The funeral was a media dream opportunity for the reporters and press. Dozens of celebrities were there, some extremely famous ones in fact and I realized I hadn’t had any idea that Rachel ran in such esteemed circles.
“She doesn’t,” Tamara replied to my comment. “Some of these people are here to pay their respects, which is nice, but many are here for the publicity only. They will look directly at the cameras and shed profuse crocodile tears, lamenting the loss of one of this era’s greatest actresses and how Hollywood will never be the same, all the while letting the pictures capture them from their best angles. It sounds terribly jaded I know, but that is how it works. So be prepared Sarah and try to keep your face composed always because as sure as it’s sunny in California they will find the moment when you frown for an instant and take a photo of that and it will be spread across the headlines reading “Sarah Marcus is happy that Rachel is dead. She was my enemy! Sarah declares.”
I sort of scoffed at that before realizing how serious she was. We were still in the limo, waiting for our turn to pull up so that we could get out. It was like the Academy Awards; watching limos disgorge their stars onto the red carpet. The sad thing was that Rachel was a fine actress; now that I had met her I realized that first hand and wasting talent is always a tragedy.
We had explained Detective Morgan’s presence with us and what had happened last night when we had gotten into the limo at the airport. Tamara and Mark listened attentively as Detective Morgan explained that it was best for all of us to agree about security issues, for us and the boys. Tamara visibly blanched once or twice, but she stayed strong. Mark sat there with his arm around her shoulders and I could tell that he was her rock and I was so happy she had him.
Coming from this industry, they at least understood how all this works, bodyguards and being so prominently in the public eye. I knew that Tamara and Mark both shunned the publicity that comes with celebrity status; but they also appreciated how the game was played.
“Adam,” Mark said, “You know that I understand how much you hate all this, but it’s for the best.” He turned to Tamara and said, “You know, maybe it would be a good thing for you and the boys to come back up to the shoot with me. We could hire a tutor for them and a bodyguard. We could control the situation much better there Tam, think about it.” He added this last bit because he saw reluctance flash across her face.
“Mark if we do that then Tristan will miss soccer games. His team is in the semi-finals now; we can’t do that to him,” she said, shaking her head negatively. “We just can’t. We have to make it work another way, that’s all there is to it.”
“I have to agree with you ma’am,” the detective said. “It will be best to keep things as normal as possible, especially for the outside world to see. Tell me about the school where the boys go. Is it a private school? Does it have open access?”
“Yes, it is a private school and to get in you have to have a pass card,” she said. Adam pulled out his wallet to show the detective what it looked like. “It is a very controlled environment; we chose that school for that reason specifically. There are other celebrities’ children who go there, and so they are always alert and vigilant to outsiders.”
“That’s good – a great beginning. Now tell me about the other aspects of the boys’ lives that may not be so easy to control.”
Tamara continued on. “Well, the hardest part would be the soccer games. As I said, Tristan, our oldest son, well his team just made the semi-finals and that means games at different locations with lots of people we don’t know. That’s harder to control, if not impossible,” she admitted miserably.
‘Maybe not as much as you think. You say there are other kids with celebrity parents in that school?” he asked and when she nodded yes he continued. “Do any of them play soccer?”
I knew they did because I had caught a few of those parents at the games and Tamara again nodded and said, “Yes they do.”
“And do any of them have extra ‘help’ or anything like that?”
She began to catch on and so did the rest of us. “Um, yes they do. Yes, yes.”
“So it would probably be safe to say that another person wouldn’t be that noticeable? Might fit in better than you think even?”
“Yes, maybe … probably. It could work.”
“Alright. Then this person could follow, at a discreet distance when you take the boys to school and pick them up, run errands and such?”
“Yes, I suppose they could. I just don’t want the boys seeing this happening. They will wonder why.”
“As I said, discretion would be the key here. Is this a plan you could live with?” Detective Morgan was wonderful at this. He was calm and reassuring, which was exactly what Tamara needed. Adam hadn’t said a word; this had to be something that Tamara could live with. I admired his ability to remain quiet during this discussion because I know it was very hard for him.
Tamara finally looked at Mark and together they nodded their agreement. “Alright then, shall I get you some names of people for this job?” the detective asked.
A slight smile played across both Tamara and Marks faces. Mark said, “Forgive us Detective Morgan, but in this we are probably better connected than you are. Having bodyguards is a frequent occurrence in California and I think we can handle that task ourselves. But thank you very much for offering.”
That handled, Detective Morgan nodded his head and the talk drifted back to last nights events.
Mark said, “Adam, you couldn’t even tell if it were a man or a woman? Was the voice muffled or something? Or was it electronically altered?”
That hadn’t even occurred to me, that someone could have used some kind of gadget to alter their voice. Adam frowned for a moment as he replayed the call in his mind. “I’m not sure, but now that you mention it, that voice could have been altered in some way. It had a certain, um, false sound to it. I thought it sounded very forced, but what if it was played through a synthesizer or something?” He looked at Detective Morgan and said, “No one asked me about that last night. Probably I guess because I told them that I couldn’t tell if it were male or female.”
“That thought hadn’t occurred to me and I am guessing it didn’t to Little Elk either. If we could come up with some similar sounding voice recordings, do you think you could possibly determine whether or not it was like them?” he asked Adam.
“Yeah, I think I could. It was pretty distinct now that I think about it. It was soft and restrained sounding really, even though it seemed as if someone was forcing it. And it had a definite flat tonal quality to it.” He was nodding his head as he remembered more about it. “Yes, I bet it was altered. Mark, thank you so much for mentioning that because I might not have realized it.”
We were all still thinking about that as we waited for our turn in the long line of limos. I couldn’t help but wonder where so many came from, limos I mean. Do people own them or rent them? And if they owned them, do they always ride around in them I wondered and I decided I would hate that.
There was one car ahead of us and it had Lyle, Sunni, Krista, Paul, and William inside it. We watched as the doors opened and they got out and I wondered how they could manage not to be blinded by all those lights flashing in their eyes, even with the bright sunshine over head.
Lyle evidently said something very briefly to the press and then they were moving on. Adam pointed William Patton out to me, his manager. He was standing by the walkway where people were emerging from the limos; probably waiting for Adam. “William will make a statement when we get out Sarah, so just try to keep your face blank and let William handle the press.”
I nodded and tried to swallow the huge lump that was rapidly rising in my throat. I didn’t have much time to think about it though because the door was being opened and we were sliding out into the crowd of people.
People were immediately yelling Adam’s name out and he looked at William and nodded and William came over and made a very brief statement. “Adam would like you all to realize the focus of this sad day should be on Rachel and asks that you respect his wishes to remain anonymous today. Thank you,” he finished and then we were moving on in to the church for the service.
No cameras were allowed inside of the church and it was made known that anyone caught with one would be removed immediately from the premises; Adam and I both wondered about our camera phones. We both recalled the video that had been shot from those girls camera phones at the supermarket and so we were both cognizant of the fact that someone could be taking pictures that way. But whether it was the church or Rachel’s publicists, it didn’t seem likely that it would be an easily accomplished task to get a good picture. To begin with, Rachel’s casket was closed which I thought was kind of surprising so they obviously were not going to get pictures of her in state. And on top of that, a dozen or more ‘security’ people were constantly moving through the crowd, watching for anything suspicious. It was a concerted effort by many people to keep unauthorized pictures from being taken.
The service was dramatic and moving and I thought it was fitting; I doubt if Rachel would have wanted it any other way. Her sister who didn’t want her body back in England showed up at the last minute, making a very theatrical entrance into the church, sobbing piteously “Rachel, why did you have to leave me?” It was a performance meant to win awards and it made the situation all the more depressing because of that. I cried while all that was going on; sadly not because of Rachel’s death, but because I wasn’t sure if anyone here would truly morn her passing. If the depth of true emotion were any kind of indicator here, Rachel’s seemed to be a life wasted and her passing meaningless.
I noticed Krista and Sunni sitting with William and Lyle in the next row up and while Krista was still very pale, she looked a little better. Sunni was uncharacteristically quiet, but given the circumstances that was only appropriate.
Adam and his manager chatted while we waited for the service to begin, about last night and about my parent’s television interview. I later found out that surprisingly, it had helped things a great deal – it seemed America loved my parents and now Adam and I. And they all wanted to know when we were getting married since we had my dad’s permission. Tamara sat next to me, with Mark beside her and Detective Morgan on his other side. His eyes were constantly scanning the crowd for any signs of trouble. I had to hand it to him, he didn’t seem at all phased by the crowd; neither those who were famous or infamous impressed him. He stared at them all with suspicion.
He was a good looking young man I decided, if somewhat severe. His blond wavy hair and green eyes could have been perfectly at home amongst all these handsome celebrities. If he would only smile a bit I thought. Of course, each time I had seen him had not been ideal circumstances by any means. The little lines around his eyes told of someone who probably laughs a great deal. I thought he looked around 30 and I remembered that when we first had met him he had seemed to speak rather fondly of Detective Arnold in Wichita.
Tamara had her head resting on Marks shoulder for part of the time and she looked weary. I knew exactly how she felt. I wanted to find a hole somewhere and pull it in after me; suddenly I craved the anonymity of my oh so ordinary life. And yet here I was, at a Hollywood funeral sitting in a row of rich and famous people surrounded by even more rich and famous people. I would have felt awed if the circumstances been different; as it was I only felt dismayed by it all. I wanted to jump up and yell, “Doesn’t anybody in this room feel anything about this? About her death?” and then I thought how strange that was given our past feelings for one another. So I just sat there quietly instead.
A very famous pop star sang Amazing Grace and it brought tears to my eyes again and I saw that Tamara was crying as well. She reached over and clasped my hand in hers and we shared a very poignant look. There were sobs from all around the church and many of them were accompanied with scanning looks around them to see if anyone noticed. That pretty much sums the whole service up.
We spent an hour in an endless funeral procession to the cemetery that was 15 minutes away, but many people appeared to use this as the place for their grand photo opportunities; they couldn’t very well ban cameras from this public place, so people left their limos, sobbing tearfully, lamenting the loss of Rachel. I only saw it as something to get through and was thankful that the grave side service was very brief and that we could leave.
Don’t get me wrong, there were very many people there who were genuinely nice; good and decent people who were probably there for the same reason we were, it was respectful. Like us, they weren’t there to get their picture taken but to show the world that the acting community respects its own.
Again we sat in traffic, awaiting our turn to pull away. Reporters had again tried to question Adam and Mark both, but William handled it all. He had ridden with us to the cemetery and we were going to drop him back off at the church to pick up his own car. While we sat in the limo William asked Adam if we were heading back immediately and Adam said that we were.
“Adam, why don’t you stay overnight? I can get you on a flight tomorrow or Sunday even. I’d like to get you on an interview to try to counteract some of the press from the past few days.” He looked at me and said, “Sarah, your parents helped things a great deal, but Adam needs to tell his side of the story.”
I stared at him blankly because it wasn’t up to me. I’d be more than happy to stay. I could stand a night or two at home. But Detective Morgan spoke up “No, that’s not a good idea. We need to keep you in a controlled environment Mr. Richland.”
“Detective, what was it? Oh Morgan? I understand and appreciate your concerns and we will pay very close attention to them, but this part of the job is mine and you are going to have to understand that sometimes we just have to do these things. Adam and Sarah will be very safe at his house and we will make sure the set up for the interview is equally safe. We could even do it at Adam’s house. I already have security watching it; it is perfectly safe I assure you. I really believe you are overly concerned.”
Detective Morgan was looking quite unhappy. I noted his red face and realized it wasn’t from embarrassment, it was from anger. But he kept it well under control, I’ll give him that. His orders had obviously been to accompany us here and bring us back to Dallas safely. Period. That didn’t include a two day unexpected delay. “Mr. Patton, their safety is my only concern and the sooner I can get them back to Dallas, the better for everyone. In case you don’t understand it, last night someone made a death threat against Mr. Richland. I’d say that rates some serious concern, wouldn’t you?”
Point for the detective I thought, mentally scoring one. But William Patton was an expert at this game; he just withdrew and tendered his attack from another direction.
“Yes, yes I see your concern detective. So you must stay here as well, to uh, oversee the set up of the security. You do have a spare room don’t you Adam?” he said, ignoring Adam’s murderous look and continuing on. “Yes, that way we can lay some plans for the future, since Adam will be traveling back to Italy soon. Now, it’s all settled. Here, do you need to call your superiors to let them know your plans?” he asked, handing his cell phone to Detective Morgan.
Morgan licked his lips and blinked a couple of times before admitting defeat and accepting the phone silently. He also wasn’t going to forget or forgive this I thought. His look was doubtful as he entered the phone number and pressed the call button, but there wasn’t much else he could do. At the same time Adam called Lyle and told him we were staying until Sunday sometime and that the detective would be staying with us.
Tamara spoke up then and said, “The boys will be very happy you are here. I didn’t tell them that you were coming since I didn’t think you would be able to see them. You both look exhausted so I’m not going to tell them tonight, but tomorrow I will. Tristan has a game of course, if you can manage to come.” She indicated Detective Morgan, who was still on the phone with someone in Dallas; someone who obviously wasn’t happy with him.
I smiled for a moment and there was a moment when Tamara’s eyes and mine met and just clicked in response with one another. I was very thankful for that. I nodded and said, “Yes, that sounds wonderful. Then maybe you all will come to the beach house for a barbeque? I really need to just relax Tamara. Of course, we’ll have to find out when Adam’s interview will be, but at least it will be at the house.”
Adam was off the phone with Lyle and caught the last part of the conversation and looked happy for the first time all day. He looked at William and said, “Can you set us up for the interview at my house on Sunday William, just give us tomorrow for the family please? And get some more of that security so we can go to the game?”
William nodded and pointed towards Detective Morgan, who was still on the phone and who looked grievously pained. “What about him? Okay if he stays with you and is he enough security do you think?”
Adam frowned, as if having forgotten the detective. “Yes, it will be okay and he probably will be more than enough security, but we’ll have to ask him I suppose.”
Just then the detective held the phone away from his very red ear and said, “Uh, I just don’t think this is going to work. Little Elk wants us back today. He’d uh, like to talk to, well whoever is in charge.”
I hid a smile and so did Tamara. William looked at Adam and Adam looked right back at him, then they both looked at Detective Morgan. “Well detective, aren’t you the one in charge? Just tell Mr. Little Elk that plans have changed!” William said, as if it were all so simple.
I definitely heard a snort and looked around to see Mark coughing rapidly in an attempt to hide it. Morgan looked indignant and like he’d rather face a firing squad than tell Little Elk that we weren’t coming back today. I looked at Adam, as if to say ‘do something’ and Adam sighed and took the phone from the detective and held it to his ear.
“Hello Detective Little Elk, this is Adam Richland.” He listened quietly for several long minutes which presumably Detective Little Elk was explaining all the reasons that we had to come home. Adam was very patient and then said, “No, sorry we cannot do that. We’ll be back late Sunday evening I believe.” And then he hung up the phone and handed it back to William. And not another word was said about it. But the good detective looked close to passing out.
We dropped William off at the church and he told us he would be in contact with us and so we then headed out to Laguna Beach. We were coming from the southeastern suburbs of Los Angeles and so we weren’t yet on the Pacific Coast Highway. I waited impatiently for that first view of the beautiful rolling waves on the blue water and as soon as I saw it I broke into a huge grin. Detective Morgan caught that grin and turned to see what I was smiling about.
“Wow,” he said. “I’ve never seen the ocean before; it’s incredible.” I smiled at that remark. He sounded like I had the first time I had seen it; he was in for a treat and he didn’t even know it. I remembered the first time I had met him; the night we found the dead rat in our bed. When he first came into the house that night he had seemed so calm and self-assured; exactly the opposite of right now. He was clearly flustered by the disagreement with Detective Little Elk and I wasn’t sure if Little Elk was his boss or what. But Little Elk was a good twenty years older than Morgan and so maybe it was a seniority thing. I took another look at him as he watched the passing scenery out the window and realized he was probably younger than I had thought, late twenties at the most. And then I had another thought; suppose he was married? How would his wife feel about him staying here?
“Uh Detective, are you married? I mean, do you need to call your wife and tell her you are staying or, um something?” I sure didn’t want to go back but I also didn’t want to be the cause of a marital war either.
He grinned at me and said, “Nope, not married,” and then focused his attention back out the window.
I was already thinking of the practicality of the situation. Adam and I both had clothes to wear, but the detective didn’t. He was about Adam’s size as far as waist size went, but he was a few inches shorter, so shorts and tee shirts would fit him well enough, but nothing else. And then I thought of something else; we had come on a private plane so we hadn’t gone through airport security checks. But what if he had a gun with him. His suit could easily hide one I thought. Going back through LAX would be a problem if he did. With a sigh I decided Sunday would be soon enough to worry about it.
Then we were pulling into the driveway and Detective Morgan’s eyes were about to pop out of his head. I made a mental note to find out what his given name was because I was getting tired of constantly thinking of and referring to him as ‘detective’.
“This is your house? You live here, right on the beach?” he asked incredulously.
We ignored him for a minute as we said our good byes to Tamara and Mark with promises to call the boys a little later and to be at the game in the morning. Tamara told us that it was at 10:45 and I was glad it wasn’t as early as the one last week. And then I was amazed by the fact that it was only a week ago we had been here. Adam closed the door and the limo headed off, back to Tamara and Marks house. There was a car in the drive and then I remembered that it was Friday and so Mrs. Barber was here.
Adam wrapped his arm around my shoulder as we walked up to the door, where Detective Morgan was waiting impatiently. He had been scanning the road in front of the house and made the comment, “Not many places for someone to watch unobtrusively there.”
“You are right detective. They’re probably up over on those hills just north of the house, pointing towards them. That’s public access ground and from that height they can probably see most of what goes on.”
He held his hand up to shield his eyes from the bright sunshine and looked up on the hill and nodded his approval. “I’m sure you are right; it’s a perfect place for observation. Far enough away to be unobtrusive and close enough to be able to get here quickly if needed. I hope your William Patton called them to let them know we were coming.”
“I’m sure William did detective,” Adam said, getting the door open.
We surprised Mrs. Barber who was vacuuming the living room. “Oh my gracious Mr. Richland, I wasn’t expecting you. You like to scared me to death! Ms. Marcus, welcome back,” she said warmly, wiping her hand on her pants before offering it to me. We started to introduce her to the detective and then Adam stopped and frowned for a moment. Neither of us wanted to introduce him as a detective. He solved the problem.
“Hi, I’m Ryan Morgan, an uh, friend of Adam and Sarah’s, from Dallas. How do you do?”
She smiled and bowed her head in acknowledgement of the introduction and said, “Welcome to California then Mr. Morgan. I’m pleased to meet you.”
She looked around us and asked, “Do you have any bags Mr. Richland?”
“No, this was a spur of the moment visit actually. We were here for Ms. Tomlinson’s funeral. Mrs. Barber, could I impose upon you a bit and ask that the guest room be made up and for you to make a quick trip to the market if I make you a short list?” He looked at me with a smile and added, “It seems I’ve been volunteered to host a barbeque tomorrow!”
“Oh certainly Mr. Richland, I’ll be glad to. The guest room is already made up but I can change the sheets if you like.” At Adam’s shake of his head she continued, “I was actually planning on going shopping anyway because I need some cleaning supplies. You just go ahead and make that list and settle in and I’ll be ready to go in an hour or so. Now go on with you and let me finish up here,” she said with a shooing motion.
I was already showing Ryan the house, up here anyway. He was looking at the family room and grinning at the TV when Adam found us. Ryan looked around the room with appreciation and I couldn’t help but laugh because it was the consummate guy’s room. I left them to admire it and headed down to the bedroom to change into some shorts.
That’s where Adam found me awhile later. I had decided to take a quick shower and was just finishing getting dressed when Adam came in. It was amazing, just being here made him look years younger; those stressful lines around his eyes and on his forehead smoothed out while he was here to be replaced by smiles and chocolate brown eyes that crinkled at the corners with happiness.
He came and enveloped me in a happy embrace and kissed my neck lightly. “Um, you smell good,” he said while running his hands up and down my back.
I pulled away from him, remembering our guest and thought to myself that I was glad I had left some toiletries here or I wouldn’t be smelling good for long. He laughed and started digging through his drawers and I realized he was looking for something for Ryan to wear. It was amazing how quickly I had come to think of him as Ryan, but it made it so much easier to refer to him like that.
“Just getting a few things for Ryan to wear while he is here.” He went into the closet and started looking through some drawers in there and came back with a new package of boxers for him. “These ought to do it for him. I’ll have Mrs. Barber grab him some deodorant and a toothbrush and stuff while she is out. I’m going to go and make a list now. See you downstairs soon love?” he asked.
“Heading there now,” I told him. I watched him walk to the guest room and knock on the door before I disappeared down the stairs. I opened the blinds and then slid the doors open to catch the breeze and inhaled deeply. The wind was brisk, but by no means chilly and I thrilled to the sound and perfume that wafted in on it.
I was grabbing a bottle of water out of the fridge when Adam joined me; I was trying to see if there was something to munch on. I was hungry I realized; we hadn’t eaten all day and if I was hungry Adam had to be starving.
“Do you want some water Adam?” I asked. At his nod I grabbed another bottle out and then found some cheese and apples that looked good and pulled them out too. I looked at the apples with consternation and wished for some peanut butter and then sighed and carried it all over to the breakfast bar where Adam was working. I then hunted through the pantry until I found some crackers and grabbed plates before sitting down to feast on it all.
Adam was busily writing his list and so I munched away on my own and left him to it. I had offered him a cracker with cheese on it but he had waved it away and said he would be happy to eat just as soon as he was done.
Ryan came downstairs a couple of minutes later wearing a pair of navy shorts and a white tee shirt. As soon as he hit the bottom of the stairs he exclaimed and headed straight to the open doors. I asked him if he would like a bottle of water and then snatched one for him at his affirmative nod. I handed it to him as he stood staring out the door, his mouth gaping open in amazement.
He took it distractedly and cracked the top open and took a long drink before saying, “Ms. Marcus, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s amazing.”
“Please, call me Sarah, at least while we are here Ryan.” He nodded to me and I said, “It took my breath away the first time I saw it. It is quite amazing; I agree.”
“This whole place,” he said, looking around him in wonder, “It’s beyond description. This whole day really.”
“I understand Ryan, I really do. I still feel that way myself, very often. It’s not like the world we come from is it? The ordinary world I mean.”
He nodded, his gaze following some sea birds out over the water. “Unbelievable actually,” he murmured.
“Hey, are you hungry? I have some cheese and crackers and fruit over on the breakfast bar. It will have to do until we get some groceries in here and Adam can make some dinner.”
He quirked his eyebrow at that. “HE cooks?” nodding toward Adam.
“Yup and if you are really nice he might just make you banana pecan pancakes for breakfast while you are here.” I led him over to the breakfast bar and pointed to a seat and then pushed the food over to him so he could help himself.
“I heard that love. Offering my services again, hm?” Adam smiled, still busy at his list.
I giggled and replied, “Yeah, you know I only love you for your banana pecan pancakes!”
Ryan was watching this playful banter between Adam and me with amusement; his eyes darting back and forth between us as we spoke. “He really cooks?” he asked again, as if he wasn’t sure he could believe it.
“Young man, I assure you that I do indeed cook and if you are very lucky I might just get this list done so Mrs. Barber can get to the market and purchase groceries so I can do just that!” Adam joked.
I took a bite of my apple and shrugged. “He’s hungry; he gets kind of testy when he hasn’t eaten.” I saw Adam try to hide a smile as he worked away at his list.
“So Ryan, is Little Elk really pissed?” I asked with a smile. I couldn’t wait to hear the scoop!
Copyright 2006 Cynthia Hope Hodge