by David Barton
Rick glanced over to Lana’s
breasts as he steered the Merc Convertible around the winding lane they’d turned onto a few minutes earlier. He liked
to look at her breasts. He liked to look at them, and know that he owned them. After all, he’d been the one who’d
purchased them. A birthday present for his starlet wife’s twenty-sixth birthday, two years ago.
She had always looked like
Marilyn Monroe, apart from lacking in that particular department. They had been the final icing on the cake of him owning
his very own Monroe.
In fact, Rick Thomas liked
to think he owned his wife body and soul.
Had he not made her famous?
As a top Hollywood director, been the one who’d discovered the beauty and used her in his films? Introduced her to the
limelight? Given her riches beyond her wildest dreams? Made her almost as wealthy as himself. Almost, but not quite.
Rick peered around. ‘Are
you sure this road leads someplace?’ he asked Lana sat in the passenger seat beside him, her eyes hidden behind a pair
‘Of course I’m
sure; I used to drive around these hills in my younger days, when I first got a car. When I was still dreaming of fame. I
know every road like the back of my hand.’
She didn’t look at him
as she said this. She just stared straight ahead. No doubt lost somewhere in her thoughts. And Lana had some thoughts to lose
Rick surveyed the area again.
‘Did you ever see any coyotes?’
coyotes in the Hollywood Hills?’
‘Yeah, sure, supposed
to be,’ Lana answered. ‘I’ve never seen any though.’
‘Maybe we’ll get
lucky,’ Rick said, and forced a smile. It was about the only thing he’d get lucky with under their present circumstances.
‘I once nearly ran a
raccoon over,’ Lana revealed.
‘Yep,’ said Lana.
‘It wandered straight out in the road in front of me. I had to swerve, almost near ran the car off the road.’
have put your own life at risk, just to avoid hitting a fucking raccoon!’
‘Oh, I could never hurt
a living creature. That wouldn’t be right.’
Never hurt a living creature,
that was rich, thought Rick. Okay, maybe not an animal. A cute, cuddly racoon. But what about someone as big and ugly as himself?
Oh yeah, she could hurt someone like that all right!
Rick looked around him, there
didn’t look to be any houses in sight anywhere. The road didn’t appear to be any kind of main road either. ‘We
should have stuck to Mullholland,’ he said to Lana.
boring,’ she answered, ‘I’ve travelled along it millions of times! So have you.’
‘Not much sign of life
along here! Where the hell are we?’
‘Okay, I admit, I’ve
never been up this way before,’ Lana revealed. ‘In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing the turn-off before.’
‘Oh, great,’ said
Rick. ‘Then, why did you tell me to take a left back there?’
‘I like exploring unfamiliar
‘It could be the road
up to some celebrity’s house, maybe that’s it?’ offered Rick.
‘They’ve got a
‘You ever been up to
Brett Sander’s house?’
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘You sure ’bout
that?’ Rick stared at her momentarily, narrowing his eyes.
‘I haven’t slept
with him, if that’s what you think.’
one of the few girls in Hollywood who hasn’t!’
Lana bit her lower lip and
became distant again.
After a pause, Rick continued.
‘The road up to his house goes on for miles, exactly like this.’ He looked at the seemingly endless road stretched
out up ahead. ‘Maybe not exactly like this. We should go back!’
They passed a dense cluster
of trees to the left and Rick thought he saw something moving in them. He strained to see. Then, Lana’s voice interrupted
‘Hey, watch the road!’
she yelled at him.
Rick switched his attention
to straight ahead, and saw a sharp bend not far off. ‘Sorry, hon,’ he said.
When he’d navigated
the corner, Rick looked out into the trees again. Whatever it was, it was keeping pace with the car.
‘What’s that over
there, in the trees?’ he asked Lana.
‘Where?’ She peered
over her shades where Rick was motioning and saw it. Lana turned back and said to him, ‘Think you’ve just got
Rick brought the car to a
halt in the lay-by and watched as the creature carried on running ahead. Then it stopped, and wandered onto the lay-by some
yards in front of them.
‘You little beauty!’
Rick said to himself.
He swung round and reached
into the back of the Merc and got his camera. Then he made to get out of the car.
‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m going to
take a closer look!’ he said.
‘Don’t go out
there! Are you crazy?’
‘It’s more afraid
of me, than I am of it,’ Rick reassured her.
‘I wouldn’t bet
Rick climbed out of the car
and got as near as he dared, without the risk of frightening it off. Then he started to take photos. It was the strangest
thing, but it seemed to be posing for the camera as he took them.
‘I think we got ourselves
a regular little star here!’ he called back to Lana.
But then all of a sudden the
creature changed temperament and made to come for him. Rick didn’t want to risk an attack, so he made his way hurriedly
back to the car. When he’d jumped inside, he swung the top up awkwardly, as it seemed to be giving him some trouble,
much to the amusement of Lana.
‘More afraid of you
than you are of it, huh?’ she said, eyeing him wryly over her sunglasses.
The coyote came near the window
and growled viciously. Rick recoiled with a start.
‘Maybe it doesn’t
like having its picture taken. Some “regular little stars” are temperamental!’ Lana said, sarcastically.
‘It was all right a
moment ago, now that thing looks rabid!’ Rick said peering at the animal in amazement.
‘Let’s just get
out of here!’ Lana told him.
Rick flung his camera in the
back of the car and started it up and, to Lana’s horror, began to chase the coyote in the Merc, along the road.
‘I’ll teach the
little bastard to growl at Rick Thomas!’ he said. His eyes were filled with hunger to mow the poor animal down.
‘Stop it, Rick, stop
it!’ cried Lana looking to him like he’d gone insane.
He ignored his wife’s
pleas and speeded up, then had to pull up sharp. He hit it, just as he managed to bring the Merc to a screeching halt. The
coyote fell down in front of the car. Rick reversed a few yards until they could see the prone animal.
have done that!’ Lana said, shaking her head to herself.
‘Why not? The thing
was obviously rabid or something! It needed putting out of its misery! It might have attacked someone!’
‘It’s bad luck
to kill coyotes out here.’
‘I never heard that
Rick got out and went over
to the coyote, and bent down to it. Lana cringed as he touched the animal, examining it. Then, after he’d done so, Rick
made his way back to the car.
‘Maybe you could bury
it,’ said Lana. ‘At the side of the road or somewhere? Maybe if you bury it, and don’t just leave it there,
maybe it won’t be as bad.’
be as bad?’ said Rick. ‘You’re turning out to be a real superstitious little thing, aren’t you?
Is there anything else I don’t know about you?’
‘No, of course not,
I’ve told you everything.’
‘Like you told me about
Lana’s face darkened
and she looked away from him. ‘I thought we’d gotten over that.’
‘Of course, yeah, I
forgave you, didn’t I?’ Rick said sarcastically.
Lana looked back towards him
and slipped her shades off. ‘Honey, let’s not go over old ground.’ She eased her arms around his neck and
tried to engage eye contact. When he finally did look at her, she said, ‘I love you, you do believe me, don’t
‘I’m sorry, but
you can’t expect me to not to think of it from time to time, can you? You hurt me.’
‘I know, and I’m
They kissed, led by Lana.
Rick didn’t seem as enthusiastic. When the couple pulled away from each other, he glanced back to the coyote and did
a double take.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘Where did it go?’
Rick replied, looking about the road in front of them.
Lana glanced to where the
coyote had been. The creature wasn’t there anymore. It had vanished. ‘You mustn’t have killed it,’
she said, looking relieved.
‘I checked, it was definitely
dead!’ Rick insisted.
‘Things that are “defiantly
dead”, don’t just get up and walk away.’
‘But, I could have sworn
At that moment there was a
coyote howl in the distance, which was joined, moments later, by the sound of other coyotes.
‘Let’s just get
out of here,’ Lana said.
‘That’s the best
idea you’ve had all day,’ Rick told her.
A few miles further down the
road they encountered a small town.
According to the sign they
were passing as they entered it, it was called:
‘I’m sure I’ve
heard of this town somewhere,’ Rick said. He glanced around at the houses. ‘This is nuts, the whole goddam town
looks like a bunch of old film sets thrown together haphazardly! Have you noticed?’
Sure enough, as they drove
to the centre of town, they indeed passed houses and buildings that resembled those of film sets, and seemed familiar somehow.
There was even one eerie-looking
home that resembled the Bates’ house from Psycho.
When they arrived at the centre
of town, Rick spotted a hotel. Not, fortunately, resembling the Bates’ Motel, but seeming familiar nevertheless. He
pulled up at a parking space in the car park at the side of it and peered up to the darkening sky.
dark, what you say we get a room for the night and …’
He smiled to her and raised
a suggestive eyebrow.
A couple of minutes later
they were stood in the lobby of the hotel. Rick advancing towards the desk. When he reached it, he rang the bell. Lana admired
the décor as she waited.
A man appeared from the back.
Rick did a double take. The guy was the image of Vincent Price.
‘Hey honey, take a look
at this!’ Rick said back over his shoulder.
Lana looking towards the man, who was smiling politely.
‘He’s the image
of Vincent Price, the horror actor!’
‘People have made the
comparison, sir,’ said the man in a voice also very similar to the great screen actor.
‘You even talk like
him!’ Rick said, grinning.
The man looked towards Lana,
as she approached the desk. ‘And you, my dear … may I say that you have an extraordinary resemblance to Marilyn
Lana was used to this, and
proceeded to do an impression of the legendary screen idol, delivering a line from Some Like It Hot.
‘That’s very good,’
said Price, after she‘d finished. ‘Ever thought of being in the movies?’
‘I am in the
movies, I’m an actress.’ she revealed to Price, beaming.
He widened his eyes in pleasant
surprise. ‘An actress?’ He switched his attention to Rick. ‘And this lucky gentleman, is …’
‘Rick Thomas, Hollywood
film director, my card.’ Rick handed Price his business card.
The man glanced at the card,
then back to Rick. ‘I trust you’ll be wanting a room, Mr Thomas? For you and your lovely wife?’ His eyes
fell on Lana again.
Some minutes later, Price
was showing the couple their room. ‘This is your room, I trust it will be satisfactory?’
They gazed around at the sparsely
furnished room. It wasn’t the five star palaces they were used to, by any standards, but it would have to do.
‘You know you really
do look like Vincent Price, you know?’ Rick said again to the man.
‘Will there be anything
else you require? Something to eat sent up, perhaps? Champagne, maybe?’ Price paused, then said, ‘Severed head?’
They both shot a look at the
He grinned. ‘Just my
little joke, I slip one in for people who recognise the comparison between me and our dear old Vincent.’
And with that, the Price look-alike
left them to it.
‘I still can’t
believe how much he looks like Vincent Price,’ Rick said after the man had gone.
‘Well,’ said Lana
pushing her arms around her husband and pulling him to her until their lips almost met, ‘never mind about that, let’s
Rick pushed her away. ‘Maybe
later, hon, but first don’t you want to check out the nightlife in this place? I wonder who’ll we’ll run
into next? Bela Lugosi working at the gas station?’
Lana chewed on her lower lip
and watched as Rick went over to the window. ‘What’s the matter?’ she asked, when she noticed something
seemed to have caught his attention outside.
‘I thought I saw a cowboy,’
he answered. ‘With a gun holster and everything!’
‘You don’t need
to drink to see things, do you?’ She offered a smile, which went unseen as eh was looking out of the window.
‘The strange thing was,
he looked like John Wayne!’ Rick turned back towards her. ‘You think I’m kidding, right?’
Lana just stared at him.
soon see, he was heading for the saloon, why don’t we head over there?’
Rick’s eyes ignited.
‘Yeah, they got a saloon here like in the cowboy movies, right across the street!’
Some moments later they were
making their way towards the very same saloon. As they were about to enter through the authentic swing doors, Laurel and Hardy
passed them on the way out.
Oliver Hardy raised his hat
to a bemused Lana as he stepped by her and said, ‘Ma-am.’ Stan Laurel just smiled in the Stan Laurel way, took
his bowler off, and scratched his head, then was on his way too.
The pair watched them walk
on?’ asked Lana.
‘I’ve got it!’
said Rick, ‘it’s a theme town! Like Disneyland, only it’s Hollywood actors! What do you bet this bar is
full of look-alikes?’
Rick was right, as soon as
the couple entered the saloon; they were met with famous faces from the movie world of yesteryear staring back at them. Just
a cursory glance around found: James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, WC Fields, Doris Day and Groucho Marx.
‘Is this where all the
Hollywood look-alikes go to die, or what?’ said Rick.
‘Or where all the Hollywood
actors go to die,’ suggested Lana.
They exchanged wry looks,
then entered the saloon.
As they made their way inside,
the pair stared in wonder at what they saw. John Wayne, who Rick had seen earlier, was stood at the bar. He looked over and
tipped his hat to Lana. Rick gave his wife a “told you so” look. And the barman was none other than Charlie Chaplin.
The couple approached the
‘What will it be, sir?’
asked the Charlie Chaplin look-alike.
Rick ordered their drinks.
‘If you and the lady
would like to sit down, sir, I’ll have waitress bring your drinks over.’
Then, Chaplin proceeded to
walk away and tripped. But as he fell he flipped over and landed on his ass. He rubbed it and winced, then grinned and got
to his feet again.
Rick and Lana exchanged glances
once more, then made their way over to a vacant table, passing Humphrey Bogart and Doris Day sat at one table having an engaged
conversation about something. They glanced casually to the couple as they passed.
Rick and Lana seated themselves.
Rick did another double take.
Sat at another table in close proximity to the couple was Cary Grant, and he wasn’t alone. Sat at the table with him
were Audrey Hepburn, Mae West and Jean Harlow.
Lucky Cary, thought Rick,
in the company of those three gorgeous women. But then, Grant always was a charmer, at least in the films he’d seen
‘Have you seen who the
waitress is?’ said Lana nodding over Rick’s shoulder, and raising her eyebrows.
Rick looked across to the
woman bringing their drinks over. A busty blonde with one hell of a swagger.
‘– Marilyn Monroe!’
Lana said, her eyes illuminating.
‘No, that’s not
Marilyn Monroe,’ Rick told her, ‘that’s Jayne Mansfield.’
Mansfield sauntered over,
like only she can.
‘You’re the mirror
image of her,’ said Rick, looking her over, as she set their drinks down in front of them.
‘The mirror image of
who, doll?’ she asked.
‘Why, I am Jayne
‘Well, I think so.’
Rick looked her over again and his eyes came to rest on her breasts. Lana kicked him under the table and made a face. Rick
gave a forced cough. ‘But I’m afraid I’m spoken for. This is my lovely wife.’ He indicated Lana.
‘Why, Marilyn? I
do declare!’ Mansfield said.
‘Yeah, she does bear
a passing resemblance,’ said Rick.
Mansfield looked Lana up and
down. ‘More than passing, I’d say, doll.’
And with that, she wiggled
‘What the hell is this
place?’ Lana leaned over and whispered to Rick.
‘No idea, honey, they
certainly keep this gig quiet though. Why would they do that? You’d have thought they’d advertise this place!’
‘Well, I don’t
like it,’ said Lana. She looked around. ‘It’s creepy.’
‘Relax, it’s fun,’
said Rick and looked over to Mansfield, who blew him a kiss.
‘Yeah,’ said Lana,
‘you fancy the Jayne Mansfield, that’s why you want to stick around.’ She looked down at her now seemingly
inadequate bosom. ‘Puts me to shame.’
Then a shadow fell on the
couple. ‘Howdy, folks,’ a familiar voice with a kind of nervous southern drawl said. ‘Glad you could drop
by our little town.’
They both twisted round to
… Jimmy Stewart stood
there, grinning at them.
He held out his hand for Rick
to shake. ‘Aw, I’m the mayor of this town,’ he said. ‘Welcome to Bedford Falls!’
‘I don’t believe
it, James Stewart!’ said Rick. ‘James Stewart is the mayor!’ Then he had a think to himself. ‘That’s
where I’ve heard that name of this town before!’
Lana stared at him, frowning.
Falls! It’s the name of the town in It’s a Wonderful Life!’
Rick shook the man’s
hand. And then Stewart took hold of Lana’s hand raised it to his lips and kissed the back of it.
‘If there’s anything
you folks need while you’re here,’ he said after he’d done so, ‘you just let me know.’
Stewart wandered away. Rick
and Lana looked to each other, then hurriedly finished their drinks, rose to their feet, and left. They hadn’t made
it across the street, back to their hotel, when the entire clientele of the saloon came out behind them and just stood there
staring at them.
‘I’m sorry, have
we done something wrong?’ Rick asked.
Stewart took if upon himself
to give him a reply. ‘Aw, well, the lady might not have done anything wrong, but then you … you have, haven’t
‘What? What have I done?’
Rick wanted to know.
‘Aw, you know, mister,
‘I don’t –
what have I done to offend you?’
Stewart didn’t give
him an answer, after a few more moments staring at the couple; the crowd of famous faces went back inside the saloon.
Rick turned to Lana. ‘You
were right, honey, this place is weird!’
Lana didn’t hear him;
she looked to be thinking about something.
Rick asked her.
Lana pulled herself from her
thoughts. ‘Oh, nothing … yeah, think we must have stumbled into Weirdsville, California!’
Later, when the couple were
back in their room trying to decide whether to leave or stay, in the strangest town they’d ever visited, Rick wandered
over to the window once more.
They were congregated outside
the saloon again, all of them, he observed, immediately looking up in his direction as he appeared.
‘They’re all just
stood out there, staring up at this room,’ Rick said to Lana over his shoulder. ‘I don’t like this, not
He came away from the window
and sat on the bed where Lana was sat, and noticed that she appeared to be lost in thought again.
‘What is the
matter with you?’ he asked her.
‘Do you know what I
might have done to offend these people?’
‘Well, I know this is
going to sound stupid, but I think it might have something to do with you running down that coyote.’
‘What! But how did they
know? How could they possibly … And why? Surely you can’t seriously believe that?’
Lana slipped into thought
again. ‘Ever since, Calvin died … I’ve become more superstitious.’
Rick rose from the bed, angered.
‘Oh, that’s right; bring your dead lover into it again! Wasn’t it enough that I had to watch all those stupid
memorial shows about the fuck? Saying how great an actor he would have been, if he’d lived? That he hadn’t reached
his true potential yet, the best we yet to come? The guy was just a womanising prick! Nothing more!’
‘Oh, let’s just
get out of here!’ Lana said rising to her feet.
The couple crept down the
stairs and checked that Price wasn’t around anywhere. Then they looked towards the back of the hotel, and noticed there
was another exit.
They made their way towards
If they went out the back
way, the crowd of townsfolk gathered at the front wouldn’t see them until they were safely in their car and heading
in the opposite direction out of town.
Once in the car park at the
side of the hotel, the pair hurriedly made their way towards the Merc. But the crowd appeared at the end of the car park,
blocking their exit before the couple had a chance to get in the car.
a familiar voice said.
The couple stared at the man
approaching them from the crowd. It looked like Calvin, Lana’s dead lover.
said, producing a puzzled look.
Rick, ‘they’ve got a Calvin-fucking- Rhodes look-alike here too! That’s just what I need!’ He turned
to Lana. ‘You go ahead honey; you rekindle your fucking passion with dead boy here! But I’m out of here!’
He made towards the car. Lana
stared for a moment or two at the Calvin look-alike, then followed her husband to the Merc.
‘Aw, I’m afraid
we can’t let you leave, mister!’ said Stewart.
Calvin reached in the car
and snatched the keys from the ignition.
‘Give me my keys, fuckface!’
Rick yelled at him. ‘Give me my fucking keys!’
Calvin grinned, then tossed
them into some bushes at the side of the car park. Rick jumped out of the car and looked over to where they’d been thrown,
then back to Calvin. ‘What did you do that for, prick!’
‘I’ve told you,’
interjected Stewart, ‘we really can’t let you leave, not after you ran down one of our brothers.’
towards Stewart. ‘What?’