Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Celebrity Death

Pardon my lack of name-dropping, but I like to maintain a person’s right to privacy.  I will never mention the name of any victim.  In my seven years of working crime scenes, I have worked enough celebrity cases where that practice gets put to good use.
I have little to no idea about the ‘who’s who’ nature of Hollywood.  I am inherently poor at following names and connections, therefore I just don’t bother.  One night, I took a call for a death investigation.  Like so many before it, I arrive at the scene, shoot overalls, and wait for the coroner.  I briefly glance at the name and address written on an envelope containing the job information, folded it up, and placed it into my pocket.  (This envelope would later hold a CD of the images taken at the scene.) 
It was a pleasant day, which made driving to the location a pleasure.  I do my best to enjoy the simple pleasures around me, especially the ones that cost me nothing.  The sun was just beginning to set in the distance.  The sky was alive with glorious shades of magnificent color complimented nicely by the lush, green hills along the way.  A sunset in Los Angeles is unlike any other.
I am barely paying attention when the radio station begins its top of the hour news cycle.  A name is dropped occasionally, but it seems only vaguely familiar to me.  I turn two more tight corners and the road opens wide.  It’s a short street with a cul-de-sac big enough for a delivery truck to make a u-turn with no problem, packed with every news media you can think of on its perimeter, and jammed to standing room only by paparazzi.  I’m already ticked off.  

The major news outlets know where I am on the food chain and leave me alone.  I sometimes kibitz over gear and shoot the breeze with others who, like me, are stuck out there.  Suddenly, I have jackals in my face.  These are the same types that caused Princess Diana’s death.  I’m not fond of their behavior and let them know immediately to stay clear.  First Amendment rights are fine until I’m annoyed.

This yapping crowd is right where I need to work.  I turn my I.D. brass side out.  The officers securing the driveway see me pointing my hand just past them and they know that means to clear everything in front of it.  They’re nice enough to ask if the unit they’re driving needs to be moved.  I tell them I just need about 40 of the scuddering crumb-hoovers to move back so heads don’t block my view of the house.  I finish my overalls and head up the driveway after the officers and I have a chuckle over the whole situation.
I come up the sweeping driveway, which appears to have been expensively paved and manicured.  The mansion covers the top end of it, almost like a cave.  I begin my ascent up a staircase leading towards massive double doors, which open to an oversized kitchen.  Inside, there are sad looking people.  A tall man off towards my left looks as though his guts have just been ripped out of him.  I’ve never seen a man appear so broken and still able to stand on his feet.
I’m faced with even more stairs as I make my way to the scene.  All of the floors on this level are carpeted in white.  I enter a massive room divided by closets larger than my bedroom and a bathroom bigger than my kitchen.  Windows providing panoramic views to the city are heavily shuttered.  Any spare shelf or flat spot is adorned by knick-knacks or small bottles, common in homes owned by those in the industry.
After doing some overalls and some close-ups at the direction of the investigators, the coroner running the show directs me to take a few more photographs.  The victim had been taken to the hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival.  
As I prepare to wrap up, I pull out the envelope in my pocket, place the chip from my camera inside, and give out the number listed on the front.  The number, never the name, is how we file every job we do.  It dawns on me that the name heard over the news is the same one provided on the envelope.
Like anyone else, I have a great respect for those who create success from nothing to very little.  We hold celebrities in such high regard.  Unfortunately, that is a position so many are poorly equipped to handle.  I’ve never seen any other group voluntarily starve and then closet themselves into just 1,500 square feet of a 6,500 square foot house.  I don't understand how someone worth millions, with access to so many free resources or assistance, can experience such a state of debilitating anxiety that they literally starve to death.
It makes me stop to think what it is I decide to hunger for in this life.

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