All Hallows Eve – Guest Author: Original 4 Part Serialised Story by Sam Stone "Lead Poisoning" Part 2
by Carolyn • Posted in Uncategorized
When Carolyn from Book Chick City emailed me and asked if I’d like to contribute to the Halloween Special I immediately said yes. BCC is a great website, full of interesting reviews and information on all the books I enjoy. I originally planned to write some kind of Halloween Chiller – so much for the best laid plans. I was in the middle of writing stories for my collection and already had some character names and plot lines going through my head but I didn’t bargain on Lead Poisoning taking on a life of its own.
Lead Poisoning is a mystery that slowly unravels to reveal the cause of death of the starlet Karolina De Vere. There are lots of real-life influences that went into writing this. I originally wanted to set it in 1920’s Hollywood, and my movie star was going to be the star of black and white silent films which have always had a fascinating appeal. Then I realised that actually the 1970’s was when it should be set.
My main character in the story is my vampire Lucrezia, in one of her guises as a doctor in 1975 LA. Lucrezia likes and enjoys mysteries, often solving them for her own purposes. She first appears in my novel Killing Kiss, but features as the main character in the second novel, Futile Flame. She has an entire section dedicated to stories about her in my collection. So, in Lead Poisoning I have her research into the life of Al Capone. Because, the title, as you might guess, is a bit of a giveaway. I’ve always loved the old expression, or mafia in-jokes for shooting someone: ‘Filling them full of lead,’ or someone died of ‘lead poisoning’. Clearly I just had to play with that …
My short story collection, Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings is being published by Telos Publishing in February 2011 and it will contain a printed version of Lead Poisoning as one of the Lucrezia’s Stories.
If you haven’t read Part 1, you can do so HERE
Lead Poisoning – Part 2
Hampshire fidgeted with his cufflinks when Morgan brought him into the morgue. I’m good at reading body language and it was clear that he was upset but whether that was from guilt or just because he really did love Karolina I wasn’t sure. Earlier Vance had given me a note that said that Hampshire’s blood was clear of any signs of lead, which convinced me that the deposits in Karolina’s body weren’t accidental. I had to get to the bottom of what had happened.
‘You loved Karolina?’ I asked.
‘Sure,’ Hampshire said. ‘She was gonna be the next best thing.’
I was taken aback by his honesty and so was Morgan.
‘You loved her because she was going to be a star?’ Morgan asked.
‘I make stars. That’s what I do. Karolina … she was going to be huge. Now look, a young death, and barely any films in the can. The public will forget she ever existed inside a year. What a waste.’ Hampshire was clearly gutted, and for all the wrong reasons.
‘I agree. Her death was a waste. Awful. That’s why I want to get to the bottom of it, Mr Hampshire.’ I said.
‘Yeah. But it won’t bring back all the time and money I invested in her will it?’
I fought the urge to slap Gerard Hampshire across the face and for a moment I fantasised about sending his toned, tanned body flying across the room, crashing into the glass instrument cabinet while I towered over him, all fangs, rage and destiny. I shook myself mentally, and felt my gums stop itching. A good sign.
‘Okay. So it’s about money and fame in your world, not real love.’
Hampshire’s eyes narrowed with confusion, he clearly didn’t get my irony.
‘What happened tonight?’ I asked bluntly, tired of going around the houses with him.
‘She won the award; she was going to be a star.’
‘I know. When you left the awards, where did you go?’
I looked into Hampshire’s mind and I saw the evening unroll as if I was him.
… liked her. She was a sweet kid deep down, but he made her hide any vulnerability behind the starlet facade. She was going to be his crowning glory, his major success. When she had a few films under her belt he’d marry her and they’d have a kid. It would be a beautiful, public story. That was what Gerard had planned for Karolina. But the best laid plans don’t always come true.
Karolina sat in the chair opposite him. She was sipping sherry and she was excited, but a new coldness was there that he hadn’t seen before.
‘This is how it’s going to be,’ she was saying. ‘For the public we’ll pretend we’re together. When I finish the next film, there will be a natural parting of ways.’
‘What are you talking about, kid?’ he said laughing. ‘We’re going all the way and the fans are going to love it.’
‘No.’ Karolina stood up pulling her fox fur wrap around her shoulders. ‘Send for the car.’
‘I let the driver off, thought we’d be celebrating together for the evening,’ Gerard said.
‘No. I don’t want to. Haven’t you figured it out yet? I don’t like you, Gerard. Everything I’ve done has been for the things you can do for me.’
Gerard was surprised, not by what she said because he had always known this was true, but that she had indeed voiced it. He’d thought they’d play this love game longer. After all being with the most beautiful starlet of all time wasn’t going to hurt his career either. He liked her too, he really did and that was the closest he’d ever come to love before.
‘You’re tired,’ he said. ‘Perhaps even a little overwhelmed. We’ll talk again in the morning.’
‘No. I don’t want to see you again, Gerard. I signed a contract today. Fox. A five film deal. I’m on my way up and I don’t need you now.’
Karolina turned to pick up her bag and Gerard grabbed her.
‘You’re not walking out on me you bitch! I made you.’
Karolina laughed, ‘I made myself Gerard and if you think by digging your fingers in my arm you’re going to make me change my mind, then you can think again.’
Gerard let go, giving her a push that sent her sprawling back into the chair she’d just left.
‘I do like it when you get all macho, Gerard,’ Karolina said smiling. ‘Maybe we could have one last night … I don’t mind that.’
She stood and wrapped her arms around his stiff body, he was angry but she knew exactly what to do to get her own way.
‘You’re such a bitch.’
‘You’re always playing games.’
‘I’m an actress. You, of all people, should know that’s what I do.’
She laughed, kissing him passionately. They went to bed. It was hotter and more exciting than it had ever been. Karolina enjoyed her games, telling him it was over was just one of them, Gerard knew that. By the end of the evening she was curled up in his arms and sleeping like a virgin. As he watched her sleep he knew then they would get married, she’d be his and their future success was assured. He felt incredibly …
I pulled away from his mind, surprised by the information that I’d retrieved. I’d been wrong about Karolina and Hampshire. He really did love her, he just hadn’t known it.
Morgan turned his head to look at Hampshire, then me and back again. I quickly sent him a thought that poured all of the information into his mind that I’d taken from Hampshire, making him think that this was what Hampshire had just told us at the same time.
‘So that’s your story?’ Morgan said. ‘Games. You two play games with each other. That doesn’t explain why she’s lying with a shit load of lead in her blood stream.’
Hampshire shook his head. He was trying to figure out what he had just said himself – having someone else root about in your memories can do that to a person. Often though, they just capitulate and decide that what is now known must be what was just said … how else could it be known?
‘It’s all I know. I woke up and she wasn’t there. I thought it was another diversion! I went looking for her and she was lying on the floor with that fox fur wrap around her and nothing else.’ At that moment Gerard Hampshire’s voice broke. ‘I’ve just realised, I’m never going to see her again.’
He looked from me to Morgan and back again as tears welled up in his eyes. There was nothing we could do to comfort him though. Morgan was a hard nosed cop, and I was … well, let’s say that comforting the bereaved was not in my job description.
‘There’s something weird going on here,’ Morgan said as Vance led the sobbing Hampshire from the morgue. ‘He knows something, he’s just not telling us.’
‘I think maybe he has seen something, but it doesn’t make sense to him and so he’s dismissed it from his mind,’ I said, and waded once more through the memories I’d taken.
Morgan left with a promise to look further into Karolina’s past. All we knew about her was the public biography and most of those were made up by some studio executive whose job it was to make his stars look good.
Look out for Lead Poisoning – Part 3 coming soon!!