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Sunday, April 6, 2014

(”and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply…”)…Genesis 1:28

    
 
 
For Tuyet, Katrina, KaSandra, and Luc
 
"THE GUMSHOE DIARIES:
Father Hollyweird"
 

Prologue

Los Angeles, California, November 24, 2009

            Richard Wallace Roode is the name, technically anyway, but most people just call me Whitey on account of the blonde mop on the top of my pointed head. I earn my keep these days as a private investigator in Los Angeles, California, the City of Angels. No small thanks mind you to the LAPD who sponsored my self employed status by allowing me to choose between early retirement (about ten years early) and a ten to fifteen year all expenses paid vacation at the San Quentin Hotel and Resort. What was my crime you ask? Wish I knew. Apparently that's still top secret as I've yet to be formally charged of any wrong doing beyond my unhealthy lack of respect for authority. Suffice to say the jury in that kangaroo court will be perpetually out until I clear my name, which is exactly what I intend to do one of these days. But that's ancient history and I'm really not in the mood to kick a sleeping dog. Note to self, it could be time for a change of scenery. Maybe Frisco, I've got friends there? Nah, it's way too cold and too foggy. Maybe San Diego, I always did like that town it's where I did boot before shipping out back in the day. Nice weather, nicer beaches, and not too far from the action in LA? Huh, we'll see I guess.

            So, being the kinda guy I am, I scotch taped a flyer onto the newspaper kiosks outside of the small bar conveniently located on the ground floor of the Alexandria Hotel where I live. The joint's a once prominent downtown brownstone from circa 1930 or something like that. The dingy bar downstairs is where I 'take' all my meetings as they say in Tinsel Town. The old girl is a little run down by today's standards and she's been downgraded from posh hotel to a low rent apartment building. But it's home sweet home for yours truly, and where I earn my living. Some people might wonder why I stick with this kind of work. I've got a short answer for them. Because I'm too old a dog to learn new tricks and chasing mean bad guys is all I know how to do, that's why! If that sounds bitter it's only because it is, sue me! Alright, so I'm a little bitter, but I'm not a hot head. I'm a realist actually, raised on the premise that it's okay to lose a battle as long as you win the war. After all patience is a virtue so the say and perseverance is omnipotent, am I right? Anyhow that's my bio, take it or leave it.

            Oh well, getting back to this journal entry. Recently I re-learned a universal axiom after working the Sally November murder case. Specifically that nobody's guaranteed a tomorrow. That's a sad fact of life and one I first learned at the tender age 18 while in serving in Southeast Asia with Uncle Sam and the USMC. The point is that I've been doing some soul searching lately about the sanctity of life. Some people may be surprised to know that I even have a soul to search. Now that's just plain mean and really not the case at all. I'm human like everyone else and contrary to popular opinion I do have a conscience. Unfortunate events occurred during that murder investigation, events that sadly cost my ex-wife Rhonda/Ronald her/his life, due directly or indirectly to her connection to me. I can't help but feel responsible, and the guilt eats at me when I try to sleep each night. It makes me want to make sense of things. We didn't have your typical hostile post divorce relationship remaining close at a distance if that makes any sense. Sure, she left me a long time ago, running off with another woman (don't ask), and that was rough and I didn't take it very well. Come to think of it that was when my problems with the LAPD brass started. Related? Probably, but who gives a shit now. Forgive and forget my old mother always said, paraphrasing scripture as she remembered it. The fact is Rhonda was a good person and as far as I'm concerned she didn't deserve the ending that fate had in store for her. Bitter pill to swallow, but ya know whenever the question is why the answer is rarely adequate. Why questions, especially emotionally charged ones need answers attached to a time machine. If only H.G Wells and Albert Einstein could have been one person with a Siamese brain. Man, the prayers their genius might have answered.

            Seriously, the subject of life and death has been on my mind lately, specifically the notion of whether or not tomorrows are guaranteed, and if they aren't then what about today? Perplexing concept, one I've never given much thought to before now. But the aftermath of the Sally November case coupled with current events, specifically the wild scene outside The Egyptian Theater last week, prompted me to ponder such things again. What happened at the Egyptian you ask? Well, in a nutshell, a controversial part time activist film maker / full time Catholic Priest was premièring his latest work, an Indie film that poked at the pro-choice crowd in his new movie "1st Commandment."

            I know what you're thinking, a powder keg of a title! If you ask me tackling that subject and that particular group essentially on their home turf was risky business. This is California after all, and could be considered Mecca-West for the leftists (NYC being Mecca-East). But the local media loves this Padre, referring to him affectionately in print as Father Nick. The charismatic filmmaker and former semi-pro footballer from Shannonbridge, Ireland had built quite a following. Throngs of people packed St. Anthony's whenever he presided over Mass to listen to his colorful homilies and receive communion from him. You know how it is, people flock to a flame now matter how bright it burns, hero worship, go figure? Even more people flocked to the theaters to enjoy his movies as well. Father Nick's films tackled very real social issues, openly and honestly, offering faith in God and Humanity take your pick, as the foundation for changing sad truths into hope.  He wasn't exactly what you'd expect from a sixty-nine year-old vicar from the old country. The man was tall and sturdy, standing six feet two inches and pretty darn fit for his age if you ask me. He was a lean mean preaching machine, a man who inspired you to get involved with causes bigger than yourself. Hell, I'm not a church goer or do gooder by any stretch of the imagination, but after meeting this fella I considered reconsidering my Sunday mornings, except during football season of course!

            The premier had been the talk of the town for days before the actual event, sparking a clash between the pro-life and pro-choice factions. However that inevitable confrontation paled in the light of what actually happened.  Tragically, a teenage girl, the real life subject of this real life film had apparently come to the premier to make a very personal statement. As Father Nick and his special guests exited the limo, the young lady, mother and child, quietly detoured off of the red carpet in the opposite direction bypassing the curious crowd and the paparazzi. Together she and her newborn wandered out into the middle of Hollywood Blvd. where she knelt, resting her haunches back onto her heels and rocked her cooing child. A few seconds later, before anyone stepped out to see what was what, she reached into a crocheted handbag hanging from her small shoulder and fetched a baby bottle.  But feeding her child wasn't her intent. She removed the top and then doused herself and the infant with the contents which as it turned out was gasoline. Then right there in front of hundreds of eye witnesses and who knows how many television viewers, she struck a match. It was a murder/suicide by self-immolation. So horrible was the scene the networks actually collectively refused to air the footage. Unfortunately no such agreement existed among the dozens of amateur film makers equipped with smart phones. Their opportunist nature yielded a YouTube bonanza of varying lengths, angle, and perspectives depicting the unimaginable action of this disturbed young lady. Needless to say several versions went viral recording the horrific scene as well as the last words the young mother shouted for all to hear, "I love you Father."

 

    Why did she do this? Why? Who was she speaking to anyway? Her Pop, the father of her kid, Father Nick, God Almighty, who? It made no sense, it was insane, but there had to be an explanation, there's always an explanation. Why, why, why, that's what everyone wants to know and that's where I come in. I was hired by the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church to put a lid on this tragedy, to make it go away before the media and the LAPD turned it into a circus for the whole world to watch. God knows the Church had a plate full of embarrassing worries to deal with already. They didn't want LA's publicity hound Mayor grabbing cheap headlines at their expense. Nor could they afford the LAPD dragging their bureaucratic feet, taking months to work the case. Hence the good Fathers, Bishops, and Cardinals, whoever, opted for the quick and dirty approach.

That would be me, Whitey Roode…gumshoe.


 

 

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