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The Eclectic Pen - The Ghost of Mary Jo Kapechne (A love story)

By: Steve K. (flint)  
Date Submitted: 3/19/2007
Last Updated: 3/19/2007
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense » Mystery
Words: 2,157

  The first few pages -- curious what you think.

“My conduct and conversations during the next several hours
to the extent that I can remember them
make no sense to me at all.”

Ted Kennedy,
Televised Statement to the People of Massachusettes
regarding the 12-hour delay in reporting the car accident
which resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kapechne
July 25, 1969

though it have no tongue,
will speak with most miraculous organ.”

William Shakespeare

“We are the
Music Makers,
and we are the
Dreamers of Dreams.”

Roald Dahl,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

November 2010

The breeze from the ocean caught Angelina’s hair and she tucked a strand of it behind her ear. Usually, the type of hairspray megastars like Angelina Jolie used protected them from the environment – through every massive climate change and every inch of third-world terrain and rainforest she’d traipsed through over the years to rescue a child. But the testers of this hairspray had probably not taken into account such adverse conditions as the salty Pacific Ocean.
Nor Angelina for that matter, who had not considered the dangers of going yachting with a boatload of dedicated alcoholics. Her divorce had just become final and had just cause to celebrate, but she could not for the life of her explain why such a lovely young mother of twelve would suddenly start dating a musician.
It was sheer luck I happened upon her. What had started out as a short evening spin around the L.A. harbor had suddenly turned into a sweeps-period episode of Rescue 911. She was much lighter than I’d expected – although I’d seen her recent tabloid photos – and fairly easily lifted her exhausted body out of the marina and onto the safe confines of my 22-footer. But thanks to that recent Esther Williams film she’d just wrapped, she was a decent swimmer and was able to make her way closer to the shore lights than the band: The singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer and head roadie of Grandpa’s Become a Fungus hadn’t been so lucky -- their bodies had been floating face down for hours; subsequently my several attempts at CPR proved unsuccessful -- my oxygen coming hours too late to save those poor souls from themselves.
The way Angelina described it, the band had been rehearsing down below when -- on a lethal combination of bad improvisation and grossly-exaggerated doses of medication -- the lead guitarist began waving his guitar in the air, swinging at amps -- barely missing poor Angelina -- until he finally hit a crescendo, slamming the remains of his electric weapon into the floor of the pricey vessel, causing a cascade of water to rush into their quarters, drowning their amplifiers and countless other electrical thingamajigs, and sending this Ship of Fools spiraling down to the ocean floor.

Hours later in this still, quiet harbor there is little evidence of this terribly chaotic event. The only sound that could be heard was the intermittent flapping of the sails of my humble eighteen-foot schooner against the chattering of Angelina’s sparkling white teeth.
“Ooooh, that sperm,” she barked after a long silence.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
She’d thrown her head in her heads again, but after a few moments regained her composure.
“Sperm Aside. I guess you’d call him my former boyfriend. This is all his fault. Had to go break his guitar like he was Pete Townsend or something. In a boat. Go figure.”
Musicians. But this was neither the time nor the place for me to go into a full-frontal assault on that beleaguered race of egotistical brooders. She didn’t need to hear why I’d pawned all my guitars, keyboards, drums, saxophones and monophonic alto clarinets years before because of the ills of that so-called business.
She didn’t need to hear it. Not now. She had enough problems. After all, according to the tabloids, she was still bitter over the Sling Blade guy she’d just remarried and divorced all over again, not to mention the new restraining orders she’d filed against Pitt, Romo and Belushi. And her latest relationship -- though it had lasted only a week -- was now severely strained, to say the least.
She soon confessed she’d felt bad about diving off the boat so quickly, but explained that as soon as she saw those sparks fly, she forgot all about Sperm and the boys and just Greg Louganassed her ass right off that boat. I tried to ease her pain, reminding her that she did indeed dive down several times after the boat sank searching for those idiots, but she dismissed that, and began to cry all over again.
I tied the sail down and went port side to console her, putting my warmer palms on her frostbitten cheeks, gazing into her beautifully bloodshot eyes:
“Don’t you get it? You’re like the Ghost of Mary Jo Kapechne. You’re fulfilling her dream of leaving behind an irresponsible drunk who put your life in danger by making him piece meal for the local sharks. Ted Kennedy said he tried several times to save Mary Jo but he kept comin’ up snake eyes. Let’s just do what Ted did when this happened to him. Let’s eat.”

Unlike Ted, however, we at least called the cops before we headed for a late-night meal down at Panama Red’s, a cozy little fish and steak place in the marina that had a kind of Chart House-Black Angus feel to it with a Sizzler’s-Love’s kind of price. After all, as spontaneous as this first date was -- it was still a date -- and, of course, I would be paying.
It was almost an hour before we got back to the dock, in which time she spent more unnecessary time apologizing for this ‘inconvenience”. In that time I’d come clean. Shed seen the Dart – a ’74 Swinger – as welll as enough candy wrappers, broken CD covers and Jack in the Box residue to realize I wasn;t exactly bank-rolling Bruckheimer films.

The boat was misleading, what you might call a “gift” from an internet mogul who three years ago -- in true Norma Desmond-style -- commissioned me to write a script about what he considered his exciting life as a young stock analyst who made it big by furiously buying up tech stocks in 1992 the same way Utah mothers bought mayonnaise at Costco. However, when he’d the read my first draft and learned I’d included the part that he’d lost almost all of it diversifying to become a prime investor in a little up-and-comer called Imclone, he not only fired me but threw me off his boat halfway between Catalina Island and the mainland.
It had been years since I’d lettered for the Pali High swim team – but I was an Aquarius and had spent some time in enough Jacuzzis to let the few El Segundo streetlights that hadn’t been shot out yet guide me back to the mainland. After I made it back I shaved, showered and successfully sued Trump-Junior in civil court, and after he refused to pay me the court-ordered judgment, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department offered me his boat they’d confiscated – as well as his two-year mooring at the marina -- in lieu of the judgment. Not bad: A week’s worth of prose for a free boat. And all that without having to endure a Doug Llewelyn post-interview.

Long story short, I knew the marina pretty well, and not just because I swam through it -- I’d had the boat for two years and had been coming there several nights a week to clear my head. Being a native of this city, I was intimate with the filth that sticks to the bottom of this bowl, where dreamers lie -- and eventually die – emigrating here armed with eight-by-tens, driven by some unknown but seriously dangerous force that makes people do things that even the drunkest and most evil-intentioned would ever consider. Networking is an actual sport here -- its players spend their days filling their Day-Timer pages until they bleed pulp, squeezing every ounce of their time and energy into the relentless pursuit of being “seen” – at the alleged low cost of either sleeping with people that can or cannot even get them seen, or even worse off: Paying for -- and then actually attending – classes given by the City’s experts. The victims that fall into the latter category – who pay, attend and even take notes from some Learning Annex yahoo who claims he once wrote a Green Acres script on spec in 1966 are so much more dangerous that the ones who just sleep around.

For years the boat had been my escape, my refuge -- a kind of recurring baptism I often needed to rinse the muck I’d built up here in the alleged City of Angels. It was also the only semi-respectable asset I had, as -- despite my hard work and good intentions -- I was still horribly in debt and just scraping by as a crime reporter at a small daily paper in La Crescenta, a small town 30 minutes north of downtown, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Not enough crime to make a name there -- every year or two some jerk would graciously choose our market to dump a dead body or two up there and keep our paper in the black. And between that and a fast-food gig in Downey, I was barely making it.
That was always my style: I always made it clear to the women I dated that although I seemed destined for greatness, fame and fortune had not yet arrived at my humble little news desk. For most of them all soon learned for what I lacked in financial freedom, I more than made up for in my suave midnight moves.

A few positives I noticed immediately as she sat, basked in my filth, pulling the top of a Jack-in-the-Box blue cheese container that had adhered itself onto a KISS Alive CD, wiping the disc off with her T-shirt and sticking it into the stereo.
It was love at first site.
She also seemed hardly seemed disappointed at my financial status and actually seemed sincerely interested in my writing, as if that was some sort of a unique trade here in the City of Angels.
That must have been the initial attraction with Billy Bob, and later, Belushi. I realized that although I probably didn’t have those Brad Pitt-boyish looks she’s gone for in the past, I did have that Belushi creative blood that -- judging by his looks -- must have been the major source of attraction there.

When she pressed me about my writing, I explained that when I wasn’t covering crime in La Crescenta, I was churning out political editorials.
She squirmed a bit. Next subject, please. She’d paid for her share of left-wing fundraisers and sat through enough dinners with Susan Sarandon and that other guy she’s been having kids with for the past two decades to not have room for any additional political discussions that weren’t already booked in advance. She saw a fork in the conversation and grabbed it like Michael Moore at a Vegas buffet.
“You know, I’m in the media too,” she said humbly, as if I didn’t recognize the face that had dominated the tabloid pages for the past several years.
“You’re an actress, right?” I asked, trying not to give away my multi-year infatuation with her. “I thought you looked familiar. Have you been in any movies?”
“Some,” she said meekly, and then minced her words quite a bit when she described many of her films as a tad “spicy”. She was savvy enough to omit the hugely-successful but publicly-damning Mr. And Mrs. Smith, but went ahead and rattled off Taking Lives and Original Sin, both of which I knew intimately -- not from viewing, but from the Wal-Mart six-dollar bins I often caroused. I thought she might be exaggerating her “spicy” comment – after all, I’d seen The Bone Collector, which was not very spicy at all.
She sat up a bit when she proudly included the more respectable Girl Interrupted, which she won a Best Actress Oscar several years ago.
I hadn’t seen that one. Back then, I’d categorized it as a borderline chick flick. My former girlfriend had begged me several times to take her to see it until she sobered up and wound up seeing it with her AGC (Annoying Girlfriend Coalition) who afterwards all subjected me to their overly complicated summaries and individual critiques, which ran more than an hour longer than the entire duration of the film, which -- using hindsight -- I should have just taken her to.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Steve K. (flint)

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Comments 1 to 3 of 3
IONE L. (zaneygraylady) - 3/19/2007 8:49 PM ET
Interesting story. Can't you get sued if you publish it? Why not just use a fictional character?
Kim T. (kimt6) - - 3/22/2007 12:17 PM ET
Brenda O. (brendabreweroliver) - 8/20/2008 11:52 PM ET
Too Many Real characters. I couldn't get into it.
Comments 1 to 3 of 3