Matthew Licht

jh ghost_bonehandle

A Big Star, Part 2

The job was to track down a dead adults-only performer and get a DNA sample.

Life is a lonely, mediocre business. Some LA porn-freaks must collect relics. The star’s co-workers might’ve kept mementoes. Another scan of Johnson’s loop would possibly yield credits, not that many people use their real names in porn films. 

The motel where I live features color TV sets, but no video equipment. 

Usually I work from photographs. The walls in my room are covered with pictures of runaway kids. 

The guy at the TV repair shop on Vine hung his hand-lettered “Back in 5 minutes” sign on the door for the screening. When the happy ending rolled, he punched the air like it was a football highlight.

Holmes had two female co-stars. I asked the TV repairman whether he’d seen the brunette before. Uh-uhn, but he’d sure as hell bang her if he ever saw her again. He said, “That’s too bad,” when he heard she was dead.

The credits were minimal. John Holmes played himself, and got top billing. Mr Johnson’s mother was either “Candy Lane” or “Sugar Brix”. The director signed himself Bonehandle.

There were no other names. Bonehandle was the cameraman, set decorator and lighting engineer. He worked solo, in secret, hoped the Park Rangers wouldn’t shut down the production, hold him and his stars prisoner until the cops showed up. You could almost smell the nervous sweat.

***

A few glass telephone booths still stood, in Hollywood. One of them had a phone directory chained to its fold-out shelf.

A patient operator said there was no listing for anyone named Bonehandle in the entire LA basin. Neither were any subscribers named van Bone, McBone, Hueso, Osso, Knochen. 

On a hunch, I drove to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. None of the curators in short sleeve shirts and bow ties, ticket clerks, janitors were amateur nature-movie buffs. Nobody vibed hard-core auteur.

The foreign word jigged a spark. There were trace elements of art in the client’s loop, something fetishistic about its focus.

***

A preliminary canvass of West Hollywood turned up zero on Bonehandle. Many of the residents had heard of John Holmes, though.

Boys’ Town has many neighborhoods. A friendly leather man with a walrus moustache said Bonehandle was not only still alive, he was a regular at Hideseekers. 

Hideseekers’ doorman wouldn’t admit anyone improperly dressed. He was an imposing figure, and meant business.

Beat-up motorcycle jackets go for $20 at late-night second-hand clothes shops on Melrose Blvd. A legit client expense.

Hideseekers was like jail, with monotonous music. Leather squeaks within its stifling near-darkness were the mating-calls of bats. 

The leather barman rolled his eyeballs at my new old jacket. “Get you, Dorothy.” 

I ordered beer, slipped a twenty across the counter. I asked if any regulars went by Bonehandle, and won the leather lottery.

“Yeah, he’s here. He’s always here.”

“Point him out, please. Discreetly.”

Another eyeball-roll, with spin. Bonehandle spent his evenings out in the toilet. 

It was even more womb-like in there. No doors on the stalls. Bonehandle held court in the third cubicle from the left. He had a walrus moustache too. He said he wouldn’t talk to me unless I pissed all over his face first.

***

A Big Star, Part 1

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