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:: Hollywood Forever by Susan Goldstein
Hollywood Forever by Susan Goldstein
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Things are not going well for wealthy, spoiled Samantha Crowley who thought her world would never collapse until her superstar novelist husband filed for divorce. Samantha's pursuit of "divorce justice" in tinsel town lands her in an even more perilous situation. Within twenty-four hours of meeting with her, the people from whom she seeks help turn up dead in dramatic fashion. Samantha, the unwanted wife, is now a wanted woman.
Her trusted confidantes, Bugsy Siegel and William Desmond Taylor, both dead and buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery where Samantha takes her daily walks, were ideally situated to listen to her problems but now her life has become a 1940's film noir and she needs a hero to act and save the leading lady. Unable to access her funds and distrustful of her closest friends, Samantha is forced to turn to a stranger for help. But that stranger comes with his own dark past and secrets. Can she ultimately trust him? How far can Samantha stray from the person she once was in order to save her life? Will her Hollywood story have a happy ending?
If I want to do my divorce the right way, what I should do is list my house for sale, tuck my tummy, enlarge my breasts, change my hairstyle, invest my money, buy a new car, start therapy, and hire the best family law lawyer in town. But, for me, there is only one right way. Kill Hunter McCall. I have set a difficult goal. I know what I want to do. Now I just have to figure out how to do it.
I live in the land of glitz, glamour, and gossip. Disseminating information is the lifeblood of Los Angeles. Disseminating innuendo and inaccuracies is what keeps this town pumping and jumping.
Media to spread information is for hire everywhere. Newspapers, radio, television, Internet, skywriting. They can announce Hunter McCallís death, but that wonít actually kill him. I havenít completely flipped. I know an assassin is useless against a fictional character.
My goal is unambiguous. Kill Hunter McCall. But how? I refuse to believe it canít be done. As insane as it sounds, there has to be a way. I need to clear my head. It will come to me when the time is right. Focus elsewhere. My peach silk pajamas make me feel yummy. I used to sleep nude when Benjamin and I were in love, but when that stopped, I figured what was the point? A girl should take advantage of the lovely sleepwear on the market.
How to kill Hunter McCall? I love my peach pajamas. Watch the faucet turn on and off. This is how easily a woman can distract herself. I hate and love that ability I possess to interrupt myself without missing a beat. To switch gears in a beat. Iím a traitor to feminism. I can meander from yummy to self-hate in less than five seconds.
Barefoot, I take my schizophrenic ego, puffy eyes, and peach pajamas and trundle down the stairs.
Benjamin always hated my walking barefoot. It made me like doing it even more. In a fit of unearned glee, I hop, like a five-year-old, down seven marble steps. Something good is going to happen today.
Something good has to happen today.
A high-priced decorator suffocated every room of my house with excruciatingly expensive good taste, except the library, which is my designated room to do with as I please. Because the room was never intended for anyoneís use but mine, it has only one chair. The chair is like a hippopotamusóhuge, battered, stained, ugly, overstuffed, and instantaneously commanding of respect. It is exactly like one of those chairs sought out by college freshman for a finals all-nighter. You donít sit in it, you descend into it. Itís not just a seat, itís a visit. It isnít a chair Benjamin will seek in the divorce. He probably doesnít know it still exists. Itís our last surviving piece from Moeís Furniture For Less.
On the chair lies the gray sweatpants and navy T-shirt I wore two days ago for my walk at the cemetery. I do a guy thing. I pick up the pants and shirt, tentatively sniff at strategic spots, and determine it will not be too gross to wear again for this morningís walk.
If it means wearing unlaundered clothes to reinvent myself, so be it. I must change, not my clothes. I have to become someone new. I need something better than a plastic surgeon. I need a miracle.
My Nikes are pushed under the chair. If I donít go upstairs for underwear and socks, I can be dressed and out the door in under a minute. Unthinkable to the old me, which is precisely why I reach for my sneakers and decide not to go upstairs.
Stabs of genius always seem to come at the most unlikely moments. I am tying my shoelaces when I have the epiphany.
Here I am, in my room, surrounded by the things I love the mostómy books. Hundreds of them. Everything from Charles Dickens to Charles Willeford. From Donald Westlake to Don DeLillo. In those pages are hundreds of my friends.
It is all right there, under my nose, or in front of my eyes. How does one go about killing a fictional character? With another fictional character. Of course. Instead of groaning about never having written The Great American Novel, I can now not only write the book but also kill two birds with one stone. I can write my book and have my protagonist kill Hunter McCall.
Itís a great idea. A stroke of genius. Samantha, take a bow. I knew today was going to be good. Iíll go to the cemetery and walk and create. Iíll spend my walk plotting out the story, and I know as surely as Bea would take the listing on this house and Dr. Dan would happily cut my body and Jupiter would give me a hairdo that makes the other planets rock Ďn roll, that I will have my core storyline figured out in the hour and a half I spend in the cemetery.
The book is there. In my head. Bouncing and kicking like a newborn screaming to get out. I feel as though I have been writing this book since the first day of my marriage, eighteen years ago.
I grab my keys and race out the door. Bugsy and Bill will love this news. As I get into my car, I think about paper and pencil. Then I shrug off the thought. Today is a day for thinking and plotting.
In all the years we have been together, the hundreds of dinners and lunches, never once has Benjamin shared with me how he goes about actually writing a book. I donít know if he makes outlines or plans the whole book in his head or just sits at the computer and lets the spirit move him.
It is frightening how much I donít know about my husband. What kind of music he likes. Does he know how to cook? Does he like 1940s screwball comedies? Does he prefer New York or Chicago?
Look how long it took to find out he didnít like me. Look how long it has taken for me to find out I never liked him.
Here is one thing I do know, after spending a lot of time with writers: There is no one right way to do it. So Iíll do it my way. And my way will be to plot the book out in my head, then sit down and put it on paper. Itís something I have to do.
There is no other way to kill Hunter McCall.
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