“Watching a child suffer is a hard thing,” Bogie said, his voice low and slightly nasal.
Madison stared at him. Was he an imaginary friend? She would never be sure. She’d had strange experiences as a child. She’d tried chalking them up to growing pains, teenage angst and, as her parents had suggested, an overactive imagination—the kind that had led her right into a career. She’d also had experiences that had broken her heart—and might be part of the reason she embraced her work, day in and day out.
Bogie hadn’t come with the bungalow, though he’d lived there briefly in the 1920s. He’d told her once that he had loved it and loved living there. She’d first met him at the wax museum when she was a college student; she’d assumed he was a look-alike actor hired to play the part. They’d spoken and laughed together….
And he’d followed her home.
Bogie showed up whenever he wanted to. Apparently he had other places to haunt, as well. Madison simply accepted him as a friend—imaginary though he might be. Sometimes she thought she was crazy; sometimes she thought she was incredibly lucky that such a man had chosen her to haunt. Although she believed that now, she hadn’t always. He’d scared her to death at first, and had occasionally made her life hell.
He’d just startled her today; the first night she’d seen him sitting on her sofa, however, he’d practically given her a heart attack. She’d fumbled to call the police, and they’d come and almost arrested her, assuming she was another college kid trying to make trouble. Bogie had been apologetic and courteous—so sorry for causing her distress. He was what he was, and he’d tried to explain, but she hadn’t believed him.
Maybe he was imaginary, but she didn’t know what part of her mind triggered his appearances.
And if he was, what about the other dead people who’d spoken to her?
But imaginary or not, he was there for her now.
“Have some coffee, kid. That’ll make you feel better.”
“I’m not sure it will help me feel better. But at least it’ll wake me up.”
“What are you waking up for? You could go back to sleep.”
“Why is it that everyone thinks I can sleep now?” she muttered.
Bogie ignored that, standing and stretching as he gazed out the windows. He turned to look at her. “The murder took place in the studio?” he asked.
She shook her head. “The underground tunnel between the Black Box Cinema and the studio—where Archer has his film noir museum.”
“Interesting,” Bogie mused. “By which display?”
Madison frowned. “The news didn’t say, but Alfie told me it was by the tableau for Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean, especially since the studio is now in lockdown because of The Unholy—the Sam Stone remake.”
“A lot has been crazy in Hollywood through the years. You’ve heard about the case of the Black Dahlia? Poor girl, tortured and then displayed, chopped right in two,” Bogie said, shaking his head. “There’s always been murder out here—and out here, it becomes sensational, with more emphasis on the drama than the tragedy. You had Fatty Arbuckle and the murder of Virginia Rappe back in 1921, and later, you had the Manson murders and then the Simpson murders, and anytime anyone’s killed here, the press is out looking for every sordid detail.” He shrugged. “I watch the news, you know,” he told her seriously, “as well as old comedy reruns. And, kid, this is a big place full of illusion. Murder isn’t confined to Tinseltown, but there’s no way it’s not going to occur here, too.”
Madison nodded absently. She glanced over at Bogie and wondered sometimes why he didn’t haunt some of the other places he’d loved. And some of the people… He’d told her once, though, “They can’t see me. I can’t reach them. So it just hurts, kid. It just hurts.” And he’d grinned at her. “You reply when I speak to you and I like that. It’s why I keep coming back, kid.”
And now, most of the time, she was glad. Very glad.
“Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum,” Bogie said. “I could’ve been in that movie. I think I was busy at the time. Something else going on. Might have been Casablanca. Yeah, probably. That was 1942. Anyway, I always thanked God I wasn’t on that set, because there was a death back then—and it might have been a murder, too.”
Madison tried to see if she could remember her Hollywood lore and legend well enough to recall a murder that had happened during the making of Sam Stone.
“I don’t recall ever seeing anything about it—in any of the lurid books about true Hollywood murders or on any of the history or entertainment channels,” she said.
Bogie joined her on the couch again. Watching him, she hid a smile. He seemed to sit differently from other people she knew. He was relaxed, and still, somehow appeared proper.
“It was 1942. The war effort was in full swing. Movies were being made to encourage heroism—or to try and divert the public from the war. Casablanca,” he said, and grew thoughtful. “Ah, that was a good one for me. There was some great writing on that movie. I wish some of those lines had been my own. That and The African Queen…some of those were my ad-libs. And both of them gave me a persona to live up to.” He paused and looked at her with his famous lopsided grin. “Anyway, I digress, kid. And I’m talking out of line. The death of Pete Krakowski was never officially called a murder. No real inquiries were made, no one was investigated and no one was arrested. There were just rumors on the set, rumors that traveled around. Gotta remember, back then, the studios were king, and they were powerful. Krakowski’s death was seen as a tragic accident, and that’s the way it went. It was long ago and in the middle of a world war, and it wasn’t particularly noted at the time—he was a bit player, not a big star.”
“How did Krakowski die?” Madison asked, puzzled.
“There was some kind of fault with the wiring. He was electrocuted. From what I understood, he was fooling around on set before the filming was to start, and then he was dead. Fried,” Bogie said, shaking his head sadly.
“We’re doing a remake of that movie—and I never even heard about it. Why do you say it might’ve been a murder?” Madison asked.
“You didn’t hear about it because there were accidents on sets from time to time. Krakowski wasn’t the only film person who died that you’ve probably never heard of—no internet back then. You just heard about these things if they happened to a major star or if someone was killed by a lover or a spouse.” He cocked his head toward her. “Bit player, and what was deemed an accident. Nothing sensational about it, and Krakowski was hardly a household name. Like I said, no way for every little piece of news to be known across the country back then. No Twitter, no Facebook and no Google.” He was quiet for a minute. “I woulda liked a Facebook page,” he said.
“Actually, there are several devoted to you,” she said. “But why would someone suspect it was murder? It sounds like an accident.”
“I knew the key grip and the lead electrician on that film. They were the best in the business. If they were working the rigging and electric, both were safe.” Bogie waved a hand. “Anyway, Krakowski’s death is a far cry from a starlet being sliced up in the tunnel. A far cry, indeed.” He leaned back, nostalgic. “I remember that old cinema from way back. Played silent films, even before my time. It’s a shame, a damned shame. That Eddie Archer has a real appreciation for the past—this shouldn’t have happened on his property. Shouldn’t have happened to the poor girl, either.”
Madison realized that she’d been feeling sorry for and worried about Eddie Archer and his son, Alistair. She’d almost forgotten the victim.
Was that how it had been when the death had occurred during the original filming?
“Lord,” she whispered. “You’re right. The poor girl.”
“That’s Hollywood for you,” Bogie said. “It’ll steal your soul, if not your life. There’ve been so many who came here with such dreams and wound up dead. Christa Helm, Dorothy Stratton, Dominique Dunne, Elizabeth Short or the Black Dahlia, Sharon Tate. Peg Entwhistle, the only one to really jump from the Hollywood sign. I remember that,” Bogie said. “She found her fame in death. And we may never find out what really happened to Marilyn Monroe.” He paused. “Did you know the young woman who was killed?”
Madison nodded, then shook her head. “I can’t say I knew her. I met her a few times when she was with Alistair and once at an office party.”
“You work too much, kid. You’ve gotta remember, none of it’s worth anything if you don’t have a life.”
Madison arched a brow and refrained from reminding him that the last time she’d brought a date home, she’d acted like an idiot because Bogie had been watching something on her television and had said, “Don’t mind me, kid.” He loved TV. He couldn’t do a lot on the physical plane, but he could manage such simple tasks as pushing buttons on the remote control. He adored old sitcoms and liked to keep up with the television news.
“There has to be some information on Krakowski’s death,” she said, returning to their previous topic.
“There was—one newspaper article. No follow-up. He died. It was sad. He was buried. And that was that. I’m sure many of us thought about it back then. But time goes by.”
“This is so horrible. For the poor girl, yes, of course. And for everyone who will be touched by it.” She sighed. “Alistair really loves his dad. He didn’t usually bring people to the studio. I mean, I don’t know what went on before—I’ve been there for about three years now. But as far as I can tell, Alistair respects the studio. And he loves film. He wants to get into directing rather than special effects, but…although I didn’t really know Jenny Henderson, I saw the way Alistair followed her around like a puppy dog. He had a huge crush on her. I can’t believe he would’ve killed anyone. And I especially can’t believe he would’ve hurt Jenny. He was crazy about her.”