Crash Walker woke up to the ugly music of a young girl mirthfully shrieking interspersed with poolside splishing and splashing. There was a load of happy horseplay going on outside his apartment window. He twitched and convulsed with shaking leg until he was awake, feeling his head throb painfully against the sofa arm rest, his neck twisted at a dead man’s angle. Since both head and neck were competing to see which hurt him more, he cursed and slid off the sofa, his clothes disheveled and stinking of rye whiskey.
He hobbled over to the kitchenette and loaded the percolator with too much ground coffee. He rubbed his hung over skull and looked around his apartment, wondering how he got there. The last thing he remembered was passing out in a GTO with heiress April Van Winter. She was long gone, obviously.
Walker flipped on his portable black & white television.
“McIver Ford and Mercury, two blocks west of the Firestone exit in South Gate! Spot and I’ll see you here!”
“And now back to the Los Angeles Arrows game, brought to you by Mister Franks all-beef wieners!”
The baseball game on the television was loud and made Walker’s head ring, so he flipped the dial, but all he got was snow on the other channels.
“Shit, fucking lousy TV”, he muttered, lighting a cigarette bent in half. The ciggie gave him grief staying lit since it was almost torn in two pieces. He gave up and turned off the set.
He pulled out the reel-to-reel tape recorder in his closet and set it on the cluttered coffee table, shoving coffee cups, script sides, potato chip bags and hair cream off in the process. A few boxes with tape spools sat in his dusty book case, and he pored through them, squinting his eyes at the various titles.
He grabbed the spool of Shakespeare soliloquies read by him and he threaded it into the machine, snapped up the record lever, and began his story.
“These are the facts as known to me in the spring of 1966, Los Angeles, California. I am one Crash Walker, 25 years old, only child to a separated, fragmented, nay, scrambled couple. I’m the co-star of a Western television series called ‘Wranglers’ Canyon’ – actually I’m the only reason why you’d want to watch that historically inaccurate piece of shit. Since I’ve done this show I’ll probably never set foot in Montana, Oklahoma, and the majority of the United States. I’ve been fired from my Western series about ten to fifteen times over various infractions real and imagined. Some director thought I punched him in the nose, breaking it in five places, I mean shit….he was probably on a bender and fell down a flight of stairs at The Cock ‘N Bull, but they blame it on me. A producer once accused me of pushing him out of his Cadillac while he was driving it, they blame me for everything, Jesus….”
Walker sidled up to the bathroom and applied some darkening pancake makeup on his face, studying the results in the mirror. He then penciled in a moustache, frowned at the results and wiped it off.
“What I did do was punch out a washed up, has-been film director with a Napoleon complex – that got me sacked for a little while, I don’t remember how long. He couldn’t stay sober long enough to finish an episode of the show. Most directors can wrap within a week with their eyes closed and both arms broken. I know this for a fact because I’ve broken a few of those arms, ha ha”.
He brushed his hair back, tied it with a girl’s hair band, and took a blonde wig off the head mannequin off the counter top. He combed the wig down like Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones and made an angry face. A pair of Ray-Bans completed the badass look.
“I got back on the show because I’m the star, the Big Kahuna tuna, without me the ratings sag like an old lady’s mattress. I was cool but then this right-wing fascist dickhead Bill Flagg shows up at a party giving me shit when everybody else was booing his lame-ass show. I wasn’t even watching it, I was trying to get a little fun and games with my suntan queen. Flagg picks a fight with me and I managed to boot him a good one up his shit box. In the meantime the suntan slut bailed on me so fast it made my head spin like Knucklehead Smiff, and then the next day I hear Super Asshole’s dead. And the cops think I did it. One of them even clawed my Johnson, twisted fucker”.
Walker took off the blonde wig and sunglasses, hand brushing his hair all messy the way he liked it. He grabbed a tissue and began wiping off the dark makeup from his face.
“What else? I gotta get this all down before the tape runs out. My Hamlet was never any good, anyway….I’m a better Banquo, a better Othello, I can do Marc Anthony, I should tape those readings instead, yeah…where was I? Okay, okay…the cops pulled me in and tried to frame on this jerk-off’s murder, he was found dead the morning after the party with a broken neck and just scarred all over with needle marks, Junk City. I can swing a brutal right hook but I sure as hell can’t break anybody’s neck. I was crashed out in a puddle of pukey in the Hollywood Hills anyway. They kicked me off the show, AGAIN. Claimed the ‘scandal’ would hurt the show, which sucked a rusty garbage can in the ratings anyway”.
He walked back into the living room and plopped on the sofa, lighting a cigarette. The swimming pool outside his window was lit up with tiki lamps of various colors, making the patio look more like a circus than a luau. An old man in a bathing suit still lay by the pool, a cocktail in his hand.
“There was still work, though. Toy commercials, the last one I ran out on when I saw a bunch of creeps follow me around set with real guns, not toy guns. This weird heiress from Italy drove me to the sanitarium my Dad was staying at and he had a major freak-out in front of me. That was a bad scene so I had to drink it off, dang, I still need to drink it off. That girl sure was fine, though, I wonder how much she’s worth? I gotta connect with her again. Well, it’s just a matter of time before they call me back on that show again. Let’s see what their excuse is this time”.
The tape to the right was almost running out. It was only a half-hour reel.
“This is CW signing off, guilty of everything but the crime that’s been stamped on his head”.
He switched off the tape player, rewound the tape, and placed the spool back in its box. He wrote in fountain pen on the box, “Hollywood Tragedy”.
Waiting for the coffee to percolate, he picked up the unplugged mouthpiece to the phone and plugged it into the base. When he did he heard the phone click several times as if someone else was jogging the connection. “Hey, hey, hey, somebody there? Testing one two three dickhead”, he said in a fake Italian accent, and instantly heard a dial tone.
“Hey, Helen”, he forced three drags out of his dying cigarette, “Did I get any calls since Monday? Jerry Carlton from the advertising agency says I’m fired, huh? What else? Some guy said I’ll fry in Hell for killing an American hero, what? You got three of those just yesterday? Ha, sorry. Sounds like the Police Department, huh? Great, I owe you one – candy for Christmas, yeah, the biggest Whitman assortment your tummy can hold...yeah, this time you’re getting it, no welshing this time, I really mean it. Yeah, kisses, babe”. He hung up.
The phone rang again right away. “Walker?”
“It’s Tony, baby. What’s shakin’, Brother Rat?”
“Better my dick than my ass”, Walker noted the percolator leaking all over the stove. Can’t anything work right for a change?
“You lucky dog, they’re putting you back on ‘Wrangler’s Canyon’, and as a guest star. That means more money! How did you swing that, you son-of-a-bitch?”
“What are you talkin’ about?”
“Didn’t you read the trades today? Your agent didn’t call you?”
“No, man, I’ve been out all day, and I think my phone’s on the fritz”.
“Call your agent, paisan. Money’s calling! Do me a big one and get me some lines on the show. Don’t forget your frien-“
“Yeah, of course”, Crash hung up on him, and then walked over to his bathroom window and found his car mysteriously parked across the street. How the hell did it get there? He didn’t remember driving it home. And what happened to April Van Winter?
The following morning Crash Walker got into makeup and wardrobe and read his overly simple sides, grappling with lines like, “Injuns, down Little Big Horn River way, take cover neighbors”.
The complete edition of CRASH WALKER will be available in eBook form on August 2015 via Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Noble Nook and other eReaders. Don't miss it!