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a short story by Mark Kolke
October 24, 2011
I went out to the car again – the keys were on the table next to Gilly’s bags, but there were no clues in the car. I expected there to be something – a note perhaps of details on the other driver, or a police report of a traffic altercation. Nothing.Not a clue.
I went back to our room at the bed and breakfast place; I called the front desk, and also the CarylonBay – in hope there would be a message of some sort from Gillian.My hopes of a day of play, were quickly turning into a frightening feeling in my belly.Just a day before, everything seemed so incredibly calm – and set for bliss.
~ ~ ~
Good thing we’d got away early when we did. We were both exhausted and badly in need of a rest, our brains numb, drained of creativity, drained of energy – and set for a weekend of play at the seacoast.
Earlier that morning, it was looking like it would be a full day with no early break for the weekend.
While exhausted from a brutally demanding work week, we were so relieved it was over and anxious for the weekend to start, we talked non-stop along the road; stops for tea, for her, and coffee for me, stops to pee, fish and chips for lunch, navigating narrow roads choc-a-block with delivery trucks and early departing weekenders like ourselves filled the roads.The trip took a full eight hours due to the traffic.
Before we got away –
I was tired . . . it had been a brutal week. My voiceover narration was being recorded in-sync, on site and re-done with every take of every scene. I was hoarse and my tone was like dusty gravel in a desert valley, parched, wanting resolution, not in the form of quenching but more in the area of quitting. My voice-over narration began:
It was Sunday evening, at exactly 10:42 PM, GMT. I could see the clock above the gallery door, just an arm’s length from me.
Just inside the main floor rotating feature exhibit gallery at the British Museum, on Great Russell Street in London, there it was – on display, a ball-peen hammer, embedded in the plaster wall that separates sections of the exhibit featuring antiquities – the Rosetta Stone, a bust of Augustus, Lewis chessmen and countless others set around a display featuring a double-headed serpent Aztec figurine, part of a 100 objects to distill the history of the world.
But what was this then, what was it?
Design has no place in it, formed no part of it as art, because art doesn’t usually look so macabre and so cruel. Or does it?
When art imitates life it looks staged, posed and constructed, but when life imitates art is more guttural, visceral – to the point it turns your stomach and you bristle with fear.Oddly, it is just there, a spectacle to look at, but it transcends worst dreams to realize it is the real thing.This is not disbelief suspended, this is so real . . .
Yet, perhaps just a piece of really good art – especially since we were in an art gallery. But drops of blood spatter stained the floor below it, dribbles of blood down the display backdrop wall, and like bad pudding, a pink-grey mess limping off that ball, one dripping little gob at a time, suggested this was the remains of someone’s brains, puddled there.
“I think someone’s not thinking about much anymore”, quipped Watson.
Holmes responded with, “Come on my dear Watson, be serious for a minute. Can’t you see we now have evidence of a likely murder – and if that is true, this is likely the murder weapon.”
“Cut! …” , barked director Kent Napier, “Can’t you guys see this through the eyes of these characters you are playing. For gawd’s sake, your accents are atrocious. You are supposed to be Holmes and Watson – England’s finest detective and his side-kick.Think of it as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, but with a Cockney accent . . OK!Now, lets get ready to do this one more time before we stop for lunch.”
My voice over wasn’t part of his complaint. Not yet in any case, but it wasn’t intended to be a faked voice.This film was being made for the U.S. domestic market so it didn’t matter that my voice was mid-range and mid-western.Any imperfections were brilliantly edited out by my able and amazing sound technician. OK, I was sleeping with her, but she was really good too; one of the best I ever worked with.
Filming might have resumed again right then, but just at that moment, three things collided; it wasn’t really 10:42 PM, the time of the scene, but 12:30 in the afternoon – time for lunch, a busty little blonde intern-assistant, Georgina Bayliss who had been banging Kent since the start of this project, ran over to advise that his 3PM conference call with the movie’s money guys in New York was being moved up to 1PM (9AM New York time), as it was the start ofthe Memorial Day weekend.Not that it mattered so much to us, here on location – bunch of Yanks in England where the Brits celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday or something of that sort.
“Hey everyone”,Georginabellowed into the loudspeaker as loud as her tiny-ness would allow, “thanks for a great week of work. We’re going to stop now and pick it up after the weekend.We’ll start at 7AM on Tuesday, right here. Have a great holiday.”
And with that, our weekend adventure began.
I had been planning it for weeks. Gillian and I would go down to Cornwall for some seaside relaxation.I had no idea what it would be like, but the local travel agent Leonard Cowles gave it good billing.I had a vision in my mind – which I explained to him. I told him about that weekend last year when I took Leslie with me for a weekend – when we went down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), spent Friday night in Seal Beach after a great crab dinner at Walt’s Wharf– and wisely wasted away a lazy Saturday in Newport Beach, then cruised down to Dana Point, then over to Torrey Pines for lunch at the clubhouse, and then on to San Diego and our destination – Coronado Island.I was over Leslie, but I kept thinking of her, and that trip, mostly because her long auburn hair was so much like Gillian’s – you know the color, like an Irish Setter.Flowing, gently curled and so lovely when being dragged across my chest.
Travel agent Leonard said our stay and seaside golfing in Cornwall would be the British equivalent of that, so I hoped he was right.
What I’d left out of my story, the one I told Leonard, was that we’d been rained out and spent the entire weekend in Huntington Beach, screwing our brains out, watching television and eating take out fried chicken and pizza.
So, we were booked into the Carylon Bay Hotel, in St. Austell, in Cornwall – seven hours by car from London. I’d rented a Jag sedan and believed I could make it in six hours, but I had to get used to that goofy right hand drive and used to driving on the wrong side of the road.We’d been here for eight weeks now, but this was my first time driving.
I picked Gillian up at her apartment on Violet Road, near 3 Mills Studios. While I was on my way to collect her I rang ahead to the CarylonBay – advising that we were arriving Friday evening instead of Saturday morning. They were completely accommodating – and advised the dining room was open until eleven, so we could have lots of time to check-in, freshen up and have a relaxing dinner.
Gillian Fordyce joined our crew when we arrived in London to start filming at 3 Mills Studios.She was assigned to me as sound technician for the out-of-studio work – which, as it turned out to my surprise, was most of it.We quickly took to one another, both professionally and personally.Attraction was 90% physical and 100% cerebral – fiery, yet soft. The only time she could sit silently while I am talking, is when we are working – both sporting headsets and only me with a microphone.But from that moment, each time Kent yells “cut”, we have been yammering non-stop.
As we drove through towns, villages and countryside my mind was wandering all over the place, all over the world – from one end of my life to the other.There is no way to control a wandering mind. It is a bit like controlling a wandering dog with a good nose on the trail of something smelly – at best, you can follow along to see where this trail leads.
Gillian’s story was so much deeper, and richer, than mine.Her personality and history are as complex as the history of her country and the intricacies of getting anything done in this business.I am but a disc-jockey with a good voice who got lucky on a few auditions that led me from Gary, Indiana to New York and then on to Hollywood.I have no particular talent except for putting my tongue and lips around words. Gillian, on the other hand, has both technical talent to make sound come alive on-screen 300% better than I would have expected from someone with her credentials.Or maybe I saw her differently because I was smitten . . .
She is talented, accomplished, sexy, warm and best of all – she can’t keep her hands off me.Lucky me.
We talked non-stop along the road; stops for tea, for her, and coffee for me, stops to pee, fish and chips for lunch, navigating narrow roads choc-a-block with delivery trucks and early departing weekenders like ourselves filled the roads.The trip took a full eight hours due to the traffic.
We checked in, just before 10PM.
“Welcome, Mr. Patterson.We have your room ready.Miss Bayliss called this afternoon to confirm your reservation was being held – and to arrange for a special delivery in your room, courtesy of Mr. Kent Napier. Would you and Mrs. Patterson be dining with us this evening or choosing room service?Our dining room is only open until 11PM, while room-service has a full menu available 24 hrs a day.”
“Thank you – and it’s not Mrs. Patterson. Ms. Fordyce and I appreciate your attention to the details and making us welcome – but frankly, we are very tired from the trip so we’ll just go to our room and order something from room service.”
When we got to our room, #25-4, we found a bottle of chilled champagne, a fruit basket and an array of cheese and crackers along with a card, saying “Hey Brett and Gillian, have a great weekend – kisses, Georgina and Kent”.
As I was reading the card and getting ready to pop that champagne cork, Gillian was taking care of the important things – like tipping the bellman, sending him on his way, lighting candles she found quickly in her bag and, most important of all, she started running a bath.Our suite had a large – triangular really – deep soaker tub.By the time I had the champagne poured and ready to serve, she was in the tub waiting for me.Lights off, candles surrounding the tub, beckoning me with, “bring it in here dear.”
Sea air was spilling in the open windows, music in the distance was filtering towards us from a disco where weekenders were unwinding.I was unwinding in the warmth of the room and, as I slipped into the tub to get close to my lovely new friend I realized she had added some lovely oil to the water.We were both quickly slippery to the touch, and our bodies lubricated nicely as we played and let the hot bath loosen our tense muscles.Gillian rubbed my shoulders gently and I melted.
And we melted in each other’s arms as we made love like teenagers, or rabbits. Or maybe like teenaged rabbits.It was grand fun.
Morning seemed to come quickly – and as I rolled over I quickly faced two realizations. I had one hell of a hangover, and Gillian was gone.At first I thought she might have slipped out to the lobby for a newspaper or something, but it was immediately apparent that all signs of her had vanished.Her clothes, toiletries, luggage – everything, gone!
As I grasped that reality – I wandered around the suite.I found a surprise. A breakfast tray was there, a pot of hot coffee, a bowl of fruit, and a note.
The note read, “My darling Brett, I have a surprise for you – and as much as I like this hotel, this is not the place for us, this is not the kind of hideaway I imagine for our first romantic getaway together.I love the quality of this hotel, but it is large and noisy, too many people on the weekend and too little intimacy for my liking.I didn’t want to deflate your enthusiasm for this adventure, but I have a surprise that will, I hope, give you a better opportunity to know me well, and to enjoy this weekend to the fullest. I’ve cancelled our golf booking and the hotel reservation. I’ve paid the bill and checked us out. I’ve taken the car to our next stop – The Tall Ships Bed and Breakfast in Charleston.Don’t fret sweetheart, the bellman knows where it is and will instruct the cab driver accordingly.Now, enjoy your breakfast, shave and shower, and get your Yankee ass over to me without any further delay!”
Oddly, it was a printed note. That seemed strange, because Gillian had such lovely handwriting – it seemed peculiar that she would print the note, but, what the hell!I made my way to the front door where the bellman was waiting to load my bags into a cab, sending me on my way to the bed and breakfast.
Excitement filled my veins and my veins fed my groin – I was so horny by the time I got there I could hardly compose myself to settle with the cab driver.
I could see the rental car – sitting there in the parking lot, but it looked odd.As I walked over to it, clearly it had been in an accident.The right side was scraped badly from front fender right along to the tail-light.As I got closer I could see that the front grill was pushed in, badly crumpled and the hood ornament no longer sported a Jaguar emblem.
I made my way to the front entrance, announced myself and was directed to Gillian’s room #14B.I knocked, but got no reply. I knocked again.I tried the knob, and the door opened to a darkened room.Drapes drawn, lights off – I wondered what surprise Gilly had in store for me now, and of course I wondered what happened to the car.
I called out for her, half-expecting a sultry murmur from the bedroom or the bath, but nothing. I drew back the drapes, and as light leapt into the room, I could see her bags dropped just inside the door, still packed.Otherwise, the room looked undisturbed – and no sign of her.Just then the phone rang.
It was Georgina, “Brett, hello . . . is that you?”
“Yeah, sure – hi Georgie-girl, what’s up?”, I responded.
“I’m calling from the Carylon Bay Hotel. Kent and I got in this morning – we were going to surprise you and Gillian, but the concierge here said you’d moved on to a little bed and breakfast, so I was calling to see if the two of you would like to join us for dinner this evening?”
“Well, Georgina, I don’t know what to say. Gillian isn’t here just now – and I just got here myself a few minutes ago.I’ll have to ring you back once I connect with here. Would that be OK?”
And with that, we each signed off.
I spent the entire day looking for Gillian. I tried her cell-phone, only to hear it ringing in her overnight bag. Wherever she was, she wasn’t reachable.I called the local police station. They understood my fright but suggested I wait a day before filing a missing persons report, explaining to me that domestic conflict often results in people disappearing for while.I told them, as calmly as I could, that I understood that and their rules, but that this was a different situation. I related the note, the move to the bed and breakfast . . . and how joyous Gillian was.I asked if they had any report of a Jag accident in the area – none had been reported.
That day was a blur.
I drove to the CarylonBay. When I got in the car I had to move the seat – it was far forward, which struck me as odd, because Gillian was 5’10”, an inch taller than I am.I wondered, had someone else driven the car to the bed and breakfast?
When I got to the hotel, there were police cars and ambulances parked near the entrance, lights flashing, and people milling around.
As I went in the door I was confronted by a policeman, asking me my business. I explained that I was looking for my girlfriend Gillian Fordyce who seemed to have disappeared today.He led me to a meeting room that appeared to be a set up as a command center.
I was introduced to Inspector Wigglesworth who said, “Mr. Patterson, you are American, is that right?”
He then asked, “Are you in the movie business and associated with Mr. Kent Napier and Ms. Georgina Bayliss?”
“Yes, we work together.Gillian and I both worked with them.They came up here for the weekend to surprise us.Unknown to them, Gillian arranged for us to move to the Tall Ships Bed and Breakfast – so that’s where we went, but I don’t know what has happened to Gillian. Why are you asking me these questions?What has happened?”
He answered my question with one of his own, “Tell me, do you have any idea where any of them would have gotten a ball-peen hammer.”
“Well, actually, there was a ball-peen hammer on the set the other day in London – embedded in a wall, a murder weapon being inspected by Sherlock Holmes in a movie we are filming.”
“Mr. Patterson, I’m sorry to have to inform you but Mr. Napier is dead.He was bludgeoned to death, his head smashed actually, with a ball-peen hammer.Ms. Bayliss was bludgeoned as well, but she is still alive. She has been taken to hospital, but it is doubtfulshe will survive, or whether she will have a normal life again.Also, we are holding Ms. Fordyce for questioning and for a psychiatric examination.”
“Why?What did she do?”
The Inspector explained, “Ms. Fordyce claims she went to the coffee shop early this morning to get coffee and a newspaper when she was met by Ms. Bayliss who invited her to Mr. Napier’s suite to discuss plans for the day – and that when she entered the door she was struck over the head. She claims, when she regained consciousness, that her hands and feet were bound and that Mr. Napier appeared dead.”
“How could that be? Gillian left me a note saying she was going over to the The Tall Ships Bed and Breakfast and that I was to follow her there by cab.”
“Yes”, the inspector replied, “our investigation – so far, suggests that it was Ms. Bayliss, not Ms. Fordyce, who drove your rental car to the bed and breakfast place and checked in there pretending to be Ms. Fordyce. And, it appears she had an accident along the way – a hit and run altercation with a bridge railing and a motorcycle.The driver of the motorcycle escaped with minor injuries.It appears Ms. Bayliss returned here by taxicab and re-entered the Napier suite. At that time, according to Ms. Fordyce – she claimed that she had gotten free of her bindings by then, a struggle ensued in which Ms. Bayliss was wielding the ball-peen hammer that had killed Mr. Napier. It appears she was able to overpower Ms. Bayliss and struck her in self-defense. Truly, Mr. Patterson, the suite is a dreadful mess – splattered blood and brains everywhere, and dripping from that wretched weapon.”
“Is she all-right?Gillian, is she uninjured?Can I see her?”