Authors: James Ellroy
We drove southeast. The Pacific Dining Carâ“Open All Nite.” We hit Highland southbound. We saw shelter lights shimmer. We pulled up and walked in.
Bull terriers barked. Bloodhounds bayed. Airedales went aoooo! Reggie the Ridgeback rammed his snout under Donna's skirt.
Jane Slatkin was asleep. Three-dog night. Litter-mate Labs.
Dave sat on the floor. Donna shoved Reggie off. He sniffed Miguel's crotch and snickered.
I said, “He's still out there.”
Dave nodded. “The big white house was the Collins pad, right?”
Miguel said, “Right. You're a fucking psychic genius, man. Want to go to the Dining Car?”
Dave shook his head. I said, “Stephen Nash ate an all-dog-food diet.”
“Proving there's some good in all people.”
Donna scratched Reggie's ridge. He almond-eyed her with
Dave said, “I had a certified vision. There
an afterlife, and dogs run heaven. Jesus, Buddha, and all those other cats are just shills to keep squares walking the straight-and-narrow.”
Reggie snout-skimmed Donna's skirt. Donna dodged him. She said, “
Jesus, and this is all real.
WE HOGGED a booth at the Car. We pounced on porter-house, tore into T-bone, fattened our fangs on filet mignon. Donna said she'd adopt Reggie. Miguel said he'd adopt the two bull terriers. We piled into pecan pie. Donna held my hand in her lap. We yawned in unison. Our pads were too far to tango to. Let's roll to the Hollywood fuck pad.
Donna said, “What did your dad do with his Oscar for
? I didn't see it at his dump.”
Miguel laffed. “He hocked it to Schwab's pharmacy for phenobarbital and booze.”
I said, “Maybe he'll mount a comeback with
Miguel said, “Nix. It's a grade-Z turkey headed straight for TV.”
A waiter walked over. Donna pointed to some steak scraps. “Will you wrap this up for my dog?”
WE DROVE to the pad. It was dark and dank quiet. No window lights, normal TV or fuck-flick flares. No laughing or lip-smacking of late-nite libidos.
We walked in. I hit the living-room lights. It was too tidyâno dropped drawers or gunbelts shed for the sheets.
Donna yawned. “I'm going up to the roof. I want to look at the lights and extend this whole adventure.”
Miguel said, “I'll go with you.”
They walked upstairs. I eyeballed the stairways and landings. No kitchen lights. No de rigueur disarray.
Donna and Miguel hit the roofâI heard gravel grab. I walked upstairs. No hall lights. No sconces skimming light. No bathroom lights, no light-lit walkways to the johns.
Five bedroom doorsâidentically shut.
My neck hairs nipped and nudged me. I opened one door. I hit the wall light.
There's Condom Cal Coleman and a mulatto meter maid snoring. They passed out dressed. There's a nightstand. There's a Jim Beam jug. There's a red capsule popped and white powder residue.
The Rite Aid 459. The stolen barbituratesâ
I tiptoed. I opened doors. I got insidious instant replays. Snores. Clothed couples. Barely broken bottle seals and popped-pill residue.
I ran upstairs. The roof door was open. There's Donna and Miguel by the south ledge, grooving and grokking the view.
I pulled my piece. The door slammed back. It hit my nose. It tore my teeth. I dropped my gun. It fell down the stairs. It sheared a shot accidental.
I stumbled. I staggered. I saw the Antichrist: Chickie Farhood made up as Stephen Nash.
I pulled my throw-down. Chickie caught it and kicked it away. He slammed the door. My fingers got fucked. Three thread-dangled off the knucklebones.
Gravel ground, grabbed, crackled, and crunched. I saw Donna and Miguel.
They grabbed Chickie. They pulled his hair. Donna gouged his eyes. Miguel kicked him and stuffed gravel in his mouth. Donna ripped an eye out. Chickie screamed. Miguel lashed a belt around his neck. Four hands tightened and pulled.
I saw Chickie scream. I saw Chickie thrash, spasm, and spit gravel. I saw the ledge. I saw Donna step on his face and make him eat mica-flecked grounds. I saw Miguel lift his legs and throw him off the building.
The shooting board cleared me. One call to Kusterâcase clapboard-closed. Donna drove me to Cedars of Lebanon. The ER docs saved my fingers.
I badged the night nurse. Donna slept in my hospital bed with me. The morphine drip made for mad nightmaresâall Stephen Nash.
They released me next noon. We all met at Hollywood Homicide: me, Donna, Dave, Russ, Miguel.
We agreed. The house was evil. It had to burn. The Nash stash would fix the landladyâsome swank oldster's crib for life.
Chuy Nieves had a firebug brother. Street name: Matchhead Manuel. Russ said he'd call him.
We watched it burn. We sat across the street and drank canned daiquiris. I held hands with Donna. The fuck pad ignited. Fire-men showed. The roof caved in. Kitsch house to kindling in twelve minutes flat.
I walked Donna to her car. We kissed. She said, “We were fucked by this and made by this, and I'll never love anyone more than you, and I'll go through men and cut them loose because I'm an actress with appetites and nothing in my life will ever be this goddamn motherfucking real.”
I brushed soot from her hair. “I'll remember every moment. That'll see me through.”
She got in her car. She threaded past fire engines. She drove west on Hollywood Boulevard.
I died in a futile gunfight. Others fell before me.
Russ Kuster died 10/9/90. It happened at the Hilltop Hungarian. Bela Marko was drunk. He had a laser gun. He aimed
it at customers. Russ told him to stop. Marko refused. Marko
shot Russ. Russ shot Marko. They killed each other. It took six
Donna attended the funeral. We held hands. We wept at
Dave and I rose within LAPD. The big oneâdowntown
Homicide. Donna and Miguel became TV stars and did feature work. Donna never married. I'd see her on the street
sometimes. We'd hold each other and whisper-talk for an hour
at a crack. People thought we were nuts. We embraced for two
hours in a rainstorm once in Beverly Hills.
I never married. Everything Donna said outside the
burned-down house proved true.
I lived to age 96. Donna's still alive. She's got a recurring
role on a nighttime soap job. The show's about as good as
Count Borga, Vampire.
Here's how I died.
I was in a mall in Orange County. I was old and frail. I
still carried a gun. A very old Mexican cat walked up to me.
He had tic-tac-toe scars. I remembered immediately: Chuy
Nieves/the screen test.
Chuy had a big Glock. I had a big Browning. We blew
each other away instantaneously. The papers called it the
“Oldsters' O.K. Corral.”
Dogs run heaven. Donna's generations of Reggie Ridgebacks call the shots. There's lots of clouds and a fuckload of
dogs. The food's good. You get to have sex with people you
really love. You get to relive your earth life and hit a Pause
button. I always go back to fall '83.
I miss Donna. I want to get hammered by those hurricane-hurled hazel eyes up close once again. There's only one catch.
I never want her to die.
Heaven's forever. Time trips on and traps you. Time
cordons you corporeal. Time circumscribes your surfeit of
earthly events. Time immobilizes the immortal and makes
them look back.
Donna. Me. A long jump: '83 to '04, time-trippingly.
It had to happen. The fitful laws of physics mandated
more of us. Our vibes ran vampiric. They recklessly reconnected. They spun out and sparked in our
Donna and me. Lashed to the language that pops on these
pages. Allegorized in alliteration and bound back boldfaced
October 2004 issue. SCANDAL KINGPIN GETCHELL DEAD! FUNERAL BODES AS STONE GASSER! By Gary Getchell
Yeah, he died of AIDSâbut he was no skin-flute hootin' tutti-frutti! Daniel Arthur Getchellâthe skank-scamming, scandal-skimming, scopophile kingâwas a heroin-hooking junkie with a 40-year monkey on his back. Danny the G. was a mensch. He neighborly noodled out his needles and got malignant microbes back. He landed in a secret AIDS ward at Cedars-Sinai. It was fat with faigelahs he outed in
They homo-humped Danny. Dolorous dozens of gay Getchellphobics stormed the hospital. Danny the G. got the gate. He survived this turd-burglar tyranny and hid out at home. He was tenderly tended by magnificent mama-san Megan More, cable-flick floozy supreme. He died September 12. Ms. More said he went out with “dystopian DTs.” He “alliterated alluringly” to the end. He spritzed the linguinilike lassos of language that have invasively influenced bad-ass bop-talkers worldwide. Ms. More dug Danny G.'s death spiel. It was “wild shit by James Joyce and Iceberg Slim, Danny's two favorite authors.”
Danny Getchell took over
magazine in 1955. He rode out lynch-mob-like libel suits. He was L.A.'s litigation-licking truth-trumpeter and mendacity-mauling musketeer. He fragged fruits. He nailed nymphomaniacs. He print-pronged corrupt cops and dollar-driven D.A.s. He punched out pork-barrel politicos. He banged behind-the-scenes in the '58 California election. He immortalized his work in the Mephistophelian memoir
The Trouble I Cause.
D. the G. ran
up to 1999. I wrapped the reins then. I dropped my nowheresville name of Irv Moskowitz and took the moniker “Gary Getchell.” I follow Danny's metastasizing mandate. I traffic the truth triumphantly.
I've got Danny the G.'s secret dirt files. They're furtively fail-safed and hidden
They barbarously berate and insidiously indict. They pummel political correctness. They priapically prick predators and frappÃ© the frail. They knock Danny's no-good nemesis, the LAPD.
The LAPD hassled Danny from '55 up. Danny grew a hard-on to hurt them back and sucked up to certain fractious factions within. I've got that hopping hard-on now. It's pounding in my pants. I don't like the new Chief, Joe Tierney. The mischievous mick from filthy Philly gores my goat. He's a headline hurdler and media mauler from the get-go. I don't dig his command staff. Take Captain Linus “the Laundryman” Lauter. The Feds are looking at Linus lingeringly. His son, Leotis Lauter, runs a Southside dope cartel. The Feds think Linus launders Leotis's long green. Linus belongs to the 4-A Club: He's African-American
Jolting Joe Tierney's afraid to suspend him while the Feds
duct their biz.
I've inherited Danny G.'s moral mandate. I'll be there at Forest Lawn next week. A rent-a-rabbi will soliloquize. He'll tip topical and irradiate the Iraqis. The crowd will be huge and Dannyesque diverse. Dig the details on my public-access TV show, and dig me at
. Don't send flowers or waste your bread on mementoes. Send your money directly to me. I'm broke, and I need garlands of good Getchellite gelt.
Remember, dear reader, you heard it here first: off the record, on the Q.T., and
Los Angeles Times,
September 22, 2004. RESIDENTIAL BURGLARIES IN BEL-AIR AND HOLMBY HILLS By Miles Corwin
A house burglar has struck six times in upscale West Los Angeles neighborhoods over the past eight weeks, a LAPD spokesperson has told the
All the homes were occupied at the moments of entry, which detectives consider a crucial aspect of the burglar's modus operandi.
Captain Bill Dumais, the commander of the detective unit at the West Los Angeles Station, said, “The burglar enters his target homes through half-open windows or doors with easily picked locks. He temporarily sedates pet dogs with mild prescription sleeping pills stuck in pieces of raw meat, which leads me to believe he's an animal lover who doesn't like to hurt pets. He's not so gentle with humans, though. He finds them, usually asleep, or rousing at the sound of his entry, and shoots them with a tranquilizer gun. He uses a powerful tranquilizing substance that sedates the people from six to ten hours.”
Captain Dumais went on to discuss burglary precedents and the West L.A. burglar's probable motives. “We call burglars who break into residences with people inside them âhotprowl men,' ” he said. “They tend to get aroused by the prospect of interaction with the people, and they often graduate to physical assault, rape, and even murder.”
Does this burglar possess that potential? Captain Dumais thinks he does. “So far, the burglar has been stealing only small trinkets,” the captain said. “It appears that he's not out for saleable items, so it's our belief that he's a fetishist looking for souvenirs to commemorate his break-ins.”
And the LAPD's plans for apprehension?
“Plans are in the works,” Captain Dumais said. “We want to catch this guy before he hurts someone for keeps.”
Donna Standard Time stung me. The squadroom was dead. I decided to desk-dally and dream.
I moved the unit TV over. We used it to magnify mug shots and match fingerprints. It was computer-compatible and sturdy state-of-the-art. Dave Slatkin wired a voom-voltage VCR in.
âDonna does doofus TV. She's an on-call oncologist with a loser love life. The series flailed, flatlined, tipped, and tanked.
I settled in. I dug on my desk detritus and mused on my murder mandate.
There's my PC. It features fine-tuned Fed software. There's my rhino-horn paperweight. There's my fetishistic photo spray, plied under Plexiglas. A dozen Donna-look-alike girlfriendsâfailed flings from '83 up. There's Stephanie Gorman, DOD 8-5-65/ unsolvedâthe case that I clamor to clear. Snuffed at home/West L.A./botched rape-sex job.
LAPD Homicide, Cold Case Squad. Dave Slatkin, D3 in charge. Six detectives. Mildew-musty murder files to read, review, reject, peruse, and pursue. Divinely deigned DNAâour most clever clue-clearance tool.
Three years as a unit. Serial killers caught. Rape-os wrapped up and courtroom castrated. The cutting-edge culling of old file data and karmic comeuppance.
I loved the work. I loved the Donna-dalliance downtime. I popped
in the VCR and sailed the sound off.
There's Donna. She's wearing wicked white. She's telling a sickly citizen he's got the Big C.
she's saying she loves me!
The Donna scene denoumened. A comatose commercial commenced. I shut my eyes and dreamed.
I was 52. She was 48. It was 21 years since
We never married. We serialized separate sex. We mired ourselves in molten and moping monogamy. I carried a flaring flame and a tumescent torch.
Donna was rich. Donna won two Emmys. Donna lived in Holmby Hills. I was middle-class. I'd shot two wetbacks and three jigaboos. I lived in Chino Hills.
Donna had dogsâgenerations of Reggie Ridgebacks. I had in-place informants. Dig: parking-lot punks, coffee-house confidants, maÃ®tre d's,
They saw Donna and buzzed me toward her. I showed up dippy and disingenuous. Donna dug on the game and saw through the shuck.
I opened my eyes. Dog-food dramaturgy drilled me. I scanned the walls. I saw old LAPD pix.
Black Dahlia shots. Onion Field shots. My favorite fiendâthe doomonic Donald Keith Bashor.
It's '55. Don's a hot-prowl hunk and one strapping studly. He whips through the Westlake Park District. He B&Es women's pads. He steals cash only. It's always late nite. The women sleep on.
Donald Keith Bashor was sentenced to die for the murders of two women victims of burglary forays.
(Los Angeles Times Collection,
Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library,
Don caroms down Carondelet Street. Don pops a pad packed with nurses. Don pops out with three purses.
Don nets ninety scoots. Don dumps the purses. Don catwalks down Carondelet. Don taps 271 South. Karil Graham's door's ajar.
He enters. She wakes up. She screams. He beats her dead with a pipe. He loots her purse. He considers a postmortem rape. The blood turns him off.
He skates on the Graham snuff. He sidles out to South Pasadena. He hot-prowls there. He waits fourteen months. He whips back to Westlake Park.
He hot-prowls. He steals. He tools off his turf. He rapes an Echo Park woman. He wiggles back to Westlake. It's 5/56. He hot-prowls a pad on West 5th Street.
Laura Lindsay screams. He beats her dead with a hammer.
Demon Don kept it up. Geography is destiny. Westlake wigged wicked magic on him. LAPD ran rolling stakeouts. Said stakeouts snagged Demon Don.
June '56âit's over. October '57âDon fries at Big Q.
Demon Don dug under my skin. He stuck as the Stephanie Gorman paradigm. Your prowl pads. You think you come for cash. You
seek sexual succor. You've got an urge to unleash the unknown. Every pad gores your gonads. Your adrenaline's addressed. Every woman's a witch wired to take you where you
Donald Bashor, flanked by Senior Deputy George Coenen, left, and Sheriff's Sergeant Howard Earle, starts on the trip to San Quentin Prison.
(Los Angeles Times Collection, Department of Special
Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA)
I checked the screen. Donna was back. Her hazel eyes hit me hard as hybrids of la Gorman's. I fast-forwarded. Donna dunned a baleful boyfriend for lasting love. I tossed out the text. I licentiously lip-read. Donna expressed explicit love for
Two print techs walked in. I popped out the cassette. Donna Standard Time,
I beamed up at Bashor. Dave Slatkin beatified the beast and correlated him to the current hot-prowl man. Dave made the man as moon-mad. He was long-term lunar-looped. He slinked to sliver moons and sharp shadows. The man bopped Bashor-like. Dave figured he'd rape and kill soon.
The squadroom filled up. There's my partner, Tim Marti. He's a heavy-handed hard-charger and a thrill-seeking throwback. He priapically predates the Rodney King/so-PC/no-beavertail-sap-slapping days. There's Dave. He's dog-hair-dusted and dog-food-flecked. He's still got that dog shelter. He's breeding brindle pits now.
I was bored. I was restless. DST re-resurrected. Stephanie Gorman caught Donna dust and coopted the ride.
Identikit internment. Sizzling symbiology. Stephanie and Donna as one.
I punched up the program. My computer popped and pixilated two faces. There's Stephanie at 16. There's Donna at 48. Slow nowâlet's mix-and-match faces.
Four bright hazel eyes. Stephanie's summer tan. Donna's soft paleness.
I free-form Frankensteined for an hour. The now and the then got jungled up and jangled. I thought of Russ Kuster. I thought of fall '83 and the Jenson-Donahue dead. Stephanieâfreeze-frame frissoned at youth forever.
It hit me:
Danny Getchell was dead. He snitched for me. He bid me to bop-talk. I owed him some flowers.
MY DEBT: One boss bouquet. Narco Division's: floral flotillas. Danny handed them wholesale hopheads and mucho meth dealers. They heaped him heroin back.
I elevatored down. The Narco bullpen: doom-deep in depression.
Twenty-plus desks. “Laundryman” Linus Lauter's cops lolling listlessly.
I looked at them. They looked at me. They tapped their toes and popped on their PCs. They booted up beaver-shot bashes. They socked in solitaire. They Internet-ignored me.
I whistled. “Flowers for Danny G. Who wants to contribute?”
Some guys flipped me off. Most guys depressive-deadpanned me. Bill Berchem tapped his toupee and twirled one finger. Bob Mosher picked his nose and snagged snot my way.
Division-deep depression. One Fed-fucked captain. The trickle-down trap. Cops headed for Subpoena City.
I scanned the squadroom. The freeze frappÃ©ed me. I checked the chalkboard. I saw Gary Getchell's loathsome likeness. Gary's gobbling a big dick. Gary's got shivs shoved in him. A caustic caption read, “Die, motherfucker!!!!!”
I said, “Gary G. isn't Danny G. Come on, Danny did us all solid.”
Cal Eggers walked up. Call it: Linus Lauter's less-than-listless lieutenant. Sixtyish. Still a stud. Still a fast-track finagler.
He urged me outside. We walked. We caught some corridor schmooze space. I said, “Danny G. didn't burn Lauter, the Feds did. Gary's rattling cages in
and so what?”
Eggers whipped out his wallet and fanned five fifties. I grabbed gratefully.
“Come on, Rhino, it's âCal' to D2s and up. You know I'm clean and on the Captain's List, and Linus Lauter's a dumb jungle bunny who bought a six-million-dollar house,
on a captain 2's salary. Tell me I'm not happy he's going to burn, and since I'm a recent transfer in, tell me I don't have a shot at the command.”
I smiled smug. “It's a good summation.”
Eggers winked. “You glommed Danny G. dope when you worked Hollywood Homicide. You're not afraid that your name's in a file that hump Gary's got?”
I shook my head. “It's a he-said/he-said scenario. Danny's dead, and I've won the Medal of Valor.”
Eggers shook his head. “You're a fucking eccentric. You're a fifty-plus bachelor who wears rhino-horn regalia. You capped three spooks and two wetbacks in a reasonably distinguished police career, but the balance of public opinion has tipped away from us. Look down the fucking hallway.”
I did it. I didn't dig the drift.
Bulletin-board brouhaha. Diversity classes: malevolent and mandatory. Pernicious postings: the Federal Consent Decree/stiff strictures/Radically Reform Your Wicked White Man's Ways. Civilian lawsuit updates: ultimatums from shyster lawyers/cleverly cloaked class-action shit. Call it cold: baton-bopping back-alley justice,
Viva malignant multiculturalism and coerced
I yawned. “Yeah, I know the precedents. O.J., Rodney King, the '92 riots. Payback time for the great L.A. unwashed. You know how I see the Lauter thing playing in? He catches a bullet for being a cop, and dodges one for being a jig. His kid, Leotis, is a piece of shit, so that tips the balance against him.”
Eggers cracked his knuckles. “You saw the squadroom. Middle-aged white men up the ying-yang. They'll all get tarred with the Linus brush, their careers will flatline, their retirement job prospects will tank, and every fucking man is thinking,âDanny G. could keep his mouth shut, but the fuck wrote everything down. Will that sick little shit Gary use his files?' ”
I shrugged. I wanted to short-shrift this shit.
was non-mainstream media. Both Getchells were scum scamsters. A noxious Narco probeâyes. Linchpins Linus and Leotisâyes. Fed subpoenas for
My hackles hopped. Eggers felt hinky. I got instantly itchy. My bald head buzzed.
I said, “You're tweaking me. You want an outsider's damage assessment. Okay, here it is. Linus and Leotis go down, but nobody else does. Yeah, your guys bought snitches from Danny Getchell, and yeah, he wrote it down. So what? It ends there. Danny's dead, and Gary G.'s a secondhand, compromised informant.”
Eggers bowed. My tweak takeâtouchÃ©!
“Yes, I wanted an outside opinion, and you confirmed what I thought myself. There's that, and the fact that I always enjoy talking to the guy who had ten minutes with Donna Donahue.”
I laffed. “It went fast. Ten minutes twenty years ago, and I'm fucked forever.”
Eggers laffed. “I worked the Rampart DB then. I know the whole story.”
“No, you don't. And Donna and I aren't telling.”
Cherchez la femme.
I've always gone by that.”
“I've got two women. I
more than most.”