Chapter 3 - Street Justice
The crowd oozed away from the site of the dumpster demolition derby as quickly as it had formed. The weather was too drizzly to stand around and watch a spoiled rich boy grouse about a pile of shit on his car seat. A couple of the locals lamely wisecracked about the similarities between Todd and the loamy loaf behind his steering wheel.
The clean white truck arrived promptly. A swarthy young man in a blue uniform slung himself down out of the cab. "You Carruthers?" he queried as he scratched the crotch of his dirty jeans.
"That's me, and this is my Beamer. No need trying to start it," he stalled, "Just put it on the hook and take it in."
Carruthers lost major points with the driver as he bitched and fretted about paint and body damage. The young tow man calmly listened to Todd's instructions as he raised the car with the hook. The driver's precision and accuracy went unnoticed.
Todd browbeat the tow man with incessant orders all the way back to the garage. The driver didn't flinch, he just quietly maneuvered his truck through the choking traffic as he'd done for years, with or without help from thousands of expert passengers who rode in the seat next to him.
At the garage, Todd's diversions didn't work long. The top mechanic went right to the Beamer and popped the door open. "Saaay, pal, this is a first. I've met a lot of people who shit their pants during an accident, but this is the first time I've ever seen so much of it on the seat. What were you doing, drivin' bare-assed?"
The garage crew laughed nastily until they nearly destroyed their underwear. Todd's tanned face flushed to match his car's paint job. If he'd had the nerve, he would have screamed obscenities at them all. Instead, he planned a terrible revenge on the entire place. He'd done it to business associates for much weaker reasons, so it would be easy with this bunch of annoying strangers. He decided that it would satisfy his reptilian soul to destroy these men's lives, even if the good feeling only lasted for a few minutes.
As he plotted ways to nullify the existence of every man in the shop, his concentration was broken by the burly boss.
"We can take care of your problem in a couple of hours. You're gonna have to leave it here with us, though. We'd let you stay and watch if we could," the boss lied, "But our insurance company won't allow you in here while we work."
"Two hours!" Todd screamed. "Two hours is worth thousands of dollars to me. What the hell do you need to do that takes two hours?"
"Look buddy, that seat has to be replaced. You don't want a permanent stain there do you?" the boss bargained, "And it'll always smell like that no matter what you do to it." Nobody in the shop wanted to clean up the shit any more than Carruthers did. The boss hoped he'd would let them swap the seat for a new one.
Todd neurotically paced the dreary shop office for a moment before he gave in. "Damn it, you've got me up against it. All right, just do it. I'll figure out some way to get the insurance to pay for it. I've gotta get out of here. Where's there a decent restaurant with a phone in this hellhole neighborhood."
The shop boss pointed him toward a nearby coffee shop and ushered him out the door. The blond annoyance strutted out as the whole shop crew just shook their heads in amazement.
Todd hated everything about the people who live in Hollywood. He hated their lifestyle, which was mostly subsistence. He hated their non-Aryan features. He hated the way everything smelled, usually like garbage or urine. He hated them because they were poor, unlike anybody he would ever want to spend his time with. But mostly, he hated the fact that everybody he saw on the streets seemed to dislike him for some unknown reason.
He avoided eye contact with every stranger as he walked along the cracked, wet sidewalk. One ragged young mother with a toddler spoke to him anyway. "Please mister, can you spare some change? The landlord just raised the rent, and my daughter and I are going to be thrown out of our apartment if we don't come up with twenty dollars more by tonight."
"Get a job, bitch. Didn't you ever hear of work? What the hell's wrong with you people anyway? Nobody in my family ever asked strangers for handouts. For god's sake, go to college and learn a skill."
Todd gloried in his spiritual triumph as the wretched woman silently walked away, apparently defeated by his dazzling logic. He wouldn't have been interested in the fact that the woman already had two jobs, but together they didn't account for as much money as Carruthers spent on cocaine every month.
The sidewalk on the quiet side street had become as empty as Todd's soul. He felt relieved. It was easier to avoid confrontations with the locals if they keep their distance. However, a mangy figure in a ratty wet coat broke the vacuum as he loomed out from the upcoming alley. Todd kept a steady pace and didn't look as the stooped stranger began to speak.
"Say mister, I need a buck so I can buy some food," he said tentatively. "A dollar isn't gonna mean much to a man like...hey I know you don't I!"
The stranger's attitude changed suddenly. He stood up straight and his body language became very menacing as he stepped right up to Todd's face. "Yeah, I know you all right, you dog fucking piece of shit."
"I'm afraid you've got the advantage then, pal, because I don't recognize you or this dead thing you're wearing."
"You know me all right, Carruthers. You're the man who was gonna make me a star. You signed me up for a recording contract that was supposed to make a lot of money, remember? Well I guess it did make a lot of money all right, but not for me. I played and sang my guts out for two years, then you dumped me like a shitty diaper. Two platinum albums and I never saw a dime."
Todd's weasely mind raced to place the face, but the beard and long hair made identification impossible. He'd struck agreements with lots of entertainers who came back later and whined that they'd been cheated, but nobody made them sign those contracts, except their own greed. In his own mind, Todd was only looking out for the company when he made the deals.
"I guess you've screwed so many people, you've forgotten which one I am, haven't you? Well, maybe it's better that way. I don't remember how many nights I've slept in alleys like this one, dreaming about what I'd do if I ever came across you again. Hey, small world ain't it asshole?"
"Look pal, you don't know me. Now why don't you go back to the hospital and let the nice nurses take care of you."
The wild man put a knife to Todd's perfectly tanned neck. "I've been in the hospital. They ran out of money, so they sent me here. Now come with me quietly, or it'll be your last mistake, blondie."
Carruthers was renowned in the music business as both greedy and gutless, but he had no idea of just how gutless he was about to become. He meekly followed the angry man's knife into the alley.
The neighbors were used to the yells and shouts that regularly echoed through the lane. Todd's agonized screams for mercy didn't seem to arouse much attention. A couple of people yelled at Todd to shut up, then closed their windows to get a little peace in their apartments.
Even a dull knife does its job when guided by the strong hands of a crazy man, especially one who has spent years focused on one moment of revenge. In only a few minutes, Carruthers' white carcass had been butchered more professionally than most prime cuts of supermarket beef. Blood was so thick on the pavement that the killer repeatedly lost his footing in the slippery mess. He nearly gutted himself accidentally once or twice.
When Todd was entirely dismembered, the man shoved
several recognizable appendages into a heavy garbage bag. Then he organized the remainder into a psychopathic display of artistic arrangement. The crazed artist paused for a moment to admire his creation; then he softly rolled down the alley whistling. For the first time in years, he felt completely at peace.
Eventually, two of LA'S finest showed up.
"The caller said the perp' was down in this alley attacking a white cauc' with a knife."
"Yeah, but 911 took the call an hour ago. He's probably gone by now."
Routine assault calls bored the two officers. In Hollywood, attempted murder is as common as broken dreams. The cops were spread pretty thin by the high crime rate, so it often took as much as an hour to act on emergency calls. They just stacked up until somebody could respond.
"Just a second. There's somebody trying to hide in that dumpster. Check out the face. Have you ever seen such a lame job of hiding? Okay sir, put your hands on top of your head and climb out of there slowly."
The face stared out at them unblinkingly, apparently unimpressed by their authority or their weapons.
"Shit, looks like we got us another damned crack head."
The officers split up and continued their armed approach more slowly.
"We're police officers. Show us your hands and explain what you're doing in there.
More than anything, Todd wanted to raise his hands and climb out of the dumpster, but he couldn't because they weren't attached to him anymore. Only his head remained, and it was cleverly propped up in the dumpster so that it just peered over the edge.
By the time the police got close enough to see that he was unarmed, the killer was several blocks away with the rest of Todd stuffed into a stolen shopping cart.
It's a fair bet that Todd would have preferred a ride in his Beamer.
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