Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mulholland Drive

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The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.---William James

    Just because I’m a 46 year old part time stock boy at a gas station, that doesn’t mean I should put away my  urges to write:

    The body was found on state owned land near the Encino Reservoir between Farmers Fire Road and the Mandeville Fire Road. This is the quiet, wealthy stretch of Mulholland; the part that turns its back on industrial Hollywood, turns its back on the glutinous and depraved Hollywood Hills and faces the valley, blue collar symbol that it once was, right in it's metaphorical eye.

    The corpse was found only 75 feet from the northern edge of Mulholland Drive in a shallow ravine. Coyotes, crows, opossum and other scavengers had dined on the corpse. Many scavengers. It was as if someone had rung the dinner bell when the man fell, or was pushed, off the shallow embankment which marks the steep drop-offs along that stretch of infamous Mulholland.

    Strangest of all about the corpse was the fact that not ALL of the scavenger dinning had been done post mortem. Very strange. Even the most incapacitated accident victim will rebel against being eaten alive, will thrash around enough to scare off the scavengers, unless that person is paralyzed or deeply unconscious . . .or under the influence of some really nasty morpheus drug . . .like heroin.

    There was nothing about the 75 foot fall that would cause paralysis or such unconsciousness. No sharp rocks with blood on them. No evidence of blunt trauma to the skull. The man appears to have laid there and watched the coyotes rip and tear first at his extremities, then, having been emboldened by the absence of thrashing or struggling, the ripping at his throat. Terrible way to go. You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy.

    The man's car was found first by a routine park ranger patrol. The Lexus was safely parked in a turnout patch of dirt next to the narrow two lane drive. No skid marks. Headlights off. Gear in park. Doors locked. There was nothing particularly odd about the car to the ranger . . .except for the smell. It was pungent. The ranger tried to place that smell. Tried and tried. It was kind of manurey, but this was the wrong time of year for someone to have returned from visiting his grape orchards a few hours north of here.

    The ranger bent down and smelled the tires. This caused no end of laughter from his partner, who kept making cracks like "Whatsa matter, Bill? You smell a rat?" and "I know you're looking for promotion, Bill, but this time you've stooped too low!"

    Bill decided there was a decomposing body in the trunk and called in the sheriff's department. This stopped his partner's guffawing. They marked off the possible crime scene with road flares and waited for the parade of law enforcement lookee-loos they knew would descend upon them from out of the late night law enforcement boredom.

    The parade came quickly. In no more than twenty minutes there were four deputy sheriff cruisers, two highway patrol cars and three L.A.P.D. bubbletops bottlenecking the narrow drive and the supervisor units were not far behind. Mulholland Drive would be the most policed drive in the city that morning. Everybody loves the old Body In The Trunk call and nobody wants to miss the Popping of the Trunk show.

    One old timer arrived from L.A.P.D. and immediately announced "Cat pee! It's cat piss! Whatcha got here, boys, is the biggest damned Tom I ever heard of taking a whiz on the roof a this luxury sedan."

    "Fellas," the old-timer grinned with typical law enforcement dark humor, "Whatcha got here is giant feeeeline that don't like imports!"

    No small amount of law enforcement betting on the outcome of the trunk popping ensued the old timer's declaration. The officers stood in a tight semicircle around the back of the Lexus as the trunk was being popped. Light from the patrol car headlights splayed through their legs onto the trunk of the Lexus like crazy, jagged, miniature search lights. The trunk made a "whoosh" sound when it popped open, adding to the magic of the moment.

    No body.

    Half an hour later, disappointed, slightly chagrined lawmen were going through the motions of searching the immediate area, trying halfheartedly to salvage their motivations for driving way up, way out here, on Mulholland Drive, when they found the body 75 feet away. There was a terrible different smell about the corpse. The rookies assumed that THIS smell was the true smell of death, but the more experienced cops knew better. This was a smell, bad as it was, familiar only to the sportsmen among the law enforcement officers in the Mulholland throng. Specifically, this was a smell vaguely familiar only to sports fishermen.

    Fiction's premise: A hard to solve crime may be committed with a poor man's James Bond kit: some cat urine, a little wormwood and some chum activator. Whaddya think?

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