Lost Souls

Hollywood Town

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Hollywood Town

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 shades.

‘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 herself in!

Rick surveyed the area again. ‘Did you ever see any coyotes?’


‘Aren’t there 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.’

‘You shouldn’t 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.

‘Mullholland Drive’s 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 territory.’

‘It could be the road up to some celebrity’s house, maybe that’s it?’ offered Rick.

‘They’ve got a long driveway!’

‘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.’

‘Well, you’re 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 his concentration.

‘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 lucky, bud!’

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?’ asked Lana.

‘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 on it.’

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.

‘You shouldn’t 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 before.’

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.

‘It’s dead,’ he said.

‘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.’

‘Won’t 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 the affair?’

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 you?’

‘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 sorry.’

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?’ asked Lana.

‘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.

‘Weird,’ observed Lana.

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.

‘It’s getting 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.

‘What?’ asked 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 Monroe?’

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 man.

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 fuck!’

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.

‘Well, you’ll 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 away astounded.

‘What’s going 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 bar.

‘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 him in.

‘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.

‘Jayne Mansfield.’

‘Why, I am Jayne Mansfield, baby!’

‘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 away again.

‘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 see …

… 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.

‘Bedford 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 you?’

‘What? What have I done?’ Rick wanted to know.

‘Aw, you know, mister, you know.’

‘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.

‘What’s wrong?’ 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 one bit.’

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.

‘You’ll think I’m crazy.’

‘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 it.

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.

‘Going somewhere?’ a familiar voice said.

The couple stared at the man approaching them from the crowd. It looked like Calvin, Lana’s dead lover.

‘Calvin?’ she said, producing a puzzled look.

‘Great,’ said 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.’

Rick spun towards Stewart. What?

‘Aw, don’t come the innocent, mister,’ the legendary star said. ‘You ran down our brother, purposelessly.’

Then Rick and Lana watched in amazement as the crowd began to undergo some kind of metamorphosis. Their clothes tore from them; they began to grow hair and change shape, and then shrink slightly, as the entire crowd became coyotes. The metamorphosis complete, the number all growled ferociously in Rick’s direction.

All, that is, except Stewart and Calvin, who remained human. Calvin looked to Lana. ‘You haven’t done anything wrong, babe, you can stay here with us … with me, live here in this town, we can be together again. What you say?’

Lana glanced to Rick.

‘You’re not actually considering it, are you?’ Rick said to her. ‘Are you crazy!’

‘You’ll fit in just great with all of us,‘ Calvin continued to Lana. ‘After all, you always did look like Marilyn Monroe, and we ain’t got a Monroe!’

‘Aw, yeah, it’s what this town needs,’ agreed Stewart, ‘Marilyn Monroe – the Queen of Hollywood! What do you say, honey?’

Lana looked at Rick, then at Calvin, and then walked over to Calvin.

‘No, you can’t! Lana! Doesn’t our time together mean anything?’

Rick got his answer when Calvin and Lana embraced and kissed enthusiastically. Like the screen kiss at the end of a romantic movie. He looked to the ground, not bearing to watch as his wife and her ex-lover exchanged such passion. When he looked up again, they were staring towards him, Calvin wearing the smuggest of grins.

‘He’s just a coyote, hon, he’s not even Rhodes!’ Rick offered, hoping to make Lana see sense.

She looked to Calvin and then back to Rick. ‘Hollywood is based on make-believe, you of all people should know that!’

And with that, Rhodes and Stewart became coyotes too, and after a chorus of howls, they and the rest of the pack all charged forwards, intent on ripping the film director to shreds.


The Hills can be so very silent at night in certain parts. Except, of course, for the occasional howl of a coyote. A wailing banshee in the night. A lost soul that yearns for a taste of stardom. Just like all the sleeping souls in slumber in the mansions scattered around it.

Copyright David Barton 2008

David Barton is the editor of Lost Souls Magazine, his fiction has appeared in the "fan fiction" section of the website for American horror author, Nicholas Grabowsky  http://www.downwarden.com and in the now defunct 31 Eyes ezine.  More info can be found at: http://chainsawhell.tripod.com/homepage

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