Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Beauty Pavilion (crash WALKER Chapter 0)


Although Crash Walker wasn’t a convicted killer he still couldn’t freely walk around Sunset Boulevard as he pleased, especially under the scrutiny of Hollywood tour buses floating up and down the street. So he donned the darkest pair of sunglasses money could buy and returned to his favorite watering hole, Schwab’s Drug Store for brunch with his actor pals.

His fat buddy Tony wasn’t wearing his Julius Caesar toupee today, letting it shine, but he was ragging Mr. Walker.
“Look at you, just look at you, eating with sunglasses like Ray Charles. Does food taste better when you can’t see it?”
“Come to think of it, it does”, Crash ate with his head hung down, avoiding eye contact with the other diners. “If I can’t see how nasty it looks it tastes much better”.
“You can’t eat with your head hung down, it’s not natural. You’ll choke!”
“Shut up”.
“Lookit, Buddy Boy, they way you’re sitting, your wind pipe is bent over your esophagus, you’re going to choke on your toast, a strip of bacon will strangle you!”
“Don’t you have a screen test to bomb out on? COUGH, COUGH, COUGH”, his face turned purple as he choked on a piece of toast. Tony diligently banged on Crash’s back as he gulped down some steaming hot coffee to sink the offending piece of bread.
“AH! AH! AH! What did I tell you? What did I tell you?”
“Don’t you have an audition for a toilet paper commercial to go to?”

Albert the dog-faced actor piled into the booth with a puzzled pooch look on his face. “Hey, Harold, what’s with the lunettes?”
“Don’t call me Harold, I’m Crash, ya dig?”
An equally doggy waitress glided up to the booth with a pot of coffee. “Some freshening up, ya movie stars. How about you, Big Spender? Your customary coffee and toast?”
“Yeah, the usual, and hold the sarcasm”, Albert whined. “Say, Crash, I know a great way you can cash in on this Bill Flagg murder. Why don’t you write a book called ‘If I Did It’?”
“WHAT?”
“Y’know, you could walk us through the murder, pretending what would happen if you really did kill that pompous fake cop bastard”.
Tony’s face turned red. “Are you crazy? What kind of an idiot would kill somebody and then write a book called ‘If I Did It’?”
“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard”, Crash shook his head. “No dice”.
Albert lifted his hands supplicatingly. “Just think of the payload you would-“

Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch a blind ten-year old black boy walk up to their booth led by a German Shepherd almost twice his size.
“Mister Crash Walker?” the kid jerked his head towards the gang.
“What did I tell you?” Tony blurted. “Even a blind kid can pick you out with those sunglasses on”.
“Shut up! Over here, kid”. The boy walked towards the sound of Crash’s voice as the German Shepherd sniffed the food on the table. He handed an envelope to Crash, whispered “God bless”, and left.
“Well, obviously he didn’t want your autograph”.
“Shut up, Tony”.

Crash opened up the envelope, pulled out a beautifully handwritten note that said, “Mister Crash Walker, I have some inside information on the murder of William Flagg that I am sure you will find valuable. Meet me at The Beauty Pavilion at 8760 West Sunset Boulevard around noon. Ask for Dr. Gastmeyer.
P.S. Don’t be late.
P.S.S. Just kidding.
P.S.S.S. No, I’m not. Don’t be late, my time is valuable”.

Cruising in the Corvair down Sunset Boulevard Crash and Tony listened to The Roger Christian Show on 93-KHJ. He was playing “You’re So Good To Me” by The Beach Boys and the sun was already out and boiling the brunch in their stomachs. “Is this it?” Crash asked. “8760 West Sunset?” He pulled up by a weird futuristic coliseum – type structure.
Tony looked at the note and said, “This looks goofy enough to be it". They walked down a narrow driveway towards a mirrored glass door. There was a little intercom box by the door. Crash pushed the button on the box.
“Yes? Yesyes?”
“Crash Walker for Doctor Gastmeyer”.
The door buzzed and the guys walked in to the waiting room. There were statues and paintings of Venus, Aphrodite and Freyja throughout the room with incoming patients seated waiting to be served. A man with his nose bandaged held his head down reading a magazine, a beautifully made-up woman took her sunglasses off to reveal two black eyes, an effeminate man nervously squirmed in his chair with a large brace around his neck trying not to be noticed.

“Yes, are you Crash Walker?” the secretary asked Tony.
“Heck no, don’t you watch TV?”
Crash piped up, “Like I said, we’re here to see Dr. Gastmeyer”.
A nurse looking remarkably similar to the secretary opened up the pink door to their right and led them inside. The effeminate man continued his squirming.

They entered a completely white, overlit room with four surgical chairs several feet apart with patients lying back in them, all with their heads covered save a few holes cut into the covers for operation. One for eyes, one for the nose, one for the lips, etc. Nurses attended each patient, but the most interesting person in the room was a woman with a blonde beehive hairstyle in a surgical mask and gloves bent over a patient. She must have been at least six foot seven, an Amazon.

She straightened up and looked taller then everyone else, quietly instructing the nurse on treating the patient. She glanced to her side, saw Crash and walked over. Removing her gloves glamorously, she bounded towards them, “Mr. Walker, I am Doctor Hilda Gastmeyer”, she put her slender hand out, her huge blue eyes expressive under the surgical mask. “Welcome to The Beauty Pavilion, more than just a clinic, but a new beginning!”

“Please to meet you”, Crash smiled, “I brought my friend Tony Romano with me. We didn’t even know about this place until now. It’s so out of the ordinary!”
Dr. Gastmeyer pulled off her surgical mask and smiled, “Yes, I have the most gorgeous factory in the world. I manufacture glamour with my colleagues to keep Hollywood beautiful!”
“This is quite an impressive clinic you have here, Doc”, Crash looked around. “Am I imagining things or are you operating on several patients at the same time?”
“Yes, I’m keeping my production moving just as you would a conveyor belt, keeping pretty in a constant state of motion”, Crash noticed her lips not moving smoothly together, something unnatural in the way they synchronized to the words she was saying.

“Hmmmm! I suppose you could do a lot of alterations on my looks, wouldn’t you?”
“Absolutely not, you are a very photogenic man, every feature perfectly proportioned”, she grinned, and then frowned at Tony, “but your friend, ugh!” She disgustedly shrugged her shoulders. “Fixing his exterior shell would take many, many appointments!”
Tony frowned at her.
“Can we talk about the note you sent me?” Crash asked, craning his head up to her. She had eight inches on him.
“Of course, my office is down the hall!”

Dr. Gastmeyer was so tall when she crossed her legs behind her desk you still saw a lot of leg behind the desk. She lit a cigarette and offered one to the guys, who declined. Her office had silver wallpaper with a few boring certificates and diplomas on the wall. In the corner were two bird cages, one with an African Gray parrot and the other with a Blue Amazon. They nervously paced on their perches, occasionally ruffling their feathers.

“So, I read everything in the paper about the Flagg murder case. This Mr. Flagg, did you know him well…outside of the argument you had with him at the party?”
“A little bit, not too much”.
“You know he dabbled in drugs? On television he preached against them but he actually indulged in quite a few pharmaceuticals”.
“Really?” Walker raised an eyebrow. “This is hot news. Why didn’t you go to the cops with this information? You could have saved me a lot of trouble.”
Gastmeyer smiled quietly and blew out smoke. “Mr. Flagg and I went to the same supplier. I can’t jeopardize The Beauty Pavilion with that kind of scandal, not even for you, my perfect looking friend. I’m sorry”.
“I’m glad you’re sorry”.
“How do you like that?” Tony shook his head, “of all the screwy-“
“Shut up, Tony. Alright, I’ll let the cops know about them and I’ll keep you out of it”.

Gastmeyer’s intercom buzzed. “What is it?”
“Doctor, it’s your husband on the line”.
She spoke into the speaker. “Hello, dear, what is it? Quickly”.
“Did you talk to the movie star yet? The bank’s been calling, and –“ She quickly snatched up the phone, cutting out his voice on the speaker. Tony nudged Crash and pointed under the desk to her right arm, which had heavily applied makeup covering marks along her forearm.
“Darling, I’m with a client right now. We can discuss this later”.
Crash stared closer at the silver wallpaper and noticed that the corners were peeling and there were cracks in some of the seams.
“I know, but it will be taken care of. Now! I need to go, love you, Hugo”.

She hung up and collected herself, smiling at Crash, putting out her cigarette. “What was the topic? Refresh me, glamorous man”.
“You have the dope, I mean information, give it to me and I’ll let the cops know and you won’t even be involved”.
“Well, Mr. Walker, knowledge is power, and knowledge also means money. How much is this information worth to you?”
“Hey!” Tony yelled.
“Cool it. I’m not good at playing guessing games, Doctor. Why don’t you tell me your asking price and I’ll just tell you if I can afford it”.
“Well, you look like an attractive star with strong prospects, how does Twenty-Five Thousand dollars sound?”
“Are you nuts?” Tony yelled again. “Jesus!”
“No, nada, no soap. I don’t have that kind of money to bang around”.
“Well”, Dr. Gastmeyer rolled her eyes regretfully.

“LALALALA”, the African Gray sang from its cage.
“The fucking movie star! The fucking movie star! Grease him for the dough!” The Blue Amazon sounded just like the man named Hugo from the intercom.
“I have a habit to support. Where’s my syringe?” The African Gray chanted, his eyes glazed staring at Crash.
“The loan sharks are gonna bust my hump!” The Hugo voice piped up.
“Verdammt! Verdammt!” the bird bobbed his head.
“Soak the pretty bastard, scheisse!” The parrots now yelled with their eyes glazed and their crests folding up.

Dr. Gastmeyer jumped up from her desk and tore off her scapular and threw it over the cages in an effort to shut them up. They still muttered remarks but it was too late.
“I knew it, I knew it!” Tony banged his fist on the arm of his chair.
“Sounds like a shakedown to me”, Crash cussed. “We’re leaving and you can forget about the twenty-five grand, I’ll pass on your fake information”.
“I warn you, sir”, she regained her composure, “I have a powerful team of attorneys. What was discussed today will not leave this office”.
“But we will. Fake looks, fake information”.
Tony sneered, “And you didn’t think I was good lookin’. At least I’m not a damn junkie!”
“Get out of my office! Hier raus!” She yelled, throwing her big glass bowl ashtray at the wall. The boys trooped out, past the cloned secretary and the hapless, unhappy, super-bandaged but glamorous Hollywood patients in the clinic.

“Shitfire. What a waste of time”, Crash sighed as they got back to the car. “You know, the prettiest thing I’ve seen today was the Rocky and Bullwinkle statue”.
“Hells bells, kid, let’s drive by it one more time!” Tony yelled and then ripped a vicious fart.

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!

1 comment:

Busy Gal said...

Awesome!!! Where do I start? Thanks. More Crash Walker!!!