"What the fuck are you talking about, Paula?"
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"Don't scream at me," she wailed.
By the time Paula had arrived at the school, the street was teeming with people, people in uniforms. Blue lights shone on everything. Jimmy's teacher had rushed out to meet her, flinging her arms about, wildly.
"Sick BASTARD," she screamed at the face staring at her from the backseat of the California State Patrol car, not caring that she never swore. He licked his lips, revelling in her anguish. "He took our son, Mike. He..." No more words would come, her insides were threatening to lurch again, foul insidious bile churned in her stomach, cocktailing with the adrenaline she'd worked up over her new job.
Guilt squeezed at Paula's rib cage.
Her grief forced its way out of her, a hideous work of non-art on the pavement.
"Joseph Murphy, you are hereby sentenced to murder in the first degree. I out it to you that your actions were both premeditated, and after the evidence of your psychological assessment, undertaken at a time when you were in full control of your mental state. How do you plead?"
From the wood and iron box in the corner of the vast courtroom, cuffed and chained inside, Joseph Murphy grinned maliciously. He turned his head slowly, absorbing the presence of every face turned expectantly to look and sneer at him. And there he was. Hardly able to touch his wife, handsome and distinguished at such a harrowing time. It gave his insides a warm glow to see that. Mikey Mack dressed up, and making a public appearance, and all for him.
Especially for him.
"Guilty, your Honour."
Winter had passed, yet the Mackenzie residence, Beverley Hills, remained frosty, cocooned in it's own universe.
Ramona did chores on her own now, Mrs. M. went out to work whenever the opportunity presented itself, and Mr. Mike could cast a grey cloud over any room he entered.
They fought all the time. Ramona could not remember them ever doing so, before, well, before Jimmy's passing.
She mostly stayed in her quarters now, to avoid the hurling objects and ice pick insults.
Mrs. Mack was wearing her dark blue trouser suit today.
"It's supposed to be your day off, Paula," he bellowed from his study.
"They need me to-"
He thrust his head around the door, still sitting in his TV chair. "They always need you. Fuck, they even needed you the day our Son went to ground. Why don't you just move into your office?"
She shook her head, too angry to get the words out.
"Hell, Paula, wasn't it work that needed you on the day that sick Fuck stole my Jimmy?"
"YOUR Jimmy? Don't you dare, Michel, don't you dare lay the blame at my door again. If you want to play the Blame Game, let's look at you."
His eyes narrowed, black rage welling up deep within them.
"You, Michel. You were warned, repeatedly, that Murphy was dangerous. But, no, stalkers are just too Hollywood for Mikey Mack, right? He followed us home almost every night, Michel, every night. He watched, sat outside and watched. Do you know how intimidating it is to have someone sit outside your house, making note about every creaking step?"
She made her way to the huge wooden door, at the front of the house, Michel stalking after her.
"It's my house too, Paula," he said, a menacing whisper.
"Whatever, Michel, I have to go."
She slammed the door, leaving Mikey alone with the echo of her departure.
Ramona crept back to her room, from her vantage point at the top of the spiralling staircase.
Life was not enough, as far as Mikey was concerned. Life for that sadistic Son of a Bitch was getting off lightly.
Mikey wanted to dish out a grusome, prolonged, and extremely painful death. But like any perfectly sane person, he didn't. He had let the desire seeth and fester, slowly eating anyway at him, like an incurable disease. The kind of disease that poetic justice would have dished out to Joseph Murphy.
No, Mikey and his wife had gotten 'Life'.
A lifetime of wrestling with their own obssesive guilt. Life, without Jimmy's laughter, or early morning wake-up calls, burnt toast and weak tea in hand.
Life, a whole lifetime for each to lay the blame at the others door. Passing the buck, whilst all the time inwardly ripping themselves to shreds for the obivious parts they both played in allowing the worst thing in the world to happen.
He slipped into a sitting positon, right there in the black and white tiled hallway, ignoring the guest bench completely.
He loved her, he really did. And though, he just needed her to hold him, each tailored Armani suit she wore acted both as a repellant, and a reminder of where she had been on that day, of all days.
Head in hands, he wept, again. It was the only thing he could do, without Paula there to yell at. He was ashamed. Because of his negligence, despite warning from collegues, veteran actors who'd seen it all and more, Murphy had been able to murder the one thing more dear to him than his wife.
He hated himself for that, it was true. But, far easier, when she was around to turn on her guilt, pass the buck. The silence that had shrouded the house since Jimmy's death ached to be filled. It tore at his heart with icy fingers wrenching out the bitterness, and projecting it in the loudest possible way. Anything to occupy the vacuum.
He sighed, as Beppe padded towards him from the kitchen, nudging his hand away from the tear stained face. He licked at the saltiness.
"Hey boy. Whatcha been up to?"
The dog gave a low growl, slobbering, in response.
Beppe The Puppy had been Jimmy's present, for his eighth birthday. Beppe The Rapidly Increasing In Size Bullmastiff had quickly chosen Mikey as master, now that James had gone.
No one had objected though, it didn't matter. Beppe was everyones dog, really, even Ramona's, but it was Mikey he went to for walks, Mikey who he begged when it was time for food, Mikey who he comforted.
Mikey scratched behind his ear.
"I miss him too, Bep. Me too."
It was the adult thing to do.
There was little sense in carrying on, constantly laying in wait, camoflaged in the world of 'Working it out', just anticipating the opportunity to take a snipe, wondering who'd break the silence first.
Paula was hurting, it was true, she'd never dreamed that Michel would even suggest leaving. He needed her. Despite the near constant strain on their relationship, she loved him, lived to be there for him. Well, underneath the seething exterior, at least.
And, yet, she didn't ask him to stay.
"I need a break from this," he'd said.
And, she'd agreed. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The dog raised an eyebrow, stretched out on the floor at the other end of the bed.
"Why do you always take his side?" Paula cried at him.
Beppe slid down to the floor, and sulked out of the room, leaving Paula to sob alone.
Mikey cast a glance around the impecably spacious apartment.
It was private, he granted that much. No chance of anyone parking up outside.
He chuckled, despite his heavy heart.
"If there's anything, you need, Mr. Mack."
"I'll get it myself, thanks..." He peered at the Bellboy's chest plaque. "Carver."
"It's Marlon, sir."
"Then, conversely, Marlon, call me Mikey."
He sighed a sad smile, as Marlon preceded to carry the bags through into the bedroom. He followed, lifting the weight of the heaviest from the young man.
"It's cool, Marlon. If you ever need anything..."
His cool brown eyes twinkled. "I'm fine, Mr. Mikey." His gaze fell upon the, for the moment anyway, silent computer rig, which had already been set up in the room.
"She's some sight, huh?" Mikey beamed, proudly.
"Sh-yeah," said Marlon, forgetting that he was still at work, as Mikey booted up the impressive system.
"Best thing my wife ever talked me into."
"What would...I mean, what do you..." The words were finding themselves difficult to form around Marlon awe. He was slightly consious of sounding rude, intrusive, but was unable to help himself.
Mikey chuckled. "What you think I do nothing but act? At the time I got her, it was something to spend some money on. Pa-my wife had owned one for years, just not a very good one. We decided His 'n' Hers Computers was a little over the top, but both got one. I mainly use it for emails, touching base with my agent, that sort of thing. The internet is a wonderful place, you can find out all sorts."
"You know, I have heard that. Are you...do you ever get tempted to write an anonymous review of one of your films?"
"First, they're not really MY films, I just act in them. Second, hell no. I don't write, and I don't lie. I hate the crap they keep sticking my mug in."
They both laughed out loud at that, Mikey rolling his head back, relaxed, really, for the first time in he couldn't remember when.
"Well, she's on. Wanna test her out?"
Marlon cast an anxious glance at the doorway.
"Bah, never mind work," Mikey waved dismissively. "Tell them I had a hissy fit or something."
"Sure thing, Mr. Mike."
The boy was positively glowing, and Mikey wasn't sure whether it was because of the offer of a free surf, or because he was discovering a that not all movie stars threw hissy fits. Mikey was just grateful for the human interaction that didn't involve a screaming match.
"You're a fool David Michel Mackenzie. A damned fool."
"Look, Ma. I dare you to spend a day in that house, with her. It was like living in an active volcano." The line buzzed, threatening to cut the conversation short. Mikey hoped.
"Michel, if there's one thing that you inherited from me, and not your father, it's your temper. I'm sure you have been no picnic either, young man. Just you be grateful, that Doctor Evelyn says I'm in no condition to travel right now, so help me, I'd clip your ears for you."
"I'm a big boy, Ma. I can sort out my own life."
"On your own?" She snorted, muttering something italian beneath her breath. "Mikey, you have trouble sorting out your socks. Now, I want you to get on that phone, and tell Paula you're sorry. And for my sake, Mikey, go home. It scares me that you're living all alone in that big tall building."
"I'm fine, Ma." He moved to replace the receiver.
"Promise you'll call her." He could see her blue eyes clearly in his mind, silently pleading with him.
He didn't let go, staring at his hand, unmanicured because 'they' needed him to look rugged.
He rolled his eyes at the ceiling, and picked the phone up, dialling his agent's office.
Advice From Ethan
"Don't lie...promise m...Guilty y'Hon...Jimmy...Don't l...- Wah!"
Mikey awoke on the floor, having just rapidly vacated the comfort of his couch.
His eyes flickered around his apartment, adjusting to the sudden brightness of the lighting system bursting to life.
He was in his apartment. But he'd left it. He remembered.
"That fucking car." Mikey leapt up, promptly losing his balance an toppling back onto the sofa.
"It's ok, Mikey," came Marlon's voice from the kitchen. He was fixing a drink by the sound of it.
"What the fuck just happened, Marl?"
"First off," Marlon began, as he carried a loaded tray in, placing it on the coffee table. "Nothing just happed, at all. You been passed out on that couch for half the day."
He handed Mikey a mug.
"It's tea," he answered in response to Mikey's blank look of confusion, or maybe revulsion, at the hot brown liquid. "Plenty of sugar. My Mom swears by it after a fainting spell."
"I did not...Did I?"
Marlon nodded. "Reckon it was your body's natural response, after what happened to Jimmy. Shutting down, rather than deal with a car accident. 'Course in your state it wouldn't have slowed the process down any."
Which reminded Mikey, he had a head ache. He placed a clammy hand on his forehead, sipping gingerly at the mug, burning his lips.
"Crikey. Erm, have you been here the whole time?"
"Nah, I bought you up, but had to wait for Sal to get in before I could come back up. I figured you'd need an explanation when you woke up."
"So...I didn't get hit?"
"Nope. The 'Stang stopped just it time, but you'd already gone. You talk in your sleep, did you know that?"
"No." His lips were getting used to the heat now, he was blocking out the actual taste. "Did you hear much?"
Marlon suddenly became intensely interested in the green of the carpet pile, which showed through a gap between Mikey's clothes. He nudged the heap with his boot, revealling more. "I tried not to, Mike. It looked like you were having a nightmare, you were tossing all over the place. Actually," he chuckled. "You're lucky you didn't fall off earlier."
"So, what did you hear?"
"You kept repeating things...'I don't lie', 'I'm a fool', that sort of thing. Look, Mikey, I don't want to pry."
"It's cool, Marl. Not your fault I'm an incoherant drunk. Look, thanks for the...tea. It's helping, honestly. But, I think I need a bath or something."
"Sure thing, Mike."
He left Michel to his thoughts, without another word.
It's not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.- Frank N. Furter.
So, How Cool Is This? Part 28. So, How Cool Is This? Part 27. So, How Cool Is This? Part 25. So, How Cool Is This? Part 24. So, How Cool Is This? Part 23. So, How Cool Is This? Part 22. So, How Cool Is This? Part 21. So, How Cool Is This? Part 20. So, How Cool Is This? Part 18. So, How Cool Is This? Part 17.