Monday, February 4, 2008

L.A. Heat excerpt by Pat Brown

This is an excerpt from the first Chris and David mystery, L.A. Heat by Pat Brown. This scene takes place when Chris is brought to the Northeast station to be interviewed by Martinez, David's partner. Martinez is very homophobic and really wants to pin the gruesome murders of young gay men on Chris.

L.A. Heat
Alyson Books (July, 2006)
ISBN: 978-1555839482


"Where do you work, Mr. Bellamere?"

"You ought to know that, you had your men drag me out of
there just now."

"It's for the record. Don't worry, your lawyer will get to hear the
whole thing once he gets here."

Chris sighed "I work for DataTEK Systems, in Studio City, on

"And how long have you worked there, sir?"

"Six years."

"And what exactly do you do at DataTEK Systems?"

Something niggled into Chris's mind. Martinez was being too
nice. What was up? "What is it you people think I did? I'm telling
you right now, you're wrong—"

"Don't worry about that right now." As well as recording the
conversation, Martinez took notes. "Demanding job?"

"It can be . . . "

"What sort of hours you keep in a job like that?"

"I'm on call," Chris said. "Someone wants me, they call."

"Doesn't leave much time for a social life." Martinez's muddy
brown eyes met Chris's, measuring, weighing. "Or girlfriends."

Chris cracked a smile. "Sorry, wrong sex. Didn't we do this

"Excuse me?"

"I'm gay, remember? I have boyfriends."

Without changing expression Martinez scribbled something
down. "Got one now?"


"Playing the field?"

"You could say that." Chris thought of David and wondered if
this guy even had a clue about his partner. "You didn't bring me
down here to ask about my work habits or my bedroom partners,
so what is it, detective?"

Instead of answering, Martinez fished around in the briefcase
and withdrew four eight-by-ten glossy photographs, which he
dropped on the table between them.

"Know this man?"

"What the fuck?"

He shoved the pictures back but Martinez held them in place.
"Take another look. You recognize this man?"

"No—" Then Chris realized to his horror he did. It was Bobby.
"Oh, my God."

Martinez leaned forward, his swarthy face flat, his eyes like a
shark's, unmoving, watching, dissecting. "You do recognize him.
Who is he? Give me a name."

Chris looked away. "His name was Bobby."

"Bobby who?"

"I don't know." Chris refused to look at the images. He stared at
a stain on the green wall behind Martinez. "He never gave me his
last name."

"What was your relationship to this Bobby?"

"We were . . . friends."

"Friends? But you don't know his last name? How long did you
know him?"

"We'd only met a couple of times."

"Where did you meet?"

"Why all the questions?" Chris tried to glare at the fat cop.
"What happened to him? Who did that?"

"Where did you meet Bobby?"

"A bar."

"What bar?"

"What difference does it make?"

"What bar?"

"The Nosh Pit." Chris was beginning to feel afraid. Goose
bumps crowded the bare skin of his arms. The knot at the base
of his head began to resolve into a pounding headache. "What is
going on here?"

"Where is this Nosh Pit?"

"Hyperion. In Silver Lake."

"Gay bar?"

"What do you think?"

"I think you better answer my questions," Martinez snapped.
"Before things go bad for you."

"What does that mean? Is that a threat?"

"When did you last see this Bobby?"

"I don't remember."


"I don't—last week, I guess. Monday, I guess." Chris rubbed
the skin of his knuckles. He found himself staring at his distorted
image in the mirrored glass. Who was watching from the other
side? "We had a couple of drinks at the Pit. I never saw him again."

"Did he get into your vehicle?"


"Did he enter your vehicle that night?"

"Sure," Chris said. "He wanted me to take him home . . . to my
place. I didn't want to. We argued. He got out and I never saw him

"What did you do while you were in the vehicle?"

"What do you mean?"

"Did you solicit him for sex?"

"No, it wasn't like that."

"What was it like then, sir?"

Chris rubbed the back of his neck, startled to find it was damp
with sweat. Suddenly he'd had enough of this fat, overbearing cop.
"So we fooled around," he said. "This is the twenty-first century,
right? Hell, according to Clinton it isn't even sex."

"Are you saying you and Bobby engaged in fellatio?"

God, what a stupid word. "Shit, we were just fooling around.
End of story."

"Except it's not the end of the story, is it, Mr. Bellamere." Martinez
pulled out a bulging handful of colored eight-by-tens. He threw
the pictures down on the table in front of Chris. "Want to have
another look at your handiwork, Mr. Bellamere?"

Chris glanced down at the images as they came to rest atop the
cigarette burns and knife work that adorned the battered table. He
was expecting more images of Bobby for him to I.D., but what he
saw made his flesh flash ice cold and his stomach roll over.

"What'd he do, Bellamere?" Martinez was over the table, in
his face, screaming. "Look at you wrong? Say the wrong thing to

It was Bobby. No mistaking that. But these images showed a
Bobby who had been hideously abused, his skin flayed and ripped
off his once gorgeous body. A circlet of blood ringed his neck and
in one image it looked like he was on his stomach, and the gaping
wound between his legs made Chris lose it.

He threw himself away from the table. Away from the images.
His hand went to his mouth, but it was like stemming a flood with
straw. Vomit spattered all over his legs.

Distantly he thought he heard Martinez yell, "Hijo de puto. You

Then the door swung open and he looked up through a blur of
tears to see David enter the room.

"Put those away. Shut that tape off."

Someone else entered the room and there was a whispered
conversation that Chris couldn't make out. The next thing he
knew someone was guiding him out of the room, away from his
own stink. Almost immediately they turned into another room, a
washroom. The door closed and he was guided to the sink.

"Do you want a drink of water? Coffee?"

It was David. He brushed by Chris and turned on the taps.
Chris blinked up at him. He took the damp paper towels that
were handed to him.

"Here," David said. "Clean yourself up."

Chris forced himself to focus on David. He clutched the towels
in one hand.

"How could you let him do that to me?"

"I'll take that to mean you don't want a drink. Okay, can you
answer some more questions?"

"More questions? Are you fucking nuts?"

David perched on the sink and Chris nearly screamed when he
pulled out his notepad.

"Tell me what happened after Bobby and you entered your

"You want a blow by blow account?" Chris snarled. "I'm sitting
here with fucking puke all over me and you want to know about
my sex life? Rent a video like everybody else does."

"Like the kind Bobby made?"

"How the hell did you know about that—"

"If you had looked closely at those pictures Martinez threw at
you, you would have seen a strip of film around the deceased's
neck. It was a porno loop, starring one Bobby Starrz."

"Bobby Starrz?"

"His stage name. His real name was Robert Allen Dvorak."

"And what does any of this have to do with me?"

"You are so far the last person to have seen him alive."

"And you think I had something to do with that?"

"Where were you Tuesday morning?"

"Jesus, if I'd known I was going to need an alibi—"

"Yes?" David leaned forward. "What would you have done, Mr.

"I'd have done something to be noticed. Maybe dance naked on
my front lawn so the neighbors could tell you I was home. Would
that have made you happy?"

"What time would you have felt compelled to create this alibi?"

Chris opened his mouth to retort, then closed it. His skin grew
clammy. "You're trying to trick me, aren't you? Anything I say is
going to incriminate me now, isn't it?"

"Do you feel you're incriminating yourself, Chris? Is there
something you'd like to tell me?" David's voice was gentle, almost
hypnotic. "You can talk to me, you know."

Chris's mouth hung open. Finally he pulled away from David,
holding his arms wrapped around his chest.

"You really think I killed him, don't you?" he whispered. "My
God, what kind of monster do you think I am?"

"Talk to me, Chris. We can work this out."

"Fuck you, David." Chris was still whispering. He staggered
backward. "I'm not saying another word to you without my

1 comment:

Victor J. Banis said...

Pat, I'm going to try to post this for you (my last effort took no fewer than 6 tries. I'm a senior citizen. I probably won't get through the list before my time is up)

This has a nice noir feel to it.