Double Take Ch. 02bythrillerauthor©
For those who missed Part I, the players are:
Sandy Lane, pro surfer with an uncanny resemblance to...
Ashley Vaughn, gorgeous Hollywood starlet in a TV series produced by...
Darla Palmer, who convinces Sandy to bob his nose after he is punched out by rival surfer...
Buster Cruz, whose mysterious death in Honolulu is being investigated by...
Detective Halani and Lieutenant Goering.
Ashley played with Sandy's long blonde hair as he slept uneasily beside her. Usually Sandy was dead to the world after they finished making love, but tonight he seemed to be plagued by new demons. As he tossed and turned in one of her old nightgowns, she knew that he had carried through somehow on his promise to eliminate the threat of Buster Cruz. But what had he done?
Sandy had adamantly refused to tell her what went on while she was away in New York. All she was able to get out of him was that he had made a quick trip to Hawaii, and that she didn't have anything more to worry about. However, if by chance she were contacted by Lieutenant Goering of the L.A.P.D. or Detective Halani of the Honolulu Police Department, she should say nothing.
Who was this person she was sleeping with, Ashley wondered. Sandy Lane had given up his manhood for her. Had he also given up his soul? Could the beautiful girl in her nightgown, who was really a boy, also be a murderer?
He cried out again, and she took him in her arms. Whatever he might have done, he did it for her. Ashley Vaughn was responsible for what Sandy Lane had become, and she was determined to keep him this way for as long as she could. She reached down and found his flaccid penis. Slowly, tenderly, she stroked him back to life. When his eyes opened, she whispered, "Whatever you did, it's okay. Everything's going to be okay."
She lifted up his nightgown and lowered herself onto him, easing herself up and down as if she were the man and he were the woman. Their strange reality was a blessed escape from his dreams. So they made love again and again, until the studio wakeup service told them it was time to get up and get dressed for work.
They were shooting on location at Lunada Bay on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that week. Palos Verdes is a rugged, tree covered paradise on the southern outskirts of greater Los Angeles. At this hour, the usual freeway traffic was nonexistent. It was an unseasonably warm morning, with hot Santa Ana winds, and Sandy lowered the top of his convertible as they began their descent from the Hollywood Hills. The sun crept over the eastern horizon as they made their way towards the coast.
* * *
A few hours later, Ashley and Sandy sat side by side in the makeup trailer on the set of Wet Girls. The makeup team had gotten Sandy's transformation into Ashley's double down to a science, and they liked to work on both Pepper Reefs simultaneously to make sure they had the same look. They each had their blonde hair slicked back as if they had already been in the water, and their identical wetsuits were hot pink today.
This week's episode would involve a big confrontation between Pepper Reef and a group of bad-ass local surfers known as the Bay Boys. Although Palos Verdes is an upscale Los Angeles suburb, Lunada Bay is notorious for run-ins between visitors and the local surfers who claim it as their turf. The real Bay Boys had been bought off by the network for a few days, their places taken by walk-on surfers who had auditioned for the parts. Toby Goodfin would have loved this, Sandy thought sadly to himself as a coat of gloss was applied to his pouting lips.
The day's shooting was over before noon, and the crew was packing up to leave when Sandy walked over to the bluff above Lunada Bay to check out the surf. It was going off perfectly, twenty foot barrels rolling in from the north without a surfer in sight. When would he ever see Lunada Bay like this again?
At Sandy's insistence, the crew carried with them a huge inventory of surfboards, so he would be able to perform his stunts under a variety of conditions. Sandy grabbed a big wave gun and started to make his way barefoot down the steep path towards the rocky beach. Ashley decided to stay behind and watch him, so she spread a blanket out for herself on the grassy bluff and settled back while her man did what he loved. With Catalina Island and the blue Pacific in the background, she watched as a tiny pink figure paddled steadily through the churning sea, out towards a cluster of rocks at the mouth of the cove.
For almost two hours, Sandy lost himself in the surf. It was a catharsis for him, as he duck-dived under the rough breakers again and again to find an endless series of perfect swells waiting to be ridden. His grief over the death of his best friend, and his feelings of guilt for avenging him, were finally washed away by the waves crashing over him. It was almost as if Toby were there with him in the water, telling Sandy that it was okay to let him go. When he climbed back up the trail, all he wanted to do was take Ashley to his bed and hold on to her forever.
* * *
With the elimination of Ashley Vaughn as a suspect in the murder of Buster Cruz, the attention of the police remained on the mystery woman who was seen with the victim at Rosie's Café on the North Shore the day before his death. A search of Buster's body had produced a business card and a folded up copy of a contract, both of which turned out to be bogus. No useful fingerprints were found on either of them.
The murder scene yielded a few other clues: a brown wig, a pair of brown contact lenses, a negligee, and an untraceable Baretta automatic pistol. If they could identify a suspect, the contact lenses might provide a DNA match. But after weeks of interviews in Honolulu and on the north shore, the police were getting nowhere. A hotel clerk did remember a woman with long brown hair paying cash for the suite at the Halekulani, but she used the same bogus name printed on the business card found in Buster's pocket.
Detective Halani decided to widen the net. A review of Buster's past criminal record showed a number of minor run-ins with the law, mostly for disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. However, there was one charge in Huntington Beach involving assault and battery against a competing surfer in a competition the previous year. The charge was dismissed after the other surfer, Sandy Lane, failed to show up and testify at a grand jury proceeding.
Detective Halani managed to get his hands on a video tape of the incident, and once he saw it, he thought he might have a possible motive. The police reports from Huntington Beach indicated that Sandy Lane had been hospitalized with a massive concussion and a severely broken nose, and he had dropped out of sight after he was released from the hospital. On a hunch, Halani asked for a print out of the arrivals and departures from Honolulu International Airport the day of the Cruz murder. Sure enough, Sandy Lane was listed as a passenger on a United flight that left for Los Angeles three hours after the estimated time of Buster's death.
Detective Halani still wasn't convinced that Lane, who had a spotless criminal record, was his suspect. But maybe he could provide the police with information as to the identity of the mystery woman. The detective called Lieutenant Goering in Los Angeles and brought him into the picture.
* * *
They decided to spend the week at Sandy's condo in Redondo Beach, since it was a short drive from Lunada Bay. Sandy hadn't been there since the day after Thanksgiving, so they stopped at a supermarket to stock up on food, disguising themselves from autograph-seekers with baseball caps and sunglasses. They were each wearing jeans, flip-flops, and baggy sweatshirts, and nobody gave them a second glance as they made their way down the aisles.
Ashley had packed only an overnight bag, intending to borrow some of Sandy's clothes if they decided to go out. When Sandy hauled the groceries into his kitchen, he saw that he had six phone messages.
The first was from his parents, wishing him a happy Thanksgiving. He had called them already from Ashley's house the next day. Sandy's parents had retired to Park City, and he hadn't seen them in over a year. They had finally reconciled themselves to his life as a vagabond surfer, but they were still not happy about it, and their occasional telephone conversations served to maintain an uneasy peace.
The next four messages were from telemarketers, and Sandy deleted them all. Ashley had gone into the bathroom, and she did not hear the sixth message:
"Mr. Lane, this is Lieutenant Goering of the Los Angeles Police Department. We have a few questions concerning an ongoing investigation, and I would appreciate it if you would give me a call as soon as you get this message." The lieutenant left his number, and closed by instructing Sandy to have him paged if he did not pick up.
Maybe it was the therapeutic effect of his afternoon in the surf, but Sandy was remarkably cool and calm as he calculated his position. The police must have come across his name during their search for suspects with a possible motive to do in Buster Cruz. That would include half the surfers on the pro tour, but if they saw the video of Buster decking Sandy at the Masters World, they would have to talk to him. Okay, let's get this over with.
Sandy took the cordless phone out onto his lanai and called the lieutenant's number. He found him at his desk. "Homicide, Goering speaking."
"This is Sandy Lane returning your call."
"Yes sir, thank you for calling me back. I was wondering if I might stop by and have a few words with you."
"Sure. What about?"
"I'd rather not say until we can discuss it in person. Would tomorrow be convenient for you?"
"I'll be out most of the day. Is four o'clock too late for you?"
"Four o'clock it is. Let me just make sure I have the address right." The lieutenant did, and he hung up as Ashley was opening the door to the lanai.
"Not a thing." No need drag Ashley into this. At the sight of her, Sandy's bravado began to crumble. What if they had something on him? What would they do to him? How long would it be before he ever saw her again? Did Hawaii have the death penalty?
"Something's wrong," she said gently. "Come on, tell me."
"Nothing. I just got a message from my folks." He hated to lie to her, but technically that was true.
"Oh. Anything I can do."
"Yes. Let's do something special tonight."
"Aren't you tired? You hardly slept at all last night, and you surfed like there was no tomorrow."
If she only knew. "I get stoked from a day like this. Really, Ashley, let's do something fun, something different. What have you always wanted to do?"
"Well…if I tell you, do you promise not to laugh?"
"I mean, it's kinda kinky."
He shook is head in disbelief. "Look at us! I've turned myself into your twin sister, and you're worried about doing something kinky?"
"You promised not to laugh," she pouted.
"Come on, tell me. What's on your wicked mind?"
"I want to be the guy tonight."
"I want to make myself over as a cute guy, and take you out. We'll do a little shopping, and then have a nice dinner someplace. Please?"
Why not? It might be their last night together. At least it would be memorable. "I have some of my old threads in those boxes," he said, pointing over to the stuff he had removed from his storage locker before his trip to Hawaii. He was intending to return them this weekend. As he watched her rummaging through his old clothes, he had a flash of inspiration. Just like that, he decided how he was going to handle the L.A.P.D.
* * *
Sandy indulged in a bubble bath, and he put on a bra and panties before he dried his hair for their big night out. Ashley insisted on selecting what he was going to wear, and he was curious to let her fantasy play out. He was surprised to see the clothes she had laid out for him in the bedroom: just a simple sweater and a short skirt, nylons, and black skimmer flats. He was going to look like a USC coed on Parents Weekend.
Meanwhile, Ashley had barricaded herself in the powder room. Sandy has finished dressing and was fumbling through his drawers for a simple gold necklace to wear when he heard Ashley behind him. "Ahem," she said.
He turned around and smiled. Ashley Vaughn was dressed in a bulky cotton sweater, baggy chinos, and a pair of Sandy's old sneakers. She must have put on two or three pairs of sox to make them fit. Her nails were stripped of polish, her earrings were gone, and her hair was tucked up under an English driving cap that Sandy had bought in New Zealand. She was adorable.
"You make a very pretty boy," Sandy said.
"I know. Too pretty. I look like a fairy."
Sandy sat down on the edge of the bed, tugging his skirt back down his thighs as he did so. "Tell me about it."
Ashley sat down on his lap, rubbing his legs through his nylons as she studied his beautiful face. "Maybe we should just stay home tonight."
He kissed her gently, then wiped his lipstick off her face with a manicured finger. "I'll fix something special for you," he said. "Why don't you open a bottle of wine?"
Sandy cooked dinner while Ashley read the paper and watched the news on TV. He blushed when she complemented him on his cooking, and she made sure his glass was always full of wine. She offered to help with the dishes, but Sandy waved her off, enjoying the simple pleasures of puttering around the kitchen in his stocking feet while his lover waited in anticipation for him.
After he was through, he joined her on the sofa, and they started to neck like teenagers. Ashley slid one hand up Sandy's skirt while her other hand fumbled with his bra. Sandy was going out of his mind as she tugged his panties and nylons down to his knees. When he was almost at the point of no return, he pushed her off and rolled on top of her, pulling her sweater over her head while Ashley struggled to get out of her pants. Then she rolled back on top again and straddled him, humping him faster and faster until they both exploded in the most mind-blowing orgasms of their lives.
When they went to bed, Ashley put on in a pair of Sandy's old pajamas, and Sandy wore one of her castoff babydoll nighties. It made her hot just looking at him, and it made him hot just to wear it. Ashley found him a pair of matching panties, but he never got the chance to wear them.
* * *
They finished shooting at noon the next day, and Sandy suggested to Ashley that they spend the night at her place. There were a few things he needed to do at home first – he had missed a car insurance and mortgage payment while he was in Hawaii, and he needed to go to the bank – so Ashley caught a ride back to the hills with one of the other actresses, and they agreed to go out for a late dinner, both as girls this time.
After Ashley left, Sandy went back to the makeup trailer and cornered one of the women who worked on him. "Grace, I need a big favor."
Grace had a soft spot for Sandy, and she was only too happy to help. For over an hour, she worked patiently while Sandy sat back with his eyes closed, rehearsing again and again his answers to the questions that the lieutenant might throw at him. When Grace was finished, she shook her head at the end result. "Are you sure you want to leave here looking like that?" she said.
Sandy studied his face in Grace's mirror. "Yes. At least I won't have to worry about getting picked up if I stop someplace on the way home."
"Honey, anybody who picks you up is in for a world of surprises."
* * *
Lieutenant Goering knocked on the door of Sandy's condo promptly at four o'clock. Sandy opened it immediately to let him in. The lieutenant handed him a card, trying not to grimace as he looked away from Sandy's face.
Sandy offered him a beer, which the lieutenant declined. "On duty," he explained. Sandy got one for himself, and they went out onto the lanai and sat down in two sling chairs next to a small glass-topped table. The lieutenant took in the view of Palos Verdes while Sandy sipped on his Pacifico Clara.
"I suppose you are wondering why I'm here," the lieutenant said at length.
"I'm betting is has something to do with Buster Cruz."
"Oh? What makes you think so?"
"I saw on the web what happened to him. And I said to myself, Buster had a lot of enemies. I hope they catch who did it, because if they don't, sooner or later they're probably going to turn up here."
"And why would you say that?"
"Shit. Look at me." The lieutenant studied his fingers. "Look at me, goddammit! I'm a fucking monster because of that asshole. Am I glad he's dead? Your goddam right!"
"Did you have anything to do with his death?"
The lieutenant paused for a few seconds. Then he took a small notebook out of his breast pocket and flipped through it before he spoke. "Mr. Lane, when is the last time you were in Hawaii?"
Now Sandy looked down at his fingers, which had been stripped of their usual coat of polish. His hands were remarkably calm. "Thanksgiving."
"Where did you stay?"
"The Royal Hawaiian."
"Pretty fancy digs for a surfer."
"I find that a place like that doesn't make a big deal about my face," Sandy shot back. "When you're paying that kind of money, they don't care what you look like."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Lane. It's just that, I didn't know surfers made that kind of money."
"I was the Vans Triple Crown champion two years ago, and I was ranked sixth in the world before I got knocked out of the Masters World last year. It takes a while to blow through all that prize money."
"Is that what you've been doing? None of your old friends or sponsors have heard from you since your accident."
"It wasn't an accident. That son of a bitch attacked me."
"Did you kill him?"
"I told you already, no."
"Where have you been for the past year?"
"Traveling around the USA. I've been driving up and down the coast, and I went to North Carolina and Florida for the hurricane season."
The lieutenant had to smile. "People go there for the hurricane season?'
"What were you doing in Hawaii?"
"I went up to Makaha, but it was blown out."
"Did you go up to the north shore?"
"No. Too many friends. Too many memories."
"I see. Did you see anybody at Makaha?"
"No. When you look like this, you keep to yourself."
"Where were you the evening of November 27th?"
"What day was that?"
"Flying back to LA."
"I mean before then. At around seven o'clock."
"In my room at the Royal Hawaiian."
"Can you prove that?"
Sandy paused. "I guess not. But let me ask you. If you had a face like this, wouldn't you stick to your room?"
The lieutenant stared at Sandy's hideously broken nose. Surely someone would have remembered seeing a man who looked like this if he were anywhere near the murder scene. "Do you have any idea who might have killed Mr. Cruz?"
"Like I said, he had a lot of enemies, but I don't think that any of the surfers I know would have it in them to kill somebody. What happened to him, anyway?"
"He was shot twice. Once in the penis, and once in the face."
"We think his killer was a woman."
"Talk about a bad date."
The lieutenant tried to keep a straight face. "Do you know any women who might have wanted to do this to him?"
"God, I hope not."
Lieutenant Goering closed his notebook. "One more question. Why haven't you had your nose fixed?" This time the lieutenant looked him square in the eyes.
Sandy shook his head sadly. "I was planning on suing Buster, and the lawyers told me I'd get more out of a jury if I came into the courtroom looking like this."
The lieutenant got up to leave. So much for Detective Halani's motive. "Well, Mr. Lane, I want to thank you for your cooperation. You've been most helpful."