Kitty stared at her computer screen. She had been so hounded and racked by deadlines for years, she never imagined a day would come when she would weep and beg for one. Just one. Anyone who wanted her to write for them. Freelancing wasn’t turning out as successfully as she had hoped or thought. Having a regular paycheck and the credibility of the newspaper was not something to be taken lightly, after all.
Kitty sighed and turned away from the blinking cursor on the screen.
She had been pitching stories about Jeffrey Chen’s death while filming “Blackbird” all over the country.
In spite of the action stars who weren’t on set that night giving interviews, saying they demanded answers, nothing seemed forthcoming. The media outlets were not interested in updates and work, but instead asked:
“Do you have a picture of Jeffrey on the ground or in the ambulance?”
“What about his body on the way to an autopsy?”
It made her want to vomit. She wasn’t trying to sell something to the National Enquirer, she was a serious reporter with a serious story to investigate and report upon.
Or she would be if she could get an assignment and a press credential.
She looked at her watch.
Time to try to call Stan again.
She had been calling him hourly for the last two days. If she was going to sell a story about Jeffrey’s mother filing a lawsuit against the people she held responsible for her son’s death, a quote for at least one of the high-profile names was necessary. The guy holding the gun seemed the most high profile she could find.
The phone rang and rang without an answering machine picking up.
He probably unplugged it after he got back to New York, Kitty thought. Yeah, ‘cause people like you keep calling and won’t stop. Yeah, there’s that.
She sighed and hung up again. Looking at the list of people named in the lawsuit, she realized one person getting the least attention, the least focus, seemed to be the props master.
And his girlfriend, she added to herself. Didn’t he hire his girlfriend as his assistant? Well, that’s not unheard of in the movie business … but still.
She poured out a drink and tried to remember where the props master lived. He seemed to have quietly left town.
“And when have you ever heard of a coke head doing anything quietly?” she asked aloud. Reaching for her notebook she started looking for the girlfriend’s name and where they each lived.
“What was the path of the gun?” she asked aloud. “He held it last, didn’t he?”
* * * * *
Four hours later, Kitty stepped back and looked at what she had done to the wall. “Well, I can paint over it.” She studies the map with careful pencil, pen and string lines she had put together. She needed a large space to think through it.
“I need to take a picture of this before I forget and something happens to it,” she rummaged through her desk drawer until she found an old Polaroid camera that had been her grandmother’s.
“I hope the film is still good.” She prayed.
Two days earlier the gun had been used for close-ups of loading it with bullets. Then filming of the gun being fired with a blank. Had the gun been properly unloaded, dismantled and cleaned afterward—as per protocol? That was a question that no one seemed able to get a conclusive answer to.
The gun went into storage.
Two days later the weapons master was not present on set when the gun was brought out again by the props master. If the weapons master had been present, the gun would have been broken down in front of the actors, inspected and reloaded in front of them using blanks.
But no one had followed that aspect of protocol either.
Blanks… That triggered something else.
Kitty rifled through her notes. Blanks. The props master was making blanks on set using ammunition from the pawn-shop set that they emptied and reloaded themselves.
Oh, dear God. That’s right. The blank charge was so strong the shockwave from it would have deafened an actor had it been fired near their head. There were scenes that called for that. Dear God. Can you imagine if they had deafened someone?
She paused the reminder to herself they had killed someone.
So where was he now? That was the question Kitty wanted the answer to.
Where would I go if I were him? She asked. As far away as possible? Alaska? Definitely somewhere without a phone. But a process server had to find him to serve the lawsuit … and did he take his girlfriend with him?
Gwenyfar Rohler is encore’s fact-or-fiction writer for 2018. Her serial story, “Singing in the Dead of Night,” follows the death of a young movie star and the emotional aftermath that follows, as local media try to uncover the events leading up to the high-profile “murder,” which takes place while filming in Wilmington, NC. Catch up on previous chapters at encorepub.com.