A cheap Saturday night took you down. You died stupidly and harshly . . .
I failed you as a talisman – so I stand now as your witness.My Dark Places, An L.A. Crime Memoir, James Ellroy
I cannot bring the dead woman back, but I am a witness to her last moments on earth. I fought hard for her, for her family and for me. The local police opened a case and did what they could to help me. They told me they would need a body or a confession. Period.
A confession. Ha!
A body! I know where it is but I cannot dig deep enough. I hire an excavator anyway and try to find her.
Dad’s best friend in ’68 was Craig. A man of great stature, in presence, that is. He towered over me as a child like a filthy lumberjack. His words were few. He reminded me of the character Chief Bromden in the movie, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The great big Native American whose first words in that script were “Juicy Fruit.”
The fateful day of the murder was me, my father and Craig. Oh, and the victim. She was a pretty woman slight of frame with blonde hair. She was kind. She had on a white buttoned down blouse and a skirt. She wasn’t wearing any shoes. Her smile put me at ease.
The four of us were at the Riverside Motel, off the old highway, close to the bus station she’d likely landed in town through. I learned later that my grandmother worked at this motel, but she wasn’t there with us on that day. The room showed signs that the three of them had been on a bender.
The day begins in a blue four-day car with black interior and ends as we return in a gold car with black interior. This is the ’63 Ford Galaxy we had at the time. I found this picture much later at my parents’ house. Me and the gold car.
I hear well intentioned folks telling people not to go back to childhood traumas. God would want you to leave it in the past.
Would you have left this story in the past?