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True Crime Whore
By John Geirland

"OK," I said. "The murderer is standing right here. He's done the deed. He's got to dispose of the weapon because he's probably going to have to face the cops at some point. What does he do with it? He can't eat it or stick it up his ass. Where does it go?"

Max shot his thumb at the dumpster. "He tosses the piece in the dumpster," he said. "I bet it's somewhere under that pile of shit at this very minute."

"I dunno," I said.

Max spread out his arms. "What's not to know? He plugs her and he throws the gat in the trash. Simple as that."

"Maybe," I said.

"Climb in that dumpster," Max commanded. The diamond in his gold tooth twinkled. "Go ahead. Climb in."

Max approaches most situations in life like the producer that he is: Walk in. Take charge. Tell people what to do. Sit down and order sushi.

I took a closer look at the contents of the dumpster. It overflowed with empty paint cans, shredded linoleum, crumpled roof tiles, sofa cushions, bent nails sticking out of splintered wood, and other detritus of the suburban good life.

"There's nails and stuff in there," I protested.

Max: "This is your chance to crack this case wide open. You'll be in the papers tomorrow." He blocked out the headline in the air with his hands. "'STAY-AT-HOME-DAD FINDS MURDER WEAPON IN BLAKE CASE.'"

"Writer, Max," I corrected. "WRITER finds murder weapon."


Me: "I don't think he threw the gun in the dumpster."

Max shook his head. "Johnny, Johnny. You're passing up a major opportunity here. Step out of your little world."

"If you're so sure the gun's in there, why don't YOU climb in?" I shot back with heat.

Max put his hand on his sacroiliac. "My bad back."

Let me stop here and say that Max Marks is one of the most pampered individuals I've ever met. He sleeps nine hours a night. He meditates two hours a day. He exercises another two hours. He stretches -- stretches, mind you! He eats health foods and avoids fat like Superman avoids kryptonite. He drinks eight full glasses of water. So I'm convinced he came up with the bad back bit when he started dating his wife as part of a clever scheme for avoiding household chores for the duration of his earthly existence.

"Max," I said. "I'll LIFT you into the dumpster."

He shrugged. "I don't want to get my Prada tennis shoes dirty. Besides, this is your 15 minutes, Johnny."

* * *

Call me a wimp, but I didn't want to climb in the dumpster. So faced with the prospect of wading through rusty nails and kitty litter, I came up with an alternative theory.

"The killer only has one or two minutes to get rid of the gun," I began. "He had no storm drain to drop it in or large body of water to fling it in. He has to find a temporary hiding place. So what options are open to him? He looks up the block. He sees bushes and hedges near the sidewalk."

I began to warm to my new theory, to bask in its logic and simplicity.

"People don't pay much attention to bushes and hedges," I continued. "So he runs a full block up the street and sticks the weapon deep in the foliage. He reasons that after things have settled down, and the police aren't watching him so carefully, he can creep back in the middle of the night, retrieve the gun and properly dispose of it. Well?"

"It's in the fucking dumpster," Max said evenly.

I grabbed Max's arm. "Come with me." I led him up the block. There were hedges and bushes aplenty. I stomped and poked and picked through them for half an hour. No gun.

"What now, Holmes?" Max said.

"Forget the gun. Let's go walk by Bobby Blake's house," I said.

* * *

It took about ten minutes to reach the "Mata Hari Ranch," Blake's name for his rustic domicile on Dilling Street. There was even more activity here than at the murder site. We saw two squad cars and a crowd of onlookers milling around the well-shaded street. Two media vans were parked in front of the house with their fusili-shaped microwave antennas fully erect. A camera was trained on the house 24x7 in case somebody came out of the house. A technician sat in one of the vans reading a paper.

Blake lived in a brown ranch style house with iron bars on the windows, two carports, a swing, and lawn chair. The place looked more like a Bakersfield BBQ joint than a celebrity's home.

The scene inspired something in Max. A little light flickered behind his eyes. "This would make a good TV movie," Max said, more to himself than to me. We started walking on.

"I bet everybody in town is thinking about that," I said.

"You're right. The person who does this movie has to have connections with the LAPD and District Attorney's office. That's not my turf. Which is why…" -- Max was thinking out loud here -- "…we do a fictional account of the crime."

We dodged the lookie-loo's that now came cruising down the lane.

"You mean make up stuff?"

The hovering news copters we'd heard earlier were now directly overhead and making so much racket that we had to shout.

"The question is who we get to play Blake," Max said, in full producer mode as we put some distance between Blake's home and ourselves.

"Robert DeNiro?" I offered.

"DeNiro's good," Max said, savoring the name. "I could call his office."

"Johnny Depp?" I said.

Max shook his head. "He'd never do it."

He had a look of deep concentration, like someone pondering a long and complicated delicatessen menu. "Pauly Shore," he finally blurted.

"Pauly Shore? I like DeNiro better."

"Pauly Shore" -- Max wasn't listening to me -- "could be fantastic. It could be a breakout role."

* * *

Max and I played with the TV movie idea for a few days. It started out as a serious film. Then we decided it would play better as a comedy with two additional characters (based on Max and I) befriending the main protagonist, the Hollywood Actor, in order to sneak into his home and find evidence. Of course, we never called Robert DeNiro's people -- or Pauly Shore's people, for that matter. We got busy with other things and let the idea die.

Max and I followed the Blake case for a while, but it never rose to the heights of the OJ case and we lost interest. Max went back to his other TV movie work. I slapped Band-Aids on my kids and brooded.

Oh yes, one point I almost forgot. A few days after our walk, the LAPD found the Bonnie Lee Bakley murder weapon. It was a Walther PPK, a double action gun that fires both 38 and 32 caliber bullets.

It was in the dumpster.

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