulled up to the front of the building as close to room 16 as possible that would accommodate the extra length of the limo. It wasn't a full stretch limo but a shorter version, one I could comfortably drive and not look like a chauffeur. I went to the door and knocked, the door opened.
"Mr. Richards, welcome, come on in." A rather tan, tall man spoke. He looked like the west coast image I had of Hollywood types, he just didn't have a cardigan sweater tied around his neck. "I'm Scott Bailey and this is Bill Urban." He pointed to his partner in the room. "Howard said to depend on you for the places that the crime happened, so we are ready to start scouting out locations."
"Well, I have a few places we can visit today if that's acceptable with you." I said.
"Great, we're pressed for time and we will also need to go to the studio location that the production team will be working out of and would appreciate it if you could help us locate the studio."
I said I would do that and asked for the address, he gave it to me as I pulled out my Palm TX and brought up the map program. I entered the address and the program pinpointed the location. It was just below Eight Mile Road in Detroit, fairly close to where Earl Daws was fighting crime. I thought about calling Earl to let him know we would be playing in his backyard.
They were impressed that the limo was mine and got into the back. I had the privacy window down so I could talk to them as they lounged in the comfortable seats and told them a little about the origin of the limo. They were impressed that it was a former mob limo.
"You haven't rented a vehicle yet, have you?" I asked.
"No, Harry and Todd met us at Metropolitan Airport and drove us to the Motel. If you could later, take us to rent a car, I'd appreciate it." Bill said.
"No problem, so how is the production shaping up."
"Well, they are starting to cast the bit players and have narrowed the director down to two people, both experienced in crime dramas. One of them, has even won an Emmy for his direction, but he probably would ask for more than we can afford to pay. So they'll probably will go with the second choice, Wayne Barrack."
I never heard of him and I loved to watch credits on movies and television, hadn't seen the name. The two men were discussing and looking over some papers they brought in a large envelope, so I just drove quietly. We arrived at Bucks, he and Celeste came out as we pulled up. Celeste sat on a lawn chair on the porch and Buck came to us. I introduced Buck and Scott laughed.
"I'm sorry Mr. Carson, I had read the book and the script and I pictured you just as you are." he said.
Buck told both men to call him Buck and said no problem, he like the way I had written him in the book. He asked us to come to the picnic table he had brought from the back and we could talk about the property and what went on here. We sat and I explained the location as it pertained to the story. Bill, the location manager, was looking around the lot now and said he could see the advantages of filming here, lots of space and wide open for the crew. We talked about an hour and Bill was drawing out a sketch of the place and noting filming angles. The men looked at each other and said that they where happy with everything here and should go to the studio as it was getting late. I told the men to go to the car, I would be along shortly. I took Buck over to Celeste and greeted her.
"Well, your home is going to be immortalized in film for the generations." I grinned at Buck.
"Yep, but I want a walk-on, so I can be immortalized too." He grinned his walrus grin and I laughed.
"They can put you in with the bikers, I want a walk-on also." I said.
I turned to Celeste and said that we hadn't found out anything about her stalker, but to just hang in there till he comes around again, and not to worry with Buck on guard. She thanked me and said this is the most excitement she's had in a while. I turned to Buck, he said they were going back to her place in case Nelson would show up. I cautioned him again and said I'd be in touch, we shook and I went to the car.
I drove the men down the I-94 freeway to Nine Mile, the closest route to the studio, and over to Eight Mile, down Ryan Road to McNichols Road. The studio was built by local businesses to encourage Hollywood to film here, and the studio had taken over an abandoned auto parts manufacturing factory, refurbished and made to look new.
We pulled in the huge parking lot, went to the main entrance and were greeted by a rather attractive red-head at a small counter in the lobby. Scott told the woman who we were, she smiled and called someone to come and take us in. About two minutes later, a young man came, greeted us and took us to an office where the two men would set up their operations.
My cell phone rang and it was Trapper. I went out to the hallway and told him what I was up to. He said he wasn't going to ask who was playing his part, but if I knew to tell him. I said I didn't.
"I'm about five miles from Earl Daws, I may call him to warn that I'm in the area, just in case I needed him." I said.
Trapper laughed and said, "You're a paranoid P.I. and what could go wrong while filming a movie?"
"Okay, I agree. On another note, do me a favor and check with the New York Times and see where my book was at in the rankings."
He laughed and said he'd check online, "The reviewers of your book had good things to say, the critics weren't as kind, but they never are."
"Well, as Mark Twain once said, 'The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all'. He had great book sales, and didn't care about some critic's personal opinion." I said I'd keep him informed on the movie progress and we hung up.
I wandered down the hall towards a door with a sign saying "Studio A". I opened the door and went in, it was the part of the original factory that must have had huge machinery to stamp and bend metal into car parts, it was a huge room. Perfect for building large sets to film on.
I was standing looking at the room when someone grabbed my arm. I had spent a good number of boring days in my office practicing drawing my Glock from it's holster, and I had gotten pretty fast at it. So I did my quick draw and spun around pointing the gun at the head of a security guard. He looked stunned, letting my arm go and held his hands up.
"Not a good thing to do, man, sneak up behind a person and grab on. Could get you killed." I said as I re-holstered my Glock.
He was in his late seventies by my estimate, thin, and balding by the amount of hair showing under his hat. He must be a retiree working as a guard for minimum wage. He looked like he wasn't sure what to say, so I said, "What's your name, chief?"
"Wendell Maxx." He said with a slight smile now. I knew a guy named Maxx years ago, but he said he wasn't related when I asked.
"I used to be a security guard running around a car dealership a few years ago, but I see by your patch, you don't work for them." I offered.
"I've been with this company for only a few weeks, they had an ad in the Macomb Daily for guards here, they were talking about your movie being filmed here." He said.
"My movie? How did you know it was mine?" I wondered.
"I've seen your picture in the news and they mentioned how your book was being turned into a TV show. The security company said it was being filmed here, so I applied." He was smiling now.
"Have you read my book?" I asked.
"Of course, I enjoyed it very much, you're a good writer. Another reason I wanted to work here, to meet you."
I wasn't sure how to take that, did I have a fan or a stalker? Well, he seemed harmless enough. "Thanks Wendell, it's good to know people like my work. So how many hours do they have you working here?"
"I'm on full time while the production is going, I always wanted to see a show being filmed, so I volunteered for the extra hours." He said, still smiling.
"Well, I hope you enjoy it." I said.
Scott came through the door, he must have seen me through the window. "Jim, could you run me over to the car rental place so we can get that taken care of?"
I excused myself from Wendell and went out the door with Scott. He and I went to the limo and I drove him over to Gratiot Avenue, where there was an Avis car rental store front. I waited for him and then gave him a county map that I had in the limo, to help him get around. I opened it up and pointed out a number of places for food and drink. He thanked me.
"I won't be needing you any more for now, I'll call in the morning and we'll continue the exploring. Oh, and we'll need a motel closer to the studio, so please check on that for me." He shook my hand and got in the car he rented and drove off.
I was wondering at what speed do people from the West coast travel at. I know we are slower in the Midwest, but we enjoy life more. I got back in the limo and went up Gratiot and over to the house. As I pulled in the drive, I could see that Penny was home, her car was in the garage, and I wondered what she had in store for me tonight from her show.
I carefully opened the front door and stuck my head in to see if there was anything going on in the living room. It was quiet so I stepped in, and I was suddenly bombarded by strange foam rubber projectiles and Nerf balls. I held my arms up to protect me, but the things just kept coming. I went to crouch behind the couch and carefully looked over and saw Penny with a couple of strange looking guns in her hands. She saw my head come up and started firing again. I yelled, "You'll run out of ammo soon. Then you're gonna get it." She yelled back, "You'll never take me alive copper." I was feeling silly laying on the floor avoiding what were harmless rubber projectiles, so I stood and attacked her. She screamed and yelled that she surrendered. I held on to her after taking her weapons away, she didn't resist very hard.
"What was that all about?" I asked still holding her in a arm lock.
"Unhand me you cad!" she yelled.
I let her go, she stood looking at me then grabbed a couple of large Nerf balls off the snack counter and threw them at me. I just stood there and took the abuse. She laughed and latched on me with a big, wet kiss, now that was better. She broke free and started to pick up the ammo as she spoke.
"I had a rep from a toy company on the show today and he brought samples with him to give out. I grabbed a few and decided to protect my fort. Did I even wound you?" she smiled and threw another Nerf.
"Yes, but only my pride." I picked up the ball and threw it back. Willy was going nuts all during this and ran off with a big Nerf ball in his tiny jaws. The ball was almost as big as he was.
"So Sweetie, how was your day. I see you took the limo, big deals being made." she smiled.
I told her everything that went on, even about the security guard attacking me. She listened as she put all the toys back in the big box she had brought from her studio, I presumed.
"Sounds to me like you were their bitch." She smiled at me.
"Well, sounds like they treated you like a servant, drive us here, take us there, find a new motel. Don't these people have personal assistants to handle their needs."
"Okay, I may have been following their lead, but I didn't feel cheap." I smiled back.
"Sweetie, you don't come cheap, just tell them to get their own needs. You are the author, screenwriter and a producer, not a gofer." She went into the kitchen, I followed. I loved it when she was so forceful.
I took out my cell phone and called Harry the older, he came on, "Harry, Jim Richards here. Will you get hold of Scott and talk to him about his needs, like another motel closer to the studio, you have a telephone book in your room, use it. And tell Scott if he wants to go exploring tomorrow to give me a call. Talk later." I hung up before he could say anything. I looked to Penny, "I just became a West Coast Hollywood type."
"Oh, a tough guy now, I like."
I grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her towards the bedroom, "I'll show you how tough I can be." She laughed and followed.
About an hour later we were on the couch again flipping through the channels, nothing on. I asked if she made a TiVo of her show, she said I must really be bored with what's on. She went and turned it on and brought the remote up to start her show. We sat and watched for about a half hour when my cell rang. "Good, a break in the boredom." I said, she smacked my arm.
It was Buck, "Hello, boss, what's up?"
"Well, we got a visit by Steve, but didn't see him, he left a note on Celeste's door saying she was a whore for letting some man stay with her and if I didn't leave, she could get killed." I could tell Buck was enjoying the moment.
"Did you call John Handley, Trapper's friend in the Warren PD?" I asked.
"Yep, he came by and looked at the note, took it in to see if they can get any prints off it, it was a murder threat, so he said they could get involved. I told him to call when they have some info."
"It sounds like Steve's watching the house, this could be serious, be careful. You need someone to watch your back, I can call Becker?"
"Well, let's see what happens first, maybe Barry would be needed later. I'll keep you on top of it." He said and we finished.
"Bad guys circling the homestead?" Penny asked.
"Yep, nothing real serious yet, but it could get worse. I'll let Trapper know about this, unless his cop friend called him already." I grinned and we went back to watching Penny's show.
After the show ended I commented on the toys I used to have when I was a kid, all metal and harmful to our health, but I made it through the years unhurt.
Penny said, "Well, this toy manufacturer was concerned for kid's safety."
"Sure and avoiding expensive lawsuits." I smiled. "I'm going to call trapper." I pulled out my cell phone and dialed.
"So who's playing me?" He asked as soon as he came on.
I made an obscene comment and continued, "No, just wanted to fill you in on our mystery man, he left a nasty note on Celeste's door, threatened death. Your buddy, Handley has the note. Hopefully they get prints and an ID."
"I'll give John a call later to see what he came up with, not in an official capacity, just morbid curiosity. So how's the movie going?"
"Two Hollywood types flew in yesterday to start the ball rolling, I have to drive them around again, scouting out locations tomorrow."
"Well, keep me informed. Later." He hung up and I looked to Penny, she smiled and then said she was going to bed, to sleep.
"Go to bed, baby. I'm going to sit here a while and relax."
"Hell, you're going to put on Cinemax and see what skin flicks are on. I know you, then you'll come in and try to wake me, but I won't budge. Do your best." She laughed and went to the bedroom.
I sat there and thought about the last week and everything that went on. I picked up the remote and turned on Cinemax, but no skin flicks, damn. I went to bed.
Next morning my cell phone rang around 7:15 and it was Bill Urban, the location manager, "Good morning, did Harry take care of your needs?" I said before he could get on my case.
"Yes, he did well enough, now do you have anywhere else we can scout out. I have a list of scenes that need backgrounds."
"Are you at the studio or the Comfort Inn?" He said the studio. "I'll be there in an hour and we can discuss locations." He agreed and we hung up.
I dressed, kissed Penny as she was getting ready for work and left. I arrived at the studio with the limo again and was surprised to see a number of Semi trucks and a couple dozen people unloading them. There were desks and large boxes, probably full of props or whatever. I parked and went in a side door and was greeted by Wendell, the security guard.
"Good morning, Wendell, busy today." I said.
"Morning, Mr Richards, yes they started rolling in around 5 A.M. and been busy unloading all kinds of stuff. They got one of the big rooms filled with lights and things. I really enjoy this." Wendell replied looking like a kid at a circus.
"Is Mr. Bailey around?"
"Yep, he's directing all the people moving things. He told me he is in charge of getting the studio up and running, so I answer to him."
I laughed and said,"He does seem to like running things, don't let him get to you."
"Nope, I was told by my bosses what to do and I do it." He grinned.
"Good for you. Do you know where Mr. Urban is?"
"I sure do, follow me." He said and went into the hall way to the offices and we found the door to Urban's new digs. I thanked Wendell and went in.
"Jim, good to see you. How are you this fine and bright morning?" He asked, seeming a bit more relaxed than he sounded on the phone.
"I'm good, you said you had a list of scene locations you wanted to checkout?"
"Yes, have a seat and we can discuss them. Scott won't be around us anymore now that his crew has arrived, so we are free to have a little fun. I like Scott, but he is a bit of an ass sometimes."
He laughed and sat at his new desk, I sat at a chair in front and Bill pulled out a list. We talked for about an hour going through the places he wanted to see. He explained to me that some of the actual locations may not work cinematically, so we may need to fudge on the truth a bit. I was realizing that Hollywood was built on what Howard Martin, the big guy of Big Show said, It's all an illusion.
Bill told Scott that he was going out with me and we got to the limo. I thought I probably could have brought the Crown Vic, maybe tomorrow, I didn't want to use the limo more than I had to. We drove to a number of places that were where the crimes happened and Bill was jotting notes and taking pictures with his digital camera. We spent about three hours running around, then I said we should do lunch. We went to a Burger King and sat eating.
"How long have you been doing this?" I asked Bill.
"About fifteen years, I've worked for a number of studios traveling all over the globe scouting out locations for many a movie, I love it. I enjoy the travel and being part of the film making process." He was smiling as he ate.
"We hit all the places we could on your list except the TV studio where Penny worked, that's a big part of the story, and you got a good number of notes made, so are we close to finished?"
"Yeah, I'm happy with everything, but I have to call the TV studio about using their facilities. I'll have to get with the director and the cinematographer when we get rolling so they can look the places over also. They need everything to be just right." He said. "You've been very helpful, thanks." He was quiet for a moment, then said, "How did you manage to get through the ordeal without loosing it. I read the book and I was amazed at the events of the crime, you and your friends did good."
"Well, I was running on adrenaline most the time and I had good people helping, both my friends and the police. The kidnapping part with Penny was probably my most horrendous time. It was chilling to loose someone that way knowing they could be murdered."
"Yes, that worked out well for you, are you and Penny still together?"
"Yep, we even got married a few months back, a Vegas wedding complete with a couple of murders." I laughed.
"Oh, crap, yeah, the Bridezilla murders, I heard about it. Nice work." He paused, then, "Just a word between us, the studio heads are ecstatic about making this film, they plan on going all out to see it succeed. But of course they are working on a low budget, so everyone will be doing double duty on their jobs."
I was a bit overwhelmed by what he told me. "Thanks for that, I hope the film will make a difference somewhere in life."
Bill had paid for the lunch, saying I used my gas to haul them around, it was the least he could do. We left Burger King and went back to the studio. As I pulled in the drive I was surprised to see another Limo by the front entrance, Bill said it looks like the big boys are here. I parked near the other limo and we went into the building, passing Wendell who waved to us. Bill went down the main hall as I followed and a door opened ahead, then two men came out.
The first man saw Bill and called to him, "Bill, how's my man doing?" Then he looked to me, "Well, it's the esteemed Jim Richards!" He rushed to me and started shaking my hand. "Jim, I'm Howard Martin, it is a real pleasure to finally meet you in person. How are you doing."
I smiled and said fine. The other man with Howard came up and was introduced.
"Jim this is Wayne Barrack, our director of the film, I want you two to get together and hash things out on the script. I'm excited about the progress this is taking. Listen, I have some details to attended to, you two just get acquainted and I'll talk later." He headed back down the hall to Studio A and disappeared through the door. I looked at Wayne, he looked at me, we both smiled at Howards abrupt behavior.
"Howard is a bit hyperactive. I worked with him once before, so I can warn you now to expect him to come and go. I frankly think it's for the best when he does go."
"Thanks for the tip, I appreciate it. Have you read book or the script?" I asked hoping he wasn't ready to change things around.
"I read both and congratulations on a fine piece of work. I am looking forward to getting your input on the crime. I want to bring the harsh reality to the film."
I was liking this guy. "Well, you tell me when you want to brain storm and I'll be available." I said.
"Uh, you have anything pressing right now?" He asked.
"Well, no, I'm open. Being self-employed helps, I set my own hours" I smiled.
"Yes, right, you are a P.I. now, I love that. Is it an exciting life or just routine?"
"A little of both, I have followed spouses and been shot three times, I'll tell you all about it sometime over a beer if you indulge?" I said hoping he was a good guy.
"Hell, I'll buy the first case. Shall we find a room to talk, I have the script and your book in my briefcase."
Bill was still standing by and I appologized for ignoring him, I introduced Wayne to Bill, then Bill said he'd show us a room we can use. He smiled and said it was Wayne's new office.
"Do I get an office?" I asked with a grin.
"Yeah, down the hall, it has a sign on the door saying Men." He laughed, "No really, you will have one, a small one but it will be an office." He took us through the building and we came to a row of offices looking out on the big studio. It had a good view of the room through the big windows across the front, but when we entered, Wayne pulled the blinds closed and said he felt like a fish in a bowl with all the windows and the crews walking by.
Bill said he had some notes and pictures on the locations for Wayne but had to print out the pictures, he'd have them later. Wayne said no rush, he wanted to get a feel for the script first. Bill excused himself and left. Wayne motioned me to a chair and we sat.
"I want to go over a few points in the script that I need to pick your memories about the crime and what went on. I hope you're ready to be interogated." He grinned.
"As long as I don't get waterboarded." I said, he laughed and reached for his case, opened it and took out the script and my book.
We spent the next two hours going over the lines and situations. He was listening intently as I related moments that happened to people involved, the terror and anticipation of those people. He was making notes as I spoke and he questioned. I noticed he had a good number of sticky notes throughout my book, bookmarking pages for questions I presumed.
Someone knocked at the door, I thought that was a nice change from everyone rushing about. Wayne yelled to come in and two men in suits came through the door. The lead man asked Wayne if he was the director and Wayne said he was. They shook hands, the man introduced himself as William Tillman and his companion was Ernest Braggish, executive producers on the production. William looked at me and suddenly said, "Hey, you're Jim Richards aren't you?"
"Yeah, last time I looked at my drivers license I was." He laughed.
"Well, it is good to meet you, I'd like to have a get-together with you about this project, when you have time, since you are a producer also."
"I'll make time for you, just let me know." I answered.
"I will. Wayne, we have most of the minor bit characters cast, they are here right now in a meeting to go over their parts, but we'll need your feedback on the major players." He looked at me and smiled, "I hope we get your input also."
"Sure, I don't want just anyone playing me, he has to be ruggedly handsome." I grinned.
They laughed and appologized for the interruption and said we would meet again, they went out.
"Hollywood types move fast and loose don't they?" I asked.
He smiled and said he was from Iowa, so he had to get used to the fast pace of the west coast people. I was wondering who they had for the bit actors, Wayne asked me what I was thinking, since I had a strange look on my face.
"Oh I was just thinking about who they got for the bit parts, and if they fit the bill." I said.
He smiled and stood, "Well, lets go find out, damn it, I'm the director, I need to see who I'm working with." He laughed and we went out and asked Wendell where the bit players where meeting. He pointed to a door off the side and we thanked him and went there.
We went in and there was a woman leading the group, Wayne whispered to me, she was Gloria Pelzer, from Central Casting. She recognized Wayne and came over, shaking his hand. She announced to the group who Wayne was, then looked to me. Wayne introduced me and she again annouced who I was.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Richards. Let me introduce you to everyone here, and what part they are playing." She proceeded to introduce each person and their part and I was happy with the selection of people, especially the women who would be murdered. I had written in the script the scenes of each woman's murder to pump up the action, so they had to have five women for the parts. She spent a few minutes time explaining the process for the new actors in the group and then called for a fifteen minute break.
A few people went outside for a smoke and I saw one woman ask Wendell a question and he pointed to the hallway, I presumed to the restroom. I turned as Gloria was asking me about the original murders and I did my best to entertain the few people who were listening. I was looking around and saw Wendell at his post, then some men and a woman came running out of the hallway. They stopped to talk to Wendell and he got on the phone. I wondered what was going on.
A few seconds later, one of the men came rushing in and said that there was a problem in the ladies room, a woman was dead.