This is the book's dedication. I believe it reflects my desire not to glorify sexual violence in any way.
This book is dedicated to that small army of underpaid, overworked and forgotten people who wage a near-silent war against sexual predators. Your dedication and humanity may not always be recognized, and the good you do cannot be measured. Your success is measured in the things that never happen; the things you prevent from happening. Your reward can be seen in the joyous faces of those would-be victims who never have to face the horror and heartache of sexual predation, and in the normal lives of those victims you've led to recovery.
From Chapter 2:
In any other place but Hollywood, this would be a bizarre scene. But here, it seemed absolutely normal. Dora took a drag on her cigarette, watching the panorama of poor taste unfold before her. Like zombies from a low-budget horror flick, Beautiful People dressed in the finest designer fashions of funeral black walked in the bright California sunshine. Private security guards and a few cops helped them push through the gauntlet of photographers and fans. The Beautiful People scowled as they passed as if they hated them. But Dora new better; this was a great photo op no one in the business could pass up.
Dora took another drag, holding the smoke in her lungs until they burned, then exhaled into her motorcycle's wind screen. The smoke obscured the view for a few seconds, but was soon gone. Another limo pulled up to the funeral home on Santa Monica Boulevard, and yet another Beautiful Couple emerged as the cameras clicked. She wished she could attend, to pay her last respects to Monique. But she wasn't going to play the game today; she just didn't have the energy.
She felt a strange kinship with the girl, not because they were actors competing for the same roles, or because the girl was where she had been years before in her career, but because they had something else in common: the bond of the hunted, like two antelope in the herd singled-out by the lion pack. She had seen this in Monique's eyes a dozen times. That strange, haggard look of someone running for her life. Dora saw the same thing in the mirror every day of her life.
Another couple emerged from a limo; another team of losers who didn't even know Monique. A call from their agent told them to be there. Being seen at a celebrity funeral was a coup; you can't buy that kind of exposure with a million bucks. Dora was glad Monique wasn't around to see all this. She'd have a real funeral back home in Oklahoma with family and friends who truly loved her. This service was just a publicist's scam. Maybe she'd fly out to Oklahoma later on and put some flowers on her grave; that would be nice...
Out of the corner of her eye, Dora saw them coming. Seeing through the thin disguise of her wraparound sunglasses, the paparazzi had seen her. A wave of cretins swarmed toward her from across the street. Her lips clenched her cigarette tightly as she threw her helmet away; there was no time to put it on. A push on the starter button and the BMW K1200's powerful engine sprang to life, sending a vibration into her leather-clad thighs. With a flick of her foot, the bike was in gear. Popping the clutch just so, the bike jumped from its hiding place behind the bushes and headed straight for the mob. They scattered in all directions, cameras clicking, as Dora sped right through them. She heard them cursing as she went by. Aiming the bike at an alley between some apartment houses, she twisted back the throttle. In a second she was there, angling the big bike into the drive like a circuit racer. At the straightaway she hit the throttle hard. She was doing sixty by the time she reached the street. Barely looking before she bolted into traffic, she heard panicky drivers honking at her as she accelerated. Glancing into her mirror, she saw that none of the paparazzi were tailing her.
None of them had the balls.
Unencumbered by the helmet, her hair billowed in the cool coastal air. She spit out her smoke before it went down her throat. Ahead, the traffic grew congested. Not caring to wait, she aimed the bike between the cars and rocketed down the narrow passage. Dora was on autopilot. Debilitating emotions had been pushed down deep with heaps of anti-anxiety medication. The drugs had shielded her from the crippling effect of grief and fear. But the levee couldn't hold forever. Welling inside her, the emotions began to break through. She choked them back as best she could, but they were catching up. The funeral had been the final blow. That line of limos on the curb; it should have been Oscar night.
She found a break in the traffic and twisted the throttle all the way back. In a few seconds, she was in fourth gear. She slowed and made a hard left, heading toward Wilshire and the comfort of her home turf. Tears poured from her eyes and found a place to pool in her ears. She shook her head a bit to clear them. Traffic was slow on Wilshire, so she headed for the gap and punched it hard. At Beverly Glen she ran a red light and twisted back on the throttle. She leaned low over the gas tank to get more speed. The Santa Monica Mountains loomed ahead. She could have just gone home, but something told her not to go there. A little voice in her head told her to speed onward, toward the high hills. Something is waiting for you there. She slowed and took a turn, then another. The road began to wind. She dropped down a gear and accelerated, passing cars like they were sitting still. Posh hillside homes popped up all around her as she sped upward toward Mulholland.
She had told the kid at the BMW place she wanted something that would move, and goddamn it, this thing would go. Adrenaline flowed into her bloodstream. She felt her anger and grief melt away as the speedometer climbed higher and higher. The grade increased, so she took it down another gear. A traffic snarl loomed ahead, so she turned onto one of the residential streets, leaning out as far as she dared so she wouldn't lose much speed. Bringing the bike upright, she rocketed past the condominiums stacked like sardines over the roadway. She wound her way through the neighborhood as the cars grew scarce; only the people who lived here ventured this far in. At a radical turn, she braked hard and slid the bike to a stop.
She looked around her. She was at the summit.
Top of the world, Ma. Top of the world.
The road came to an abrupt end a half-mile away. Taut across the road was a chain-link fence. Through it she could see the smog-covered panorama of the Valley far below. Fucking dirty city. Dirty, nasty, corrupt city...she hated this place. She hated this life. She hated herself.
She put the bike in gear and popped the clutch. By second gear she was doing forty. By third, sixty. She leaned low over the tank, keeping her eyes peeled on the fence growing rapidly in front of her. Fourth gear came and went and she was doing a hundred. A little more juice and she could put the bike right in the middle of downtown fucking Van Nuys.
What a rush.
Dora stared at the fence flying towards her.
No one should die in the Valley.
She let up on the throttle and pumped the rear brake. Third gear helped slow her some, but she was going too fast. She pushed the rear brake pedal a little harder. Gravel flew from the road as the tire bit into the roadway. The fence was so close she could see the warning signs posted on it. She hit both brakes hard. The smell of burning rubber filled the air. The bike vibrated violently as it skipped across the asphalt. But it just wasn't going to stop in time. Laying the bike into a controlled slide, she felt her leg hit the asphalt. The road pulled her neatly off the seat and she began a painful slide of her own next to the bike. She put down her boot and slowed a little. The bike caught the road and flipped four times before it slammed into the fence, sending a ripple twenty yards in both directions. She slid toward the fence, trying not to roll. She stopped just a few inches away.
She lay there for a few seconds, waiting for a jab of pain. Something had to be broken. But she only felt the twinge of mild road burn under the heavy leather riding suit. She moved her legs a little, but everything seemed okay. Sitting up, she looked at the steam rising from her glorious toy, its radiator ripped open and bleeding.
She began to sob, a little at first, then it came; the flood of grief and pain she had been suppressing for so long boiled forth like a volcano. She put her face in her hand and cried like a little girl.
Copyright 2001 by David L. Kilpatrick