One way to get famous is to die the wrong way

As we drove away, he said, “Coffee would prop my eyelids.”
I stopped at a place on Santa Monica near Bundy. Scrawled the possibilities as I sawthem on a napkin and slid it across the table as Miloreturned from making some calls.
1. Dylan Meserve abducts and murders Michaela, then flees.
2. Reynold Peaty abducts and murders Michaela and Dylan.
3. Reynold Peaty abducts and murders Michaela and Dylan’s disappearance is acoincidence.
4. None of the above.
“It’s that last one I love.” Milo waved forthe waitress, ordered pecan pie à la mode. Finishing most of the wedge in threegulps, he nibbled the rest with excruciating care, as if that provedself-restraint.
“I called Michaela’s mother again, it was all about her, big time woe-is-me.Too sick to come out to claim the body. The way she was gasping I figure it’sprobably true.”
I summarized Michaela’s account of her childhood.
“Ugly duckling?” he said. “Every gorgeous girl says that…what that Jewishlady said, the lifestyle issue, maybe she had a point.”
“Michaela got caught up in the Hollywoodthing.”
“You know what that does to the ninety-nine-point-nine percent who fall ontheir asses. The question is, did it snag her or was it just one of thosebad-luck deals.”
“Like running into Peaty.”
He ate the last bit of pie, wiped his mouth, put way too much money on thetable, and extricated himself from the booth. “Back to the salt mine. Lots ofboring stuff to do.”
Boring was his code word for I need to be alone. I drove him to the stationand went home.
That evening Michaela’s murder was the lead story on every local broadcast,blow-dried news readers half smiling as they intoned about the “shocking crime”and exhumed mock-solemn memories of Michaela and Dylan’s “publicity stunt.”
Dylan was cited as “a person of interest, not a suspect.” The implicationwas clear, as it always is when the police phrase it that way. I knew Milo hadn’t given them the quote. Probably some publicrelations officer, issuing yet another boilerplate release.
Next morning’s paper ran a page-three story with five times the ink spacethe hoax had merited, graced by two pictures of Michaela: a sultry, airbrushedhead-shot taken by a photographer who churned them out for Hollywood hopefuls,and her LAPD booking photo. I wondered if either or both would resurface in thetabloids or on the Internet.
One way to get famous is to die the wrong way.
I didn’t hear from Milo that day, figuredthe tips would be pouring in and he’d either learn a lot or nothing. I filledmy time polishing up reports, thought about getting a dog, took a new referralfrom an attorney named Erica Weiss.
Weiss had filed suit against a Santa Monica psychologist named Patrick Hauser for molestingthree female patients who’d attended his encounter groups. Chances were itwould settle and there’d be no court appearance. I negotiated a high hourly feeand felt pretty good about the deal.
I looked up Hauser’s office address. Santa Monica and Seventh. Allison also practiced in Santa Monica, a few miles away on Montana. I wondered if she knew Hauser,thought about calling her. Figured she might see it as an excuse to get in touchand decided against it.
At a quarter to six, when she was likely to be between patients, I changedmy mind. Her private line was still on speed dial.

————Buy Acai Berry

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