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Murder on site, Part 3

The story so far:Mark Dalton delivers the wind machines to the location shoot of Snowflake. When the line of trucks in front of him starts to move, the truck in front of him doesn't. When he tries to ...



The story so far:

Mark Dalton delivers the wind machines to the location shoot of Snowflake. When the line of trucks in front of him starts to move, the truck in front of him doesn’t. When he tries to open the door of the cab of the truck in front of him to tell the driver to get moving, the driver tumbles out… a knife in his chest. The dying man gives a clue, saying, “Aidee. Aidee.” Mark pulls the knife out of the man’s chest, just as the police arrive, and he is taken away in handcuffs.

Mark is questioned about the murder. He was after all, found with the murder weapon in his hand, had opportunity, etc. He even has a history of run-ins with police. But he convinces the police that he isn’t the kind capable of murder, nor did he ever know this guy before finding him dead. The police reluctantly agree that he’s probably not the killer, but they want him to stick around since he’s still a suspect. He protests, saying he’s a truck driver, and moving on is his job, but they still won’t let him go. However, Mark does find a chance to work on the movie set at the wheel of a van.

After Mark got the wind machines on site, he left his rig at the movie set and got a ride back to the inn from one of the other shuttle bus drivers. When he got to the inn, the production manager’s assistant gave him the keys to a 10-year-old Chrysler Magic Wagon parked out behind the inn.

“Now what do I do?” asked Mark.

“Get the motor running and wait out front. You’ll basically be shuttling people back and forth from the shoot… or anywhere else they need to go.”

Mark nodded. It sounded easy enough, and it was always nice to carry a load that didn’t have his fingerprints all over it. This cargo could unload itself.

“If you’re hungry you can pick up something with the rest of the crew, but if you’re not around when they break for lunch, you’re on your own.”

Mark nodded again. It seemed fair enough.

“Away you go, then.”

Mark went to the lot behind the inn where he saw the older mini-van parked among some newer vehicles. As he approached, he realized the van had been a school bus at one point and had probably seen better days. That became painfully obvious when he got in behind the wheel and tried to start it up. The engine turned over, barely, and he had to stand on the gas pedal to try and put some life into it. Eventually the van coughed and sputtered, and then chugged to life. Mark made a mental note not to shut if off if he didn’t have to, and maybe take a look under the hood if he had time.

He was kept waiting out in front of the inn for 15 minutes, but that gave the van a chance to warm up both inside and under the hood.

His first passengers were a pair of young women in neat little ski outfits that had been ripped and torn by the costume people. The women had also been made-up, and featured blue frost-bitten lips, rough red scrapes on their faces and cuts and bruises to the rest of their exposed flesh. It was odd to hear them laughing and giggling like kids, when they looked like they needed a doctor. Mark just shook his head.

Movie magic.

After the girls got in, one of them tried pulling the sliding door shut, but it wasn’t closing right. After several attempts, Mark got out of the van, went around to the passenger side and tried closing the door. It caught on the latch, but just. The moment he put some force on it, the door opened. So he opened the door again, reared back and gave it a good hard pull.

That locked it up good and tight.

When he got back into the van, the girls were talking about the dead driver. Mark listened in.

“He was so cute,” said the one on the left.

“I heard he was with Adriana Spenser,” said the other.

“But she’s with the director.”

“She is now, but she had a fling with the driver before him.”

“Well, I can’t blame her.”

“Did you hear they arrested the driver’s partner?”

“They did?” said Mark, first thinking it would allow him to leave this place, but then realizing that another trucker was probably an unlikely suspect.

“Sure did,” said the one on the left. “He had a set of keys to the truck, and they’d had a fight in the bar just last night. I saw that myself.

“What’s his name?” asked Mark.

“Who, the dead guy?”

“No, his partner.”

“I think it’s Arnold Dickens.”

Mark felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck.

Aidee, had been the dying man’s last words.

Arnold Dickens. A.D. Aidee.

When he reached the location of the shoot, he dropped off the girls and picked up an electrician who he had to drive into Barrie, Ont. to pick up some supplies.

“Shouldn’t you have those things on site?” Mark asked.

“We should, and on any other shoot we would,” the man sounded bitter, and maybe just a little pissed off. “But the producer has been counting every nickel and dime on this one.”

“I don’t know much about movies, but it looks to me like there’s plenty of money being thrown around.”

“Oh, he’s spending plenty of money on some things, like two week’s work from Shannon Tweed, like the wind machine rental, but he went non-union to cut down on crew costs. This guy makes Roger Corman look like a fatcat, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in trouble with the film board when this is all over.”

Maybe the driver had something on the producer, thought Mark, and was going to report him. That might ruin the guy’s career and that was certainly a motive for murder.

“What’s this producer’s name?” asked Mark.

“Adianous. Josef H. Adianous.”

Mark shifted nervously in his seat.

Josef H. Adianous. Adianous. Aidee.

After returning from Barrie and dropping the electrician on location, he was sent back to the inn to pick up the stunt man who was the star of the scene they were about to shoot.

But while Mark was expecting a stunt man, he actually picked up a man who bore a striking resemblance to Shannon Tweed.

“No offense, pal,” said Mark. “But you remind me a lot of Shannon Tweed.”

“Then three hours in make-up didn’t go to waste,” he said, the gruff voice all out of synch with the voluptuous curves of his ski suit, the long blond locks and his ruby red lips.

“Are you doing a stunt for her.”

The man shook his head. “No, I’m taking a fall for the woman who plays Tweed’s younger sister in the movie.” He shook his head as if not happy with the situation. “It’s just a five-foot fall into a snowbank, but the director doesn’t want to risk his new piece getting hurt.”

“His new girlfriend? You mean the one that had been with the dead truck driver?”

“Yeah, I guess she’s the one… Seems like the kind that might get tired of a man after a while.”

“But she’s been with the director for some time now?”

“Couple of days, a week maybe.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, who is the director, anyway?”

The guy let out a little laugh as if he couldn’t believe Mark didn’t know the director’s name. “Avram Doyle Kelso. He did Revenger of the Space Nerds, Part 3.”

“Oh, him,” Mark said, as if the stunt man had just said Francis Ford Coppola.

But he hadn’t said Coppola. He’d said…

Avram Doyle Kelso. Avram Doyle. A.D. Aidee.

When he reached the site, Mark was asked to wait a few minutes for someone. He waited 10 minutes before a young actress got into the van. She had trouble closing the sliding door, so Mark had to get out and help her shut it.

“Are you one of the stars of this movie?” Mark asked when they were finally on their way. She was certainly pretty enough to be a star, and he could swear that he’d seen her before.

“Not of this movie, sugar,” she said with a laugh and a bit of a drawl.

“I sense a sarcastic tone?”

“It’s just that I’m not about to make a name for myself by sleeping with the director. It might take a bit longer, but I’m going to make it on my talent.” She smiled, as if she knew she’d have a rough road ahead of her.

“You mean like the woman who’s with the director now?”

“How did you know?”

Mark shrugged.

“She’s an ambitious one. She’ll give it up for anyone who she thinks can advance her career. Can you believe it? She even slept with one of the drivers because he
told her he was a good friend of another director.” There was pity in her laugh.

“How do you know that?”

“You think he didn’t try the line on me?”

“But she’s with the director now. And she got a better part, right?”

“Yeah, she got the part, but her kind will do anything to be in the movies. It worked this time, but she doesn’t have the talent to back it up. She might be Doyle’s plaything this week, but next week someone else will be playing that role.”

“Plenty of women like her, huh?”

“Mister, I know a dozen girls who would kill to get a better part in a movie.”

“Really?” Mark said, hoping this little glimpse of the movie business wasn’t representative of the industry at large. “And what’s this woman’s name… you know, so I’ll know it when the movie comes out.”

“Adriana Spenser,” she said. “With an ‘S’ like the private eye.”

Adriana. Aidee.

Mark shook his head. Who wasn’t a suspect? n

Next month: Murder on Site, Part 4


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