Saturday, October 23, 2010
When I was a kid, my mom subscribed to three newspapers, one was the Daily News, the Harold and probably the L.A. Times. The Daily News was on the lurid side with headlines about movie stars and gruesome murders. My meek and mild mom read every paper from start to finish.
We lived in Los Angeles near Glendale in a quiet neighborhood. Every Friday night we went to the movies and always saw a double feature, a good movie and a B movie which quite often was about gangsters. We paid our money so we always stayed until the end.
There were lots of good radio shows too and my favorites were Inner Sanctum and other spooky shows.
When I was 14 and my sister 9, we had a small Philco radio that we listened to and for some reason at night we could hear police calls on it. We weren't supposed to, but of course we did anyway.
One night while we were listening, the L.A.P.D. discovered a female body that was cut in half in a vacant lot. The officers on the radio were so excited they described what they'd found in great and gruesome detail.
Sis and I finally fell asleep. During the night, I felt something on the bed. I reached down and touched--it was a leg! I screamed. Surely this was another part of that poor murdered woman, which meant the murderer must be in my room....
Mom came in and turned on the light. I didn't open my eyes for fear of seeing a bloody mess.
"What on earth is the matter in here?" she asked.
Still with my eyes shut tight, I said, "There's a leg on my bed."
"Yes, and it's attached to your sister."
Sis had probably had a nightmare and climbed onto my bed.
Mom shook her head. "You've been listening to police calls again, haven't you?"
I don't remember what our punishment was, but I also don't remember listening to any more police calls.
I can remember that night so plainly.
Many years later I attended an Edgar ceremony where I met the man who believes his father was the one who killed the Black Dahlia. I've read his book and other accounts of the investigation into the murder of the woman they called the Black Dahlia. I don't remember much about any of that, but I'll never forget the night they found her body.