Matthew Licht

jh ghost 7

A Big Star, Part 4

Porn actors have parents too. Some of them lead normal lives, in houses. Another telephone operator said there were over five hundred Holmes listings in greater Orange County. Since I’d already paid for a search, I asked to be connected to the John Holmes residence on Stackpole Drive. The late adult star might’ve dropped the Jr in his screen credits. It was a shot in the dark, but it only cost the client half a buck.

A woman with a raspy voice picked up. “What do you want now?”

“Hello, Mrs Holmes?”

Her tone changed. “That’s me. Why, did I win something?”

“Sorry, Mrs Holmes. Not this time. I’d like to ask a few questions.”

“Who is this?”

“I’m a private investigator.”

“Oooh. Has there been a murder?”

She sounded as though nothing would please her more. Mrs Holmes was a bored OC housewife, the stuff on which adult loops are made. You could practically hear the ice cubes tinkle in the third gin and tonic of a late afternoon.

“The murder happened a long time ago, Mrs Holmes. That case is closed, but a man with the same name as your husband’s…”

“Ex-husband’s, you mean.”

“Oh. Anyway, one John Holmes, a suspect or an accessory to the fact, was released due to insufficient evidence. You might’ve read about it in the papers.”

“Oh yeah, I’m old enough, if that’s what you’re trying to find out. But my ex is not that John Holmes. Far from it. How many times I gotta say that? Goodbye now, jacky-boy.”

“Wait. You mean you get calls from adult entertainment enthusiasts?”

“Oh, not a whole lot. You sound different, though.” Mrs Holmes wasn’t just a bored OC divorcee housewife, she was lonely. Even her voice was lonesome.

 “You’ve seen his films?”

“Hah! Whatever it took to get my former husband in the mood, I was willing. We used to have quite a collection of dirty movies.”

A heavy glass went down on a hardwood table in the twilight.

“Look at me, spilling my drink and my former sex-life to some shamus over the goddamn telephone. I oughta have my head examined. And my name’s not Mrs Holmes anymore, it’s Gladys.”

“Listen Gladys, your former human marital aid died from drug abuse and AIDS.”

“Too bad. All those happy memories. Well, he was good at what he did. His work lives on.”

“My client thinks that John Holmes was his father. His mother said that was the case, but she’s dead too, from dope and/or disease. Holmes’ last known residence was in Orange County. Is it possible he was related to your ex-husband? Do you think he’d submit a bone-marrow sample?”

“Doubt it.”

“Do you know where John Holmes is buried?”

“How’d you find out about me, anyhow?”

“Phone operator.”

“Well maybe there’s a phone book for dead hard-ons somewhere.”

“Sorry to bother you.”

“Wait a minute. I wanna help you,” Mrs Holmes said. “Me and my ex had us a nice lawsuit. There was nothing amicable about our divorce. He claimed I was unfaithful. I should’ve been, but I really was taking mah-jongg lessons. He claimed constructive abandonment. Anyway, we both avoided taking each other’s phone calls after he moved out. In between writing checks to the goddamn lawyers.”

There’s a sound people make when they bring up their experiences with lawyers.

“Hang on a sec. I bought a doo-hickey that gives nuisance callers a permanent no-answer. I got a list of phone numbers for the police, just in case. Some of the guys who call at awkward times might have something for you.”

The receiver hit the wall-to-wall carpet.

Shots in the dark never entirely miss. Some weird particle physics guides them.

Gladys dictated phone numbers. One of them was Johnson’s.

The client only called her once, she said. He wanted to know about her husband’s family too, and was satisfied with her negative answer.

Gladys said we should watch some Swedish Erotica movies together. She had the full series.

I didn’t leave the phone booth.

The conversations with Mrs Holmes’ phone molestors weren’t nearly as friendly. The fellow fan act failed to convince. Most of them hung up without a word. One guy said, “Kiss off, pig.” He didn’t say why he thought the police might want to pester him.

An inspiration hit. Fan clubs, like AA and religious groups, have meetings.

When the next guy picked up, I said, “I heard the meeting’s on for tonight.”

Long pause. “You heard, huh?”

“You know what I’m talking about, but I got a problem: no car. Blew a gasket on the 405. Leaking oil all over the place. Overheated. Possible ring-job. In the shop till next Tuesday.”

“That’s rough, bud. Have we, uh, had the pleasure?”

“I’m up from San Diego. You’ll recognize me. Will you give me a lift to the meeting?”

“Sure, pal. No problem. I’ll pick you up at the Girl Talk Bar in Redondo. We can watch the sunset and get better acquainted.”

***

A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2
A Big Star, Part 3

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