Reaper 01-ART-v02

Reaper
Part One

by Doug Richardson

In an exclusive new book excerpt, an arrogant movie director puts himself into a humiliating predicament. 2,424 words. Part Two. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


“Holy God,” breathed in the boy wonder, eyes wide orbits. It was 2:49 a.m. and he was desperate to savor the moment.

It was quite possibly, the greatest moment of his life. Or at least he couldn’t imagine anything that came close until one particular memory flashed. And that might have been the look on the faces of those privileged doubters at The Buckley School who’d laughed when fifteen-year-old Atom — then named Adam Blumquist — had announced he was not only going to be a famous movie director, but the most successful movie director in Hollywood history.

After Atom gifted Buckley’s development and scholarship funds with a mid-six-figure donation, the headmaster had asked the boy wonder to deliver the commencement address at their most recent graduation ceremony. From the dais, Atom Blum had not only made a point to stare down each of those teachers who had lacked faith in his talent, but had the balls to call them out by name.

Yeah, man. That moment and this moment.

The present moment was both a collection of images as well a flood of feelings. Though feelings weren’t entirely important to the boy wonder compared to his beloved moving pictures. The picture frame was everything to him. And, from Atom’s perspective, his life deserved to be experienced in theatrical widescreen glory. Thus, the backdrop he’d chosen for the present moment — the view from atop a Topanga Canyon turnout overlooking the West San Fernando Valley. Below, a blanket of lights curtained by distant mountains glowing in the spill of their candlepower.

“Don’t stop,” begged the naked swimsuit model splayed face down on the hood of his blood orange Lamborghini. Her sweaty hands smeared disappearing palm prints on the finish, aptly named by the automaker as Arancio Borealis.

The boy wonder dug in with his python-skin cowboy boots, gifted to him by the cast of young stars who’d populated his most recent action opus, Roadkill 3: TransAmerica. As the worldwide gross crossed the billion dollar threshold, Atom celebrated the night with a bottle of rare tequila and a panoramic round of unprotected outdoor carnality. Still, his thrusts were less about below the waist pleasure than his rocks-off-between-the-ears fantasy.

I’m king of the world! he wanted to shout to the heavens and anybody else within earshot.

“Harder,” urged the girl, barely eighteen — he hoped — blonde and demonstrably experienced.

The boy wonder briefly wondered if she’d really meant it. If she was indeed experiencing her own fantasy of being rear-mounted by a famous movie director while across the hood of an exotic Italian car. Or was she just selling? Why not and who cares? he figured. In Hollywood, everyone’s selling. And this was Atom’s unholy fairy tale.

He bent his knees and briefly lay across her, tasting her sweat with a tongue he’d sometimes wished was as abrasive as a cat’s. A breeze kicked up and rustled the leaves of an overhanging oak. He felt the rush of air cool against his bared ass. If this were a scene in a movie, he wondered how he would cover it. With multiple cameras, making certain not to miss an angle of ecstasy? Or with a single camera, allowing himself to record the moment over a period of hours instead of minutes, savoring every drop of her perspiration onto film and keeping her goose-pimpled and naked until the sun breached the horizon.

Thank God I popped that Viagra.

Thank God, indeed. Otherwise the moment might have ended that much earlier, putting a cap on the fantasy and leaving the experienced model sexually unsatisfied.

“Tequila,” she demanded, twisting her body, neck and face enough for him to spill a shot from the open bottle into her mouth.

Atom followed by guzzling back a swig for himself. That’s when he got the idea that he might pour a bit of the expensive juice onto her creamy back for him to lick. With that, he turned the bottle and splashed some on her. She wriggled with excitement and made an ooooohhh sound. It set off a surge in him. Adrenalin. As if he’d just been fuel-injected with an extra hundred cc’s of lust. The boy wonder lifted his heels and dug at the dirt from the balls of his feet for more leverage. The girl beneath wanted a pounding and damned if he wasn’t going to give it to her up to the hilt.

“I’m king of the fucking world!” Atom finally shouted, arms spread wide like James Cameron at the Academy Awards. Only instead of holding an Oscar in one hand, he gripped that bottle of expensive Don Julio Real.

Then reality happened.

Cowboy boots, python-skin or otherwise, aren’t known for their traction. The leather soles, relatively slick from a lack of true wear, slipped against a surface of sand and decomposed granite. Once the g-forces of Sir Isaac Newton took over, any hope of Atom regaining his dignity was lost.

In order to maximize the moment for his demanding eyeballs, Atom Blum had parked the Lambo up against a ravine. He had been so keen on getting the busty eighteen-year-old out of every stitch of her clothes, he hadn’t noticed he’d left barely two feet of sandy ledge for himself to orchestrate his sex scenario.

Then there was the tequila effect. The boy wonder recalled the feeling of his feet giving way, yet the next part of the fall was barely a blur. Consciousness quickly returned as Atom felt himself tumbling backward, crashing through thorny brush and pointy dead oak leaves for some fifty feet until he hit the rock-covered bottom. All the way, his boots remained on as did as his designer dungarees, tangled and torn around his ankles.

There were cuts and scrapes and his skin stung. The only part of Atom that didn’t seem to hurt instantly was his chemically enhanced member which, he couldn’t help but notice, was still unsheathed and pointing awkwardly to the sky.

The swimsuit model screamed like she’d discovered her own nakedness, grabbing at her clothes until she heard Atom shouting from down in the ravine. At first, his was a stream of foul and angry invectives. Each loaded with blame for anyone but himself. Eventually came a pause and a plaintive whimper of a request.

“Call 911!” squealed the movie director.

If he’d thought to check his watch, Atom would’ve known the exact time he lay there drunk, half-naked and exposed at the bottom of the ravine before he’d begun to form anything resembling cogent thought. The girl, whatever her name was, had only once dared a look into the dark chasm. Since his demand that she dial 911, he’d heard nothing from her. He’d first imagined her leaving the gravel cutout for the blacktop of Mulholland, dutifully waiting to flag down the responding paramedics. As his mind played out how he imagined his rescue occurring, clearer thinking prevailed. Most likely, both police and fire departments would be scrambled. There would be a public record of that, all the way down to the 911 call. Had the girl used her name? Or even more terrifying, had she dropped his name?

Fuck!

The boy wonder knew how the online tabloids monitored emergency alerts that might involve a celebrity. And they weren’t beyond paying for and publishing the slightest hint of scandalous innuendo. Had the girl already sold him out? How many hours before the dirty details of his sex fumble were bannered across the front page of TMZ?

Fuck! Fuck!

As was his narcissistic habit, Atom began to shoot the scene in his head. With a crane to start. A booming camera shot that would capture the flashing lights of police and fire crews surging to the rescue. As the trucks and cruisers pulled into the cutout, the crane would track and lower into a tight close-up of a gritty, first responder. Next, Atom would continue the scene with a chasing, point-of-view shot as the paramedics raced toward the edge of the ravine. Lastly, he imagined the visual pay-off as he’d direct the camera to tilt and zoom into the rocky chasm. Flashlights would search and suddenly focus on a skinny and scared thirty-five-year-old man with a Beverly Hills haircut and barely the strength to shade his eyes from the glare. Still stunned from the fall, the poor accident victim hadn’t the awareness to pull his pants back up to cover his awkward nakedness—his glistening and chemically charged prick.

Firemen and police would be certain to chuckle to themselves before roping in for the final rescue.

Fuck that shit.

Reaper 02 ART--v01

With that, the boy wonder rediscovered his mojo. He straightened his legs and only half-hitched up his ripped pants before beginning his climb out. To avoid slipping any further, he abandoned his pricey cowboy boots, leaving the python-skinned pair where his bony tailbone had come to rest.

“Fuck those boots,” slurred Atom aloud to nobody but the snakes and lizards.

The calf-high silk socks tore almost instantly, leaving his soft and manicured bare feet seeking a grip against the rocks and decomposed granite. Atom was far more inebriated than he realized. The climb forced his heart to race. The crevasse spun. And almost as if he’d imagined rerunning his own bad movie, he skipped and bumped his way back down to the bottom. Back where he had started and seeking some calm behind his closed eyelids. Perhaps when he reopened them he’d discover it was only a nightmare.

The sky above him lit up, penetrating his thin-skinned shutters in a flare of veiny red — the thumping Atom imagined betrayed by his own damned ears. He found his hands instinctively protecting his face from the super-kilowatt lamp that turned the crevasse from black to white hot.

“THIS IS THE LOS ANGELES SHERIFFS,” boomed a voice from a speaker mounted to the undercarriage of the helicopter. “ARE YOU IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE?”

Shitballs, bitched Atom at himself.

Please God tell me my pants aren’t still around my knees.

A quick glance across his body returned the correct answer. His denims had only made it up to his thighs. His Viagra powered member was, despite both tumbles, still at attention, overblown and overexposed in that wash of manufactured light.

“Before you start,” said Lucky Dey. “Anybody seen my trainee?”

“Babysitting your ride-along,” said Watch Commander Lieutenant Eugene Torres of the Compton Branch of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. “Surprise to me too. Talk to you when we’re done with all this Fourth of July crap.”

It was week two of Lucky’s re-assignment as a L.A. Sheriff’s deputy, and Lucky sat back and privately commiserated over the bad news. If Torres had an explanation for saddling Lucky and his trainee with a ride-along, the lieutenant had forgotten or had been urgently distracted post briefing.

“Hey there,” introduced the ride-along. “Atom Blum. I’m your tourist.”

Lucky measured the man as roughly thirty-five to forty years with a youthful exuberance underneath hard-partying skin. Entitled. The skinny SOB stunk of a zip code south of Mulholland and west of the 405. Some kind of showbiz asshole, that was for sure. Despite all instinctive reservations, Lucky greeted the boy wonder with a handshake.

“You in movies?” asked Lucky, more pro forma than profoundly awed.

“Director,” said Atom, trying and failing to not sound dazzled at himself. I directed the Roadkill films.”

“Hey, cowboy!” barked Lucky. “Meet a coupla more of the good guys.”

Atom pasted on a practiced grin and strode over, open hand as ready as a politician’s.

“Atom Blum,” the director introduced.

“Movie dude. Directed all the Road Rage flicks,” erred Lucky. On purpose.

Kill,” corrected Atom, “Road. Kill.”

“Love those movies!” pimped Gil. “I even got me the PlayStation games.”

“You workin’ on somethin’ about the Sheriffs?” asked Petrie.

“Might be workin’ on finding my next leading lady,” puffed Atom. “Unless you can tell me that all your female sheriffs are as hot as Deputy Shia Saint George.”

“She’s sure as shit’s a step up,” replied Gil. “Know what they used to call Compton Station? The Dog Pound.”

“No shit,” laughed Atom, as if he’d just logged himself a moment of real cop talk before turning back to Lucky. “Seriously. You got five months ahead sittin’ next to that? Hope you’re not married.”

“And if I was?” asked Lucky.

The trio joined in a nervous, knowing guffaw.

“I getcha,” muted Atom. “Five months, shit. What I would pay for five hours with that.”

“You’ve been introduced,” shifted Lucky as he straightened from the chair. “Why don’t you young studs share your stories with Hollywood’s finest?”

Lucky stretched, adjusted his utility belt and left the movie director with Gil and Petrie. His exit served as punctuation.

“Hey, get this,” switched Gil. “Some shit hardly nobody knows. Couple nights back, Air Support is flyin’ up ’round Malibu way, checking on a stolen car report when they light up this Lambo parked at some scenic turnout. They’re slingin’ the spot and they light up this ass-clown at the bottom of a ravine. Pants ’round his ankles. Big ol’ hard on.”

Atom’s face dropped into that of a slack-jawed statue. Was he really hearing what Gil was passing along?

“You’re shittin’ me,” laughed Petrie. “Was the dude by his-self?”

“When they found him he was,” continued Gil. “Supposedly there was some swimsuit honey up there doin’ him when he crack-over-tits falls into the ravine. Drunk as a monkey.”

Atom felt his knees weaken. The flush of blood rising beneath the skin on his face. Good God, had Lucky been waiting to spring this? Was it some kind of joke sent along by Assistant Sheriff Paul McGill — his supposed top-brass friend who’d promised to forever fix the embarrassing episode?

“Really?” Atom forced after his fake chuckle. “They say who the dipshit was?”

“Man, I must know twenty deputies up at Temple Street,” answered Gil. “But this guy’s gotta be somebody or know somebody cuz there ain’t no written report — no names —no nothin’ cuz Christ knows I asked.”

“And if you could find out?” asked Petrie.

“I’d go find the dude and ask to be his wingman,” laughed Gil. “I mean, imagine a girl hot enough to be worth that kinda spill? That dude’s gotta be a pussy magnet.”

“Drives a Lambo,” agreed Petrie.

“Wow,” was all Atom could manage, nearly wheezing his sigh of relief. Not just from learning that his identity was still intact, but also over his decision to leave the Lamborghini in his Malibu garage and drive his Range Rover to the Compton station instead.

Part Two

About The Author:
Doug Richardson
Doug Richardson is a screenwriter, novelist and blogger. His movie credits include Die Hard: Die Harder, Bad Boys, and Hostage. He posts a weekly blog about screenwriting whose collection The Smoking Gun is published. He has authored six suspense thrillers including 99 Percent Kill, The Safety Expert, Blood Money and his latest Reaper: A Lucky Dey Thriller excerpted here.

About Doug Richardson

Doug Richardson is a screenwriter, novelist and blogger. His movie credits include Die Hard: Die Harder, Bad Boys, and Hostage. He posts a weekly blog about screenwriting whose collection The Smoking Gun is published. He has authored six suspense thrillers including 99 Percent Kill, The Safety Expert, Blood Money and his latest Reaper: A Lucky Dey Thriller excerpted here.

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