A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities
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Halloween Night, 1954. A young, film-obsessed scriptwriter has just been hired at one of the great studios. An anonymous investigation leads from the giant Maximus Films backlot to an eerie graveyard separated from the studio by a single wall. There he makes a terrifying discovery that thrusts him into a maelstrom of intrigue and mystery—and into the dizzy exhilaration of the movie industry at the height of its glittering power.
lines and bone paleness to make it older. “What?” he said. “Remember me?” I said. “Sure you do. I used to run around Hollywood with those three crazy sisters. One of them made those flowered Hawaiian shirts Bing Crosby wore in his early films. I was in front of Maximus every noon in the summer of 1934. You were there. How could I forget. You had the only sketch of Garbo I ever saw, signed—” My litany only made things worse. With every word, Clarence shrank inside his big camel’s-hair coat. He
stare at me. I stumbled and almost fell off the cathedral rim. I grappled one of the gargoyles. Instantly, the Beast sprang up. His hand seized my hand. For a single breath we teetered on the cathedral rim. I read his eyes, fearful of me. He read mine, fearful of him. Then he snatched his hand back as if burned with surprise. He backed off swiftly and we stood half-crouched. I looked into that dreadful face, the panicked and forever imprisoned eyes, the wounded mouth, and thought: Why? Why
an empty boulevard with not even a ghost of a car in sight, we let Henry tell what had happened in, under, through the wall and out. It was somehow fine to hear our flight described by a blind man who enunciated with his head as his dark nose snuffed deep and his black fingers sketched the wind, drawing Crumley here, himself there, me below, and the Beast behind. Or something that had lain outside the tomb door like a landslide of yeast to seal our escape. Bull! But as Henry told it we turned
it!” he ordered. “You got that dumb smug-ass look pasted on your mouth like a circus flier. Which means you trip, but I fall downstairs!” “Crumley!” “Well, Christ almighty, what about that mill race under the bones and through the wall last night, and Roy in permanent hiding, and Blind Henry cane-whipping the air, fighting off spooks, and Constance who might scare again tonight and show up to yank off my Band-Aids. This was my idea to bring you here! but now you stand there like a high I.Q.
her fingers, looking down at the pattern she wove on her breast. “Later on … it … truly … mad. “I married Sloane. Stopped being secretary. Never forgave. He kept playing with great toys … he said he still loved me. And then that night … accident. It. It. It happened. “And so … I died.” Crumley and I waited for a long minute. One of the candles went dark. “He comes to visit, you know,” she said at last to the fading sound of more candles flickering out. “He?” I dared to whisper. “Yes. Oh,