In The Movies -- EXCERPT
I realized I was dog
tired and dying to dive into the pile of fat
pillows and what looked like a down comforter, but the woman had
planted the seed of ice in my mind and now all I could think about was
a long, cool drink of water. I grabbed up a ceramic pitcher, cream
colored with hand-painted roses, and tromped down the walkway as
instructed. Sure enough, the path led to my left and there I found a
lit alcove and the ice machine along with soda pop and snack
dispensers. I shoved the pitcher up under the lever which released an
avalanche of shaved ice then I headed back to my room thinking about
nothing in particular except how good cold water was going to taste. I
wasn’t in my alert mode, as I would have been at Helen’s. I
that the moon was suddenly hidden behind a sliver of cloud. I was aware
that I seemed to be the only tenant in an otherwise empty inn. I was
aware that my soft soled shoes were making a lot of noise on the
walkway ... and that was all I was aware of when an arm shot of out of
the dark from behind me. The ceramic pitcher went flying into the air
and my feet flew out from under me as I hit the ground. It happened so
fast that everything became a blur. I didn’t have a clue who
to the arm or, for that matter, to the fist that slugged me. I remember
seeing feet, but the image I had was that of black tennis shoes
belonging to neither male nor female. Maybe I should say, belonging to
either a male or a female, I had no idea which. I rolled over,
clutching my jaw, as footsteps ran away from me, heading toward the
street. But my reflexes were too slow. I didn’t get so much as a
at my attacker. I sat there on my tailbone, holding my aching jaw,
rocking back and forth, trying to take it all in. When I finally got
up, I retrieved the pitcher, or what was left of it, and staggered back
to 102 where I locked the door behind me. Then I closed and locked the
window, snapping the shutters closed, too. After that I sat on the side
of the bed, trying to decide my next step.
couldn’t call the police for all the reasons I’d never
called them up
to this point. I wouldn’t call Caroline and Michael. No need to
them, though I would tell them about the incident in the morning. What
I needed was to talk to Donald. A production assistant located him on
the set. I didn’t give him the details. I just said I’d
that I was fine but shaken and could he come out when he could get
away. I unlocked the door and waited. He arrived within the hour.
In the interim, I’d taken a shower and washed my hair with that
B&B’s always provide for guests. I smelled like a carnation.
looked like hell. The lower half of my face was turning a snappy
purple, and my rump had a knot on it that felt like a boulder when I
tried to sit on anything but the down comforter. That was the picture
that greeted Donald when he knocked and I called for him to come on in.
“What the hell happened?” he said, closing the space
“Shut the door.”
He closed and bolted it before returning to me. His face was crinkled
with concern. “Who did it?”
shook my head and patted the space beside me on the bed. Instead, he
pulled a white wicker chair up close, sat down, and took my hands in
“Well,” he said, “we can rule out rape and robbery
“We can also rule out tiny woman and woman in wheelchair.”
He leaned back, studying me. “You sure about that?”
don’t know, Donald. I don’t know anything. I don’t
know if Lane killed
Richard, I don’t know why the jerk was screwing Henny and his
secretary. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing to
and I sure as hell don’t know what I’m doing here.” I
could feel tears
building. More than anything in this world I didn’t want to cry.
did. Not big weepy globs, but little wet trails of pure frustration.
Donald moved to a place beside me and put his arms around my shoulders.
I don’t care who says what, right then it was good to be female
was extra good to be southern. I rested my head against him until the
waterworks closed down and I could take a deep breath. It wasn’t
then that he got to his feet and paced.
I scoffed. I’m a really good scoffer.
He shrugged. He’s a really good shrugger.
“So, who do you think decked me?”
“You said he gave you an odd look when you confronted his wife.
Maybe he doesn’t want you bothering her anymore.”
“Couldn’t he just tell me to go away? He doesn’t look
like the physical type. Besides, how’d he know I was here?”
“How’d anybody know you were here?”
“Somebody was following me?”
“Looks that way.”
that was watching Caroline’s apartment in the first place? But
she was staying at her friend’s apartment? Or was it somebody who
followed me from Helen’s then waited for their chance to let me
wasn’t welcome in California?
Donald moved to the table and perched on the side of it, watching me.
“Who considers you a threat?”
“Well ... Henny.”
He nodded. “She’s probably found out by now that you were
at her place.”
knew he was referring to the next door neighbor and the likelihood she
told Henny how her Scottish sister, Jenny, stopped by the house. Henny
would have seen the news reports and put two and two together.
know from those reports that I was staying at Helen’s and could
followed me tonight ... But, damn, she was so tiny! She couldn’t
clobber me like that.
“Taking you by surprise,” Donald reminded me when I said as
much, “she could probably do a little damage.”
I rubbed my jaw again, feeling the little damage grow larger by the
“What about Richard’s secretary?”
already considered Marcie. If she saw the news, and I was sure she had
since the entire world was following non-stop reports, maybe
me to cease my snooping. I remembered the wide hips and swimmer’s
shoulders, and knew that she could indeed deliver a wallop if she put
her mind to it. But why would she go to such lengths?
sighed and got back to his feet. He put his arms around me again and
when he looked down at me, his blue eyes were clouded with fatigue and
concern. I realized for the first time how much he’d aged since
been gone. I wondered if I’d gotten that much older, too. He
on the back, kissed my cheek.
“I think you’re safe enough
tonight,” he said. “If they’d wanted to do you real
harm, you wouldn’t
be here to tell me about it.” He let go of me and unlocked the
tell you one thing, though, Katie ... this cinches it for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll bet my next year’s bonus Wagnor was poisoned,
and not by Lane Allison.”
“You think I’ve opened up a can of worms and
someone’s afraid of what I’ll find while I’m out
grinned, that great wrinkled grin I had always found such comfort in.
Then he opened the door. “Go on back to Florida and tend to the
animals. It’ll all come out in the trial.”
“You think I should go to the police?”
not enough for them. They’d chalk up the night’s incident
violence, not unheard of even on this island anymore, I’m afraid
else they’d try to blame the media for attracting some nut off
street who followed you and made you a target for who knows what
reason. No, Katie .. for you to tell them everything you know would
only be to put another nail in Lane’s coffin.”
“But what if it doesn’t come out at the trial?”
mulled the question over for a bit, then looked at me with a troubled
expression. “You’re not going back to Florida any time
soon, are you?”
chin nearly touched the collar of his shirt when he shook his head and
sighed. “I didn’t think so.” He stepped onto the
across the courtyard, then in both directions. Everything was quiet.
“Lock up behind me and plan to move out of Helen’s place as
soon as you
“I can’t really afford -”
“I’ll stay with friends.
You take the houseboat.” He dug into his pocket, removed a key
took a set of keys off it and tossed them to me. “Think you can
“San Pedro. Under the bridge. Out past the old Naval
“Good girl. Go straight there tomorrow. I’ll stop by after
“This is the movie business, Katie. Nothing like the real world,
And he was gone.