A hungover young actress wakes up to a nightmare.
|Los Angeles - April 1992
Through her closed eyelids, she could tell it was daylight. With great effort, she slowly separated them, then snapped them shut. Her temples pounded. She'd never gotten used to the morning-after sensation as if her head were stuffed to bursting with cotton batten, her tongue grafted to the roof of her mouth. She tried again to force her eyes open and dimly perceived a ray of light cutting through the blinds. She tried to lift her hand to brush the hair away from her face, but it wouldn't move. It was too heavy. Man, she needed a hit.
Where was she? Oh yeah. Willie's bed. They'd started out at The Viper Room and went on to The Roxy, but after that, who knew? Another typical evening in the life of Emily Sutton.
She hungered for a cigarette but her bag leaned against the wall on the other side of the room. Naked, she oozed out of the bed and, on her hands and knees, slowly slithered across to her purse. Carefully opening her bag, she dug for her smokes and after several attempts with a trembling hand, she managed to light one. Dragging deep, she knew she was still wasted.
Sitting on the floor, her back to the wall, she looked at Willie in the bed. He lay on his side, his broad-shouldered back to her, a sheet over him. Nice guy, Willie. A little crazy maybe, and not a very good lay, but fun to hang with all the same. If he ever asked her to get married, she didn't know what she'd answer.
She finished her smoke on the floor. Willie had a rule about smoking in bed. It was dangerous. He wouldn't let her. She always had to remember - Don't smoke in bed. Don't smoke in bed.
She looked around for a place to put the butt. With the stub wedged between her lips, she crawled across the carpet, burning her knees as she dragged them over to the bedside table where she dropped the spent cigarette in a half-empty glass of scotch and melted ice. She slid back into the king-sized bed. Hungry, she considered going to the kitchen to find something to eat, but she knew she'd have to wake up some more. If she stood up when she was like this, she usually fell over.
She spooned herself up against Willie and threw an arm over him.
Maybe he was out cold, but she sensed something worse. The muscles of his arms were flabby and his skin was unusually cool. He smelled funny and when she looked under the sheet, she saw he'd shit himself. She began to shake him, rocking him more and more violently.
"Willie! Willie, wake up!"
Her jostling unbalanced him and he rolled over on top of her. She struggled out from under his heavy body, his shit covering her legs. His eyes in his waxy face were rolled back into his skull, white where his pupils should have been. His jaw sagged and his upper lip was drawn back, displaying all his teeth. Emily had never seen a dead body before but she knew Willie was dead.
She shrieked and escaped from the room. Like an animal, she ran, wanting to get as far away from the corpse as possible. She shot out of the apartment screaming and pounded on the door across the hall.
"Help me! Help me!"
She didn't know the time. She didn't know the day. She didn't know if anyone would be home. When no one answered, she continued to the next door and the next and the next and the next, hammering on every door she could find. Her hands hurt, but she didn't care.
"Help me! Please help me!"
Eventually two of the doors opened, releasing a balding, middle-aged man and a young sitcom actor into the corridor.
"Thank God! Help me! I think he's dead!" She jabbed her finger at Willie's apartment.
The two men exchanged a glance and the older one ventured across the threshold. The actor disappeared into his apartment, returning with a robe that he wrapped around her.
She didn't want to go back into the apartment and shied like a horse when the actor offered to go with her. Soon the balding man returned.
"He's dead all right. I'll call the police."
A long moan of pain erupted from the depths of Emily's soul. She slid down the wall, where she sat on the carpet, biting her nails until the police arrived.
"I told you before, I don't know what happened last night! How many times do I have to tell you this? We went out like I said to The Viper Room, sat through a set, went on to The Roxy and after that I don't know what happened, but we got back to Willie's place, okay? No, I can only remember that we met up with Chris Marshman at The Roxy. Willie disappeared with him for a while. I sat around with Chris' date - Linda something. Why don't you ask Chris? Where's my lawyer? I called him, but you guys keep moving me around. You don't want him to find me, is that it? You bastards. I don't care what you suggest, I'll call you whatever I want. I'm not gonna say anymore 'til he gets here. Pigs. Hey, you wouldn't have a blanket or something? I'm starting to get the shakes. God, it's cold. Uh, yeah, heroin was something we did last night before we went out. Well, if you found the needles and stuff, why did you need to ask me? No, I can't remember if he did any more. You'll what? You'll give me a fix if I come clean? Really. I don't have anything to come clean about, but I'll take the fix. No. No. NO! I DIDN'T KILL HIM, I LOVED HIM, YOU BASTARDS!"